Ukraine: “A Nasty Surprise”

Since my stay in the Army and having to participate in a war I have been fascinated with what causes war…..the conditions, the actions and the words…….so after Vietnam I returned to university and studied international relations…….now I read a lot and am always looking for a situation that could deteriorate into an armed conflict…..or a full scale war……..

Syria is smoldering…..Iraq is a flame and Gaza is waiting the next BIG attack……..and all the while the Ukraine/Russia confrontation is continuing….few are noticing because the media has them jerking off about some poor kids that need help……

The Ukraine thingy has been back and forth…in word and in actions….it seems that Ukraine has gotten the upper hand on the separatist….for now……and of course all the false bravado is just mind numbing but I read a piece that made me feel uncomfortable for the future of that conflict……

Having taken Slovyansk earlier this week, Ukrainian officials are increasingly bellicose about their ongoing civil war, demand unconditional, unilateral disarmament by the rebels before any future discussions.

“There will be no more unilateral ceasefires” by Ukrainian troops, announced Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey, while other officials promised a “nasty surprise” for any of the eastern rebels that continue to resist their takeover.

Since the takeover of Slovyansk, most of the rebels in Donetsk Oblast have moved into the city of Donetsk itself, and have been barricading themselves in pending a Ukrainian military invasion.

Defending the city is likely to be difficult, as the Ukrainian military is increasingly using not only airstrikes, but armored vehicles in its offensives. Donetsk and Luhansk remain the two major strongholds of the ethnic Russian rebels, who seek increased autonomy.

 

A nasty surprise?  That sounds like a threat to me…..but what type of threat and what would the “nasty surprise” consist of…..is it just chest thumping or could it be more to it than bravado?

Please tell what you think this could mean…….

A Geopolitical Chess Game

Inkwell Institute

Eastern European Desk

Since WW2 there has been a gigantic game of chess going on….East vs West…….First world vs second world……basically battle lines that are being formed…….a massive geopolitical game of chess.

First, the Soviet Union formed a buffer zone between them and the West….including E. Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Baltic states…..it was a logical necessity for every invasion has come through these areas…..they were forming a safety zone of early warning.

Then shortly after WW2 the West formed NATO as a safety zone of their own which included most of western Europe….this to feed the paranoia of the Iron Curtain.

Then in the late 80′s and early 90′s the Soviet Union began falling apart….there seemed to be a short period when the alliances of the past would not be needed……..but experts could not let the chess game go…….there had to be a way to keep it going.  there was….the answer….expand NATO to include as many post Soviet countries as possible…….

One would think that it would end there, right?  Wrong oh great one!

Russia tried to keep some of their past members with the CIS……..the Commonwealth of Independent States……..an institution t try and counter the expansion of NATO…….

A loose confederation of prior Soviet states that has been shrinking ever since it was established…..to try and slow the disintegration of the organization a new Eurasian Economic Union…….(see previous post)………..an attempt to head off the charge to join the EU.

Posturing has begun……spheres of competing influence are being formed……and in the end we will return to the days of yore and a new cold war…….hard to see how this bodes well for the nation of the world…….

What’ next?  Will corporations divide the earth up and start the Roller Ball concept?

I guess we could look on the bright side and say that this grab is better than a grab by warfare…..but any type of land grab will effect the people involved in one way or the other…..thoughts?

ANALYSIS. How Significant Is the Eurasian Economic Union? | World Affairs Journal

While the world was distracted with VA BS and the prisoner exchange and …..pause here for thought……there is so much lame BS that it is hard to stay focused on any or it.  But while the world snoozed Russia was attempting to form an economic union…….

 

ANALYSIS. How Significant Is the Eurasian Economic Union? | World Affairs Journal.

The Isolation Game

Inkwell Institute

Eurasian Desk

Today I would like to write about the popular technique used to handle our problem states in the world….sanctions.

In the beginning there was Russia and Ukraine……..after much provocation violence broke out…..a referendum was voted on…….and the world got its panties in a twist.  The US could not stand by and let Russia dictate the future of Ukraine.

We began with our typical response to a growing situation……..we threatened and then set about putting sanctions into place that would necessarily isolate Russia for not acting like a good guy on the world stage.  We then set about convincing Europe to join in our efforts…..did not work out the way we had planned……you see Europe gets about 80% of its natural gas from Russia…..so our European friends were not so quick to jump on the US sanctions bandwagon.

While our sanctions set about making Russia pay for their actions….they, Russia, signed a $400 billion agreement with China for natural gas….oops, that should make our sanctions a little less effective.

You see we employed a tactic from the 19th century to isolate Russia and force them to toe the line……a naive attempt at best.  Why?

Russia knew exactly what our response would be to their aggression…..tit is our go to tactic to any type of aggression, anywhere in the world…….our lame attempt at sanctions was just a worthless endeavor…..you see Russia had been trying to cut a deal with China for 10 years and it just made it necessary to ward off the sanctions that the US was trying to impose.

The isolation game we tried was destined to fail…..Russia had all its bases covered and a solution for each problem that US would throw at them.

The US needs to spend some time and find a new more up to date strategy for handling aggression in the 21st century………if not then our foreign policy will remain as impotent as it is today.

The Ukrainian Muddle: Lies, Manipulation, and Silence by Murray Polner — Antiwar.com

At the close of my day I would like to leave my readers with lots to mull over…….And Ukraine is the source of many questions….some that are seldom answered…….

Does anyone know why this started?  How about the old professor gives you, my reader, a little historical perspective?

What Americans are not told about the current Ukraine crisis…..as with everything we as a country do….there is more to the situation than few re willing to cover……you can blame Putin for a lot of things….but this one is on the heads of the leadership in the West……

 

The Ukrainian Muddle: Lies, Manipulation, and Silence by Murray Polner — Antiwar.com.

Did Putin Win On Ukraine?

Inkwell Institute

Eurasian Desk

Our man in Moscow has played his reserve pawn…..he has said that Russian troops will leave the Ukrainian border and he has called for a delay in the secession referendum and called for calmer heads to be allowed to prevail.  One could think that diplomacy has worked and the world can step back from the brink….one more time.

So did Putin win on the Ukraine situation?

My simple answer….yes he did!  I may be alone in that analysis….but that would be nothing new……..the west will see that Putin had overplayed his hand and it was starting to cost him at home and for the sake of his continuing use of power he had to relent.  To that analysis I say….Bullsh*t!

Of course some will point at the sanctions as the probable cause of his change of heart.  That my friends is BS!  He had already calculated what the west would do and as usual the west lead with sanctions….and all he had to do was ride it out for awhile until the stability was at the point that no consideration for a Ukraine move into NATO was put on hold.  Putin saw NATO bases on almost every border of Russia and he could not let yet another one form in Ukraine.

Putin fomented violence and a destabilizing force for Ukraine….we all can agree with that, right?  Now ask….did Putin do this to try and acquire more land for the homeland?  Was he really on a junket to take over a former soviet state?

The truth is he got just what he wanted…..the lack of stability in Ukraine.

You see Ukraine had recently ask for the chance to enter into NATO….it was being considered until all this recent violence broke out and now there is NO way they can be considered…..not until the country goes back to a calmer time.  But as long as he can keep his finger on the trigger of further violence Ukraine is screwed.

I am not saying that the situation is soon to be over……only that Putin knew what he was doing and pretty much achieved its desired outcome……

Game one to Putin…….but this situation is not over by a long shot.

 

What Is Ukraine’s Future?

Inkwell Institute

Eurasian Desk

Today is Friday and the lesson is international relations……..I will begin with Ukraine…….

By now even the dimmest bulb in the pack knows that there is big trouble brewing in Ukraine…..almost daily there is a report or two of some sort of violence…..pro-Russian forces win some then lose some……and the pendulum swings to the Ukrainian government forces….they lose some and then win a couple…..all the while the world governments are doing what they do best…..very little………sanctions and moving troops around in a gigantic bluff.

There is a saying in international relations……”In international relations, in foreign policy, a great deal has to do with historical perspective, a great deal has to do with a sense and perception of the people.”

And there is the rub!  All the well meaning people in the west are overlooking the people.  The history of Ukraine also has been overlooked………the country we know as Ukraine came into being when the Soviet Union broke up into the smaller independent countries.  In the past Ukraine has been part of many different empires…..except for a short time during WW2 when there was a sort of republic established…..did not last long…..the point is that they have not been on their own for very long and old habits die hard.

fast forward to today’s situation………it is the ultra-nationalists in the west of the country versus the pro-Russians in the east….and of course Russia has a vested interest in ukraine, after all it was called the “The breadbasket of the USSR”……and plus there is that warm water port that Russia has always coveted……and now the stage is set for what is brewing…..a civil war……..

This observation from Jason Ditz writing for Antiwar.com…………

Multiple funerals around eastern Ukraine and Odessa added a somber undertone to the ongoing protests and the military offensive against the protests, with a growing sense that the chances of a negotiated settlement are evaporating.

With scores killed Friday and over the weekend, Monday and Tuesday saw more of the same, with troops attacking the city of Slovyansk in the east, reports of dozens killed on each side, and the interim government scrambling to install anti-protester leaders in and around Odessa.

A week ago, both sides seemed to figure they had the other outfoxed, with the Ukrainian military figuring the protesters would eventually capitulate and the protesters figuring the Russian troops deployed just across the border would prevent Ukraine’s ramshackle military from trying anything too aggressive against them. Both were wrong.

Talks were looking less and less likely, and now seem virtually impossible, with the government ruling out letting the protesters attend the talks at all, and Russia ruling out participating without them.

Instead, in the absence of negotiations, protesters demanding reforms morphed into civil unrest and in some parts of the country a full-scale rebellion. Easterners see the government as too closely aligned with neo-Nazis, and the government has declared the ethnic Russian easterners “terrorists,” recruiting the neo-Nazis into an irregular force to attack them. A civil war seems not only possible, but increasingly difficult to avoid.

An another civil war in the world would be a disaster……..the whole system is breaking down…….but why is Ukraine important?  In the grand scheme of globalization, does it really matter?

We could always make up some spurious excuse for interference…..kinda like Iraq…..in reality we created more problems than we solved……..could Ukraine have the same fate?

And I ask again…..does Ukraine really matter?

That question was answered by a piece written by John Glasner for antiwar.com……..

Over at Foreign Policy, Christopher J. Fettweis argues the hysteria in Washington over Ukraine is based on “pathological beliefs” about foreign policy. “The United States has no interest at stake in eastern Ukraine or Crimea,” Fettweis writes. “It is hard to imagine how any outcome here would affect the American people…”

Most importantly, Fettweis debunks the pervasive myth that the U.S. must do something to show its strength against Russia over Ukraine:

How we act now, it is commonly believed, can signal to Moscow (or to Beijing, or to Tehran) how we are likely to respond to provocations to come. Our inaction will encourage their belligerence.

There is a mountain of research from political science to suggest that this is an illusion, that credibility earned today does not lead to successes tomorrow and therefore is never worth fighting for. Others simply do not learn the lessons we wish to teach through our actions. Our rivals tend to believe that the United States will act in accordance with its national interest, rather than because of its reputation for resolve earned in previous crises. In fact, when countries back down in the face of provocation, often their rivals believe that they will be more aggressive in the future…

Worrying about the messages sent during this crisis, in other words, distracts us from what ought to be its central fact: Ukraine does not really matter.

I’ve written about the credibility mythnumerous times. In Reason back in March, I argued against the ridiculous notion that Putin decided to take action in Ukraine because of Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” and bomb Syria several months earlier. The credibility canard is a issue that is largely settled in the scholarship, but continues to inflict analysis among politicians, strategists, and policy wonks.

Kudos to Fettweis for saying what nobody else in the mainstream dares to: Ukraine does not really matter.

So, does Ukraine matter in the grand scheme of things international?

Side note:  After I composed this and saved it as a draft…….our boy Putin has confused the situation a bit more……..

Will pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine listen to Russia’s president? Leaders say their “people’s councils” will consider Vladimir Putin’s request to delay a referendum on autonomy scheduled for Sunday, the BBC reports. “We respect Putin’s stance,” says a pro-Russia leader in the eastern city of Donetsk.”He is a balanced politician. Therefore we will submit his proposal to the people’s council.” Millions of ballots have already been printed for the votes. More:

  • Among the rebels, however, there is confusion and disbelief, the Guardian finds. One militia member in Slovyansk described Putin as a coward. “Instead of helping Russian people here, he is betraying us,” he says. “He will pay for this with a revolution in Red Square. Russian people will not stand by and watch this happen.”
  • Putin also promised to pull Russian troops back from the Ukraine border, but NATO, the Pentagon, and the White House say they’ve seen no sign of this happening, reports Reuters. “We would certainly welcome a meaningful and transparent withdrawal,” a White House spokesman says. “To date, there has been no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place.”
  • While Ukraine appears to be back from the brink for now, Western governments are still pretty skeptical about Putin’s intentions, especially considering what happened in Crimea, the New York Times reports. Analysts suspects Putin wants to avoid chaos—and an expensive, bloody invasion—while still keeping eastern Ukraine in Moscow’s orbit. “He really promised nothing,” a political commentator in Moscow says. “He demonstrated that he controls the level of tension in Ukraine. He can return the situation to the high levels of violence at any moment. He did not refuse the referendum, but only proposed delaying it.”

Personally, I think it is a game of chess to Putin……..he appears to be reasonable and if Ukraine goes forth with military operations and more violence breaks out….he, Putin can step in and be the hero of the hour protecting the people of eastern Ukraine…….just my thought on the situation.

I have a thought on this situation and i shall share it later today.

Any one else with an opinion they would like to share?

Here We Go—Again

Things are not looking too good in Eurasia…..Ukraine is at a rapid boil……Russia is strutting around like some game cock……There has been many different types of violence……shooting at planes, attacking government buildings and attack on personnel………Ukraine is responding …..

Tensions in Ukraine are rising dangerously again despite last week’s diplomatic agreement: The country’s acting president has ordered security forces to resume “anti-terror” operations against pro-Russia militants in the country’s east after the tortured bodies of two people allegedly abducted by insurgents were found in the city of Slovyansk, the AP reports. The militants “are beginning to torture and kill Ukrainian patriots,” said Oleksandr Turchynov. “They are impudently rejecting the calls of not only our country but of all the world’s society when they demonstratively mock the decisions taken in Geneva.” One of the victims, he said, was a member of the city council in Slovyansk and a member of his own party. 

The acting prez has his hands full………

  • The Ukrainian government appears emboldened by Joe Biden’s visit yesterday, Reuters notes. “We have obtained the support of the United States, that they will not leave us alone with an aggressor,” the deputy prime minister said when announcing the “liquidation of illegal armed groups” in the east. “We hope that in the event of Russian aggression, this help will be more substantive.”
  • Slovyansk is emerging as a major flashpoint: Ukrainian defense officials say one of their planes was shot at during a flight over the city. The Antonov-30 was hit by several bullets but landed safely.
  • The Pentagon says it is sending hundreds of extra troops to Eastern Europe to reassure allies as the Ukrainian crisis heats up. Companies with around 150 troops are being sent to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, with the first troops set to arrive today, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky is being held hostage by pro-Russia gunmen in Slovyansk, the New York Times reports. He had produced a series of hard-hitting reports from the region in recent weeks. Vice “is aware of the situation and is in contact with the United States State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague,” the news organization said in a statement.

The world is losing its calm demeanor with Russia………..but the troubling part of this drama is the newest bit of info coming out……..

The U.S. is sending about 600 ground troops to Eastern Europe this week to “reassure” allies there as Washington resumes its campaign of pressure on Russia over the Ukraine standoff.

About 150 soldiers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), based in Italy, are heading to each of four countries — Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — in rotational deployments that the Pentagon says will be sustained until further notice.

The paratroopers will take weapons and ammunition for “infantry exercises” and be in place by the end of the week, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon. The roughly company-sized units will remain in place for about a month, and then new ones will follow them until at least the end of the year.

The Hawks have gotten their way….American troops will be sent and begin the new role of adventurism….this time in Eurasia…….

While I was writing this breaking news came across my desk………..

Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchinov is demanding the military immediately launch a new round of attacks against protesters in the eastern two provinces of the country.

Turchinov alleged two bodies were found “brutally tortured” near Slovyansk, a protester-held city, and declared the protesters “have now gone too far” and that the “anti-terrorist” operation needed to be escalated.

He insisted the regions had to be brought back under control of the interim government to “protect” Ukrainian citizens in the area. The Defense Ministry gave no indication when attacks would resume.

Slovyansk was the most recent city attacked by Ukraine’s military, though the offensive quickly stalled and many troops refused orders to attack the protesters, choosing to surrender their arms and vehicles instead.

A new offensive?  If so what part will the US troops be playing in this escalation?

Today I will be pressing a few articles about the possibility of a new world war…..please let me have your thoughts.

Hit Them In The Wallet

By now most of America has moved on from Ukraine but if things go to crap you can be sure that the Tea Party will have something to say…..right now they are fixated on some freeloading rancher and cannot be bothered with another issue………..

Sanctions are being imposed…..kinda like the sanctions we impose on everybody that crosses us in one way or the other……people ask if that is really the way to go with Putin…….if we listen to some of the hawks they would have American troops already boot deep in the conflict in Ukraine………that is a scary thought….at least to me……….

But will sanctions really be that expensive to Russia?  There is an opinion on that subject that you may find interesting…..

Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has jumped 10 points during the Ukraine crisis, to 72%, according to the state pulling group. But that could change when Russians see what their adventure there is really costing them, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council writes in the Wall Street Journal. Here are the ways Russia is hurting:

  • Almost $51 billion flowed out of the country in the first quarter of 2014, according to new statistics from the Central Bank of Russia.
  • Russia’s economic development industry expects the economy to grow less than 1% this year—down from an earlier estimate of 2.5%. The World Bank predicts the economy shrinking almost 2%; that would amount to about $30 billion in lost production.
  • Gazprom might regret jacking up gas prices for Ukraine, because that may permanently cost it a major customer. The Ukrainian government has already issued a temporary stop on purchases.
  • Russia will pump $7 billion into economic aid for Crimea, which is a lot even if you consider the resources it’s gained by annexing the peninsula.
  • One financial analyst is predicting a total capital flight of $160 billion this year.
  • And none of that is counting the blows to Russia’s international standing—including its ouster from the G8.

“The longer the crisis over Ukraine lasts, the higher the economic costs to Russia are likely to be,” Berman concludes. “Sometime in the not too distant future, it might become considerably more difficult for the Kremlin to continue to ignore the real-world price that is associated with its policies.” Click for Berman’s full column.

Could this drive Russia into the postured it had back during the Cold War?  Are we looking at a stand-off between East and West?

The world is watching……..what will China do?  Will it consider expanding its territory?  And then there is that malignant midget in North Korea.