Ukraine acts, will Russia?

You know his tactics; Your Excellency; A demand for concessions and when the concessions are granted then new demands each one more weakening than the one before, until the object of his attention is either too weak to oppose him further or is at least so weakened as to make armed resistance fatal.

C. S. Forester Commodore Hornblower p 167 1945

Over the last week Russia has been working hard on the first stage of Operation “East Crimea is next“.

The Russian assault’s first covert phase aims for the utter and complete destabilization of key cities that lie near the eastern border. As I write, mobs, directed by Russian special ops forces, FSB operatives, and local thugs are directing rent-a-crowds in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv to storm public buildings, rough-up unarmed security forces, and demand referendums to join Mother Russia. As a slight variation, Donetsk demonstrators demand a “free republic.” The propaganda machine is at work full force. Babushkas are brought before the cameras to plead that all they want is peace and to be together with their brothers and sisters in Russia. They are sincere, but they serve the interests of their masked puppet masters lurking in the background.

With the old question:  Will Russia stop at Crimea, conclusively answered,  Ukraine decided to act.

“On Tuesday morning, in the north of Donetsk region, an antiterrorist operation began,” the Ukrainian speaker of Parliament and acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, told Parliament in the capital, Kiev. “It will be carried out in stages, and responsibly and in a balanced manner. The goal is the defense of citizens of Ukraine.”
Mr. Turchynov, who has asserted in recent days that Russian soldiers have joined the Ukrainian militants who have seized police stations and the entire town of Slovyansk, said the country was confronting a “colossal danger” but offered the assurance that “there will be no civil war.”

The Ukrainian government wasted no time answering the question:  Is East Ukraine is worth fighting to keep?

Ukrainian forces recaptured an airfield outside Kramatorsk on Tuesday and armoured vehicles were seen in the centre of the town early on Wednesday.

Video later emerged of armoured personnel carriers, flying Russian flags, which were said to be travelling in the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk area.

Everyone is worried about escalation and Putin is ramping up the rhetoric

“Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. It is scary. And I hope that everyone who is responsible for making decisions at the moment — I mean both, the current Ukrainian authorities, who we can’t consider legitimate, but these are the authorities who came to power as result of a coup — has brains to avoid driving the country to such shocks,” he said at a news conference Tuesday in Moscow.

But while the world might worry about the implication of Putin’s words it would seem that the government in Ukraine has taken into account the words of an American leader by the name of Grant spoken some 150 years ago:

As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on.  When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view, I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards.

The rest of the world has shown no appetite to put their forces in the path of Russia’s expansion, that led to the bloodless conquest in Crimea.  The Ukraine has decided to let the Russians know if they want more of their country they’ll have to cross the border in force & fight for it.

The tables have turned.  Now it’s up to Russia to ask the questions that the Ukrainians were asking just a week ago:  Can our forces defeat the Ukrainian quickly without getting bogged down in a long war?  Will an active war and successful Ukrainian resistance inspire (or force) the US & NATO to act?  While we’re tied down will the terror groups take advantage of the situation to strike in Russia proper?  Is East Ukraine worth the cost?

It could be Putin might figure East Ukraine is just not worth the fight.  Then again he may well decide a war is necessary to keep up his reputation at home.  War however means casualties and it’s a lot harder to sell an adventure in East Ukraine with dead and maimed Russians coming home.

No matter what Putin & Russia;s response is, the Baltic States & Poland  owe the Ukrainians a debt of gratitude.  If Russia fails to fight it will stiffen the spine of NATO and make a move on them less likely and if Russia does go to war in Ukraine, that war will not only bleed and weaken Russia but would give time for those countries to get their forces deployed and ready to fight.

Either way Eastern Europe will know who to thank, and it won’t be the United States


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