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How poor maintenance may be crippling Russian Army convoy advances in Ukraine

Ex-Defense Contract Management Agency quality auditor Trent Telenko explains what may be contributing to the Russian Army's failure to advance along some fronts:

Trent Telenko

This is a thread that will explain the implied poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices based on this photo of a Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile system's right rear pair of tires below & the operational implications during the Ukrainian mud season.

For the sin of being the new guy, I was the DCMA quality auditor in charge of the US Army's FMTV "vehicle exercise program" at the contractor manufacturing them from the Mid-1990's to the mid-2000's Then we got more new guys.

Short form: Military trucks need to be...

...turned over and moved once a month for preventative maintenance reasons.

In particular you want to exercise the central tire air inflation system (CTIS) to see if lines have leaks or had insect/vermin nests blocking the system.

CTIS Controller & CTIS diagram👇👇

One of the biggest reasons for the repositioning, per TACOM logistic Representatives, was that direct sunlight ages truck tires.

The repositioning of Trucks in close parking prevents a lot of this sun rotting and cycling the CTIS keeps the tire sidewalls supple.

When you leave military truck tires in one place for months on end. The side walls get rotted/brittle such that using low tire pressure setting for any appreciable distance will cause the tires to fail catastrophically via rips.

See early video:
Now look at the same Pantsir-S1 tire sidewalls after the Ukrainians tried to tow or drive it out of the mud.

The right rear tire fell apart because the rips in it were too big for the CTIS to keep aired up.

No one exercised that vehicle for 1 year
There is a huge operational level implication in this. If the Russian Army was too corrupt to exercise a Pantsir-S1. They were too corrupt to exercise the trucks & wheeled AFV's now in Ukraine.

The Russians simply cannot risk them off road during the Rasputitsa/Mud season

And there is photographic evidence of this.

There are 60(+) Russian army trucks crowded & parked on this raised road bed to avoid the fate of the mud-bogged Pantsir-S1.

Given the demonstrated levels of corruption in truck maintenance. There is no way in h--l that there are enough tires in the Russian army logistical system.

So their wheeled AFV/truck park is as road bound as Russian Army columns were in the 1st Russo-Finnish War.

What that means is that as long as and where ever the Spring Rasputitsa is happening. The Russian Army attack front is three wheeled AFV's wide.

When the Ukrainians can block the road with ATGM destroyed vehicles. They can move down either side of the road like Fins in 1939

...destroying Russian truck columns.

The Crimea is a desert and the South Ukrainian coastal areas are dryer. So we are not seeing this there.

But elsewhere the Russians have a huge problem for the next 4-to-6 weeks.


The original Twitter thread is here: https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1499164245250002944

Examining Russia's failing propaganda war

Historian, editor, translator and author Ian Garner posted this thread on Twitter.

Dr. Ian Garner

Big Thread: After a few more days of war, I've been carefully monitoring Russian social media reaction and production and I'm more convinced than before that Putin's regime has totally overestimated its ability to win a propaganda war.

Russians are being bombarded with very effective Russian-language anti-war propaganda. We're seeing a lot about Zelensky etc. but Russians are widely viewing some HUGE celebrities with big, big follower counts coming out against the war.

You might have read about Yury Dud, the popular Russian blogger, speaking out against the war. 5 million followers, and look at what he's sharing at the top of his Instagram page: strong stuff.

Here's a voice from Ukraine. Travel YouTuber Anton Ptushkin, a Russian speaker with *5.5 million* subscribers, posted this heartfelt appeal for peace & frank discussion of fears about his family on his IG. Here's a version from YouTube for ease of viewing.

Russians are seeing these narratives, hearing their peers and idols talk to them like normal people and in Russian. They're being shared widely, and the Russian government basically can't stop them.

On the other side, the Russian government is pushing an increasingly impersonal narrative. All we're seeing is images of Putin and his generals in vast meeting rooms, adorned with Rococo panelling, in unidentified places.

The people, where they are addressed, are spoken to as an abstract ("The government is starting a special operation..." ) rather than as individuals (Ukraine's "We implore you, fellow Russians, to stop attacking our women and children" ).

State TV political shows, which have good viewing figures, aren't talking about or to people or individuals, who will be the key to winning the propaganda war, either.

Instead, we're still treated to the kinds of bizarre anti-NATO/US Imperialism rants that move public opinion slowly against the enemy. But I don't see them having much effect, in the long run, vs. the much more slick Russian language Ukrainian material.

RU's narrative looks more like WW1 - a detached imperial tsar directing his troops in an abstract war against imperial opposition - than the "all-national" effort of WW2 when, even under Stalin, the population was united in its desire to fight the Nazis. Remember this point.

Turning to Russian social media, a much more threatening narrative for Putin's government might be playing out. I've spent some time reading around Russian language social media to look for what people are saying about the war.

VKontakte, aka "Russian Facebook," is highly controlled by the government. Even on some of the state-supported paramilitary movement pages, the war is conspicuously absent.

There is no attempt to mobilize the people for a large, drawn-out war, or to "soften up" opinion to prepare for the idea that Russians are going to die.

On ordinary people's VK feeds, I'm seeing three things:

(1) Total indifference/absence of mentions of the war is conspicuous almost everywhere you look. Whether people are afraid to post about the war publicly (to some extent possible) or not, we don't know.

(2) Mild criticism of the war, sharing of broken heart emojis, etc. This isn't too widespread, so I don't want to over egg it, but it's important. Anti-war sentiment is there, and you're seeing some of it on the streets.

These sympathetic posts, though, are met with a barrage of aggressive, macho chest thumping ("We'll smash those Western dogs", "LOL bring it on" stuff). Some responses - especially on Instagram - are obviously from bots.

But what's interesting is that I don't see narratives around WW2 being picked up at all. There's a lot of polarized rage, similar to what we see in the West's comments, but no real sense that many of even the most war-hungry Russians are buying into Putin's WW2 cosplay dreams.

If that sentiment isn't there, I don't think - and this is a guess - that people will be ready to make the huge sacrifices that WW2 necessitated. If the Ukraine war is justified by "anti-Nazism," then people aren't picking up the historical connection.

(3) This is probably the most important point. I'm seeing plenty of sharing about bank runs, ATM dashes, inflating prices, and availability of consumer goods. People in the Far East, where food prices are already sky high, aren't quite panicking, but they're not exactly happy.

This is leading to open comparisons to the 1990s: Putin built his brand on stability after the lawlessness and poverty of the 90s, so this is devastating news. This talk was supposed to be long gone (follow @allysonedwards1 for more on the Russian 1990s and militarization).

People aren't ready for their favourite celebrities who speak out against the war - and there are a good number of famous Russians who have done so - to just disappear.

People are not ready for their iPhones to disappear to inflation and sanctions (joke seen in the wild today: "Don't drop your iPhone, because it's going to be your last" ). People are not ready for hyper-inflation.

And the government is doing essentially *nothing* to get Russians ready for this. They overplayed a weak hand, the West called their bluff, and now they're in the shit. (Notice this seems to parallel the overconfidence in the military effort - not a coincidence, I'll wager you.)

So what do we have? A stagnant propaganda machine that knows how to create chaos and tear things - esp. the West - down. But it's the propaganda machine of an empire. It's not agile, and it doesn't know how to respond to current events & the strong Ukrainian and Western efforts.

Here's why I think the WW1 comparison is the most important, then: few who would have expected that WW1 would lead to the Russian Revolution 3 years later.

The Russian Empire walked into war without bothering to really prepare its people, who were indifferent to the justification for war, both from the off and increasingly over time. There were divisions, and the Bolsheviks & others manipulated them superbly to seize power.

After a few days of war we can't say that Putin is doomed, but I wonder: without signs that the gvt is taking winning the media war seriously, will tiny cracks around the 1990s, around sacrifice, and around loss turn into gaping fissures in the state's narratives of identity?


The original Twitter version of the thread is here: https://twitter.com/irgarner/status/1498334397904441344

Blocking Russian access to SWIFT may not be the most effective measure:

This thread from mid-January hasn't dated badly:


As the Russia/ NATO/US/OSCE talks didn’t make real progress, it’s important to look again at this possibility. Can they cut Russia from SWIFT & would this be Armageddon for Russia?
Bill Browder
BREAKING: Draft Russian sanctions bill coming out of the senate includes cutting Russia off of the SWIFT banking system if they invade Ukraine. The US used this against Iran and it set them back to the economic dark ages.


Good & difficult question.
Let’s start with basics: what’s SWIFT? It’s simply a messaging system. A chat app if you want! But it only sends special messages designed for cross-border financial transactions for banks globally, for the 11k banks that are part of the network.
Is it possible to cut Russia from it? The US tried in 2014, and the answer they got from SWIFT was “we will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure”. In your face.

That’s because SWIFT is not American, of course. Actually, it’s a “cooperative society” based in Belgium under Belgian law! Seriously! So the owners are the members of the networks, with shares reallocated on a regular basis based on flows.

So, SWIFT must follow EU laws, not US ones – which doesn’t mean it can’t disconnect a country, like it dd with Iran in 2018. This was driven by US sanctions, with no obligation coming from the EU, but, again, they were not forced to do it.
What about Russia? The 291 Russian members represent 1.5% of SWIFT flows (you gotta sell that oil!), ranked 13th globally on all SWIFT messages and 6th on payment messages!
That Is a LOT of messages that could be disrupted, on both ends, and a lot of money (prob ≈800bn$/y).

Would cutting SWIFT access stop all those payments? No, but it would make significantly more difficult. There are other ways to send payments messages… including very old type stuff! (no, not carrier pigeons) but it would be difficult to convince western banks to use them.

Russia is aware of the risk and has alternative routes: SFPS (a system it designed with mostly Russian & CIS banks) and domestic payment systems that were launched after Visa & Mastercard cut them off in 2014. But Western banks would need to join.

What this suggests is that, ultimately, what matters is banning Western (US+EU+Swiss+UK) banks from dealing with Russia - cutting from SWIFT is just making those deals harder + if done only by the US, we could get the same ridiculous attempts of the EU to bypass the sanctions
Remember this?


So ridiculous that it has almost never been used despite being announced with great fanfare! (the first deal was to send medical equipment to fight Covid.)

What’s the bottom line here: either you have coordinated US/EU sanctions which ban banks from trading with Russia, or you get into complicated stuff that makes transactions messy and difficult, but not impossible. And can you ban all transactions with US/EU banks?


Sanctions: Tories commit to donating Russian dirty money to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

Well, a guy can dream, huh?

BREAKING: Boris Johnson has said the “first barrage of UK economic sanctions against Russia” will be revealed today as he warned Vladimir Putin is bent on a “full scale invasion of Ukraine”.

[Twitter video]

Russell England 😷💉💙🇪🇺🧳
@talkRADIO"The Tory party are almost entirely funded by Russian oligarchs, most of whom are sanctioned" - Ian Hislop, 8th October

[Twitter video]

“Serious questions” over Tory “Russian linked donations” – Trickett

Jon Trickett MP, Shadow Cabinet Office minister, following Boris Johnson’s appearance on the Andrew Marr Show, said:

“The Tories have serious questions to answer about where their party gets its money. Boris Johnson has confirmed for the first time he played the tennis match paid as a £160,000 donation to the Conservative Party by the wife of a former minister in Putin’s government. He admitted that some Russian oligarchs in the UK “may have obtained their money by corruption”.

“We know the Tories have taken more than £3 million in Russian linked donations since 2010, including £800,000 under Theresa May’s leadership, but we don’t know the nature of all those funds. The Tories also drew positive comments from the Russian Embassy during last year’s general election.

“The Conservative Party can’t remain silent any longer, the public have a right to know what checks if any they made to establish the source of all the wealth amassed by their donors. To put to rest public concerns about the nature of Russian money given to the Tories, we need this information put into the public domain.”


Boris Johnson admits he did play £160,000 tennis match with ex-Russian minister's wife

Boris Johnson has admitted he did take part in a tennis match with the wife of a former Russian minister after she donated £160,000 to the Conservative party.

Lyubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as a finance minister under President Putin until 2004, made the donation in 2014 to play a game with Mr Johnson and David Cameron.

At the time Mr Cameron insisted Ms Chernukhin "certainly" was not a "Putin crony" and had been resident in the UK for many years.

Labour have attacked the Conservatives for taking donations from wealthy Russians, with Jeremy Corbyn pointing out that the Tories have accepted £800,000 from "oligarchs and their associates".

This morning the Foreign Secretary was asked if the tennis match had actually taken place, replying: "It did".


Conservative Party ministers bankrolled by donors linked to Russia

Tories accept thousands from ex-arms supplier

The Conservative Party’s finances came under renewed scrutiny last night as it emerged that two of its MPs on the intelligence watchdog committee and 14 ministers had accepted donations linked to Russia.

Electoral Commission records show that six members of the cabinet and eight junior ministers received tens of thousands of pounds from individuals or businesses with links to Russia. The donations were made either to them or their constituency parties.


What Changed To Make Evgeny Lebedev No Longer a Security Risk?

Is Evgeny “Lord” Lebedev – newly ennobled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson – a potential security risk? Lebedev’s father, Alexander, was the senior KGB spy in London in 1988 and, to this day, is a pro-Kremlin oligarch with interests in Russia. He is a noted supporter of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his illegal annexation of Crimea.

The question is a fair one given that no one can simply ‘retire’ from the KGB and that father and son – like President Donald Trump – never openly criticise Putin. Socially, the Lebedevs – who own the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers – work as a unit. Evgeny threw Johnson’s victory party after last December’s General Election, which also happened to be his father’s 60th birthday party.

So is Evgeny a potential security risk? “Yes,” says a former MI6 officer. “Yes,” says an emeritus professor of Russian. “Yes,” said the Special Branch this spring.

But in June that advice, filtered through the Cabinet Office, changed to “no” and the black spot against the wannabe Lord Lebedev vanished.


Why would Russia want to interfere in British politics?

Russia’s foreign policy seems based on nihilism, said Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. But Vladimir Putin is much shrewder than that.

Evgeny Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords barely a week after the publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s deliberations on Russia underlined just how cavalier Boris Johnson is about possible Russian interference in our political system. Even if Lebedev, as he has always insisted, has no relationship with Russia’s intelligence services, his father is a former KGB operative and it was his ability to leverage his contacts which helped build the family fortunes.

The optics, at the very least, are appalling and certainly beyond parody. The day after the Conservatives’ landslide victory in December, the prime minister and his partner, Carrie Symonds, attended a caviar-and-vodka-fuelled party hosted by Lebedev senior at the family’s multi-million-pound stuccoed mansion overlooking Regent’s Park. This was not the first Lebedev party to which Johnson had been invited. A couple of years ago I was returning from a visit to my brother, who lives in central Italy, when I spotted a very dishevelled-looking Boris Johnson on the same plane. I later read in the papers that he had been returning from one of Evgeny’s notoriously bacchanalian parties at the converted castle which the British-Russian owns near Perugia.

The Russia report makes clear two things – the Tories get a lot of money from Russian oligarchs and the Intelligence and Security Committee believes there should be an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

On that second point, the prime minister predictably responded with words to the effect of ‘It’s all old hat and in any case the people have spoken etc. etc.’ With his eighty-seat majority and his propensity to lie, this has become a stock response to any uncomfortable news. So although the report contained information which should have triggered alarms designed to protect the integrity of our democracy, they failed to go off. So far, so Brexit-era politics.


Startling Facts About London: The Oligarch’s Paradise

Sam Bright explores the ways in which London has become a haven for a class of super rich who wish to keep their money and their secrets hidden

With Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border, and with Britain largely unable to influence the course of history through diplomacy, attention has rightfully turned to the home front, and how exactly we have aided Vladimir Putin’s regime through domestic policy in recent years.

The Government is keen to show that it is taking action – and has now scrapped the ‘tier 1’ investor visa scheme that has acted as a butler for money laundering over the last decade – welcoming rich individuals, often from corrupt states, with minimal due diligence checks.

Indeed, Britain’s marriage with illicit finance is now long-standing and entrenched – especially in the capital, London, described in the 2020 report by Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee as “Londongrad” – a place in which “PR firms, charities, political interests, academia and cultural institutions were all willing beneficiaries of Russian money”.

Wealthy Russians have profited from this oligarch’s paradise, and Russia is currently in the spotlight given its provocations in Ukraine, but this system is certainly not exclusively enjoyed by Russians. The UK, and London, is a dumping ground for dodgy money amassed across the globe, often hidden in the luxury property market.


Exclusive: Labour demands Tory Party pay back donations from Russians and end corruption at home

Labour orders PM Boris Johnson to break the Conservative Party links with Russia and stop dirty cash filtering through UK as Putin threatens invasion of Ukraine

Labour is demanding Boris Johnson bans Russia from using Britain as a laundromat for dirty money - and to return Tory donations from Russians.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are to be told: “We can’t stand up to Russia’s aggression abroad while ignoring Russian-linked corruption at home.”

Labour estimates the Tories have taken more than £5million of Russian linked money over the last 10 years.

And as more British troops are sent to square up against Vladimir Putin’s forces on Ukraine’s borders, shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves say that cash must be returned.

They say in their letter: “It is shameful that Britain is repeatedly described as the money-laundering capital of the world.

“It is in our national and economic interests to address the challenges of hostile influence and interference which the Government’s inaction and behaviour have regrettably permitted.”


I could go on and on. The corruption goes on and on. A few token sanctions on less than a handful of oligarchs is an insult to anyone's intelligence.

James Robertson's 'The news where you are'

Robertson's monologue is from a Scottish perspective, but it applies to political regionalism and the media wherever you are.

On another YouTube version (with less clear audio but louder audience response), this exchange happened in the comments:

Tim Rowe
Excellent. Although, mind, I live in London, and we get "the news where you are" too, which suggests that the "where you are" and "where we are" isn't a matter of geography.

James Robertson
Absolutely right, Tim.There is geography and political geography. However, if you watch the BBC News online, the default 'news where you are' is - guess where? - London


'We don't know what we're doing': Inside Boris Johnson's fractured Tory party

“It would be better to just put the other guys in and let them f*** it up and come back with more of an idea of what we want to do,’ one minister suggests

The dark cloud sitting over Boris Johnson’s leadership lifted a little this week, but his party is splintering as factions compete over where it goes next.

Attention may have switched to Ukraine, and speculation over the number of backbencher letters of no confidence has subsided, with MPs back in their constituencies for the parliamentary break.

But the brief respite from the Downing Street soap opera has allowed a longer-term problem for the Conservatives to come into focus – the party is wracked by division and doesn’t know where it is heading.

MPs are split along a growing number of overlapping lines: big state v small state, “Red Wall” v “Blue Wall”, One Nation v libertarian right, pro or anti net zero, and Johnson loyalists v those who think it’s time for the PM to go in the wake of the “partygate” scandal.


An idiot abroad, Part 2

It's gotten too hot for Johnson at home, so he's headed off to Ukraine for some peace and quiet:

Ukraine crisis latest: Boris Johnson tells Vladimir Putin that Russian invasion would be a 'tragic miscalculation'

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a "tragic miscalculation."

In a statement after their phone call this evening, Downing Street said: "The leaders agreed that aggravation was in no one's interest," adding that they would work towards a "peaceful resolution" of the crisis.

However, a readout from the Kremlin said: "the unwillingness of Nato to adequately respond to the well-founded Russian concerns was noted."

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia mocked Mr Johnson as "utterly confused" and ridiculed British politicians for their "stupidity and ignorance", hurling more scorn at the West after accusing Washington of trying to provoke war.


How on earth could the Russians have gained the impression that Johnson was "utterly confused" and our politicians have a tendency to to "stupidity and ignorance"?

Maybe they've been eavesdropping on our media.

Oh, God. They've found out about Liz Truss. Duck and cover!

The Russians escaped lightly, as she'd have accompanied Johnson on his trip if she hadn't caught a dose of the 'vid. As it happens, she got her sabre-rattling in pre-emptively:

Unfortunately, she tried to follow up this threat to stop laundering quite so much of Putin's cronies' dirty lucre (and presumably refusing to accept any more Tory Party donations in rubles) at some point in the indeterminate future by venturing into joined-up thinking. It didn't go well ...

The Daily Mail, not usually known for being over-critical of the Tories, treated this to a banner headline and the dreaded Bullet Points of Doom:

Russia mocks 'utterly confused' Boris Johnson and ridicules Liz Truss for her 'poor geography knowledge' after she boasted UK would supply 'our Baltic allies across the Black Sea'

* Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, attacked Boris Johnson as 'utterly confused'
* Comes after PM cancelled a call with Putin on Monday amid partygate scandal
* Russian foreign ministry slammed Liz Truss for 'poor geography knowledge'
* Comes after she said UK backs 'Baltic allies across the Black Sea' - two different bodies of water located 700 miles apart

Johnson himself, grinning like a vapid goon, was relegated to economy class for a confab with an unimpressed Russian bigwig:

This was a little less embarrassing than his arrival to meet Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine:


What indeed! A longer clip shows the speedy interloper haring at Olympic pace all the way from around the corner of the building.

It was not, in fact, a mugger, but Johnson's Head of Operations, Shelley Williams-Walker. Who's she?

If she'd stuck like glue to him on this occasion, she could have saved herself some sprinting.

Williams-Walker is a woman of many talents. Her most recent previous claim to fame came when details were revealed about the party at Downing Street on the night before Prince Philip's funeral:

Fortunately for Johnson, he was absent at Chequers during those revels. “Everyone was lathered,” said one who went. Shelley Williams-Walker, Johnson’s head of operations, has been identified as the DJ and as the person who broke a swing belonging to Wilfred, the prime minister’s toddler, as the event spiralled out of control.


So what was in the red folder Williams-Walker was so desperate to snatch from Johnson? We can only conjecture. It looks similar to, but less bulky than, the red folder he's resting his hand on in the plane meeting pictured above, so he's obviously allowed some written materials, if only as a prop. But he does have form for having a big loose-lipped mouth (as a result, during his term as Foreign Secretary, Theresa May restricted the government materials he had access to) and being habitually careless, to say the least, with official papers at his Downing Street flat:

Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former senior aide, has signalled that further revelations about the prime minister’s chaotic administration are likely as long as he remains in post. This weekend two sources have revealed that in early 2020 Cummings ordered a crackdown on highly classified intelligence papers being put in Johnson’s ministerial red box.

It is understood that he acted after visiting the family flat and finding highly classified “STRAP” material, easily identifiable because it is printed on pink paper, lying around where it could be read by any visitor. It was also found in the upstairs quarters at Chequers.

One source compared the scene, where Carrie Johnson entertained friends, to “a frat house”.

Cummings and Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, agreed the prime minister should only be given sensitive papers for signature in his office. “Cummings spoke to the PPS and they agreed on new protocols to stop sensitive STRAP material going to the flat or upstairs at Chequers,” one former No 10 source said. “Instead material was to be shown to the PM downstairs in No 10 or Chequers then immediately returned to safekeeping.”

A third source said Johnson’s ministerial box was left outside the door of the flat on Saturdays. “It would be there in the morning and often still there in the evening,” the official said. “He wouldn’t have touched it.”

STRAP-level papers are typically documents classified as “top secret”, which require a greater level of vetting to access and they are distributed only to named individuals on a tightly controlled list.

However, it has now emerged that, as part of Sue Gray’s investigation into lockdown socialising in the flat, “several” of Carrie Johnson’s friends were given the access code Pin to go in and out of the Downing Street flat at will.


Much as Johnson's capable of wandering around a hospital during the COVID crisis without a mask despite repeated reminders, he's no doubt capable of wandering into high-stakes meetings with sensitive papers, and conceivably forgetting to take them with him when he takes his leave. Who knows? This may have happened before. Or maybe they've been told to tighten things up after the Times's revelations.

Anyway, I guess we'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out how he intends to embarrass the country next.
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