I’ve assembled a Twitter list you can follow for constantly updated news from Russia’s war on Ukraine. Click see the latest news, and if you’re on Twitter, please retweet the list.
Trouble’s brewing around the borders of Ukraine. People who don’t make eastern Europe a daily concern need context, and maps help. It’s beginning to look like we’ll be talking about Ukraine for some time to come, so to help orient yourself, and get briefed up on what may be the coming storm, here are a few maps. First, Ukraine itself:
Ukraine borders Russia to its east, Belarus to its north, and to its west, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. Russian troops occupy the Donbass region in the east and Crimea in the south.
Here, Ukraine and its northern neighbors:
Note Kaliningrad, between Poland and Lithuania. It’s an exclave of Russia, a heavily armed artifact of WWII. The short border between Poland and Lithuania is called the Suwalki Gap, an area of vulnerability for NATO, as a Russian move to close that gap between Kaliningrad and Belarus would cut off the NATO Baltic states.
Belarus is increasingly a satrapy of Russia and as of the week of January 17, Russian troops have been moving into Belarus. The presence of Russian forces in Belarus is ominous not only for the Suwalki Gap, but also because Russian troops are taking positions along the Belarus/Ukraine border, ahead of coming war games with Belarusian troops promised for February 10 – 20.
Here is a map from the Belarusian Ministry of Defense showing the locations of the planned war games. Note in particular that the tank maneuvers anticipated in Belarus’s west (arrow) border the Suwalki Gap:
As you can see in the map below, the border area Russia occupies in Ukraine’s east, the Donbass, is much farther away from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv than is the Belarusian border. Kyiv (this is the spelling in the Ukrainian language. In Russian it’s Kiev) is mostly on the west bank of the Dnieper River, so an incursion from Belarus would allow Russia to avoid having to cross the river, although they’d likely to go around to the west of Chernobyl. Nevertheless, the travel time between Kyiv and Chernobyl is scarcely more than an hour.
Now here is Ukraine’s south and the Black Sea:
Russian landing craft recently set out from the Baltic Sea Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. These are now apparently en route to the Black Sea, having been escorted out of the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, January 19th. Transit time to the Black Sea, estimates are plus or minus eight days.
Besides in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region there are three so-called “frozen conflicts” around the Black Sea where Russia has troops:
Chances are we’ll refer back to these maps in the days to come.
Much as we might prefer otherwise, we may be in this air travel limbo for a while.
Forbes predicts a future of “no cabin bags, no lounges, no automatic upgrades, face masks, surgical gloves, self-check-in, self-bag-drop-off, immunity passports, on-the-spot blood tests and sanitation disinfection tunnels” and a four hour check-in process.
My bet, that’s too grim, if only because airlines and governments alike are committed to maintaining viable airline businesses. Plus, airlines need you way more than you need them for a change. How about that.
For now, here’s a useful, clickable IATA map of worldwide travel restrictions.
A compilation from readers of CityLab.
Some American registered voters, who elect our president, believe that Iran is in Oklahoma. From Morning Consult.
Travel Time, two posts back, had it about right. Regulatory confidence in Boeing’s abilities to fly on two jet engines over the pole produced this flight path for us on Tuesday/Wednesday. The flight was Air China CA818 Dulles to Beijing, fourteen hours in a Boeing 777.
Never having seen Hudson Bay in mid-April, I’m here to testify that there’s not a thing down there, no sign of Churchill and polar bears, just icy patches with streams to the bay and snow fields beyond.
Washington Dulles to Beijing was followed by Beijing to HCMC where everybody is wilting after several 97 degree days.
Click it to have a look. Via Jan Lenaerts, @lenaertsjan
You know how flat maps use projections that distort the actual size of objects on a globe, don’t you? Of course you do. Here’s a fun little tool you can use to show the actual size of the country you live in as compared to others around the world.
Here, for example, is how big Greenland would be if it were located on the equator. Play around with it yourself at TheTrueSizeOf.com.
Is this a thing? C’mon. Honest?
I guess you can actually get out there in the world, or you can hang back and try to sell dumb stuff like this for the amazing price of just “$23.99, or 46% off.”
46% off what?