Tag: Ukraine

This Good Boy Has Helped Defuse 150 Russian Explosives In Ukraine

This is a cat blog, but every once in a while Little Buddy the Cat magnanimously allows us to issue well-deserved props to dogs who do extraordinary things, like Patron, a two-year-old Jack Russell terrier in Ukraine.

The bomb-sniffing good boy has so far sniffed out 150 dangerous explosives, including landmines and live ordnance left behind by the retreating Russians, according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry. He finds the explosives, tells his human buddies, and the de-miners go to work on neutralizing the devices.

Not only does Patron help save lives at a crucial time in the war, when Russian forces are covering their retreat with mines and other traps, he’s also a handsome little guy and he happily cuddles with kids who could really use a little brightness after what they’ve endured. Is there anything Patron can’t do?

Patron and other bomb-sniffing dogs perform a critical task as they help their human handlers sweep cities and towns before civilians can return. While some “experts” predicted Ukraine would fall in days, the country has shocked the world by not only enduring the Russian invasion, but pushing the invaders back after inflicting heavy losses on them.

Making home safe for returning refugees

As a result of their failure Russian units are consolidating in eastern Ukraine, and some Ukrainians are cautiously returning to what’s left of their cities and neighborhoods for the first time since the Feb. 24 invasion. Since Russia abandoned efforts to take Kyiv and the entire country, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been returning home every day, according to a United Nations report.

While Kyiv was a ghost town just a few weeks ago, people have returned to the streets, bakeries and cafes have reopened, and churches are holding services again. Patron and his buddies are making sure hidden mines and other traps are neutralized before people come home, avoiding further tragedy after so much loss.

Patron has been helping clear Chernihiv and its surrounding environs. The northern Ukrainian city, which is about 150 kilometers northeast of Kyiv, has been designated a “Hero City” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The title has also been given to cities like Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mariupol, and marks sites where Ukrainians dug in to defend their homes despite the brutality of the Russian invasion.

“One day, Patron’s story will be turned into a film, but for now, he is faithfully performing his professional duties,” staffers at Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security wrote on Twitter when they shared a video of Patron last month.

Cats have your back, dawgs!

Buddy the Cat salutes Patron and says cats “would totally would help sniff out explosives, but the dogs seem to have a handle on that and we don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder.”

Instead, Buddy said, he’s sure the felines of Ukraine are engaged in some other kind of dangerous, patriotic work, such as reminding humans when it’s dinner time, keeping seats warm and providing delightful company to the war-weary.

People On Social Media Think A Cat Is Helping Ukrainian Soldiers Dodge Russian Sniper Fire

According to the legend of the “Panther of Kharkiv,” a vengeful house cat has been using his superior feline vision to spot the telltale red laser dots from sniper scopes and warn Ukrainian soldiers they’re targets before snipers can get off a shot.

I imagine it goes something like this:

“Dude, there’s a red dot on your face.”

“You said that 42 times in the last hour.”

“Well, it’s true. Give me my treat as a reward, otherwise I might forget to inform you next time.”

“If I find out you’re lying…”

“Treat, now! Thanks…Mmmm, that’s good. Oh look, there’s another red dot on your head! Quick, take cover and give me another snack!”

Either that or kitty is just launching himself at Ukrainian foreheads, chasing the ever elusive red dot.

Of course you don’t need us to tell you this viral social media story is nonsense, do you?

ukrainian-army-cat
Mmmmm, Elmer’s!

Hundreds of thousands of people have proven themselves more credulous, and continue to share the Panther of Kharkiv posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok and other platforms despite warnings that the story isn’t true. The accompanying photo, while real, is from 2018.

“Complete garbage,” is how Liam Collins, a West Point faculty member and former defense advisor to Ukraine, put it.

Others see these stories as evidence of new frontiers for psychological operations, propaganda and counter-propaganda.

Psy-ops have long been a part of war, from Alexander the Great’s armies leaving giant-size helmets and breastplates in the ruins of conquered cities to seed tales of impossible huge — and unbeatable — Greek invaders, to a CIA-devised plan to drop condoms on Soviet territory.

“Condoms?!?” you ask. “How exactly do condoms help a war effort?”

Because they were intentionally manufactured in ludicrously huge sizes marked “Medium” and “Small” with “MADE IN USA” prominently stamped on the packaging, which would be left for the enemy to discover and, the thinking went, to kill their morale. (There are also reports that US psyops left footlong condoms on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam, leading terrified Vietcong to hide their women.)

And, famously, US Army psyops drove around in up-armored Humvees during 2004’s bloody battle of Fallujah, blasting the South Park creators’ “America, F— Yeah!” from military sound systems as Marines engaged insurgent forces.

The point is to raise friendly morale, destroy enemy morale, or both, and it makes perfect sense that psyops would move into the digital domain in a war in which cyber warfare has become a major part of the hostilities.

The Panther of Kharkiv, like tall tales of wars past, collapses under scrutiny.

As Snopes correctly notes, snipers don’t actually use little red laser dots. Not only would they be counter-productive at the distances snipers work, when things like atmospheric conditions and wind speed come into play, but using lasers would alert the enemy that they’re being targeted and give away the location of the sniper(s).

The entire point of a sniper is to take out targets over long distances without giving themselves away. They’re not equipped for routine firefights, and the last thing they want is to be stuck somewhere relying on a sidearm while riflemen flank them. That’s asking to get killed.

The second absurdity is the idea that cats can be reliably trained to do anything of military value. The CIA already tried that in the 1960s with Project Acoustic Kitty, when they outfitted cats with listening devices and released them in the vicinity of Soviet targets in an attempt to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Twenty million dollars, a few years and several failed attempts later, the CIA concluded training cats as spies was “not practical.” The problem, of course, is that you can train cats all you want, and maybe the cats even have the best intentions, but then…Oh hai is that a bird? Is that a bird? Yes, it is! I’m chasing the bird! Wait, birdie! Oooh, what’s this on the ground? A bag with a half-eaten burger? How delicious! …

Cats are easily distracted, easily bored, driven to do their own thing, and not really open to suggestions when it comes to telling them where they should walk or lounge.

The Panther of Kharkiv joins The Ghost of Kyiv as a creation of social media, wish-fulfillment figures of legend for the age of information. The latter has been earning praise as a supposed ace fighter pilot who has been terrorizing Russian Su-35 pilots from the cockpit of a Soviet-era MiG-29.

A surprisingly realistic video of the legendary pilot has been making the rounds on social media, but the footage is actually from Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) World, a game made by developers so obsessive that they even model things like the effect of recoil from mounted guns on aircraft operation.

In the viral video, a Su-35 screams overhead as two Ukranians chatter in the background. A shaky camera tracks the jet until a missile fired from out of the frame blasts it to pieces. The MiG-29 follows a millisecond later, dipping its wings in a celebratory gesture as one of the observers says “Oh shit!”

When a simulator looks like this, it’s easier to understand how people could mistake out-of-context, long-range footage for the real thing:

Now if you put a cat in that footage, wearing goggles and flying wing, people would know it’s fake. On second thought, maybe they wouldn’t.

In Ukraine, Cats and Dogs Suffer Along With Their Human Companions

If you’ve got a cat who doesn’t handle the Fourth of July well and gets freaked out by the annual fireworks, imagine that multiplied by about a thousand, with no respite.

Then imagine that, instead of reassurance from calm humans who know the explosions are just part of a celebration, the cats and dogs of cities like Kiev pick up on the anxiety of the people around them, sensing their fear, reading their body language.

War takes a terrible toll on humanity, a fact that’s been well-documented for centuries, but much less has been written about the suffering and fate of animals in the crossfire of forces they can’t comprehend. (One outstanding take on animals in war is 2006’s Pride of Baghdad, a heartbreaking account of four lions who escaped Baghdad Zoo as US bombs rained down on the Iraqi capital. While Pride of Baghdad is a fictionalized account of what happened to those lions, the story is sadly, infuriatingly true and remains one of the lesser-known accounts among the tens of thousands of stories told about the toll of that war.)

In Ukraine, where the Russian military has taken control of the local airspace and destroyed the country’s airports, people are taking their pets and what possessions they can as they try to escape by land via routes to the border that are backed up by 15 miles or more.

Ukrainian soldier with stray cat
A soldier holds a cat in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. Credit: Aleksey Filippov

Meanwhile, as all men of fighting age have been called to stay, stray dogs have been a comfort to Ukrainians on the front line. The soldiers feed the dogs, and the hyper-vigilant dogs alert the soldiers to any unusual activity they pick up on.

“She immediately barks or growls if the enemy is planning an attack. It’s safer and calmer with her – no wonder they say that a dog is man’s best friend,” a 21-year-old Ukrainian soldier named Mykyta told Agency France-Presse as he gave an affectionate pet to a dog adopted by his unit.

Stray cats are cozying up to the soldiers as well. Dmytro, a 29-year-old soldier, said a black cat he named Chernukha has kept him company and helped him cope.

“You come back to the post, lie down on the bed, and here comes Chernukha,” Dmytro told AFP. Chernukha “lies on your stomach and looks at you as if she wants to be petted. It’s a sedative.”

Like many Ukrainians, staff and volunteers who man the country’s shelters have remained defiant and refused to leave. In Kiev, staff at Best Friends shelter are rationing food and trying to locate more.

“It is very difficult and scary for [the animals] and for us. Due to the fighting, suppliers of food for animals are not working,” a shelter staffer told Newsweek. “We need help now with animal food and its transportation to the shelter. We will also be grateful for the financial support.”

Getting food is already difficult and will become more so as Russian troops push further into the capital and civilians hunker down in homes, basements and bomb shelters.

Nastya Aboliesheva, who works for Kiev-based Happy Paw shelter, said “no one is willing to risk their lives to deliver what is needed.”

“Our work now remains important and necessary, because animals do not understand what is happening and also need food and treatment….the main thing that people can help now is not to throw their animals at random, but to be near them or to evacuate with the animals,” she said. “We very much hope that local authorities in Kyiv and other cities will allow people to take animals in boxes to bomb shelters.”

Top image: A Ukrainian soldier petting a cat. Credit: AFP

Buddy’s Nightmare Before Christmas!

NEW YORK — Big Buddy’s nieces must vacate the premises or all humans will feel the full wrath of Buddy, the tabby cat warned Tuesday.

The girls, ages 8 and 5, are “ordered to cease any and all activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension,” according to a notice filed on official Buddinese letterhead.

Witnesses reported the girls playing with Buddy’s wand toys, sitting in Buddy’s favorite spots, making noise louder than the agreed-on 70dB limit, and distracting Big Buddy resulting in an unthinkable 67-minute delay in serving Buddy’s dinner of beef pate.

“Poor Buddy was forced to retreat to the bedroom,” one source said. “How can he be expected to lounge comfortably when those chaotic, sugar-fueled miniature humans could come for his spot at any moment?”

budclaudia
In this file photo from 2015, a young Buddy retreats to the platform atop his scratcher as a miniature humans approaches. This was also The Only Day Bud Wore A Collar.

Buddy “feels his kingship and control over his vast domain is threatened by the presence of the tiny humans,” the source added.

The day started innocently enough, with Buddy enthusiastically greeting Big Buddy’s brother, who works for the State Department and has been living overseas. Buddy, who was not told in advance of the festivities, immediately understood that Big Buddy’s brother was there to celebrate the holidays.

But all was not well.

After greeting BoBB (Brother of Big Buddy), the tabby cat was horrified to see the two little humans walk into the home, accompanied by BoBB’s wife, whom Buddy is indifferent to.

“I don’t think Buddy has figured out that BoBB is the father of the two girls,” another source said. “Certainly if he understood that, he would not greet BoBB as warmly as he has.”

As of press time, Buddy was giving Big Buddy the silent treatment.

“He won’t talk to his human,” the source said. “Not even a meow.”