The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the buildup of forces in the nation’s Western Military District as a response to the mounting NATO forces near its borders.
“Twelve military units and subunits will be formed in the Western Military District by the end of the year,” said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who highlighted the Swedish and Finnish bids to join NATO as factors in the buildup, according to Russian state media outlet Tass.
From 1936 to 1939, the civil war in Spain became a European laboratory of new tactics, strategies, logistics, wartime morality, and weapons. Right-wing nationalists under General Francisco Franco finally defeated loyal supporters of an evolutionary socialist republic—but only after much of the Western world had variously weighed in.
The cost to the Spanish people of such brutal and vicious strife was horrific. Over 500,000 Spaniards would die in a little over two-and-a-half years. The country was left in shambles.
Americans, like the planet’s other 7.5 billion people, are not prone to talk or think much about nuclear weapons.
Of course, some of us are old enough to remember how “mutually assured destruction,” or MAD, was supposed to ensure the general peace.
There are several historical referents we should keep in mind about the Ukraine war.
First, no-fly zones. Lots of Westerners are calling for NATO aircraft to establish a no-fly zone above Ukraine to stop Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities.
So how did that work when Joe Biden announced that Vladmir Putin is a “butcher” who “cannot remain in power” only for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to follow up with a pay-no-attention-to-the angry-old-guy-shouting-at-the-clouds correction. According to Blinken, the United States does not “have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else.”
Well, that’s a relief. Otherwise Putin might get the idea that U.S. and NATO involvement in Ukraine poses an existential threat that would prompt him to do something really crazy like use tactical nukes or chemical or biological weapons to win at all costs. Because, after all, if the U.S. and NATO are trying to topple his government, then what does he have to lose?
In my past role as founder and CEO of Varsity Brands, I came across every old business adage in the book. Some were cheesy, some were over simplified, but many had wisdom as their foundation. One such phrase that’s commonly used is, and with which I struggled because of my compassion for my employees, is, “Don’t bring your problems from home into the office with you.”
There is a variation of that phrase that should be introduced to our political leaders in Washington, albeit a bit too late. Their version of the “leave it at the doorstep” rule needs to be, “Leave your domestic political problems at your shores when conducting foreign policy.”
As President Joe Biden prepares to go to Europe, we must recognize that, unless things change, there are likely to be two outcomes to the Russian war on Ukraine – and both are bad for America and the rule of law.
First, the terror campaign of destroying cities and killing women and children is having a devastating effect. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, out of compassion for his people, is talking more and more about a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement will clearly give Vladimir Putin most of what he wants. It will be a Russian victory – an expensive Russian victory, but a Russian victory.
A negotiated settlement with Russia winning will be a disaster for the rule of law. It will be a signal to dictators everywhere that with a weak American President and timid democracies, despots can attack their neighbors with virtual impunity.
One. Reassuring an enemy what one will not do ensures that the enemy will do just that and more. Unpredictability and occasional enigmatic silence bolster deterrence. But Joe Biden’s predictable reassurance to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will show restraint means Putin likely will not.
Two. No-fly zones don’t work in a big-power, symmetrical standoff. In a cost-benefit analysis, they are not worth the risk of shooting down the planes of a nuclear power. They usually do little to stop planes outside of such zones shooting missiles into them. Sending long-range, high-altitude anti-aircraft batteries to Ukraine to deny Russian air superiority is a far better way of regaining air parity.
Three. Europe, NATO members, and Germany in particular have de facto admitted that their past decades of shutting down nuclear plants, coal mines, and oil and gas fields have left Europe at the mercy of Russia. They are promising to rearm and meet their promised military contributions. By their actions, they are admitting that their critics, the United States in particular, were right, and they were dangerously wrong in empowering Putin.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that NATO member countries have a “green light” to send fighter jets as military aid to Ukraine.
The United States is reportedly in talks with Poland to send U.S. planes to replace any Soviet-era fighter jets that Warsaw sends to Ukraine, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Sending planes to Ukraine “gets a green light,” Blinken told CBS News on Sunday.
“In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs, if, in fact, they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians,” he said. “What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they’re handing over to the Ukrainians? We’re in very active discussions with them about that.”
I admit, I was surprised by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. I thought Vladimir Putin had decided, instead of invading, to recognize the separatist republics and send in “peacekeepers.” Given the binary choice of invading or losing face, Plan C seemed the most clever, something similar to the limited “hybrid” campaign in Crimea. Instead, he has launched a massive, multipronged attack on Ukraine with the goal of “demilitarizing” the country.
The best analogy is the Russian attack on Georgia in response to its attack on the separatist province of South Ossetia in 2008. There, Russia surprised the West with its swift, decisive, and effective action against the pro-Western Georgians. Russia succeeded in its aims to degrade Georgia’s military and strengthen the separatists. These actions sent a message to Georgian leaders and its neighbors that a dalliance with the West may come at a high cost if Russia perceives it as a threat.
A war of some kind has been going on for eight years in Ukraine. While the West is now hyper-focused on the Russian invasion and its costs, the people of Donetsk have been shelled nearly every day by Ukrainian forces since 2014. And the so-called Revolution of Dignity was the culmination of a months-long violent riot in Kiev.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called on President Joe Biden to abandon NATO’s pledge to accept Ukraine as a member of the organization.
“It is not clear that Ukraine’s accession would serve U.S. interests,” Hawley wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Indeed, deteriorating conditions in the global security environment caution otherwise.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the West that its “panic” over Russia potentially invading his country risked hurting its economy, BBC News reported.
“There are signals even from respected leaders of states, they just say that tomorrow there will be war,” Zelensky told reporters at a press conference, BBC News reported. “This is panic – how much does it cost for our state?”
The Ukrainian criticized Western countries choosing to withdraw diplomats from Ukraine, calling the move a mistake, BBC News reported. “The destabilisation of the situation inside the country” is the biggest threat to Ukraine, he said.
As usual, the media coverage on the Ukraine crisis is largely inadequate. Perversely, most of the aggressive left-wing media want to escalate the feud with Russian President Vladimir Putin to the point of driving Russia into the arms of China. This is the only way Russia (whose GDP is smaller than Canada’s) could seriously damage the West.
At the same time, some conservative commentators, including some of the stars at Fox News, are unreasonably accusing those who favor resisting Russian aggression in Ukraine of being warmongers and trying to propel America into endless, useless war. Again.
There is a legitimate American and Western interest in not allowing Russia to trample an independent nation of 40 million underfoot in the middle of Europe to the embarrassment of the Western alliance, and it is not a difficult scenario to avoid.
The Biden administration appears to be heading in the direction of waging a two-front Cold War over Ukraine in Eastern Europe and Taiwan in East Asia, both of which could turn “hot” any day. The imprudence of such an approach should be obvious, but the great danger is that such “crises” could get out of hand before the leaders involved step back from the brink.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin may want to extend Russia’s rule to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, but he definitely wants to ensure the end of NATO expansion. China’s Xi Jinping, like all of his predecessors, wants Taiwan unified with the mainland, and while he would prefer to do it peacefully, he may be willing to risk war with the United States to achieve his goal–especially if he believes he can win such a war at an acceptable cost.
That leaves the Biden administration, which to date has been sending mixed signals to both Russia and China. Administration spokespersons have warned of severe consequences should Russia invade Ukraine, but President Biden has stated that those consequences will be primarily economic in the form of sanctions. Meanwhile, President Biden has stated that the United States will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, but administration spokespersons have walked that back and reaffirmed the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity.” This is a recipe for confusion, misunderstanding, and possibly war on two fronts.
In a lead-up to international security meetings set for January, the American and Russian presidents have set the stage for negotiations aimed at de-escalating tensions over Ukraine.
Their bottom lines are clear: the U.S is gravely concerned about Moscow’s amassing of troops on the Ukraine border while Russia doesn’t want to see NATO expand further into its sphere of influence.
The forthcoming engagements will be held in Geneva. They were scheduled amid heightened tension and rhetoric surrounding Russia, Ukraine, and NATO, with the international community particularly focused on the large numbers of Russian troops that are massed on the border with Ukraine.
Russia’s looming invasion of Ukraine presents a clear and present danger to the safety of the European Union and a direct challenge to the NATO alliance, but only now are our major media waking up to this dire threat to Western security. We must now confront urgent questions: Did the United States strengthen Russia, did it weaken Ukraine, and did it do so under the nose of these media?
First, a quick run-through of American actions that strengthened Russia. In his 2009 inaugural address, Barack Obama promised to approach adversaries with an open hand, not a closed fist. For this, he won a Nobel Peace Prize, an oxymoronic name, equivalent to the Affordable Care Act.
Thousands of migrants are stranded at the Belarus-Poland border, with Belarus and Russia performing military demonstrations amid rising tensions in the region, CNN reported Friday.
Up to 2,000 people are trapped between Poland and Belarus, enduring hunger and hypothermia in the freezing forests and camps along the border, CNN reported. The number of migrants at the border has the potential to grow to 10,000 people in the near future if the situation doesn’t change, according to Belarusian authorities.
Top American military leaders are set for another round of intense congressional grilling on Wednesday, following a day-long Tuesday session that at times featured blistering criticism of their part in the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
The Tuesday hearing placed on the griddle Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin; U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. Frank McKenzie; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
It might seem that there is little to be added to what the whole world has witnessed viewing the unutterable shambles of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan. But that would be an illusion. The story of the perilous departure from Afghanistan of NATO forces and civilians and their Afghan collaborators who are now in mortal danger is obviously a matter of great suspense. The United States could certainly tell the Taliban government of Afghanistan that if all those whom the Western powers wished to evacuate were not allowed to leave it would be an act of war. If there were the will to act on that ultimatum, it would be successful.
But under the circumstances, the credibility of such a threat would probably have to be proved by acting on it. As some commentators have mentioned, this would be morally justified and is morally required and the administration would simply have to accept that it has bungled the withdrawal, and must execute an immediate but brief return. The Biden Administration, after seven months, has shown no competence whatever in foreign or national security policy.
Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) introduced a bill Wednesday to sanction Russia for their invasion of the Donbas region of Ukraine.
If enacted, the Restraining Russian Imperialism Act would instruct the Biden administration to impose sanctions if Russia does not completely withdraw from the region within a year.