Monday, February 24, 2014

Russia Says 'No Basis For Dialogue' Is Now Moving Troops To The Ukraine Border

As I reported earlier, on Sunday, President Obama's NSC Susan Rice came out with some forceful language warning Russia, about sending its military into the Ukraine, saying, “That would be a grave mistake.”

Today, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded, both to Rice and to interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov's statement about being ready for dialogue with Russia. And here's the full quote, a bit different from what Reuter's reported.

“Today I see no legitimate Ukrainian partners for a dialogue. If people crossing Kiev in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government." Medvedev said, as he referred to the new Ukrainian government as “the result of a mutiny.”
and a “real threat to our interests, and to our citizens’ lives and health.”

And unlike Ms. Rice, Russia is backing up its words with action on the ground.

According to my sources, there has been a substantial Russian military buildup on the Ukraine's borders. The ending of the Winter Olympics in Sochi allowed the transfer of units of the Russian forces that were guarding the games. They were flown today to Russian bases at the Ukrainian Crimean port of Sevastopol, where Russia leases a naval base. Russian Air Force transports and special forces are being consolidated at a base located at the Rostov, close to the southeastern Ukrainian town of Donetsk.

A Russian military build up was also seen near Belgorod, just a few miles from the Ukraine border and just to the north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. Both areas are have a majority of ethnic Russians in their population and are Russian speaking.

The Crimea and the strategic port of Sevastopol were part of the Russian empire from the 18th century until 1954 when Nikita Khrushchev, an ethnic Ukrainian, transferred it to Ukrainian control.
When The Soviet Empire collapsed, the Ukraine kept the Crimea. Russia now leases Sevastopol as a deep-water port for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but ethnic Russians imported to the area originally a colonists by the Soviets now make up almost 60 per cent of the population.

Russian President Putin, as I explained before, sees this very much as a Russian security issue and definitely in Cold War terms. And his past experience with the Obama Administration's weakness and amateurish behavior has apparently assured him that he will face no real cost for using the Russian military in the Ukraine to bring it back under Russia's control.

At the very least, I expect the Russians to take back the Crimea, which would allow them both to keep their naval base and to essentially make whatever's left of the Crimea landlocked and dependent on Russia's good will.He may also use the Russian military to set up a puppet government in the eastern Ukraine under ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych,(another South Ossetia situation similar to what happened in Georgia) and might even go as far as to occupy the entire Ukraine 'to restore order on Russia's borders.

Absent a serious deterrent stance by the US and the EU, there's no real reason for him not to.

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Geoffrey Britain said...

There's no doubt that Putin is NOT giving up the Crimea, much less the Sevastopol naval base. But Putin has already said that he doesn't want to see Ukraine break up. If sincere, that indicates that he is unlikely to accept a partition of Ukraine.

I suspect that his primary 'trigger' to invasion is any indication that Ukraine's new gov't. is ready to sign on with the EU.

Putin almost certainly could care less who governs Ukraine as long as their loyalty is to remaining in mother Russia's orbit.