Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Emrys's Journal
Emrys's Journal
May 12, 2024

'I have my iPhone, X and a brain in my head': Ukrainian journalist and social media star Illia Ponomarenko

Ahead of the publication of his raw account of the Russian invasion, the reporter talks about capturing the conflict in real time – and when the war will come to an end

Illia Ponomarenko was mulling over the idea of writing a book about the war in his home country, Ukraine. He decided to ask his X (formerly Twitter) followers – 1.2 million of them – whether this was a good idea. “There were a lot of positive responses,” the 32-year-old says, with a self-effacing grin. In early 2023 he began work at his new flat in Bucha, the Kyiv satellite town now synonymous with Russian war crimes. He finished the manuscript in two and a half months. “It was brutally intense and emotionally exhausting,” he says.

This month, Bloomsbury publishes I Will Show You How It Was, Ponomarenko’s gripping account of the battle for Kyiv. It is a wonderful work of reportage, immediate and raw, as well as vivid and personal. As the former defence correspondent for the Kyiv Independent newspaper, Ponomarenko is uniquely placed to tell the story of how Russia’s swaggering imperial plan – to conquer Ukraine and to topple its pro-western government – failed. “It was a pivotal moment in European history,” he notes.

When the all-out invasion began on 24 February 2022, Ponomarenko was at home in Kyiv. He thought Russian troops would enter the capital. Western governments made the same gloomy assessment. At 4.45am Ponomarenko knocked on his flatmate Ivan’s door, telling him: “Wake the fuck up, it’s war.” Soon, he heard explosions. “We were under no illusions as to what would happen. We would end up in a pit with a bullet in our heads. So we decided to go bright,” he recalls.

Going bright meant documenting events in real time – not just the epic fighting, but the emotions and anxieties of Ukrainians caught up in what he calls the “biggest European bloodbath since 1945”. Ponomarenko’s posts were heartfelt, illuminating and brutally mocking of Moscow. They lit up X, and in the space of five days, he went from 10,000 followers to more than a million. He is arguably the most famous Ukrainian abroad after Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


An interesting profile of an Ukrainian journalist, whose regular postings on Twitter - https://twitter.com/IAPonomarenko - and BlueSky - https://bsky.app/profile/ioponomarenko.bsky.social - give many insights to the war with Russia from the perspective of the military and the Ukrainian public. He moved to Bucha after the physical aftermath of the Russian atrocities there had been dealt with enough to make it livable.

He's also being profiled many other outlets, including an interview on NPR:

Ukrainian journalist Illia Ponomarenko on his memoir about the war

NPR's Scott Simon speaks to Ukrainian journalist Illia Ponomarenko about his memoir of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, "I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv."


Illia Ponomarenko turned 30 years old in 2022, just as Russian forces attacked Ukraine. He was a reporter for the New Kyiv Independent, had much to cover, but he also drove his mother from the Donbas to the home of the parents of his new girlfriend, Natalia, to ask two people he had never met, can you take care of my mom? I don't know for how long. He then returned to Kyiv to report on the war and stories of survival among people struggling not just to stay alive, but to fight back before the eyes of the world, even as the world started to look away. Illia Ponomarenko has written a memoir of the war so far, "I Will Show You How It Was: The Story Of Wartime Kyiv." It covers much blood, suffering, and loss, but also courage, ingenuity and heroism. He joins us now from Bucha, Ukraine. Thanks so much for being with us.

ILLIA PONOMARENKO: Hello. Thank you for having me.

SIMON: And I guess we should explain, first off, Natalia's parents didn't need to be convinced much, did they?

PONOMARENKO: They absolutely did not, even though I'm not even sure they even knew her daughter had, actually, boyfriends. So that was a moment of unification in a terrible hour of wartime, at the same time of warmth and welcoming embraces by people who never knew you before.

SIMON: You suggest in this memoir that a lot of Ukrainians, including many in the government, didn't take the threat of war very seriously. How so?

PONOMARENKO: It's true. Partially it's because of very natural human characters (ph) that we do not want something ugly to happen to us. The hope dies last. But also, the more we knew about what Kremlin is and how much they put on intimidation and extortion, on fear mongering, too, it seemed to be so absurd, so doubtful and so unreasonable that you actually ask a question, are they stupid enough to do it?

SIMON: Of course, a lot of people considered experts were predicting Kyiv would fall within a few days. What happened?

PONOMARENKO: They ended up being absolutely wrong about the Ukrainian ability to fight, the Ukrainian willingness to stay independent and fight for their country and to keep their military as an organized force. The Ukrainian military managed to counter the first strike. So the initial plan failed within 24 hours, essentially.

April 29, 2024

Humza Yousaf quits as Scotland's first minister

Scottish National party leader’s decision comes less than a week after collapsing his coalition with the Scottish Greens

Humza Yousaf has said he will resign as Scotland’s first minister, forcing his Scottish National party into a leadership contest ahead of the UK general election expected this year.

At a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh, Yousaf said he would step down once a successor had been appointed. The announcement on Monday came ahead of a pair of no-confidence votes.

“I am not willing to trade my values and principles, or do deals with whomever, simply for retaining power,” he said.

“I‘ve concluded that repairing [the SNP’s] relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm,” he added.


Amid much mainstream media slavering and noisy jubilation among the vast bevy of racists on Twitter who've targeted him since he took office ("deport him", "time for a Scottish First Minister", "send him home" - home being Glasgow, where he was born), Yousaf's resignation speech was statesmanlike and transcripts will no doubt be available later.

I explored some of the background to the abandonment of the 2030 carbon emission target and dissolution of the Bute House Agreement in earlier replies, such as here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/108822833

More has emerged over the weekend about just how dysfunctional the Scottish Green Party has become:

The inside story of the Greens in meltdown as rebels demand leaders go

A rebel faction has formed within the Greens and they want vengeance for how party leaders handled the deal with the SNP. Our Writer at Large spent the week with them

The anger among Green Party rebels is palpable. Some are close to tears.

There’s demands for co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater to go. There’s calls for every Green MSP to be “de-selected” for “selling out the party’s values”. There’s accusations of gaslighting and bullying cliques at the top of the party creating a toxic culture of fear and intimidation.

In the days leading up to Humza Yousaf kicking Greens out of government, the Herald on Sunday was invited to a series of meetings with the party’s ‘rebel faction’. They wanted to see Greens pull out of the Bute House Agreement (BHA) unilaterally, and said they feared if they didn’t act soon, they’d be humiliated by the SNP moving against them first. Their prediction came true.

Among the rebels there’s councillors; current and former General Election candidates; people who sat or sit on key party committees, associations and representative groups; senior branch members; members who sat on the party’s ruling executive and council; party staff; and current and former employees of Green MSPs. More than a dozen rebels, from across Scotland, spoke. Much fury was directed at Ross Greer.

He’s seen by the rebels as key to the failure of the BHA. They say he was instrumental in the agreement’s mechanics, and hashed out details of the programme for government with SNP leaders, making him culpable for the “corruption of Green values”.


It's hard to see how a party as riven as this could have played a constructive role in a stable government coalition. I should emphasize that the Scottish Green Party is entirely separate to the Green Party in the rest of the UK, which currently has its own problems.

Resigning at this point has spiked the guns of the Tories, all set for leading a personal vote of no confidence in him, and not least the Alba Party, which excited itself over the weekend at the prospect of being able to dictate a deal to support Yousaf in return for very significant concessions, including some sort of electoral pact - concessions, in the end, Yousaf was not willing to grant.
April 16, 2024

CORRECTION: Johnson did NOT say Ukraine had to stand on its own, as reported earlier

Earlier, this tweet was taken to mean Johnson in a closed meeting implied Ukraine should be abandoned:


Jake Sherman

JOHNSON, in the closed GOP meeting, says that Ukraine needs to stand on its own.

Sherman has now corrected:


Jake Sherman

POORLY WORDED! the Ukraine BILL. not Ukraine the country

Jake Sherman
JOHNSON, in the closed GOP meeting, says that Ukraine needs to stand on its own.
April 14, 2024

Russia is sure to lose in Ukraine, reckons a Chinese expert on Russia

Feng Yujun says the war has strained Sino-Russian relations

THE WAR between Russia and Ukraine has been catastrophic for both countries. With neither side enjoying an overwhelming advantage and their political positions completely at odds, the fighting is unlikely to end soon. One thing is clear, though: the conflict is a post-cold-war watershed that will have a profound, lasting global impact.

Four main factors will influence the course of the war. The first is the level of resistance and national unity shown by Ukrainians, which has until now been extraordinary. The second is international support for Ukraine, which, though recently falling short of the country’s expectations, remains broad.

The third factor is the nature of modern warfare, a contest that turns on a combination of industrial might and command, control, communications and intelligence systems. One reason Russia has struggled in this war is that it is yet to recover from the dramatic deindustrialisation it suffered after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The final factor is information. When it comes to decision-making, Vladimir Putin is trapped in an information cocoon, thanks to his having been in power so long. The Russian president and his national-security team lack access to accurate intelligence. The system they operate lacks an efficient mechanism for correcting errors. Their Ukrainian counterparts are more flexible and effective.


Feng Judun is Vice Dean of the Institute of International Studies and Director of the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai..

On a cheerful note that goes against the tide of current opinion in the West, his conclusions are that Russia will be forced to withdraw from all its occupied Ukrainian territories, and its threats to use nuclear weapons will come to nothing. He also says: "The war is a turning-point for Russia. It has consigned Putin’s regime to broad international isolation. He has also had to deal with difficult domestic political undercurrents, from the rebellion by the mercenaries of the Wagner Group and other pockets of the military — for instance in Belgorod — to ethnic tensions in several Russian regions and the recent terrorist attack in Moscow. These show that political risk in Russia is very high. Mr Putin may recently have been re-elected, but he faces all kinds of possible black-swan events." He foresees positive prospects for Ukraine when the war ends, including accession to the EU and NATO membership, and negative ones for Russia as it risks losing its former associated republics and the EU has grown more unified and many countries no longer have any illusions about Russia's attitudes, conduct, intent and the poor state of its armed forces.
April 12, 2024

While US Congress dithers and stalls on aid to Ukraine, EU rebels disrupt parliamentary agenda to spur action

European Parliament Blocks EU Council Budget Until Ukraine Gets its Patriots

Belgian MEP leads rebellion in European Parliament to block financing for the Council of the European Union in response to Ukrainian pleas for additional air defense assets.

The European Parliament met in Brussels on Thursday, April 11 with a vote on approving the EU Council’s budget on the agenda. However, after an intervention by former Belgian Prime Minister now a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Guy Verhofstadt it was decided to block approval of the budget.

With a vote taken and 515 MEPs for and only 62 against Verhofstadt’s motion to refuse to discharge the EU Council's budget until European leaders agree to support Ukraine with additional Patriot air defense systems was adopted.
Verhofstadt, a well-known and vociferous advocate for Ukraine, told parliament: “What I find scandalous is that Europe, which is opening the door for Ukraine, and the European Council are not even capable in such an urgency to decide to send a number of anti-missile systems to Ukraine.”


For those who can, and aren't too sniffy to, use Twitter, here's Verhofstadt's powerful intervention:


Guy Verhofstadt

BREAKING — Parliament refuses discharge of the Council budget until European Council decided to support Ukraine with additional Patriot anti-missile systems !

[Twitter video]

The move has been dismissed by the likes of Politico as "little more than theatrics".

Things look a whole lot different across the Atlantic, where we're not wringing our hands at Ukraine striking Russia where it hurts in an existential war.
March 10, 2024

The West Is Still Oblivious to Russia's Information War

Paralyzed by free speech concerns, Western governments are loath to act.

A few weeks ago, a Russian autocrat addressed millions of Western citizens in a propaganda event that would have been unthinkable a generation ago—yet is so normal today as to be almost unremarkable. Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin has now been viewed more than 120 million times on YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter. Despite the tedium of Putin’s two-hour-long lecture about an imaginary Russian and Ukrainian history, the streaming and promotion of the interview by Western platforms is only the latest successful foray in Russia’s information war against the West, which Moscow is showing every sign of winning. And in this war, the Kremlin is not just weaponizing social media, but relying on Westerners themselves to spread its messages far and wide.

A decade into Russia’s all-out information war, the social media companies seem to have forgotten their promises to act after the 2016 U.S. presidential election interference scandal, when Russian-sponsored posts reached 126 million Americans on Facebook alone. Policymakers not only seem oblivious to the full breadth and scope of Russia’s information war, but fears about stifling freedom of speech and contributing to political polarization have led them and the social media companies to largely refrain from any action to stop Russia’s ongoing campaign.

This inaction comes amid growing signs of Russian influence operations that have deeply penetrated Western politics and society. Dozens—if not hundreds or more—of Russian agents have been observed everywhere from English towns to Canadian universities. Many of these agents are low-level and appear to achieve little individually, but occasionally they penetrate institutions, companies, and governments. Meanwhile, a flood of money props up Moscow’s ambitions, including hundreds of millions of dollars the Kremlin is pouring into influencing elections, with some of that money covertly (and overtly) funneled to political parties and individual politicians. For many decades, Western societies have been deluged with every sort of influence imaginable.

While there have been some countermeasures since the start of Russia’s latest war—including the United States and European Union shutting off access to Russian media networks such as RT and Sputnik in early 2022—these small, ineffective steps are the equivalent of information war virtue signaling. They do not fundamentally change Western governments’ lack of any coherent approach to the many vectors of Russian disinformation and hybrid warfare. At the very moment when Kremlin narratives on social media are beginning to seriously undermine support for Ukraine, Western governments’ handle on the disinformation crisis seems to be getting weaker by the day.


(Full article viewable in Reader View)
March 7, 2024

Seth Meyers sums up Trump's record in about 90 seconds [Twitter video + text version]



Wow. Seth Meyers absolutely nailed this rundown of trump’s greatest hits. 😅

[Twitter video]

For those who don't/won't do Twitter but for some reason clicked in anyway, or who just want to enjoy most of it in print for the hell of it:

“Presumptive GOP nominee for president, again, for a third time, despite the fact he is a twice-impeached, four-time criminal indictee and racist who’s been found liable for fraud and sexual abuse. Banned from doing business in the state of New York for three years. Owes over half a billion dollars in fines. Took millions from foreign governments while he was president. Tried to extort a foreign country to interfere in an election in 2020 and encouraged another to help him win in 2016,” Mr Meyers started, however, he did not stop there.

The host said that Mr Trump “actively undermined a nation’s response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and let a deadly disease spiral out of control. Is about to go on trial for breaking campaign finance laws by paying hush money to cover up an affair during the 2016 campaign. Orchestrated a months-long coup attempt that culminated in a violent insurrection to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and install him as an unelected dictator. Stole classified documents and obstructed attempts to get them back. Has never once won the popular vote and has been routinely rejected by a majority of Americans in election after election”.

At the point you may think Meyers has covered it all, he reminds us of many other bizarre Mr Trump moments.

Mr Trump “spews deranged conspiracy theories about everything from climate change to immigration, to vaccines to windmills. Glitches on three-syllable words, two-syllable words and one-syllable words, cheats at golf, can’t spell his own name, his wife’s name or the words ‘indicted’, ‘education’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘stolen’, ‘Denmark’. ‘Kentucky’ or ‘tap’,” Meyers said.

“And is on top of everything else, the single weirdest, most off-putting human being on the face of the f****** planet,” he concluded.


Well, that wasn't quite his conclusion, because he continued:

And this is the same planet Ted Cruz lives on, so that's saying something.
March 7, 2024

Plan to buy ammunition for Ukraine fully funded, says Czech president

Source: Reuters

PRAGUE, March 7 (Reuters) - A Czech-led plan to buy 800,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukraine to fight Russia's invading forces has secured enough funding, with contributions from 18 countries, Czech President Petr Pavel said on Thursday.

The most pressing need for Ukraine two years after Russia's full-scale invasion began has become artillery ammunition, which is running low as the sides use heavy cannon fire to hold largely static, entrenched positions along the 1,000-km (620-mile) front line.


Pavel had said last month it had located 500,000 rounds of 155-calibre ammunition and 300,000 rounds of 122-calibre ammunition that could be delivered if funding was secured.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to regional towns on Thursday, Pavel said ammunition deliveries to Ukraine could start in weeks.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/financing-set-buy-ammunition-ukraine-czech-president-says-2024-03-07/

Momentum on this initiative has been building rapidly since President Pavel announced it on 17 February. Latvia, Germany and France declared their support for the scheme earlier in the week, and Norway came on board earlier today.

Czechia is also planning to set up a major hub to produce and service arms for Ukraine.
February 24, 2024

I guess that put a dent in any plans Vlad might have had for taking a pot shot at the leaders gathering in Kyiv

Happy anniversary, Vlad!

The remains of ten of the A-50 crew have been found at the crash site, with sources listing them as five majors, three captains, an ensign and a lieutenant. Radio intercepts indicate that the A-50 was in the process of co-ordinating an attack by an Su-35 and three Su34s near Avdiivka, which attempt then had to be abandoned.

Meanwhile, you could say "BREAKING!"


Euan MacDonald

Meanwhile, in Moscow, one of the hangars of the Sukhoi aircraft design plant is on fire. Sukhoi makes/made the “Su-” and “Be-” brands of aircraft, like the Su-34 and the Beriev (Be) A-50.

[Twitter video]

Aww, that might make figuring out a replacement for the A-50 by fixing any of the disabled ones they have in reserve a bit trickier.
February 24, 2024

Incredibly, The Russian Air Force Has Lost Another Rare A-50 Radar Plane

Incredibly, the Russian air force has lost another one of its rare Beriev A-50M/U Mainstay radar early-warning planes. Video that circulated online on Friday reportedly depicts the A-50’s burning wreckage in Krasnodar Krai, in Russia just east of the Sea of Azov.

The location of the crash, at least 120 miles from the front line in southern Ukraine, could indicate the four-engine, 15-person radar plane either suffered a mechanical failure—or took a hit while operating closer to the front and tried to make it back to its base in Krasnodar before exploding.

For what it’s worth, the Ukrainian air force claimed it shot down the A-50 with assistance from the intelligence directorate in Kyiv.

Either way, it’s a devastating blow for the battered Russian air force. The air arm has lost, mostly to Ukrainian long-range surface-to-air missiles—American-made Patriot PAC-2s, in particular—nine of its best planes in just a month. Including an A-50 that the Ukrainians hit over the Sea of Azov in January.


It's grimly amusing that Russia's propaganda bloggers would prefer to claim this was a friendly fire incident rather than a hit by Ukraine. Ukrainian intelligence says the A-50 was downed by an S-200 missile.

Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 7,293
Latest Discussions»Emrys's Journal