Wednesday, April 16, 2014

His nudges are somewhat forceful, could get worse

Like everyone else I'm trying to figure out what's going on in Putin's head. He assembles the military force to conduct an invasion of Ukraine and then sits there, giving Ukraine's sad-sack military six weeks and counting to get ready. Maybe it's the sad-sack part he's counting on, although I'd expect there's a cost to it. This recounting of untrained cannon-fodder sent to guard the border, OTOH, doesn't suggest the cost currently would be high.

My original explanation was Putin hadn't actually decided whether to invade and the buildup is there until he decides one way or another. That's a pretty stupid substitute for a plan, so I'm somewhat doubtful about it.

So a variation, maybe - he's doing a Nudge Invasion right now with an undetermined number of covert operators, to see if them plus local tough guys plus undetermined number of civilian sympathizers are enough to take over the province. Then, maybe rinse and repeat next door. The military buildup across the border serves a purpose of heartening pro-Russian supporters while intimidating the Ukrainian government from using force. The invasion forces could actually invade, or not, depending on how the situation unfolds and whether Putin ultimately decides the price is right.

I disagree with claim that this a repeat of Crimea - that was a barely-covert invasion, and although the locals were mostly supportive, their help wasn't essential. I see it somewhat similarly to our defeat of the Taliban - our military forces swung the decision but the locals did the fighting. It's unclear to me still how many Russian soldiers are operating in the province, but they can't be the majority of the occupiers.

As to what we should do, my latest is that we should be arming Ukrainian forces, covertly, and secretly let Putin know we're doing it and that they'll get more as he gets worse. We should also be flying Ukrainian troops out of the country 500 or so at a time, training them for two weeks, and rotating them back. But what do I know.

One other relevant factoid - much of the Russian military-industrial complex relies on eastern Ukraine. It's not something they can give up easily. I hope Ukraine continues to sell Russia whatever they've ordered while this all plays out.


Thomas said...

"As to what we should do, my latest is that we should be arming Ukrainian forces, covertly, and secretly let Putin know we're doing it and that they'll get more as he gets worse"

This ignores the possibility that the Russians consider themselves backed against a corner with the continuing expansion of EU and NATO and that any further western escalation simply will reinforce that feeling and that they need to fight back before western forces again try to take Moscow.

Anonymous said...

You're nuts - the Russians are going to ream you on this.

thefordprefect said...

" I see it somewhat similarly to our defeat of the Taliban "

You jest I presume.

It would be more obvious if you substituted Viet Cong instead of Taliban

cRR Kampen said...

Compare Milosevic, Bosnia-Herzegovina and/or Kosovo; multiply by eight.
As to the price, a czar might flee forward by economical implosion.

Situation is at flashpoint as of today. Beware.

Thomas said...

thefordprefect, I think Rabett meant the initial conquest of Afghanistan, which was mainly achieved by sending in CIA-people with briefcases full of dollars to bribe as many warlords as possible to switch side. In the short term it was a brilliant solution: quick, cheap and bloodless.

Had USA stopped there, focused on rebuilding Afghanistan and accepted the Iranian offers of cooperation (they didn't like the Talibans either) it might even have worked.


Gosh, perhaps Put in is right.
If only somebody had the foresight to Put in when CCCP CRUMBLES, and how people convince themselves that the soviet power isn't real... Maybe then in 1992-98 we nato or otan people could get some of that good action going on.
But who could possibly look into those psychological stumbling of the old military-industrial blocks or edipian complex's that would help us of A overcome the logistic obstacles, since the actual economic war debate is already on...
ukraine 1992 - 1,600 atomic warheads
now let me see ...oh yes none

1986 i think said...

Indefensible weapons: the political and psychological case against nuclearism

Robert Jay Lifton, Richard A. Falk

chek said...

Thomas - I'm not sure I follow your logic.
Buy warlords (not the most progressive of folk).
Pay them off for however long.
Stop paying them off. And then?

From the perspective of building at least some components of a modern secular state, the US could have saved a couple of generations of savagery by not interfering via the Mujahideen, or even *gasp* assisting the DRA via the UN if it couldn't countenance direct support.
But then I guess that good ol' disaster capitalism is going to win everytime. It's only the mugs who pay taxes and donate their children that end up paying for it.

Anonymous said...

Your a very sick pup Eli - Castein, the "socialist nudger"

Hank Roberts said...

I have a simpler approach.

Accidental disclosure of a highly secret series of diplomatic communications from Western nations to Ukraine's government, written every couple of years over the past 18 or so years, reminding Ukraine that a complete inventory did exist of all their nuclear weapons, and they are still responsible to find and hand over those remaining handful of nuclear weapons they haven't yet turned over to the West, and until they've completely accounted for each and every single one of the devices on that top secret inventory list, the West's 1995 guarantee of Ukraine's territorial integrity will remain, secretly, provisional and on hold -- and under no circumstances disclose these messages to anyone because that would make their neighbors very nervous.

Along those lines.

Plausibly deniable.

I joke.

Hell, if they wanted to threaten Russia, all they'd have to do is set up to burn the forest around Chernobyl while the wind was blowing toward Moscow, ya know.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just mind our own fucking business? If the U.S. hadn't tried to foment a coup in the Ukraine, none of this shit would be happening.

And we didn't beat the Taliban - not even close. You need an education in history.

Brian said...

The OP is mine, btw, in case anyone dislikes it and is wrongly mad at Eli.

One thing I'll add in response to comments is that I don't support further NATO expansion. In the long run, converting Russia to democracy isn't a military issue, it's a matter of economics and ideas. EU expansion, OTOH, is a very good idea, and could eventually include Russia.

Anonymous said...

" ... converting Russia to a democracy ..." ??!!??

That's rich.

As anon said: "Why don't we just mind our own fucking business?" and convert OURSELVES (U.S.) to a democracy?

John Puma

Tá na laethanta saoire thart-Cruáil an tsaoil said...


AND CHERNOBYL is a marshland and the winds and water with radionuclides from the burn going south and north but not going Mokba

and the radioactive fallout in this east direction falls on kiev

sweden gets more k-40 than smolensk and smolensk is hundreds of miles from______________


Sicne when is a Moscow Mule an elephant?

david lewis said...

Robert Gates, in chapter 5 of his book "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War", has a few things to say about Russia:

"when I retired as CIA director" [ in 1993 ] ...

"what we did not realize... was that the seeds of future trouble were already sprouting.... In Russia, resentment and bitterness were taking root as a result of the economic chaos and corruption that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as well as the incorporation of much of the old Warsaw Pact into NATO by 2000. No Russian was more angered by this turn of events than Vladimir Putin...."

Gates descibes what he said to Bush after he returned from the the 2007 Munich Security
Conference where Putin had given a provocative and bellicose speech:

"I shared with him [ Bush ] my belief that from 1993 onward, the West, and particularly the US, had badly underestimated the magnitude of the Russian humiliation in losing the Cold War and then in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which amounted to the end of the centuries-old Russian Empire. The arrogance, after the collapse, of American government officials, academicians, businessmen, and politicians in telling the Russians how to conduct their domestic and international affairs (not to mention the internal psychological impact of their precipitous fall from superpower status) had led to deep and long-term resentment and bitterness"

Gates also goes into detail what he didn't tell Bush:

"What I didn't tell the President was that I believed the relationship with Russia had been badly mismanaged after Bush 41 left office in 1993. Getting Gorbachev to acquiesce to a unified Germany as a member of NATO had been a huge accomplishment. But moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union to incorporate so many of its formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake. Including the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary quickly was the right thing to do, but I believe the process should then have slowed. US agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to rotate troops through bases in those countries was a needless provocation...."

"Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching. The roots of the Russian Empire trace back to Kiev in the ninth century, so that was an especially monumental provocation. Were the Europeans, much less the American, willing to send their sons and daughters to defend Ukraine or Georgia? Hardly. So NATO expansion was a political act, not a carefully considered military commitment, thus undermining the purpose of the alliance and recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests."

"Similarly, Putin's hatred of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (limiting the number and location of Russian and NATO nonnuclear military forces in Europe) was understandable. It had been negotiated when Russia was weak, and the provisions limited Russia's freedom to move troops from place to place in its own territory. As I later told Putin directly, I would not stand for restrictions on my ability to redeploy troops from Texas to California."

"When Russia was weak in the 1990s and beyond, we did not take Russian interests seriously. We did a poor job of seeing the world from their point of view, and of managing the relationship for the long term."

crf said...

Here's an interesting article on Ukraine, which may explain why the level of discontent in the east didn't need much of a push from Putin to get going.

Hank Roberts said...

Good informative posts above.

And re where the fallout fell, hotspots are widespread, not only in swampland:

The wind direction, that particular week in late April, it varied:

Not good country to fight yet another war over, though that's not likely to stop some fool from doing it again.