High-res Ukrainian Rebel Gun Locker: A 72-Year-Old Returns To War.
Note this piece from Hill 277.9, in Saur-Mogila, in which Noah Sneider, a preternaturally prepared young correspondent working in eastern Ukraine, documents a PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle, b. 1942, in service again.  
We’ll have more about this weapon, and another from the same time, soon on the At War blog.  In the interim, Noah sums up one of the tragedies of Ukraine, and of many wars, with a pitch-perfect understanding. It is painful to read, because it rings so true. This:

The encounter is emblematic of the war in Ukraine: fought from afar against inhuman opponents. Neither side wants to look the other in the eye, because to do so would be to acknowledge that, for the most part, they aren’t fighting Nazis and terrorists, but neighbors and countrymen. 

When Hitler and Stalin had it out here, George Orwell wrote of a force that he called “nationalism.” He did not mean allegiance to a nation-state though, but the conviction around which one can construct a reality. “Having picked his side, [the nationalist] persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him,” Orwell writes. “Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also—since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself—unshakeably certain of being in the right.”

ABOUT THE IMAGE
By Noah Sneider, a short while ago, of a 14.5mm weapon made to stop the Third Reich’s tanks, now, more than 70 decades on, in use in an internal war.

Ukrainian Rebel Gun Locker: A 72-Year-Old Returns To War.

Note this piece from Hill 277.9, in Saur-Mogila, in which Noah Sneider, a preternaturally prepared young correspondent working in eastern Ukraine, documents a PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle, b. 1942, in service again.  

We’ll have more about this weapon, and another from the same time, soon on the At War blog.  In the interim, Noah sums up one of the tragedies of Ukraine, and of many wars, with a pitch-perfect understanding. It is painful to read, because it rings so true. This:

The encounter is emblematic of the war in Ukraine: fought from afar against inhuman opponents. Neither side wants to look the other in the eye, because to do so would be to acknowledge that, for the most part, they aren’t fighting Nazis and terrorists, but neighbors and countrymen. 

When Hitler and Stalin had it out here, George Orwell wrote of a force that he called “nationalism.” He did not mean allegiance to a nation-state though, but the conviction around which one can construct a reality. “Having picked his side, [the nationalist] persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him,” Orwell writes. “Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is alsosince he is conscious of serving something bigger than himselfunshakeably certain of being in the right.”

ABOUT THE IMAGE

By Noah Sneider, a short while ago, of a 14.5mm weapon made to stop the Third Reich’s tanks, now, more than 70 decades on, in use in an internal war.

High-res Lingering Excesses:  The Continuing Perils of Surplus Soviet Arms.
Two samples of small-arms cartridges gathered by reporters from The New York Times after battles in eastern Ukraine show their origins in the constellation of Soviet arms plants (and from a particular set of circumstances) late in the Cold War. On the NYT’s At War blog. Here.
ABOUT THE IMAGE
An expended 5.45x39mm rifle cartridge from Slovyansk, Ukraine, bearing stamps indicating manufacture in Lugansk in 1981. By the author.

Lingering Excesses:  The Continuing Perils of Surplus Soviet Arms.

Two samples of small-arms cartridges gathered by reporters from The New York Times after battles in eastern Ukraine show their origins in the constellation of Soviet arms plants (and from a particular set of circumstances) late in the Cold War. On the NYT’s At War blog. Here.

ABOUT THE IMAGE

An expended 5.45x39mm rifle cartridge from Slovyansk, Ukraine, bearing stamps indicating manufacture in Lugansk in 1981. By the author.

Detail of Type of Shrapnel That Appears to Have Struck Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

Note the jagged diamond-shaped metal chunks in the upper frame, and Image I at the bottom center.  These are the same type of shrapnel generated by the blast of a class surface-to-air guided missile, including the SA-11 line, a current (ordnance) suspect in the downing of MH17.  

For more — including images of shrapnel holes in an aircraft panel from the Boeing’s wreckage, & maps, graphics and a fuller explanation — go here.

ABOUT THE IMAGES.  

Top, from Miltec Machining. Bottom, from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Digital Collection.

On An Aircraft Panel that Fell from the Sky, Hints of Flight 17’s End.

An analysis, with IHS Jane’s, of the impact holes and paint blistering on wreckage found by two reporters from The New York Times suggests that the plane was struck by high-velocity shrapnel and a blast wave from a high-explosive fragmenting warhead.  Here.

ABOUT THE IMAGES

By Noah Sneider, who (with Sabrina Tavernise) found this piece of wreckage several miles from the main debris field.

High-res A Catastrophically Insufficient Restriction.
This is the map and Notice to Airmen issued by Ukraine on July 14, hours after a Ukrainian military Antonov was downed by a guided surface-to-air missile as it flew near the border with Russia.  Note Lines F and G of the text in the upper left corner and the shaded area in red.
The notice added 6,000 feet of altitude to the airspace closures in eastern Ukraine, which had previously been set from the ground to 26,000 feet. Thus, this notice forbid civilian traffic beneath 32,000 feet.
From a weapons perspective, this is a very curious decision, given that the class of guided missile implicated in the downing of the Antonov has ranges that can extend, depending on the variants, to altitudes above 70,000 feet.
Put bluntly, Ukraine’s restriction offered no protection to aircraft from a weapon newly in play in the conflict. It was, to use a crude example, akin to telling someone who is standing 10 feet from an angry drunk with a loaded pistol to move a few feet further away.  
Actually, that example is not quite right, because transiting international aircraft over eastern Ukraine already flew over the separatist area at standard cruising altitudes higher than 26,000 and usually higher than 32,000 feet. To comply with the new restriction they did not have to change their behaviors with regard to altitude — at all. This is in spite of the fact that they were in chip-shot range for a class of missiles that had reportedly slipped out state hands, and had been recently fired. So this is more like telling the man already standing 10 feet away from the armed drunk that he should not get within 8 feet. 
When MH17 took off from Amsterdam on July 17 with 298 souls aboard its crew followed an approved flight plan into this red shaded area. The flight’s route and the crew’s behaviors, according to the information publicly available so far, complied with the guidelines set by relevant authorities charged with ensuring aviation safety. But the steps these authorities had taken offered the plane and the people aboard no protection whatsoever against what happened next.
Why? One reason seems to be that the authorities and the aviation safety community did not take the obvious step of aligning the airspace restrictions with the range of antiaircraft weapons newly used in the war. Had that been done, one clear conclusion might have been that the only way to ensure civilian air traffic over the conflict area was safe from the missiles below would be to close the airspace completely and direct air carriers to plan routes around.
Civilian jetliners do not fly nearly as high as this class of weapon, have no defenses against them and cannot withstand their punch. 
Given the capabilities of the weapons involved, and recently used (under circumstances that remained cloudy), there was no fully safe route overhead. The safeguards were not safeguards at all.
 

A Catastrophically Insufficient Restriction.

This is the map and Notice to Airmen issued by Ukraine on July 14, hours after a Ukrainian military Antonov was downed by a guided surface-to-air missile as it flew near the border with Russia.  Note Lines F and G of the text in the upper left corner and the shaded area in red.

The notice added 6,000 feet of altitude to the airspace closures in eastern Ukraine, which had previously been set from the ground to 26,000 feet. Thus, this notice forbid civilian traffic beneath 32,000 feet.

From a weapons perspective, this is a very curious decision, given that the class of guided missile implicated in the downing of the Antonov has ranges that can extend, depending on the variants, to altitudes above 70,000 feet.

Put bluntly, Ukraine’s restriction offered no protection to aircraft from a weapon newly in play in the conflict. It was, to use a crude example, akin to telling someone who is standing 10 feet from an angry drunk with a loaded pistol to move a few feet further away.  

Actually, that example is not quite right, because transiting international aircraft over eastern Ukraine already flew over the separatist area at standard cruising altitudes higher than 26,000 and usually higher than 32,000 feet. To comply with the new restriction they did not have to change their behaviors with regard to altitude — at all. This is in spite of the fact that they were in chip-shot range for a class of missiles that had reportedly slipped out state hands, and had been recently fired. So this is more like telling the man already standing 10 feet away from the armed drunk that he should not get within 8 feet. 

When MH17 took off from Amsterdam on July 17 with 298 souls aboard its crew followed an approved flight plan into this red shaded area. The flight’s route and the crew’s behaviors, according to the information publicly available so far, complied with the guidelines set by relevant authorities charged with ensuring aviation safety. But the steps these authorities had taken offered the plane and the people aboard no protection whatsoever against what happened next.

Why? One reason seems to be that the authorities and the aviation safety community did not take the obvious step of aligning the airspace restrictions with the range of antiaircraft weapons newly used in the war. Had that been done, one clear conclusion might have been that the only way to ensure civilian air traffic over the conflict area was safe from the missiles below would be to close the airspace completely and direct air carriers to plan routes around.

Civilian jetliners do not fly nearly as high as this class of weapon, have no defenses against them and cannot withstand their punch. 

Given the capabilities of the weapons involved, and recently used (under circumstances that remained cloudy), there was no fully safe route overhead. The safeguards were not safeguards at all.

 

High-res Arms Trade Data-Sharing:  Headstamps from Ukraine.
Being back in the states for a moment, hopefully to close out a project too-long in works, has its benefits, including fast internet and access to saved files.  This in turn means a chance to dig up and publish data and images that we collected while moving through the field this year, including a batch of head stamps from the fighting in Ukraine. We have samples from two battles, and will check with the desk to see if they would like to publish them on the At War blog. If not, I will try to get them up on this blog before the end of the week. 
Quick background: Noah Sneider and I gathered the spent-cartridge samples in the spring, working quickly and unobtrusively, and each night I’d make a swift inventory and photo record on the table by the bed, then wrap the spent cases in paper and bag them up tight, so they would not jingle, and quietly discard them. (Some subjects are uneasy when they see a reporter inventorying arms.) For all of the work, the samples yielded no surprises. 
ABOUT THE IMAGE
Bloody 5.45x39 cartridge case, collected after brief, vicious gunfight at the edge of Slovyansk. Though not visible in the image above, this vintage 1982 cartridge’s provenance was made clear after the blood was cleaned away. Earlier this year. 

Arms Trade Data-Sharing:  Headstamps from Ukraine.

Being back in the states for a moment, hopefully to close out a project too-long in works, has its benefits, including fast internet and access to saved files.  This in turn means a chance to dig up and publish data and images that we collected while moving through the field this year, including a batch of head stamps from the fighting in Ukraine. We have samples from two battles, and will check with the desk to see if they would like to publish them on the At War blog. If not, I will try to get them up on this blog before the end of the week. 

Quick background: Noah Sneider and I gathered the spent-cartridge samples in the spring, working quickly and unobtrusively, and each night I’d make a swift inventory and photo record on the table by the bed, then wrap the spent cases in paper and bag them up tight, so they would not jingle, and quietly discard them. (Some subjects are uneasy when they see a reporter inventorying arms.) For all of the work, the samples yielded no surprises. 

ABOUT THE IMAGE

Bloody 5.45x39 cartridge case, collected after brief, vicious gunfight at the edge of Slovyansk. Though not visible in the image above, this vintage 1982 cartridge’s provenance was made clear after the blood was cleaned away. Earlier this year.