Monday, February 02, 2015

Playing Chicken at 10-MPH

It is hard to determine if the slow-roll Russian invasion of Ukraine is a sign of weakness, or a brilliant exercise of territorial conquest on the cheap. Either way, you have to give grudging respect to the Russians - they are winning.

As with any expansionist power, they will continue to expand until stopped. Both in the public, and out in the open, there are some moves in the Diplomatic, Informational, and Economic spheres at work, but we are leaving the Military part to the Ukrainians.

The Ukrainians need help, they have a lot of challenges - one of of which is having the weapons they need. Though he is trying as much as he can to disengage from the world that is filling each vacuum we leave - President Obama has some hard decisions to make.
With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said Sunday.

President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.
At a different time and with different leaders, this might give the Russians pause - but I don't think it will right now. At every turn, when things got to the point of needing a tough call, the Obama Administration has backed off.

If I were the Russians, I would expect the same.

This isn't a problem with the Democrat defense intellectual base - just the Democrats that Obama has decided to populate his circle with.
Fueling the broader debate over policy is an independent report to be issued Monday by eight former senior American officials, who urge the United States to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.

Michèle A. Flournoy, a former senior Pentagon official who is a leading candidate to serve as defense secretary if Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president, joined in preparing the report. Others include James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral who served as the top NATO military commander, and Ivo Daalder, the ambassador to NATO during Mr. Obama’s first term.

“The West needs to bolster deterrence in Ukraine by raising the risks and costs to Russia of any renewed major offensive,” the report says. “That requires providing direct military assistance — in far larger amounts than provided to date and including lethal defensive arms.”
You can get the report here.

11-months ago I made a statement on what the Ukrainians should prepare themselves for. A year later, it still applies.
The Ukrainians should prepare to lose not just Crimea, but Karkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Dnepropetrovsk. They should count themselves lucky if they keep Mykolaiv and Odessa. That is worse case. Most likely for the Ukrainians would be the loss of only Crimea and those parts east of the Dnieper up to the city of Dnepropetrovsk and east of the E105 to Karkiv. Best case is just the loss of Crimea, or some kind of agreement with Russia for expanded Russian bases and influence.
I don't see the Europeans as the EU doing anything. With the new Russian influence in Greece and Hungary, I don't see any significant moves by NATO to support either. The USA that wouldn't take the lead in Libya is unlikely to take the lead now on the border of an expanding Russia.

No, there is nothing to stop the Russians from inching their way to getting their Novorossiya back. The Ukrainians are plucky - but not that plucky.

No one wants a conflict in Ukraine - but the world give you what it wants, not what you want from it. It will be a great shame on the West to not even help someone to fight their own war. History shows us that in the end, someone will have to stop expansionist powers. Time is never the friend of the good in this regard. The longer you wait, the higher the butcher's bill.

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