Friday, January 28, 2022

The Howling Dogs of War: Russia's Planned "Blitzkrieg" of the Ukraine or Posturing?

Tensions between NATO, the United States, and Russia seem to be growing by the day as Russian continues building up troops along its border with the Ukraine---100,000 so far--- with mounting troop concentrations in Belarus's border with the Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, NATO is moving men and material east as hardware, including "Javelin" anti-tank missiles are being sent south from Estonia and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from Lithuania and Latvia, with U.S. approval, not to mention around 8500 American troops now on alert. The Ukraine has thus far received approximately 90 tons in what's labeled as "lethal aid" and the promise of more to come from the U.S..

Russia is moving massive amounts of tanks, artillery, and armored  personnel equipment comprising 60 battle groups ever closer to its border with the Ukraine (and especially its capital, Kiev/Kyiv) like a predator preparing to leap its prey.  Ships from Russia's largest naval base at Sebastopol, located in the Crimea side of the Black Sea, have begun their "military exercise" in the area along with 20 ships from its Baltic Fleet.  

At the same time, a U.S. naval strike force, led by the aircraft carrier "Harry S Truman", along with French warships (including the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle) and other foreign naval ships have been placed under NATO command as they head eastward toward the Black Sea. Numerous aircrafts, notably state of the art F-15 and F-35 fighters, are being sent east from as far away as Spain as round the clock surveillance flights begin.   

Russia is putting its famed paratroops into staging areas, and, although there are no confirmed reports, may have already prepositioned its elite Spetsnaz special forces either along or just inside the Ukrainian border with the intention of staging a "false flag" or staged attack on Russian forces as a pretense for launching a limited "punitive" attack the Ukraine and its capital, Kiev reminiscent of Germany's pre-invasion of Poland in 1939. 

The speed at which tensions have built around the Ukraine to the point of an all out war is both amazing and alarming. What has happened to trigger this confrontation? What's really going on?

The Ukraine and Russia have had a long and often troubled history dating back to the 1100's. The Ukraine, known as "Europe's bread basket", has faced oppression from the Czars, the 1917-21 Russian Civil War which included pro and anti Soviet forces along with Ukrainian nationalists, forced collectivization under Stalin and the famines of 1932 and 1933 resulting in the deaths of millions from starvation, and its early support of invading German troops in 1941 as "liberators" from Stalin.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush promised Russian President Gorbachev, that in anticipation of the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. would not encourage NATO expansion to the east into former Warsaw Pact nations, which is exactly what happened starting in 1991.  As an aside, the Warsaw Pact was formed following WWII as a buffer between Soviet Russia and the West, particularly Germany. It also provided Russia with a captive economic zone. 

In 1991, the Ukraine formally gained its independence from Russia. However, its wasn't as "clean" as it seemed. While the Ukraine chaffed under Russia domination, approximately 30% of the population supported Russian policy and rule, especially in the east and south, with the majority of Ukrainians spoke Russian. The extreme eastern part of the Ukraine, the Crimea, had long been central to the Russian navy, providing it with a year around warm sea port and access to the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Straits.   

Nevertheless, following published news of a secret oil deal between the Ukrainian Government and various Western oil companies relating to the discovery of vast oil and gas reserves, the Russian military reasserted itself in the Crimea in 2014. By the way, this preceded a public referendum in February of the same year, in which 83% of the 95.5% Crimeans who voted were  in favor of rejoining the Russian Federation.

 Since then there's been repeated accusations of "regime changes", both pro-Western and pro-Moscow, including most recently by Russian President Putin as Kiev has sought closer contact with the European Union (EU) and submitted its application to join NATO. 

The problem from Moscow's perspective is that despite President Bush's earlier assurances in 1989, most of the former Warsaw Pact nations have sought and received not just closer economic connections with the EU, but have also joined NATO; Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic in 1999, the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009.

Thus, NATO virtually surrounds Russia on its Western front. All that would be needed to complete the noose around Russia by the West would be the acquisition of just one country---the Ukraine. That would represent thousands of troops, tanks, aircraft, and missiles aimed point blank at Moscow, despite NATO's claim to be solely a defensive organization.

With the Ukraine, NATO would add another naval base at Odessa (Western Naval Base) and Berdyansk (Azoz Naval Base). At only 300 miles from Moscow using the M3 Highway, there would be even more military with quick access into the Russian frontier, not to mention aimed at point blank range at the Russian naval base of Sebastopol, which is only 340 miles from Odessa and 290 miles from Berdyansk.

It would be like a massive military buildup on the U.S./Mexican border aimed directly at our second largest naval base in San Diego. I don't think we would quietly sit back and do nothing do you? Some of you remember how we reacted when the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba, which is 90 miles from Florida, back in 1962 in retaliation of our "Minutemen" missiles in Turkey aimed at Russia. We stood on the razor's edge of nuclear war until reason on both sides prevailed.

Meanwhile, as President Biden (or his handlers) continue to saber rattle about Russia's "imminent" invasion of the Ukraine and the hell that it would bring, President Putin has repeatedly said that he does not intend or want to invade the Ukraine. His positioning of Russian troops are there to send a stern message that he would not accept a noose around Russia's neck.

While he dislikes the prospects of a Western leaning Ukraine, Putin has said that he won't accept a military presence by NATO on his border. Russia has already taken serious economic hits with former Warsaw Pact nations aligning with the EU, and somewhat amazingly, while Moscow has loudly protested, didn't launch any military operations when Poland or Romania, or Latvia joined NATO. But the Ukraine would be step too far.

Within the past few days, France and Germany, the powerhouses of Europe, have asked that NATO and Russia to step back and take a breath. Neither side wants war. In fact, the only one screaming "war!" is Washington. Europe is dependent on Russian oil and gas. Germany, the industrial and technological heart of Europe, gets 40% of its energy from Russia. However, Russia needs European imports just a much. Even the Ukraine is partly reliant on Russian imports. A war is a no win situation all around.

As for Washington, the U.S. just made a messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and looked like a bumbling idiot to the most of the world in the process. We fought a 20 year war and came out with bupkus. The Taliban, which we were told were all but defeated, were back in charge before our last planes left the Kabul airport. Al Qaeda, responsible for the cowardly 9/11 attacks are back too. So is ISIS, while other terrorists groups suddenly feel empowered to do as they please. 

The only people happy about the outcome in Afghanistan and Iraq are the military contractors and energy companies which racked in trillions of dollars, and now the "dogs of war" are howling for more blood and carnage. Despite the fact that the U.S. military is in serious need of a total overhaul in terms of repairs and replenishment of supplies and spare parts, the "death dealers" are ready to go again.

 Personally, I've always thought that the ones who want war should be the first to fight. That includes those who push for military intervention or "regime change" for the sake of natural resources or to force open markets for greed's sake. 

It's a long "honored" tradition among presidents and their administrations to be seen as heroic military leaders. For some reason, it makes them seem  "strong" or "courageous"; they are willing to stand up to the enemy---real or manufactured---for the sake of "spreading democracy" and the "American Way". 

In truth, it's more often for the sake of psychotic level greed, be it installing some brutal military junta, bribing an existing president and their government, or using the U.S. military for simple intimidation.  

With Biden's ratings being what they are (a low of 39%) and upcoming midterm elections set to deal the Democrats with another disaster, Biden, and by extension, the Democrats, need to be seen as strong and proactive, but that ain't happening. The Democrats are viewed as out of touch and authoritarian thanks to their so-called "mandates", inability to deal with the pandemic, inflation, or the supply chain crisis.

 As for Biden, he's seen as a pitiful doddering old man; as someone with early onset of dementia and incapable of being a strong president. Having said that, the Republicans are exactly superheroes either. Their approval ratings haven't been good for awhile either. They have a disapproval rating of 56%, compared to the Democrats, who have a disapproval rating of 55%.

In Russia, Putin has an approval rating of 65%, which, for an American president would be terrific, is actually bad for Putin. Since April 2018, when his approval rating was 82%, his rating has dropped and continues to drop. He needs restore his previous approval level by looking tough. Regarding the situation with NATO and Ukraine, 69% of Russians don't believe there will be a war. As to who is responsible for all the drama, 50% of Russians say the U.S.,16% blame the Ukraine and 4% blame Russia.

So, let's decipher what all this means. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the history between Russia and the Ukraine, the Ukrainian government wants closer economic contact with the EU and to join NATO. Russia, on the other hand, doesn't want another NATO military presence on its border, which already exists from the Baltic States down the length of its entire Western border.

With 57% of the land being arable and only 4% under irrigation, the Ukraine can offer the West a lot, from corn, wheat, and barley to coal, steel, machinery, and providing another major source of oil and gas. Plus it's a great transition site to Turkey (another NATO ally and member of the EU), and on into the Middle East, India, not to mention its tremendous economic development potential. And despite its current situation with Russia, the Ukraine still exports more than 60% of its products to Russia and other former Soviet Republics.

There is no reason why this shouldn't continue. The Ukraine is in a perfect position as an intermediary between East and West. However, and while Kiev has a right to join NATO, that doesn't necessarily mean it's should. With a uneasy neighbor to the north in Russia, it may be a very dangerous thing to do, especially if Russia believes its defending its own national sovereignty.

Also, all this posturing by the U.S. and NATO to isolate Russia could push Putin closer to China and countries like Iran as a matter of necessity. How does that serve our interests? Frankly, Russia would make for a better friend to the EU and U.S. than as an enemy.

A non-military NATO partnership may be the best solution for all concerned (ie: no NATO military bases or hardware---particularly missiles---allowed) but maintaining a strong defensive military, plus allowing equal naval access to its ports by both NATO, the U.S. and Russia. Meanwhile, allowing Kiev to be economically engaged with Russia, the EU, and whomever it wishes (this will require Russia to acknowledge the Ukraine's national sovereignty which it currently does not). War benefits no one except the few.

Speaking of which, Biden is in trouble. Okay, but so what? That does not give him the right to push for war thousands of miles away, even if it's only bluff. The Chicken hawks and death merchants are the only ones who stand to gain. Well, they've gained for the last 20 plus years now. They can set back and quietly count their gold for a change.  Let's have peace for change of pace. What do you say NATO? Putin? Let's find a compromise.

If you want to know more, please take a look at the links below. If you enjoyed the article, please consider passing along to others and don't forget to subscribe. It's free! Lastly please be sure to "like" us on Facebook or whatever platform you use to read A/O. It helps with the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation.


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