Friday, February 28, 2014

The Russians are coming

The internal strife in the Ukraine is given to be a stubble between pro-EU factions and those who want to stay aligned with Moscow.  The violence has gotten so bad that it appeared Ukraine President Yanukovych was ousted.  He has taken to the media to claim he was not.  The violence in the Ukraine has had some interesting effects.

First we have this little gem;

A Russian spy ship has slipped into Havana for an unannounced visit, a day after the country's defence minister announced plans to expand Russia's worldwide military presence.--The Guardian

Some of the reports I have read said the Viktor Leoniv SSV-175 "appeared" in the harbor of Havana.  No surface vessel just "appears" but what has many concerned is that the Russian ship deployment to Cuba did not have any of the normal communications in the press.  A sign perhaps that Mr. Putin doesn't feel it necessary to ask Mr. Obama's permission or that Russia is interested in what reaction, if any, the US plans in response to the Ukraine.

Elsewhere, the Russian Black Sea Forces have been very busy;

Ukraine has accused Russia of carrying out an armed invasion by sending naval forces to occupy Sevastopol airport in the Crimea region.

Another Crimean airport, Simferopol, has also been occupied by armed men, thought to be pro-Russia militia.--BBC

Russia already has 150,000 troops on military exercises on the border of the Ukraine.

The exercises are "to check combat readiness of armed forces in western and central military districts as well as several branches of the armed forces," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was quoted as saying by state media.--CNN

Today we received this nugget of foreign policy acumen;

U.S. officials said Friday that President Barack Obama may scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia this summer and could also halt discussions on deepening trade ties with Moscow, raising specific possible consequences if Russia should intervene in Ukraine. Obama himself bluntly warned of unspecified "costs" for Russia.

Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing," Obama declared. Such action by Russia would represent a "profound interference" in matters that must be decided by the Ukrainian people, he said. --
Associated Press

Given the failure of the Obama administration in bringing about any change in Syria, I'm sure Mr. Putin must be quaking in his boots.  What Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice don't seem to understand is that Russia feels extremely threatened by having the Ukraine being lured by the EU.  A brief history lesson shows us why;

Here is a map of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact.

Czarist Russia say invasions by the Mongols, Ottomans, and French.  The Russians would invade the Prussians leading to Hitler's invasion of Russia during World War II.  The above map is a result of the fear of further invasion by Western Europe.  What it doesn't show is the vulnerability the Soviets felt over their northern bored from US nuclear missiles.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and Western Europe retaliated (in Russia's eyes) by further democracy in the former Warsaw Pact.  Poland, Hungary, Romania and former Czechoslovakia were brought under the Partnership For Peace initiative.  It was to help prepare the former Communist countries to enter the EU and NATO.  Over 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the former Warsaw Pact, here is what the map looks like now;

Is it any wonder why Moscow and Mr. Putin have taken a hardline against any further incursions into their borders by a break away Ukraine?  Russia sees the US and Western Europe as the aggressors and Putin is looking to halt this incursion.  Being a hardline former Soviet KGB agent, I don't see Mr. Putin taking things lightly and will not likely be deterred by the US announcement of huge cuts to its military.

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