Posted by BW Actual on Jul 29th 2022



  • Russia targeted a suburb of Kyiv for the first time in several weeks, striking a military base and injuring soldiers and several civilians.
  • The UK says Russia is using Wagner Group hired guns to hold parts of its front lines in Ukraine - instead of in special operations, where they'd usually be deployed. That would seem to corroborate recent reports that Russia doesn't have enough regular troops in theater.
  • Hate Russia and have an extra cash to spare? For $150, you can have your name inscribed on a 155mm artillery shell that Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russians from Western-donated howitzers. Or for $2,000, you can be guaranteed that a drone-dropped grenade with your name inscribed on it will hit a Russian soldier (“soldiers will redo it until they get a hit on video"). An Economist article pasted below covers initiatives like this to crowdfund the war in Ukraine.
  • Russia hasn't commented on the U.S. offer to swap WNBA star Brittney Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The offer was apparently extended back in June, and reportedly had Pres. Biden's personal signoff.
  • Critics say the lopsided offer could make Americans tempting targets for hostile governments seeking pawns to trade for their high-value nationals in U.S. prisons.
  • Presidents Biden and Xi spoke for over two hours yesterday, addressing a variety of topics - including Taiwan - but making little progress on any of them. However, there may be a follow up: there are new reports that the two plan to meet in person sometime soon - perhaps at the G20 in Indonesia in November.
  • A U.S. carrier group entered the South China Sea on a planned operation, and China's Foreign Ministry was irked: "The United States, once again, sent vessels to the South China Sea to flex its muscles. It is clear to us who is the biggest threat to security in the South China Sea and beyond."
North Korea
  • Kim Jong Un answered a question nobody had asked, saying North Korea is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. and South Korea in a hypothetical future war. It was the first time he referred to South Korean president Yook Suk-yeol by name.
  • The U.S. and South Korea both think the North is preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017.
  • U.S. GDP contracted 0.2% in Q2, marking a second consecutive quarterly decline - which, by one common unofficial definition, means the U.S. economy has entered a recession.
How crowdfunding is shaping the war in Ukraine (Economist)
Civilians on both sides are buying kit, from high-tech equipment to essentials

This month Aerorozvidka, a Ukrainian drone unit, celebrated the acquisition of four Chinese-made dji Phantom 3 drones, provided by a German donor. The group, founded in 2014 after the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, is led by civilians. The gift is just one example of crowdfunding in Russia’s latest war against Ukraine. Citizens from both sides are supplying much-needed equipment to the front lines. What is the impact of these donations, and how do the two countries differ in their approach?

Private citizens have chipped in to help in times of war for centuries. A writing tablet found near Hadrian’s Wall in northern England mentions a gift of sandals, socks and underwear for Roman soldiers. During the first world war America’s government asked civilians to knit warm clothing for troops. But besides such small morale-boosting efforts, some schemes to rally civilians have proved strikingly productive. During the second world war Britain introduced a “Spitfire Fund”, encouraging civilian groups to raise the £12,600 (£490,000, or $590,000, in today’s money) needed to build the top-of-the-range fighter. Individual contributors could buy wings, machineguns or even a rivet, for six old pence (two and a half modern ones) apiece. The scheme raised around £13m in total—enough for more than 1,000 aircraft (of a total of 20,000 built).

Since the outbreak of war in February, Ukrainian crowdfunding has focused on high-tech gear which cannot be obtained locally, especially thermal imagers and drones. In July the government launched an international “Army of Drones” initiative to raise money and generate “dronations” of hardware. It is badly needed: though Ukraine has several domestic drone suppliers, many useful models are not produced in the country. dji, a big Chinese manufacturer, has banned sales to both Russia and Ukraine. Private crowdfunding efforts have sprung up too. The Kalush Orchestra, who won the Eurovision Song Contest this year, auctioned their trophy, raising $900,000 for three PD-2 drones. Expat Ukrainian business tycoons in Germany have reportedly donated Vector drones worth around $200,000 each. Civilian benefactors have also supplied a 3D printer to make parts for drones and drone bombs. Social-media platforms have helped these efforts to blossom. Besides the practical benefit, they foster a sense of personal involvement in the war, extending to donors in other countries.

Fundraising has also taken more creative (and grisly) forms. One website,, allows donors to have their name inscribed on an artillery shell that is then fired at Russian soldiers. The modest sum of $150 will buy you a standard 155mm artillery shell launched from one of Ukraine’s Western-supplied M777 howitzers. Spend a bit more, $2,000, and your name will go on a grenade dropped from a Mavic 3 drone. “We guarantee that your signed [grenade] will hit a soldier,” donors are assured. “Soldiers will redo it until they get a hit on video.” The most generous benefactors can even have their name printed on the turret of a T-72 tank. “The signed tank will continue fighting the invaders with your text on it,” promises the site. Its founders are now encouraging supporters to buy ear protection for Ukrainian artillerymen, who are losing their hearing, through an Amazon wishlist.

Russian crowdfunding looks superficially similar: pictures on social media typically show brand-new drones and thermal imagers. But the army is also short on essentials. Buda-Shirap Batuyev, a Communist mp allied with Vladimir Putin’s party, told local news outlets that he had attended the funerals of young soldiers whose units were as helpless as “blind kittens” because the army had not issued the requisite equipment. Civilian groups, often formed by mothers of soldiers, are sending assistance to the front lines—including basic items such as toothpaste, socks and tick spray. At least ten groups on Telegram, a social-media platform, have memberships in the thousands. In recent months they have begun to supply body armour and radios too. Russia’s sluggish military bureaucracy is accepted as a fact of life; army leadership has commended these “mum” groups for their help.

Ukraine’s crowdfunding efforts are small compared with government programmes. The country’s military budget in 2021 was around $6bn; America alone has already given over $20bn in military assistance. But they are helping to sustain interest in the war abroad and getting high-tech equipment to the front lines quickly. On the Russian side, crowdfunding is a sticking plaster over more fundamental problems. Military spending has provided tanks and artillery that look good in parades but has left soldiers short of essentials that worried mothers will now struggle to supply.