Monday, February 24, 2014

Russia and the Ukraine question.

I've been glued to the screen for the past several days watching developments in  the Ukraine unfold.

It's been my position that, to date, the only thing restraining Putin has been the Olympics... which have now ended.

The Ukraine is ripe for invasion.  That Putin is capable of such a thing has been amply illustrated in the past by their forced annexation of the northern provinces of Georgia.

Most Americans have zero awareness of the Russian rape of this country, because like most other country-wide rapes by the Russians, we stood by and did nothing... along with the rest of NATO.

File:2008 South Ossetia war en.svg 

In this case, the lack of any appreciable NATO response... or American response, for that matter, was anticipated and made a part of the plan by Putin, et al.

In this instance, Russia is possessed of the logistical advantages of proximity (The Ukraine is located on the western border of Russia proper... a long way away from us as an issue of logistics if nothing else) combined with both the national will and the Russian leverage of massive control of a large percentage of the natural gas used by Europe.

Russia views this gas as a strategic tool, a lever to be push or pull at their convenience,  and a constant reminder of the use of energy assets as a strategic element in foreign policy.

The Ukraine, historically, has been known as the "bread basket" of Russia.  A massive agricultural asset, the Ukraine has served as both a door mat for armies invading Russia as well as the Russian refrigerator, so to speak.  Additionally, there is no denying the Ukraine's strategic placement as the northern end of the Black Sea.

Putin, of course, is driven by other motivations beyond reliving Russians past "greatness."  He was a former KGB officer, with the mentality that entailed.  Here, he has been given a golden opportunity to flex his muscle, using that as an excuse to develop additional muscle for future adventurism as Russia expands into the political vacuum provided by a bereft American foreign policy.

The Russians, of course, cannot believe the ease of their expansion as this country continues to fall prey to the most inept foreign policy in the last century.

Putin: emboldened.  The US and NATO?  Cowed.

The Ukraine's Eastern border with Russia provides Putin with a natural ability to use the military for a pincer movement to, essentially, "bite" off the eastern end of the country... and there's little to nothing the West can do about it.

Map of Ukraine
To the eastern border of the Ukraine, you can clearly see that the border of Russia provides excellent strategic possibilities for a Russian incursion, providing a minimum of 3 possibly simultaneous routes into the heavily Russian-speaking (And Russian geopolitical leaning) provinces of the east, ripe for the picking.

The Ukraine is a divided country.  Splintered at almost a tribal level, with 6 main languages dividing them.

Western-leaning protesters are, in the main, in control of Kiev.  Relatively close to the Russian border as the map illustrates, essentially the only question here is how much of the Ukraine will Putin want if he moves?

From Putin's position, he would be an idiot to just walk away and allow this massive unrest to continue on his western flank.  The Ukrainian government is splintered, the military is shattered, the cultural division remain.  His choices are rather stark: force the Ukraine... or some large part of it (Everything, perhaps, to the east of the Dnieper/Dnester Rivers that run from Kiev to the south and west to the port of Kherson?) into the Russian sphere as a buffer... or walk away and allow the Ukraine to gravitate towards the NATO/EU orbit.

Using satellite countries as a buffer as long since been the excuse for occupying what used to be the Warsaw Pact countries.  That was Stalin's public justification, anyway.

Now, Putin finds himself in a position where the US is helpless thanks to the vacuum caused by foreign policy and domestic incompetence, up against a NATO that has no stomach to confront Russia (Making them essentially, worthless) and a group of former client states who are too weak, too corrupt, too possessed of their own self-interests to unify to fight him off.

This situation is ripe for what amounts to an Anschluss.

For me, the question isn't "if" Putin will act, but when.  If the people of Kiev believed they had trouble before, they haven't seen anything yet.

Video of Obama or that simple idiot SecState, Kerry, "strongly condemning" such an action would make zero difference.  Neither have any respect in the region, both are colossal jokes.  I would be astounded if Russia did not move and soon.  VERY soon... possibly as early as next week. And they will care less what the rest of the world has to say about it every step of the way.

Time, of course, will tell.

No comments: