I hope there's not a hot war.
One side moved into Crimea, held a public referendum, and took control in a short period of time.
One side couldn't even pull out of Afghanistan with any semblance of strategic planning or even basic competency.
I don't think Putin wants war either.
He has clearly stated that Ukraine joining Nato crosses a red line in their security.
And the drive to bring Ukraine into Nato accelerates.
Russia's buildup of troops near Ukraine sparks fears of attack: Analysis
A buildup of Russian troops has sparked fears the Kremlin may invade.
By Patrick Reevell
26 November 2021, 05:02
Is Russia preparing to invade Ukraine?
Fears of invasion are greater now than at any time since Moscow first seized Crimea in 2014.
For the past month, the United States has been sounding the alarm that Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near eastern Ukraine and may be preparing to launch a major military incursion. Satellite imagery and videos posted to social media appear to show Russian armored units and artillery moving to the area. Ukraine’s military has also warned Russian forces could attack in late January or early February.
Yegor Aleyev/TASS via Getty Images
Servicemen stand in formation during the closing ceremony of the Unbreakable Brotherhood 2021 military drills held by the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces at a training ground of the Kazan Higher Tank Command School, in Kazan, Russia, Nov. 12, 2021.
The short answer of course is no one knows if Russian President Vladimir Putin is really planning an attack. Russian experts are fiercely divided over the Kremlin’s intentions: Is the country bluffing or flexing its muscles to intimidate Ukraine and the U.S. into concessions? Or is it preparing a real invasion?
There have been war scares throughout seven-year conflict and this too could prove illusory. But the fears this time are different. Many analysts, including many who are normally skeptical of such scares, believe Putin’s calculus on Ukraine has shifted and the risk he will now use force is high. Those analysts believe the buildup is not just saber-rattling; it gives Russia an option to launch a real military intervention if Putin fails to get what he wants through threats.
“Although Russian President Vladimir Putin may once again be engaging in coercive diplomacy, this time around Moscow may not be bluffing. If no agreement is reached, the conflict may renew on a much larger scale,” Michael Kofman and Michael Kimmage wrote in Foreign Affairs this week. “The scenario of a wider war is entirely plausible.”
An invasion this time would be more dangerous than Russia’s seizure of Crimea, likely triggering the worst crisis between Moscow and the West in 40 years and carrying a risk of a wider conflict in Europe.
Yuri Smityuk/TASS via Getty Images
Russian servicemen take part in a military exercise at Gornostay Range, in Primorye Territory, Russia, Nov. 18, 2021.
Russia, however, has denied it is preparing to attack but has accused Ukraine of acting provocatively.
Most analysts caution the current buildup may again be linked to another potential summit between Putin and Biden, one the Kremlin is pressing to hold by the end of this year. The Kremlin is good at creating the illusion of a potential attack and experts warn against falling into the trap of believing it.
But the fears this time are different.
The U.S. and independent analysts are expressing greater anxiety now than last April. Russia’s rhetoric is more aggressive this time around, according to analysts.
Most experts believe Putin has not yet decided whether to use force. But at the root of the worries is that the Kremlin’s view of the conflict has crucially changed.
Why would Russia invade now?
This is the key question. The biggest argument is what would Putin gain. It would make a Russia a pariah, carrying major risks while likely achieving few of its objectives.
The reasons for Russia’s current buildup are the same for seizing Crimea—the Kremlin will not accept "losing" Ukraine and having it join NATO and the European Union.
The problem for the Kremlin is that Ukraine has been moving ever more firmly toward the West in recent years. Full membership in NATO is not on the cards but Ukraine has become closer with the alliance. The U.S. already supplies Ukraine with lethal weapons and Ukrainian troops train with NATO forces.
Maxar Technologies/AFP via Getty Images
A satellite image released by Maxar Technologies and taken on Nov. 1, 2021, shows armored units and support equipment amid the presence of a large ground forces deployment on the northern edge of the town of Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia.
As Andrew Weiss and Eugene Rumer from the Carnegie Center recently wrote, “The Kremlin increasingly views Ukraine as a Western aircraft carrier parked just across” from southern Russia.
At the same time, Russia has come to see its diplomatic tools for keeping Ukraine close as non-functioning. In 2015, as Russian forces were inflicting heavily casualties, Moscow was able to force Ukraine to sign the so-called Minsk peace agreements. The deal obliged Kyiv to grant wide autonomy to the pro-Russian breakaway regions in its East. In practice, that would give Russia a lever inside Ukraine’s government, giving an effective veto over its efforts to join NATO or the EU.
Ukraine has never wanted to accept that and the agreements have been effectively dead for years. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meanwhile has turned to a hard-line approach to Russia.
The fear is that amid all this, Putin now feels Ukraine is drifting too far, too fast from Russia and that force is the only way to get Western countries and Kyiv to take Moscow’s demands seriously.
“Russian leaders have signaled that they have grown tired of diplomacy and find Ukraine’s growing integration with the United States and NATO intolerable,” wrote Kofman, an expert on Russian military policy, and Kimmage, a former State Department official on Russia/Ukraine policy. “The stage is set for Moscow to reset this equation through force—unless Moscow, Washington, and Kyiv are able to find a peaceful resolution.”
The Kremlin has signaled what it wants. Last week, Putin said Russia should seek “serious, long-term” security guarantees from the U.S. over Ukraine. In practice, that likely means a guarantee of no further NATO expansion and the curtailing of Western military assistance to Kyiv.
The fear among some analysts is whether Putin will use force if he doesn’t get those guarantees.
Experts in Moscow with close ties to the Russian foreign policy establishment have echoed those worries.
Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy, warned in an article this week that what's happening can become a “serious milestone in European history after the end of the Cold War.”
“The unfolding situation is dangerous because of the loss of a common understanding of what is happening,” he wrote.
A dangerous ingredient in all of this is Putin’s vision of Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly said he considers Ukrainians and Russians “one people” and the issue appears to have personal importance to him. In July, Putin published a 5,000-word article on Ukraine’s history where he questioned its right to exist as an independent state.
As the historian Sergey Plokhy has written, Ukraine’s departure from its sphere of influence will mean the end of the Kremlin’s vision of Russia as an imperial power that Putin has sought to restore.
The scenario most experts fear is Russia will use a false pretext of a supposed Ukrainian attack on the pro-Russian rebel territories to launch an invasion. Few believe Russia would try to seize Kyiv or occupy the whole country. What is seen as plausible is that Russia would try to inflict a devastating blow on Ukraine’s military and perhaps seize some territory, including major cities.
Sergei Savostyanov/AP, FILE
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive to attend the joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus Zapad-2021 at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia, on Sept. 13, 2021.
The idea would be a blow so painful that it would force Kyiv and NATO to scale back their cooperation. This is what Russia did in 2008, when it invaded Georgia.
Top Russian officials this week have been comparing the current situation to the run-up to the Georgia war, accusing Ukraine of preparing an attack. Some experts fear those comments are meant to lay the ground for a repeat of the Georgia invasion.
Will it happen?
Many experts argue it is still unlikely Putin will attack. Even those warning of the possibility say Putin may realize the costs outweigh the potential benefits.
But these experts are concerned how plausible an attack has become. What is frightening is the gulf that is opening up between what the West views as Russia’s rational interests around Ukraine and what Russia thinks they are.
Sergey Volskiy/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman walks along a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near the village of Talakivka, Donetsk region, on Nov. 24, 2021.
“From the point of view of the balance of benefits and losses, neither side is interested in a real war,” Ivan Timofeyev, an analyst close to Russia’s foreign ministry, wrote in an article this week.
He added, "Therefore, it is hardly worth considering the war scenario as a likely one. However, history knows many examples when rational calculations have failed to put an end to escalation. There is only the hope that this isn’t the case here."
Zelenskiy says Ukraine uncovers coup plot involving Russians; Kremlin denies role
By Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk
4 minute read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a news briefing following the Ukraine-EU summit in Kyiv, Ukraine October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
Zelenskiy says plotters tried to rope in Ukraine's richest man
Tycoon Akhmetov: Zelenskiy's statements are "absolute lie"
Ukraine fully prepared for Russia escalation: Zelenskiy
Ukraine sovereign bonds tumble on security concerns
KYIV, Nov 26 (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday said Ukraine had uncovered a plot to overthrow his government next week, involving individuals from Russia caught on tape talking about roping Ukraine's richest businessman into backing a coup.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday said Ukraine had uncovered a plot to overthrow his government next week, involving individuals from Russia caught on tape talking about roping Ukraine's richest businessman into backing a coup.
· 3h At press conference, #NATO SG Stoltenberg says Russia's military build-up near Ukraine includes tanks, artillery, drones, and electronic warfare systems. He says this build-up "is unprovoked and unexplained. It raises tensions and risks miscalculation."
Again seems a possible False Flag in the making...
· 33m “We are in touch with the Ukrainian government to discuss this further and we're working to obtain additional information,” the State Dept's top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried, told reporters this AM after President Zelensky’s claimed a coup against is being planned.
· 1h NEW: The coup plot alleged by President Volodymyr Zelensky today was being planned by an FSB officer and three defectors of Ukraine's Interior Ministry who are based in Crimea, according to sources close to the Ukrainian leader who spoke with me this morning. twitter.com/ChristopherJM/…
It sure looks to me that there is war coming. Most Americans cannot see it. Mainly because they are engulfed in the American way of life. The belief that no other powers on this earth can take us on and are afraid of us. Well, that is gone. Russia and China have no fear of us anymore. They know that together they can take us on and destroy us. For me, the days ahead are going to be very bad. The worse in the history of America. I try to warn people and they get mad or laugh at me.
The usual pundit voices can be heard discussing the geopolitical implications of the buildup, sifting through tea leaves and undisclosed sources to explain why it’s just another training exercise (Russia’s official explanation), or how Putin and Russia have been provoked by the aggressive expansion of NATO westward, and why the Budapest Memorandum wasn’t legally binding, or how Ukraine has always been Russian anyway, so why shouldn’t they just snap it up and something about spheres of influence.
The effect—perhaps the purpose— of all these cynical and wearisome discussions is that Americans and others with a modicum of interest in the subject throw up their hands in frustration, and say “Let it be.”
This would be a mistake, especially for those observers who feel a certain intuitive connection to a group of people who are and have been fighting repeatedly for their freedom and independence from imperial overlords (Poles, Austro-Hungarians, Lithuanians, Ottomans, Russians, Nazi Germany, and the USSR) since the 17th century. It would be a badly-timed mistake, too; the lies justifying the United States’ invasion of Iraq and occupation of Afghanistan were based on a powerful truth — that the cause of freedom-loving people is always the cause of Europe and America. If one believes that there is a good worth defending with one’s military in the world as an American, surely it must be that good.
And that good is the ground truth in Ukraine.
When I left Ukraine in late 2017, after having lived there on and off since the Spring of 2015, I was keen to put the headache of caring about a paradox over which I had no control behind me. There, it’s perfectly normal to live knowing Russia might attack at any moment. Since 2014, when (to them) the unthinkable occurred, every Russian statement and training exercise has been an explicit reminder of what happens when you let your guard down. Living in Kyiv from 2016-17, the volume of threats involving some mix of invasion, assassination, destabilization, and cyberhacking was sufficient to get me spun up on a weekly basis.
The Ukrainians seemed accustomed to the beating of Russian war drums. Not comfortable with it—how can one be comfortable when one’s powerful and hostile neighbor issues threats in a town with no police?—but accustomed. It is not a thing most civilized people can bear unless they’ve grown up with it, much as people living by the ocean or in the mountains treat wildlife like a nuisance to be respected rather than a tragedy waiting beneath every wave or behind every tree.
Russia is not a bear or a shark, it’s a nation led by people who act according to some discernible logic. In this case, either Russia is carrying out a training exercise designed to simulate an invasion of Ukraine, or they’re preparing to invade Ukraine, and neither option feels particularly reassuring. Militaries only train to prepare for future operations — otherwise why waste the money, time, and energy that could be productively invested elsewhere? Even in the best case scenario, Ukraine can’t be thrilled.
This impulse to think about Ukraine and Russia in abstract terms is as seductive as it is pointless. All the words and thoughts being poured into understanding movements and posture and likely actions elide a basic truth, which is that if Russia plans on conquest it will cause extraordinary harm on a scale unseen in Europe since 1945.
The awful spectacle of this summer, with crowds of Afghans scrambling to escape the Taliban dominating news and headlines, will seem simple, commonplace, compared to what will happen in Ukraine and Europe. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of people will die as Ukraine’s military struggles to hold onto its territory, hoping against hope for reinforcement, and millions of desperate survivors will flee westward. If as many now suggest the invasion occurs during the winter, the loss of life and health to innocent civilians will be magnified greatly by the vicious cold, to say nothing of how it will help spur the ongoing pandemic.
In the east of Ukraine, I met some of the few people who stayed put when war came to their land. Older people, mostly women, who could barely afford enough coal or wood to heat their homes on paltry monthly pensions. The older people would sleep on their stoves for warmth Single mothers finding ways to scrape by, living with relatives or shacking up with soldiers or officers on rotation to the front, doing whatever they could to keep food on the table. Couples who’d moved to what had once been quiet suburbs to pursue the remainder of their lives in peaceful retirement and who obstinately but understandably decided that they’d been uprooted enough.
Several older folk had survived World War II, and had memories of the Germans and then the Red Army coming through, washing across the area like waves piling onto the beach during a storm. Things weren’t much better when I was there during trips working on a report for the Center for Civilians in Conflict, or later, on my own, tracking down individual stories. The boom of heavy artillery and the chatter of machinegun fire is something I couldn’t get used to as a civilian, even though it’d been a regular part of my life as a soldier with the US military.
Why do we permit war? When we have the ability to stop it, shouldn’t we do whatever is necessary to say “war will not arrive in this country,” like Gandalf telling the Balrog “You shall not pass”? The gamble we made at the end of our war in Afghanistan was extraordinary; extraordinary because it was made on such flawed premises that nobody knew the government’s weakness until its president was on a plane for Doha with bags full of cash under each arm, and even more extraordinary because the Taliban seem to have (against all expectations) refrained from the wholesale bloodshed and orgy of revenge killings that were feared.
Perhaps much or most of the Taliban’s expected thirst for vengeance has been redirected toward the urgent and demanding work of governance, but in Ukraine, Russian opportunities for evil will be legion. It will take great violence to dislodge the Ukrainian military from its positions in the east of the country, positions that I have seen; it will require the type of heavy bombing and shelling that tears the landscape and does not discriminate between pensioner and soldier. It will take far more to dislodge veterans and volunteer-filled paramilitaries from Ukraine’s cities. This is not a hypothetical—it’s how Russia and Ukraine have fought each other since 2014.
An invasion of Ukraine will mean untold death and suffering. For what? So Russia can “rebuild the USSR?” Or bring back its Empire? Is this worth a single skull — the skull of a child or an old woman — let alone a pyramid of them? In the US, during the runup to Iraq, my friends and I protested vehemently against America going to war for spurious reasons. It was obvious to us, as recent college graduates, that the Bush Administration had utterly failed to make a compelling case for war against Iraq. Just as obvious to me now is the idea that every reasonable avenue ought to be pursued when it comes to avoiding war and bloodshed.
Maybe we’ve forgotten that there’s no good reason to invade another country. It’s taken Americans the better part of two decades to claw most of its military back from Iraq and Afghanistan. At this precarious moment when the world seems poised on the edge of a serious land war in Europe, wise and visionary leadership can make use of the lessons of the last year, of the past decades, and forestall an avoidable catastrophe.
Inaction — our own, that of the Afghan government — doomed that country to destruction. There is still an opportunity to stop a similar calamity in Ukraine, and we ought to use our power to prevent it .
According to information published by Tass on November 24, 2021, a Northern Fleet detachment returning home after a long-distance voyage has left the North Sea for the Norwegian Sea to practice combat training missions.
The detachment is being led by the Vice Admiral Kulakov large antisubmarine warfare ship (NATO reporting name: Udaloy-class).
The crew of the Vice-Admiral Kulakov ship will practice a number of combat training missions in the Norwegian and Barents Seas before the end of the long-distance voyage. The support vessels will return to their home stations several days earlier than the Vice Admiral Kulakov.
Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer started its long-distance voyage on June 28.
From August 18 to September 23, the detachment operated in the Mediterranean Sea. During that period, it called at ports of Algeria, Syria and Cyprus and held a number of drills to train various types of defense and practice searching for a simulated enemy’s submarines.
In October, the ships provided security for shipping in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Since Vice-Admiral Kulakov left its base, it has covered a distance of more than 26,500 nautical miles.
Vice-Admiral Kulakov is an Udaloy-class destroyer of the Russian Navy. As of 2021, the ship was in active service. She is named after Soviet naval officer Nikolai Kulakov.
Vice-Admiral Kulakov was commissioned in December 1981 and was in service with the Northern Fleet until March 1991, when she was retired for repairs that lasted more than 18 years. The ship traveled to Severomorsk base on 7 December 2010 in preparation for the vessel's return to active duty.