Monday, August 28, 2017

Between Ukraine & the USA is Whom?

The conflict in Ukraine continues to drag on to the point that is has become part of the natsec background noise.

It is clear the Ukrainian people want to move towards the West. They no longer want to be in the Russian orbit. They have a lot to do in the civil society and rule of law department, but they are making slow progress in the right direction most of the time, and are at least trying the rest.

Still, it is not a nation at peace - and it is an European nation. Western European, former Warsaw Pact, and Soviet republics now in NATO have a greater combined population and GDP than the USA, and yes when it comes to Ukraine, we seem stuck here;
...Ukrainian soldiers have, throughout the past three years of relentless combat, frequently turned to symbols of America to both intimidate and annoy their enemies—sometimes, in eclectic and creative ways.

Ukrainian soldiers have raised U.S. flags over their front-line trenches and forts—typically to the retort of sniper or mortar fire from across no man’s land. Sometimes, to really get under the enemy’s skin, an English-speaking Ukrainian soldier will radio commands in English over unencrypted channels, pretending to be a member of SEAL Team Six.

At the front-line village of Krymske in 2015, just outside the separatist stronghold of Luhansk, Ukrainian troops renamed a street from that of a Soviet luminary to “John McCain Street.”

When Canadian journalist and filmmaker Christian Borys asked the soldiers when they were going to name a street after then-President Barack Obama, the soldiers replied, “When he sends us weapons.”

Since the war in the Donbas region began in April 2014, Russian propaganda has spun yarns about U.S. military forces actively participating in the war. Consequently, Ukrainian soldiers know that flaunting American military support for Ukraine is a potent psychological weapon against their enemies.

Any instance of U.S. military support for Ukraine is also a powerful morale booster for Ukrainian troops as they continue to grind out a 3-year-old war against a combined force of Russian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

“U.S. support lets the Ukrainians know the stronger guy is on their side,” Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the pro-Ukrainian Georgian National Legion, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Now, after three years of war, Ukrainian troops may soon have at their disposal the one tangible affirmation of U.S. military support they’ve wanted the most—weapons.
Why not Europe? Well, I think the Ukrainians know their neighbors better than we do, and simply have little faith in them.

My heart continues to be on the side of the Ukrainians, and my head is mostly for supporting them with defensive arms as needed - but two things concern me.

1. Where are the Europeans? Yes, I know they are there a bit - but shouldn't they and not the USA be top of mind for the long term success of Ukraine's drift to the West?
2. Are we being careful enough? Is Ukraine worth risking war over? We need to be careful not only with what we do, but what the Ukrainians may do if they think they can fight for their nation using American blood at the front end.

It's a tough neighborhood; be careful out there.

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