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Topic: Ukraine (Read 6840 times)
Charles Krauthammer: Obama Writes Off Ukraine, use "Tripwires" not red lines
Reply #100 on:
September 05, 2014, 11:30:19 AM »
Yes, Zbig got that right in 1994. Who knew Russia would still have an eye on re-taking Ukraine and any/all of its old empire that it could!
Here is Krauthammer writing on the same mess today. These 3 opinion pieces, VDH on deterrence, George Will on Putin acting like Hitler and Charles Krauthammer on the surrender of Ukraine should be read together IMO. Quoting Krauthammer,
"...what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire.
Tripwires produce automaticity.
A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West. Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance."
SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 8:00 PM
Obama Writes Off Ukraine
Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything.
By Charles Krauthammer
At his first press briefing after the beheading of American James Foley, President Obama stunned the assembled when he admitted that he had no strategy in Syria for confronting the Islamic State. Yet it was not nearly the most egregious, or consequential, thing he said.
Idiotic, yes. You’re the leader of the free world. Even if you don’t have a strategy — indeed, especially if you don’t — you never admit it publicly.
However, if Obama is indeed building a larger strategy, an air campaign coordinated with allies on the ground, this does take time. George W. Bush wisely took a month to respond to 9/11, preparing an unusual special ops–Northern Alliance battle plan that brought down Taliban rule in a hundred days.
We’ll see whether Obama comes up with an Islamic State strategy. But he already has one for Ukraine: Write it off. Hence the more shocking statement in that August 28 briefing: Obama declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — columns of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and a thousand troops brazenly crossing the border — to be nothing new, just “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.”
And just to reaffirm his indifference and inaction, Obama mindlessly repeated his refrain that the Ukraine problem has no military solution. Yes, but does he not understand that diplomatic solutions are largely dictated by the military balance on the ground?
Vladimir Putin’s invasion may be nothing new to Obama. For Ukraine, it changed everything. Russia was on the verge of defeat. Now Ukraine is. That’s why Ukraine is welcoming a cease-fire that amounts to capitulation.
A month ago, Putin’s separatist proxies were besieged and desperate. His invasion to the southeast saved them. It diverted the Ukrainian military from Luhansk and Donetsk, allowing the rebels to recover, while Russian armor rolled over Ukrainian forces, jeopardizing their control of the entire southeast. Putin even boasted that he could take Kiev in two weeks.
Why bother? He’s already fracturing and subjugating Ukraine, re-creating Novorossiya (“New Russia”), statehood for which is one of the issues that will be up for, yes, diplomacy.
Which makes incomprehensible Obama’s denial to Ukraine of even defensive weapons — small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Indeed, his stunning passivity in the face of a dictionary-definition invasion has not just confounded the Ukrainians. It has unnerved the East Europeans. Hence Obama’s reassurances on his trip to the NATO summit in Wales.
First up, Estonia. It seems to be Obama’s new red line. I’m sure they sleep well tonight in Tallinn now that Obama has promised to stand with them. (Remember the State Department hashtag #UnitedforUkraine?)
To back up Obama’s words, NATO is touting a promised rapid-reaction force of about 4,000 to be dispatched to pre-provisioned bases in the Baltics and Poland within 48 hours of an emergency. (Read: Russian invasion.)
First, we’ve been hearing about European rapid-reaction forces for decades. They’ve amounted to nothing.
Second, even if this one comes into being, it is a feeble half-measure. Not only will troops have to be assembled, dispatched, transported and armed as the fire bell is ringing. The very sending will require some affirmative and immediate decision by NATO. Try getting that done. The alliance is famous for its reluctant, slow, and fractured decision-making. (See: Ukraine.) By the time the Rapid Reactors arrive, Russia will have long overrun their yet-to-be-manned bases.
The real news from Wales is what NATO did not do. It did not create the only serious deterrent to Russia: permanent bases in the Baltics and eastern Poland that would act as a tripwire. Tripwires produce automaticity. A Russian leader would know that any invading force would immediately encounter NATO troops, guaranteeing war with the West.
Which is how we kept the peace in Europe through a half-century of Cold War. U.S. troops in West Germany could never have stopped a Russian invasion. But a Russian attack would have instantly brought America into a war — a war Russia could not countenance.
It’s what keeps the peace in Korea today. Even the reckless North Korean leadership dares not cross the Demilitarized Zone, because it would encounter U.S. troops and trigger war with America.
That’s what deterrence means. And what any rapid reaction force cannot provide. In Wales, it will nonetheless be proclaimed a triumph. In Estonia, in Poland, as today in Ukraine, it will be seen for what it is — a loud declaration of reluctance by an alliance led by a man who is the very embodiment of ambivalence.
Russia still fg w Ukraine, US still not doing diddly
Reply #101 on:
November 15, 2014, 09:19:17 AM »
Following the separatist elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on Nov. 2, the political entities representing both regions -- the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, respectively -- have established what is likely to be yet another long-term frozen conflict in the former Soviet periphery. Ukraine's inability to retake these regions by force, combined with continued weapons and personnel support from Russia, mean they are here to stay.
Russia will have difficulty propping up these new breakaway territories at a time when Moscow is under growing economic and political strain. Still, Russia has strategic interests in supporting these territories as a check against Ukraine's Western integration efforts. Along with its history of subsidizing other breakaway territories in the region, Moscow has shown with its efforts in Ukraine that it will be willing to incur the financial and political costs of backing the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.
The breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine trace their origins to the Western-backed uprising in Kiev and the subsequent Russian response to this uprising. From pro-Russian demonstrations in Donetsk and Luhansk, Moscow-backed rebel militias and the political entities representing them simultaneously emerged. In Donetsk, activists who occupied administration buildings declared the establishment of the Donetsk People's Republic on April 7, while in Luhansk a similar declaration was made for the establishment of the Luhansk People's Republic on April 27. Both groups subsequently held referendums on May 12 on the issue of declaring independence from Ukraine, and according to the local referendum organizers (international observers were not allowed), both received over 95 percent of votes in favor of secession.
Russia Maintains Supply Flow to Ukrainian Separatists
Click to Enlarge
Following the military gains made by the rebels at the expense of Ukrainian security forces in the ensuing months, the territories controlled by the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics did not take part in Ukraine's political process, including the presidential election in May and parliamentary elections in October. Instead, the separatists held their own parliamentary elections Nov. 2, which essentially solidified the existing leadership of Alexander Zakharchenko in the Donetsk People's Republic and Igor Plotnitsky in the Luhansk People's Republic. While most of the international community did not recognize the elections, the polls further cemented the reality that Ukraine was no longer in control of these territories.
From Rebellion to Administration
With the separatists having achieved territorial control, the question now is how the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics will manage the administration of their territories. Together, the people's republics control nearly 16,000 square kilometers (a little less than 6,200 square miles) of territory -- roughly 30 percent of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts combined. Donetsk and Luhansk are two of the most densely populated regions of Ukraine, and Kiev estimates that nearly 65 percent of the Donetsk oblast's population and 50 percent of the Luhansk oblast's population (or around 1.5 million and 2 million people respectively) are under separatist rule. The separatists also control both regional centers, the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Administering these territories therefore represents quite the undertaking for the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. This is especially the case since both regions have experienced significant dislocations from the conflict, both in terms of outflows of population and economic disruption. An estimated 800,000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict, with nearly 400,000 seeking refuge across the border in Russia. While some of the population has started returning to the area, anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those returning are middle-aged or elderly, while the younger and more productive members of the population have so far chosen to stay away. Adding to these problems, the Ukrainian government recently decided to stop paying social benefits -- including pensions in certain cases -- to residents in these areas.
Donetsk and Luhansk historically have been two of the most economically productive regions of Ukraine, jointly making up the Donbas industrial belt, but much of their industrial production has been hurt by the military conflict. Coal mining is a major part of the economy in the rebel-controlled territories, and over 50 percent of the coal plants and steel mills there have halted production or are producing under capacity. Those that are still producing, such as the coal mines controlled by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, have refused to pay taxes to the separatist governments (though according to sources, there may be kickbacks being paid to the rebels under the table). Without an effective mechanism for tax collection, much of the local revenue the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics have collected has come from soliciting local businesses.
Furthermore, if and when industrial production in these regions does pick back up, the separatist governments will find it difficult to legally export products abroad -- or at least to Europe, which has placed sanctions on the breakaway territories. Additionally, the banking systems in these territories have been frozen, and most workers reportedly have been receiving their salaries in cash.
Russia Continues Its Support
The economic prospects for these breakaway regions -- at least for the short to medium term -- are not particularly bright. The territories have only one viable option for sustaining themselves -- Russia. Indeed, Moscow is already playing a significant role in propping up the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. First and foremost, Russian aid has come in the form of military supplies -- including tanks and heavy weaponry -- and flows of personnel to assist in the battle against Ukrainian security forces. Russia has also sent humanitarian convoys with food and other supplies to the parts of the rebel territories that have been most damaged in the conflict zone, such as areas around the city of Luhansk.
Moscow's direct financial and economic assistance to these territories, however, is more opaque. Though the rebels have admitted that they have not yet been able to set up a reliable tax collection system, sources have said they are still getting paid, which reportedly comes in part from cash transfers from Russia. The self-declared republics also reportedly receive aid from businessmen close to the Kremlin, such as Konstantin Malofeev.
Additionally, there are other important economic activities in the separatist-controlled territories. There have been reports of coal supplies from the breakaway regions being smuggled into Russia, with Moscow then selling these supplies back to Ukraine and channeling revenues to the rebels. There also have been reports of the continuing production of machines that service the coal and steel sector as well as the agricultural production of wheat, corn and sunflower seeds, which could allow Russia to increase its imports of these goods from the rebel territories. Finally, Moscow could choose to subsidize energy exports, given that pipeline infrastructure is directly integrated across the border.
Costs and Benefits to Russia
Still, Russia's ability to directly finance the breakaway territories or absorb their products is not infinite. Moscow is already experiencing significant economic problems as a result of the Ukraine crisis, including capital flight, a depreciating ruble and financial restrictions caused by Western sanctions. Russia has had its own internal debate over budgetary expenditures for social and defense spending, which declining oil prices have only exacerbated. Projections of stagnant growth or even mild recession for 2015 do not suggest a dramatic improvement in Russia's economic position.
Nevertheless, the total amount of financing needed to sustain these regions is unlikely to cost Russia more than a few billion dollars per year, especially since much of the economy will be operating in the grey zone. Furthermore, Russia's ability to project power into its periphery has traditionally outstripped the country's economic weaknesses. Indeed, even in the chaos of the 1990s, Russia militarily and financially supported a number of breakaway territories throughout the former Soviet space, including Transdniestria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Moscow continues to support these territories to this day, both in terms of subsidizing local economic production and providing direct budgetary assistance to the breakaway governments. Russia has only increased such support, given that Moldova and Georgia have attempted to get closer to the West as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.
Ultimately, the benefits of backing the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics will outweigh the financial and political costs for Moscow. The uprising in Ukraine and the subsequent pro-Western government it has produced in Kiev is a fundamental threat to Russia's national security interests. Supporting the breakaway territories in Donetsk and Luhansk not only gives Russia direct military and political influence in these regions but also serves as a check against Ukraine's Western integration efforts. This explains why, despite sanctions from the West and its own economic difficulties, Moscow has not stopped supporting the breakaway territories and continues to be the main power player in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia has redrawn the borders, and the new breakaway territories are here to stay.
Read more: Russian Interests Reshape Ukraine's Borders | Stratfor
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Why Russia would intervene in Ukraine
Reply #102 on:
December 11, 2014, 07:39:07 PM »
Analytic Guidance: Why Russia Would Intervene in Ukraine
August 6, 2014 | 22:04 GMT Print Text Size
Analytic Guidance: Why Russia Would Intervene in Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers patrol Debaltseve, a city in the eastern region of Donetsk, on Aug. 3. (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Editor's Note: The following is an internal Stratfor document produced to provide high-level guidance regarding the conflict in Ukraine. This document is not a forecast but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions for areas of focus.
With 20,000 troops positioned on its border with Ukraine, Russia has all the pieces in place to launch a direct, limited ground intervention in eastern Ukraine without having to make any additional preparations. Of course, that kind of military invasion would cost Moscow a lot of political capital, but Russian policymakers may believe the high price of intervention is justified in certain scenarios. Those scenarios are as follows:
The Humanitarian Crisis Worsens
On Aug. 5, Russia officially requested to lead a humanitarian mission in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide aid for civilians in eastern Ukraine. Parts of Donetsk and Luhansk are experiencing food, water and electricity shortages, but so far Kiev has rejected Russia's offers of assistance, arguing there is no humanitarian crisis to end. The civilian death toll has increased steadily as fighting moved from the countryside into the cities. If more civilians die, Russia may decide to intervene.
The Ukrainian Military Threatens Rebel Strongholds
Over the past few weeks, the Ukrainian military has tallied several notable victories in its fight against the rebels, one of many factors that guided Russia's decision to amass troops along the border. However, Ukrainian forces have not been able to move into the urban areas surrounding the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk; in addition to general difficulties associated with urban warfare, some rebels have already started a counteroffensive. If the Ukrainian military seriously threatens to take these important rebel strongholds, Russia may intervene.
Analytic Guidance: Why Russia Would Intervene In Ukraine
Click to Enlarge
NATO Deploys More Assets
After Russia's annexation of Crimea, NATO initiated new rotational exercises in Poland and the Baltics; however, no additional measures have been taken since then to increase the security of the alliance's members in the region. Any serious push to build up combat power in areas adjacent to Ukraine — including Poland, Romania, the Baltics and Turkey — may indicate that NATO and the United States believe a Russian intervention is imminent. (Meanwhile, Russia could see the congregation of NATO and U.S. forces as a sign that the West plans to intervene.) U.S. naval movement in the Mediterranean or Black seas is also important to watch.
The United States Arms the Ukrainian Military
U.S. aid to Ukraine has been limited to nonlethal equipment and rations, but many in Russia attribute the Ukrainian military's recent gains to advising from the U.S. military. If Washington supplies the Ukrainian military with weapons or trains or assists soldiers more overtly, Russia may respond by intervening.
More Sanctions Are Imposed
The Kremlin has reacted to the latest round of Western sanctions by restricting some food and agricultural imports from the United States and the European Union. But the application of additional, more severe sanctions, especially those targeting Russia's financial and energy sectors, could provoke Russia to invade Ukraine, especially if Moscow believes it has nothing else to lose.
Russian Public Opinion Changes
The majority of Russians oppose direct military intervention into Ukraine. The factions within the Kremlin, including the typically hawkish security circle, are divided on the issue, too. This opposition has constrained the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to maintain his popularity levels among his constituents and retain the loyalty of his supporters within the government. If Putin can disguise the intervention as a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, he may be able to sell it to the Russian public more effectively, giving him more freedom to act.
The Ukrainian Government Collapses
The Kremlin's goal is for Ukraine, an important buffer state, to become at least a neutral territory between Russia and the West. After the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and Ukraine's decision to sign the EU association and free trade agreements, the Kremlin hoped that the new government in Kiev would be unable to remain stable and united and fail to implement the International Monetary Fund-mandated austerity and reform measures. So far, internal divisions have not affected the government's ability to implement reforms and make military decisions. But the emergence of more significant internal divisions over policy, especially security policy, is key to watch. If the government in Kiev fails on its own, Russia will have no need to intervene.
Read more: Analytic Guidance: Why Russia Would Intervene in Ukraine | Stratfor
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