Note–this post will probably make me few friends and make me sound heartless and lack any empathy…..
We all have seen or read stories and photos of the women and children fleeing ahead of the Russian onslaught to neighboring countries those heart wrenching….all the destroyed buildings and lives….the long lines waiting for a ride to the nearest border…..all the crying and hugs…..and all the calls for the West to do more.
There reports state….
The number of Ukrainians fleeing abroad is now 3,556,924, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday, with more than 2 million crossing the border into Poland.
“This is another tragic milestone for the people of Ukraine and it has been achieved in just under one month,” UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh told a briefing, adding that 6.5 million people had been internally displaced within Ukraine.
Biden and his Boyz are preparing a plan to help Ukrainian refugees….
Biden was considering using his presidential authority to grant humanitarian parole to refugees or designating them under a program that was used to evacuate refugees out of war zones in Afghanistan.
The options would not guarantee permanent legal status, but the White House believes most Ukrainians would want to eventually return to their homes after finding safe havens in Europe.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared last week that refugees seeking asylum in the US will not be turned away, after reports of several being denied access to the country at the Mexican border.
Under the White House proposals, refugees would be flown in to the country and given support services, avoiding the dangerous and uncertain ordeal asylum-seekers face at the physical US border, the network said.
Of course the US has done what it does best…throw money at a problem…sadly it is seldom the solution that is needed.
Ukraine can expect about $900 million in humanitarian aid to flow its way….
I think everything that can possibly be done to help the refugees should be done….I need to ask….why was the refugees from the war in Syria not this big of an issue for the media?
The Syrian refugee crisis remains the world’s largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Since the Syrian civil war officially began March 15, 2011, families have suffered under brutal conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, torn the nation apart, and set back the standard of living by decades.
About 6.8 million Syrians are refugees and asylum-seekers, and another 6.7 million people are displaced within Syria. This means 13.5 million Syrians in total are forcibly displaced, more than half of the country’s population. Nearly 11.1 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance. And about half of the people affected by the Syrian refugee crisis are children.
The refugee problem in Syria is about 3 times as bad as Ukraine and yet it got little notice here in the West….there was not nearly the coverage that those from Ukraine….why is this?
What is it that makes one refugee crisis more important than another?
Is it race? Religion? Region?
What is it that makes the difference?
Questions with the sound of crickets as the answer.
Another thing that pisses me off….the Congress stands applauds and vote almost overwhelmingly to send cash to Ukraine….but yet that same Congress cannot have that much agreement when it comes to cash for the hungry here or the benefits for 9/11 responders or the benefits that our veterans desire…..why is that?
It is evident that the Congress no longer works for the American people…..and it has not for many years.
What makes people half a world away more important than the starving senior down the street?
The situation in Ukraine has not been in the news as of late…….it was all consuming when the forces of pro-Russia Ukraine fought with the Ukrainian forces……but lately the media has had so much more on their plate and pushed it back to the back burner.
But recently there has been a developing situation that could soon lead to a start-up to a deadly conflict once again…..
The U.S. military believes a buildup of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine, seen as “concerning” on Tuesday, is likely a training exercise. But the gathering of troops comes amid heightened tension in the region, and Ukraine’s Commander-In-Chief Ruslan Khomchack told his country’s parliament this week that Russian forces from different regions had been assembling near the border.
Russia’s president has acknowledged an “escalation of armed confrontation” in the region.
Training exercises were always a possible explanation for the buildup, but a U.S. defense official told CBS News that the locations and types of units seen on the ground didn’t line up with what the Russian Ministry of Defense had announced last month.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was worried by the situation in eastern Ukraine, fearing the Ukrainian side could do something that would restart a civil war there.
President Vladimir Putin late on Tuesday accused Ukraine of provoking armed confrontation with pro-Russian separatists and failing to honour earlier agreements over its wartorn east, during a telephone call with France and Germany’s leaders.
Not to worry the US may be dragged into this conflict as well……
Numerous statements by Ukrainian and Russian officials reported this Easter Sunday bode ill for hopes of diminishing tensions in Eastern Ukraine. Growing indications of impending intervention by the Pentagon and NATO make the situation yet more grim. U.S. European Command has raised its Ukraine watch level from possible crisis to potential imminent crisis, the highest level, according to Stars and Stripes.
The past few days have witnessed a phone conversation between President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky and a similar exchange between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his, Defense Minister Andrii Taran. In both instances the American officials assured their Ukrainian allies of American support not only in their steadily mounting conflict with the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the Donbass in what was formerly Eastern Ukraine, but with its war of words, and veiled words of war, with Russia which borders the two republics.
The deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, evoked the death of the child to warn the NATO and European Union nations in Europe that their silence on the Ukrainian government’s resumption of shelling in the Donbass is providing the Kiev government carte blanche to continue and to escalate the current conflict into a prelude to all-our war. A war, moreover, on the Russian border, one that it’s difficult to imagine Moscow being able to stand aloof from for long. His words included, “Yesterday, for the first time since July 2020 a Ukrainian shelling of the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] was conducted and a six-year-old child died,” and he bemoaned the fact that “there is no word about this” from Ukraine’s and Russia’s partners in the Normandy Contact Group, France and Germany. (The Normandy Format was established in 2014 when fighting in the Donbass erupted in order to deescalate the conflict and reach a peaceful settlement between its participants.)
Smells like more interventionism to me.
This is one of those situation that is flying under the radar for now……but it should be monitored and attempts made to calm any events that could lead to more fighting.
Turkey is an NATO ally….an ally that we are having problems with their policies…..this illustrates the weakness within the ranks of NATO.
The US is attempting to “whack the pee-pee” of Turkey disobeying the desires of the US.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey Monday after the latter tested S-400 missile defense batteries it purchased from Russia. Washington says the S-400 technology could pose a threat to equipment used by the NATO alliance, of which Ankara is a member. Turkey denounced the Trump administration’s decision, saying it bought the S-400 batteries only because the U.S. blocked it from acquiring the Patriot missile defense system on its desired terms. Officials said Ankara would “retaliate in a manner and timing it deems appropriate,” leading to speculation that it might stop letting U.S. forces use Incirlik air base, for instance. The incoming Biden administration’s attitude toward this issue remains to be seen, says Crisis Group expert Berkay Mandiraci. But for the time being the sanctions threaten to have serious negative long-term implications for Turkey’s defense industry. Meanwhile, whether the U.S. eventually lifts the penalties or expands them, the fact of them will continue to strain Turkey-U.S. ties.
Economic warfare has begun between the US and Turkey…..
The Turkish-American marriage, solemnized by Ankara’s accession to NATO in 1952, is on the rocks. The partners were ill-matched from the beginning but stayed together so long as the Soviet threat loomed and the Turkish military was in charge.
The Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan characterized it, disappear more than three decades ago. Nearly two decades of rule by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have transformed Turkey. In Abraham Lincoln’s enduring words, the resulting “passion” has strained the “bonds of affection” between the two nations to the breaking point and perhaps beyond. The incoming Biden administration should stop treating Ankara as an ally and instead recognize it as the independent and often hostile power that it has become.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said sanctions were “inexplicable” after Washington repeatedly rejected Ankara’s offer to form a joint working group. It called on its NATO ally to revise the “unjust” decision that will harm bilateral ties.
I know a lot of information to take in….so for those that have an allergic reaction to reading…..
Now that I have filled in the gaps……let’s look at the situation more in-depth…….
Now to look at the players…the Azeris supported by Turkey and the Armenians supported by the West….let’s not forget that the nations involved were once satellites of the USSR…..will this lead to a confrontation between Russia and Turkey?
The “frozen conflict” between Armenia and Azerbaijan has turned very hot. What may seem to many Westerners a minor clash in a remote corner of the world actually has significant implications for regional security, energy markets and the ambitions of two problematic strongmen: Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
The fighting, which goes back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, centers on a small enclave of ethnic Armenians inside Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh. The mountainous self-declared republic (which is not even formally recognized by its patron, Armenia) has a population of 150,000 but is highly militarized. The Azeris lost control of the area in a conflict in the 1990s that cost 30,000 lives, and despite much saber-rattling have been unable to get it back though diplomatic or military means.
In my time at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I visited both countries several times. Dislike and distrust permeated the environment. The two defense chiefs at the time hated each other, and although both nations were nonmember partners with NATO (and had small troop contingents in Afghanistan), all that either man wanted to talk about was the duplicity and venality of the other. Unfortunately, each was accurately channeling the national view toward their neighbor in the Caucasus. Neither side seemed willing to give an inch, either literally and figuratively.
“While it is true that the leadership of Azerbaijan has been actively promoting bellicose rhetoric for the last 15 years, now the decision to unleash a war was motivated by Turkey’s full support,” Pashinyan told AFP. “Without Turkey’s active engagement this war would have not begun.”
Pashinyan also said on Tuesday that Armenia was willing to make concessions with Azerbaijan to end the fighting if Baku was willing to do the same. “Conflicts need to be resolved on the basis of mutual concessions,” he said. “Nagorno-Karabakh is ready, and Armenia is ready, to mirror the concessions that Azerbaijan is ready to make.”
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has previously stated that the fighting will continue until Armenian forces completely withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. “Nagorno-Karabakh is our land. We have to go back there, and we are doing it now,” Aliyev said on Sunday.
Other heads of state have accused Turkey of driving the conflict, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview on Tuesday, Assad accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being the “main instigator and the initiator” of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
This situation has the possibility of becoming a wider conflict that could suck in many Western countries as well as Russia…..but just what is Azeris fighting for?
But what, precisely, is the aim of the operation?
Azerbaijani officials haven’t said precisely what their strategic goal is in this round of fighting, but the scale of the offensive suggests that it is more ambitious than previous escalations.
Azerbaijani analysts say that the aim this time may be the recapture of one or two of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenian forces took during the war three decades ago.
“I assume that Azerbaijan intends at least to retake control in Fuzuli and Jabrayil; [those are] the two main priorities for this campaign,” said Fuad Shahbaz, an Azerbaijani analyst, in an email interview with Eurasianet.
The only good news is that the two warring sides have agreed to a ceasefire…
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday. The two sides agreed to pause fighting while they exchange prisoners and the bodies of those killed in the conflict. More “substantive” talks over the disputed enclave are expected to start soon.
The announcement came after representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Moscow for talks mediated by Russia. According to Sputnik, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire after 10 hours of negotiations.
“A ceasefire has been announced, beginning 12:00 on 10 October, 2020, for humanitarian purposes for the exchange of prisoners of war and other detainees, and bodies of the dead, to be mediated in accordance with the criteria of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Lavrov said in a statement.
The ceasefire announcement comes after the US, France, and Russia met in Geneva to discuss the conflict. The three countries co-chair the Minsk Group, which was set up in 1992 to foster negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
A ceasefire sounds like a good start right?
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-brokered cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting Saturday, but immediately accused each other of derailing the deal intended to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist region in more than a quarter-century, the AP reports. The two sides traded blame for breaking the truce that took effect at noon with new attacks, and Azerbaijan’s top diplomat said the truce never entered force. The cease-fire announcement came overnight after 10 hours of talks in Moscow. The deal stipulated that the cease-fire should pave the way for talks on settling the conflict. If the truce holds, it would mark a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan.
But the agreement was immediately challenged by mutual claims of violations. Minutes after the truce took force, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijan of shelling the area near the town of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing one civilian. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry rejected the Armenian accusations as a “provocation.” The Azerbaijani military, in turn, accused Armenia of striking the Terter and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan with missiles and then attempting to launch offensives in the Agdere-Terter and the Fizuli-Jabrail areas.
This region is an opportunity for the US to show they can lead still……but the question will be will it?
Several Democratic Senators, in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, are proposing that the U.S. impose sanctions or terminate all military assistance to Azerbaijan. Evidently, they blame Baku for the war. But while such resolutions may gratify the ubiquitous and deep-rooted moralism and desire to punish malefactors that affects the entire U.S. political class as well as interested domestic constituencies; this intemperate and misconceived move actually runs counter to U.S. interests. Indeed, it would only confirm Azeri and Turkish suspicions that there is no understanding in Washington concerning the Caucasus and thus no reason to pay attention to this gesture of frustration or to anything else coming out of Washington. Neither would it bring the parties to peace, quite the contrary. That decision would only lead them to seek patrons elsewhere and further estrange them from Washington while depriving the U.S. of leverage in the region.
Since crisis denotes opportunity as well as threat, this war actually behooves Washington to ponder the reasons for this outbreak of fighting as well as the fact that this war offers the U.S. an opportunity to get back in the ring in the Caucasus, advance its own and the belligerents’ real interests, and help bring about peace and legitimate regional order. First, we must dispute the widespread belief that we have no vital or important interests at stake here other than possibly the safety of energy shipments to Europe from the Caspian that traverse Azerbaijan and Georgia. In 1993 when this conflict began, Turkey raised the possibility of attacking Armenia to relieve Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani and Armenian authorities called on their local populations to prepare for war after major clashes along the front line in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone left dozens of military personnel killed on both sides in late September. The fighting, which constitutes the severest military escalation since the 1994 ceasefire, could worsen in coming weeks.
Journalists and geo-strategists call it a “frozen conflict” – one of several such deadlocked disputes under tenuous ceasefire in the post-Soviet states. Only now, the long-standing battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) is anything but. For the third time since the Russian-brokered 22-year armed-truce – ending a bloody 1988-94 war that claimed some 30,000 lives – broke down in 2016, the antagonists are at it again. Yet this outbreak feels different, far bigger, with an ambitious Azerbaijan seemingly intent on cracking the whole stalemate wide open. Indeed, Baku’s bellicose rhetoric has drifted towards that ever-disturbing language of “final settlements,” “Karabakh is ours,” and of a “life-and-death war” – befitting the “blitzkrieg” intensity of the Azeri strike.
Those of us in the nerdy-niche tribe of NK-watchers would argue this latest bloodshed shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Still, almost everyone was. Thus far, through five full days of intense fighting, scores of soldiers and civilians have been killed and neither side wants to back down. Worse yet, one generic – and perceptibly inexpert – mainstream press report after another has emphasized that the recent violence could “draw in” outside powers like Russia and Turkey. Some have postulated a “worst case scenario” of “all-out war” between the two.
This is a new conflict with Turkey and Israel feeding weapons to one side and the Russians the other…..this could well turn really ugly for the region with the most war like countries feeding the flames of war.
There is so much developing in the region and we are not paying attention….why?
Our State Department is just a Trumpian tool for his version of the game of Risk.
The situation needs to be de-escalated and soon….
After a bitter three-decades-long standoff marked by sporadic violence and deadlocked negotiations, Azerbaijan and Armenia have returned to war over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Clashes on the front lines followed by an Azerbaijani dawn offensive on September 27 have spilled into days of fighting that have left dozens of soldiers and civilians dead on both sides. Despite international calls for restraint, the mood among both Armenians and Azerbaijanis is bellicose. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made his own hawkish statements in support of Baku. Absent urgent international action, fighting looks set to escalate further, at terrible cost.
Russia, potentially with European support, probably stands the best chance of brokering a ceasefire. Moscow is formally an ally of Armenia but has ties to both sides. Together with France and the U.S., Russia chairs the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group that has spearheaded peace efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Moscow helped end the last major bout of violence over Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate again, though striking a similar deal will be harder this time around, given that both countries, but especially Baku, have lost all faith in OSCE Minsk Group-led talks, which have largely petered out. While fighting continues, the Minsk Group co-chairs and other European leaders should press both sides to respect international humanitarian law and avoid civilian suffering.
On September 27, almost certainly as a result of an offensive by the Azerbaijani army, hostilities resumed between two old foes in South Caucasus, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both sides are at loggerheads over a mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh—internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but under de facto Armenian control since the early 1990s, as are a number of adjacent Azerbaijani territories. In the dying days of the Soviet Union, both sides engaged in a bloody war. The conflict was suspended after a precarious, Moscow-mediated ceasefire in 1994, but it’s festered ever since. It was only a matter of time as to when it would erupt again.
The conflict has local drivers, and the primary responsibility for its endurance, without any doubt, lies with local political elites. However, the United States, in the heyday of its post-Cold War unipolar moment, when it felt empowered to engage just about every conflict around the world, made a number of choices that rendered the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict more difficult.
When the South Caucasus nations emerged as independent states following the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, Washington’s policy priorities included their swift integration into the U.S.-led liberal world order, bringing their energy riches to global markets, promoting Turkey as a regional model of a secular and pro-Western state, and excluding post-Soviet Russia, and especially Iran, from the regional integration projects. These choices ignored the historical and cultural realities of the region and failed to take into account their possible impact on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Exhibit A of such ignorance was the decision to marginalize Iran, despite its longstanding ties with both Armenians and Azerbaijanis. This reflected a feature of U.S. foreign policy: single-minded fixation on excluding and isolating Iran in all possible scenarios. While there is a case for containing Iran in the Levant, where it threatens Israel, South Caucasus represents a completely different strategic landscape.
While the US spends most its resources and time doing the bidding of Israel with Iran…..it should be watching what China is doing in the South Caucasus……
In the age of attention deficit disorder politics, this week’s flare-up of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan has ensured that great powers have turned their attention to the South Caucasus. Once hostilities subside, however, this attention will inevitably turn to newer, shinier objects. Not all great power leaders will do so, however. As the emerging great power rivalry keeps the U.S. preoccupied with competing with China in Southeast Asia, the Middle Kingdom has been making inroads into the South Caucasus, which can impact U.S. energy security and other important interests. I expect this process to continue.
Over the past few years, China’s economic presence has grown in all three South Caucasus states (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), paving the way for an increase in Beijing’s geopolitical influence in the region. U.S. policymakers should watch Beijing’s moves in the South Caucasus to ensure they do not undermine the fragile political, security and economic stability in this strategically sensitive region, which is also contested by Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Armenia’s foreign ministry said it “stands ready” to work with the US, France, and Russia “to re-establish a ceasefire regime.” The US, France, and Russia co-chair the Minsk Group, which was set up in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to promote negotiations and peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey has been accused of intervening in the conflict on behalf of Azerbaijan. On Friday, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he has evidence of Turkish support. “We have proof,” Pashinyan said. “They are using drones and Turkish F-16 to bomb civilian areas in Nagorno Karabakh.”
In case you have been pre-occupied with the pandemic, protests and the election then you have missed the newest problematic situation developing in Central Europe…..the election and protests in the country of Belarus.
Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, won a fifth term as president in October 2015, with no significant opposition candidate allowed to stand.But his next attempt at prolonging his rule was met with mass street protests in August 2020, demanding that he step down after an election that the opposition said was rigged.
A former state farm director, Mr Lukashenko was first elected president in 1994, following his energetic performance as chairman of the parliamentary anti-corruption committee.
He has managed a balancing act between Russia, his closest economic and political partner, and overtures to the West, while maintaining authoritarian rule at home.
President Lukashenko faces mass protests after the opposition says the presidential election was rigged in his favour.
Putin has said that Russian troops are at the disposal of the Belarus dictator……and just like the Cold War the US has responded by sending troops for war games on the borders with Belarus….
The US announcement of 12,000 troops leaving Germany now sees another scramble to secure US presences. Poland is reportedly keen to have a “permanent” US presence, complete with a command. They say at least 1,000 US troops will be involved.
Hundreds of US troops have arrived in Lithuania to take part in military drills near the border of Belarus, adding to the mounting tensions over the disputed Belarusian presidential election. On Saturday, about a dozen Abrams tanks crossed into Lithuania from neighboring Poland.
Since the August 9th presidential election in Belarus, the US and EU have rejected the results and called for a fresh round of votes. The official results gave incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko 80 percent of the votes. Since the controversy over the election started, Lukashenko has accused NATO of building up a military force on Belarus’ borders in an effort to oust the embattled president.
The government of Lithuania insists that the exercise was pre-planned and has nothing to do with “any events in the region,” alluding to the August 9th election. The US deployment to Lithuania is expected to last until November. NATO has repeatedly denied Lukashenko’s claims of a military build-up on Belarus’ border.
Then there is the country just off the map to the East….Georgia (the country not the state)…..seems that more NATO (US) troops are needed for some reason…..
Noble Partner is meant to simulate the defense of Georgia surrounding an invasion, and is clearly built on the August 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, however, denies that Russia or anyone else is being targeted in the drill.
Russia is clearly bristling, however, at the presence of NATO troops in operations right on their border. Even if not directly targeted, the exercises are part of Georgia’s ongoing bid for NATO membership, something Russia definitely opposes because of proximity.
NATO largely favors Georgia as a member, but will not grant them accession so long as their claims to South Ossetia and Abkhazia remain unresolved, as this would lead to an immediate risk of a war with Russia over the breakaway republics.
Not to be outdone by NATO Russia and Serbia will go to Belarus for “exercises”….
Details are still scant, but the timing of the exercise is likely to be used by the Lukashenko government to claim solidarity with the other two countries amid the ongoing protests and disputes over last month’s election.
It is unlikely that the exercises are anything to do with the protests, as multi-national exercises tend to be planned months in advance. That Russia and Serbia are not backing out may not be an insignificant sign, however.
The exercise comes not long after recent NATO exercises near the Russian frontier. Again, exercises taking place close to one another are not necessarily by design, and can simply be a coincidence because this area is the focus for both sides.
Serbia’s participation has been put on hold thanx to the interference of the EU…….
President Trump admitted Wednesday that he may have misled the public about the threat COVID-19—but he said he had good reasons. His remarks followed the release of recordings from earlier this year in which he told Bob Woodward he had downplayed the virus threat. Asked Wednesday afternoon if he had misled the public, the president said, “Well, I think if you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so,” per the Washington Post. “The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic.” In a Feb.7 phone call, Trump told Woodward that the coronavirus is “deadly stuff” that “goes through the air.” Publicly, he said the virus was no worse than the flu and predicted that it would soon disappear.
All this looks like tactics from the Cold War…..are we fighting the battles from 70 years ago?
This policy is called “Containment Policy”…..but what is it?
Containment was a foreign policy strategy followed by the United States during the Cold War. First laid out by George F. Kennan in 1947, the policy stated that communism needed to be contained and isolated, or else it would spread to neighboring countries. American foreign policy advisors believed that once one country fell to communism, each surrounding country would fall as well, like a row of dominoes. This view was known as the domino theory. Adherence to the policy of containment and domino theory ultimately led to U.S. intervention in Vietnam as well as in Central America and Grenada.
WE have had the Green Revolution….Yellow Revolution….Orange Revolution….and so on…..and now we are witnessing the “Borscht Revolution”…..the situation in Belarus.
It happens to be part of the national cuisine of Belarus….ergo “The Borscht Revolution”.
About now someone is asking…”where the Hell is Belarus?
After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place and current negotiations on further integration have been contentious. Since his election in July 1994 as the country’s first and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place.
The former Soviet republic was occupied by the Nazis between 1941 and 1944, when it lost 2.2 million people, including almost all of its large Jewish population.
Belarus has been ruled with an iron fist since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko. Opposition figures are subjected to harsh penalties for organising protests. In 2005, Belarus was listed by the US as Europe’s only remaining “outpost of tyranny”.
In the Soviet post-war years, Belarus became one of the most prosperous parts of the USSR, but with independence came economic decline. President Lukashenko has steadfastly opposed the privatisation of state enterprises, and the country is heavily dependent on Russia for its energy supplies.
Now with the intro in the bag we go to the violence and protests in Minsk the capital of Belarus.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka has been president of Belarus since 1994, and both citizens and outside observers have roundly questioned the legitimacy of every vote in the country since the one that brought him to power. This one, held on 9 August, was even less transparent than its predecessors. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) complained that it was invited too late to send observers, while staff from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stayed away due to COVID-19. Lukashenka’s primary opponent on the ballot, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, registered to run only a few weeks ago, when her husband, along with other prospective candidates, was prevented from doing so and arrested instead.
Tsikhanouskaya’s central campaign promise was a new, free, fair and transparent election within six months of taking office. Her campaign drew tens of thousands of citizens to its rallies in the lead-up to the vote, the first sign that this time might be different. And, indeed, when Lukashenka claimed to have garnered an improbable 80 per cent of the vote, a lot of Belarusian citizens simply did not believe him. Solid evidence that they are right lies in their own numbers, which grow each day, even as both demonstrators and passersby are arrested en masse; the use of rubber bullets and, reportedly, live ammunition; and the clear signs of torture on the bodies of those released from Lukashenka’s jails, which are rapidly running short of space.
Then there is the threat of a powerful neighbor that could intervene……
Vladimir Putin has agreed to provide protest-engulfed Belarus with security assistance to counter protests if the country requests it, the president of Belarus declared Saturday after more people took to the streets demanding that he resign, the AP reports. President Alexander Lukashenko made the comment on Saturday evening, several hours after a phone call with Putin and after protesters again demanded that he resign after 26 years in power. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday at the spot in the capital of Minsk where a protester died this week in clashes with police. Some stripped off their shirts to display deep bruises they said came from being beaten by police.
Then there is Russia and how they see the situation in Belarus…..
According to the Institute for the Study of War, Belarusian state media had to insert the comment that Lukashenko “would only invite Russian forces “in the event of external military threats” – an aspect the president hadn’t specified.
Usually, state media are a tool for governments to craft their political messaging and a good indicator of government policies. However, in Belarus, one of the major state media tv channels went on strike in support of the demands of the protesters.
Ukraine this and Ukraine that…..but what do most Americans really know about the country and the region?
First a general description…… Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine achieved a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and endured a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although Ukraine achieved independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy and prosperity remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties.
Now a map of the region…….
For those that may not completely understand the history or the situation then maybe a short refresher course will be of some help……..
So here is a kind of primer for those who might be interested in some Ukraine history:
Late 1700s: Catherine the Great consolidated her rule; established Russia’s first and only warm-water naval base in Crimea.
In 1919, after the Bolshevik Revolution, Moscow defeated resistance in Ukraine and the country becomes one of 15 Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In 1954, after Stalin’s death the year before, Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, assumed power. Pandering to Ukrainian supporters, he unilaterally decreed that henceforth Crimea would be part of the Ukrainian SSR, not the Russian SSR. Since all 15 Republics of the USSR were under tight rule from Moscow, the switch was a distinction without much of a difference – until later, when the USSR fell apart.
As a grad of international relations I find our country’s leaders are woefully misinformed…..this time it was Our Dear Supreme Leader “Trump”……he gets confused easily…….
President Donald Trump confused the Baltic states in Europe with the Balkans—and chastised leaders of the former for starting wars in the 1990s that lead to the break-up of Yugoslavia, French daily Le Monde reported.
Trump reportedly made the mistake in a White House meeting with Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and Raimonds Vējonis of Latvia in April.
We know just how much Our Dear Leader truly appreciates things that make him look good. He likes to be complimented…….and he likes real estate deals….Like North Korea would be a good spot for condos….and now the East European country of Poland has massaged the ego of Our Dear Leader…..
Poland’s leader pressed President Donald Trump on Tuesday to consider creating a permanent American military base in Poland, offering a tempting incentive: The installation would be called “Fort Trump.” Polish President Andrzej Duda extended the invitation during a one-on-one meeting with Trump at the White House that focused heavily on the US presence in Poland as the country faces Russia’s increased military activities in the region, the AP reports. Trump said during a joint news conference with Duda that he was considering the idea and noted that Poland had offered more than $2 billion to the US to pay for such an effort. Duda, for his part, came away confident that he had taken a major step toward lining up a permanent American military base in his country.
“I was smiling when talking to Mr. President. I said that I would very much like for us to set up a permanent American base in Poland which we would call Fort Trump,” Duda said through a translator, prompting Trump to raise his eyebrows and smile. “And I firmly believe that this is possible.” Seeking a check on Russian aggression, Poland wants the 3,000 US troops now deployed in Poland on a rotating basis to be upgraded to a larger, permanent presence. A decision from the US could come early next year. Security, trade and energy topped the agenda as Trump welcomed Duda to the White House for the first time. Duda credited Trump for making Warsaw the first stop on the US president’s inaugural European trip last year and said Trump’s outdoor address in Poland was a “very important moment” for the relationship between the two countries. Trump said the two leaders agreed to bolster defense, energy and commercial ties, adding that the alliance between the two countries had “never been stronger.”
In reality, the cost putting a US armored base in Poland on a permanent basis is going to be several hundred million dollars per year, and while Poland’s cash may make the initial move into the country cheaper, it will quickly be another costly mission for the US with no end in sight.
Let’s look at it from another angle…….We know that Trump enjoys his name branding….so how much will he make off a “Fort” bearing his name? His ego must be flying high right now. Trump Tower, Trump steaks, Trump wine, Trump Vodka and now a Fort Trump…..