Ukraine Situation Report: HIMARS Gets The America’s Got Talent Treatment
Saint Javelin’s latest production is another example of the unprecedented online information war swirling around the conflict in Ukraine.
Both near and far from the Ukrainian frontlines, the information war rolls on, memes and all.
A handful of accounts and organizations have turned much of the war into legend: the Bayraktar TB2, FGM-142 Javelin, and the "Ghost of Kyiv" have all had their days in the sun.
But nothing has grabbed the internet’s attention quite like the M142 HIMARS and its strikes on Russian targets. From the folks who brought you “BBC Planet Ukraine,” here’s Saint Javelin’s latest production: “HIMARS Got Talent.”
The information war and its army of memes wern't totally unexpected parts of a potential war as Russian troops massed along the Ukrainian border, but it has become even more than that. The online battle for eyeballs, hearts, minds, and heavy weaponry has become a vital part of the war effort being fought on the social media battlefield.
Ukraine has seen memes turn into tangible benefits as well. You may know them as 'The Fellas,' the 'North Atlantic Fellas Organization (NAFO),' or you may just know them as the costumed doge profiles terrorizing pro-Russian accounts on Twitter.
Well, the tracksuit tactical doges crowdfunded a whole 2S7 Pion self-propelled howitzer, aptly named “Superbonker 9000.” Yes, it looks exactly like you would imagine.
You can read all about this scattered online batallion of Ukraine supporters in this recent profile in the Washington Post.
As we mark more than six months of fighting in Ukraine, keeping the rest of the world aware and committed to a cause will grow more and more difficult with attention spans like they are. It just goes to show that while the meme may not always make sense, if it works, it works.
Before heading into more of the latest news and updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up with our previous rolling coverage here.
The latest count from the Oryx blog tallies more than 1,000 Russian tanks lost in Ukraine. The count includes only those losses visually confirmed — the actual number is very likely much, much higher — and dwarfs previous Russian losses in Chechnya and Georgia.
These losses include top-end types and aging tanks pulled from storage like the T-62. With sanctions keeping critical components out of Russian assembly lines, Moscow may again look to older technology to backfill its units.
Forbes.com reported on Wednesday, citing the Russian state-run TASS news agency, that the Kremlin is considering restarting early-model BMP production. Factories that would be churning out next-generation T-15 Armatas, Kurganets-25s, and Bumerang armored vehicles would instead revert to making Cold War-era BMPs.
Adding insult to injury with the milestone, it looks like the Russian tank turret toss competition has made its way to a Scalemates model art.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) saga continued Saturday, with reports emerging the plant has again lost connection to the power grid within two days of an International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team's departure. Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom said Thursday five IAEA members would stay at the plant until Saturday, though it is not clear whether these team members were present when power was lost or what caused the outage.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast continued Saturday, with video emerging of overrun Russian positions as Ukrainian tanks continue the advance. There’s also the burned-out wreckage of a Russian Pantsir-S1 air defense system.
We’re also seeing Ukrainian forces using Dutch-donated YPR-765 armored personnel carriers in its offensive, with at least one captured by Russian forces. There are also reports that Ukrainian advances are being couched as a feint attack on Russian Telegram channels, with the real target being Kharkiv, which is an interesting way to cope with the news from Kherson.
It's not all good news for Ukraine though. The fighting is not one-sided, clearly, as evidenced by this captured YPR-765 equipped with an M2 50 cal machine gun. These vehicles were sent to Ukraine from The Netherlands. A Ukrainian Husky Tactical Support Vehicle, donated by the U.K., was also lost at one of the Inhulets River crossings during the offensive.
Like clockwork, Ukraine continued strikes on the three Russian-held crossings over the Dnieper, with explosions reported near the Antonivsky Railway Bridge, and satellite imagery showing the road bridge at Nova Kadhovka Dam collapsed after further attacks.
For reasons that escape all common sense, someone thought it would be a great time to hold a military reenactment in Sevastopol. You know, home of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters and recurring destination for kamikaze drones? This is in addition to wider Crimea now coming under persistent attack by mysterious methods. Yeah, 'let’s do a Crimean War reenactment with cannon fire there right now.'
There’s a short clip of a rather Mad Max-looking buggy in Ukrainian service, packing a DShK 12.7mm heavy machine gun, serious firepower for such a light vehicle. Buggies have become a major element within Ukrainian ground forces' hit-and-run tactics.
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