The Empire Strikes Back? With 20,000 of Russia’s best military forces massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, pundits are speculating on the Russian Empire striking back. NATO, Chuck Hagel and the Polish government have been warning that an invasion of Ukraine is imminent. However, everything is cocktail party chatter because there is only one person (and God) who really knows: Vladimir Putin.
After the (likely) accidental downing of Malaysian Flight 17, the Russian backed terrorists in Ukraine’s Donbass had to wait for new marching orders from the Kremlin. With Russia retalating with bans on US, Canadian, Australian, et al sanctions with bans on food imports, the terrorists have their new game plan: wait for the Russian ‘peacekeepers’ to ride in like the cavalry to save the upstart ‘revolutsiya’. Putin never a commits himself to one option- he always pursues multiple options while simultaneously watching what the West does in response. In fact, Putin has calculated that the ‘old game’ of Western warnings is merely Western hesitancy to get involved. As a result, he waits for a seemingly tough ‘signal’ from the West to stop, as an opportunity to up the ante and ‘call the bluff’. Today for example, the visit of NATO Chief Rasmussen to Ukraine is trumped by the Russian food import ban and threat of invasion. NATO Chiefs can visit Kyiv all they want if Putin controls the Donbas…
Furthermore, Russian media is reporting a special Russian Security Council session in Crimea next week as a special ‘go to Hell’ signal to the West on their limp wristed sanctions and diplomatic demarches. Meanwhile the Obama administration and ‘Old Europe’ (France and Germany) continue to pressure the Poroshenko administration to halt the largely successful ATO (anti-terrorism operation) in the Donbass. This resulted in the resignation of Ukrainian National Security Chief Parubiy today. Parubiy wanted to continue the successful operation but Western hand wringers carried the day. Yes, Parubiy’s ouster had been speculated about in private circles for months, but the victory of the doves over the hawks is an ominous sign. The West believes that if Putin wants to occupy the Donbass, then there is nothing substantive that can be done about it. Obama said yesterday, “now if you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that’s obviously a different set of questions. We are not there yet.” The key take-away is that the West will do nothing to prevent an invasion -only react afterwards. Much like his foreign policy mentor, Jimmy Carter, Barrack Obama is reactive and not proactive. Will the US boycott the 2018 Soccer World Cup if Putin invades the Donbass -just like Carter impotently boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980? Probably yes and sadly, Obama will think he was ‘tough’ on the Russians. On August 8, 2008 Russia did the unthinkable and invaded Georgia. We can only hope that August 8, 2014 will be different and that Putin will not alter his planned economic ‘autumn offensive’ into an ‘August offensive’ that involves the army.
A Russian invasion of Donbass under the guise of ‘humanitarian peacekeeping’ may yet be prevented. However it will be by the sheer grace of a God, and by no efforts from the Obama administration. The US administration has armed Syrian and Libyan rebels but refuses to give Ukrainians defensive weapon capabilities. Ukraine now wants to join NATO and be a part of Europe. Syria and Libya will never join (or want to join) NATO or the EU. Israeli Premier Netanyahu told Obama “never second guess me” with regard to the elimination of the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza. Poroshenko would be wise to follow his advice.