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Russian Games: 120,000-140,000 Russian Troops on the Ukrainian border…


Ser Scot A Ellison
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A lot of on-the-ground photos in this article.

"On Ukrainian Front, Grinding War and Weary Anticipation of Invasion
After eight years in the trenches, Ukrainian soldiers are resigned to the possibility that the Russian military, which dwarfs their own in power and wealth, will come sooner or later."

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/06/world/europe/ukraine-russia-war-front.html


 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Putin and Biden have held talks which have failed to deescalate the crisis. Biden has indicated if Russia embarks on any kind of military intervention in Ukraine, then the USA will impose sanctions so severe they could cripple the Russian economy (such as it is) and may send additional troops to NATO countries bordering Russia, pointing out this will trigger the very thing Putin has warned against in his recent rhetoric.

Although the call sounds high-stakes, analysts have indicated that it is just a restating of the positions previously outlined by the two governments: Russia has not made any statement of intent that it is going to undertake any kind of intervention in Ukraine and the USA has not indicated it will send troops or equipment to Ukraine in the near future. The call is seemingly setting the tone for a further round of US-Russia meetings on 9 and 10 January and a Russia-NATO meeting on 12 January, followed by a US-Russia-EU meeting on 13 January.

The fear at the moment is that Russia and Putin may have put themselves in a position where not invading may look like a weak climbdown, something Putin can ill-afford. It appears that the current buildup has surpassed the figures reached in April, when Russia staged a buildup to force a Biden-Putin summit. However, that summit does not appear to have provided the guarantees that Russia wants.

The general international feeling seems to be that Russia is unlikely to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and more realistic options would include a series of strikes on the Ukrainian military, whose capacity and capability has increased recently thanks to the purchase of Turkish drones and overseas equipment, or a limited invasion to "slice off" and formally annex the territory in Eastern Ukraine that is effectively already held by the pro-Russian rebels.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Russia has raised the ante by suggesting it could deploy military forces to Venezuela and Cuba.

This comes after four meetings between NATO, US, EU and Russian representatives in five days failed to make significant breakthroughs.

Russia has essentially demanded that NATO roll back its membership to 1999 levels and effectively withdraw troops and assets from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia (which became the alliance's newest member on 1 January this year), Albania and Montenegro, and sign a pledge promising that Ukraine will never join the organisation. The Alliance has told them to fuck off and it will take no action that invalidates NATO's founding charter and the democratic right of any nation to join.

The Polish government has expressed much-enhanced concern in recent days that they believe the possibility of a military crisis in Eastern Europe is now more likely than a few weeks ago, when they seemed to think it was mostly Russia posturing in return for political concessions.

Interestingly, Ukraine has seemingly suggested that the rounds of negotiations did result in some minor agreements behind closed doors, which may have taken the temperature down just a notch, but not by much. Ukraine still fears a military intervention by Russia in at least the disputed eastern territories between now and the spring. Ukraine has increased military preparations against a Russian invasion, including trying to acquire portable and man-mounted anti-air and anti-armour systems as well as their continuing rollout of drone acquisitions from Turkey (the use of which in achieving several small victories against Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country seems to have sparked some of this Russian response). It looks like Ukraine's plan in the event of an invasion is to almost immediately switch to a partisan-style guerrilla uprising and hit the Russian forces with asymmetrical warfare.

Oddly, this story is getting very little traction in the UK news.

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Yeah, Western media are hopeless. Nuclear countries bitching about each other and accusing each other of wanting to attack in full strength isn't exactly great and actually cause for serious concern.

I don't think Russia's current leadership is stupid enough to invade Ukraine. Bomb its military to bits, sure, but boots on the ground beyond the separatist areas would be bonkers because it's obvious that most Ukrainians would oppose it and partisan warfare would ensue. Russia had enough in Afghanistan and knows very well how military overreach is a very bad idea; even if Putin might think USSR as such was viable, he definitely is of the opinion that USSR trying to control half the planet doomed it and he might even consider that the Warsaw Pact might have been too much.

Sending military stuff and possibly troops to Latin America is basically trying to put the same pressure on the US that the pressure has been putting on Russia by shipping stuff to Ukraine. We're back at a Cuban missile crisis kind of poker game - missiles in Cuba being an answer to US missiles in Turkey.

Frankly, I think Russia would stop worrying if Ukraine was actually a "no-side zone", frozen between EU/NATO and Russia-China, not being allowed to join one side and being able to trade and deal with both as some kind of neutral country - a bigger Cold War Finland -, and being at long last quite safe because no side would dare to touch it for fear of the other side's reaction. Sure, I understand that some Ukrainians probably dream of joining EU, but that's never going to happen (not just because of Russia, but first of all because of peoples of EU have enough of its expansionism); any deal about Ukraine's status should allow it to keep the current level of freedom of movement with Europe, and should also allow some kind of more privileged access to Russia than EU or US has.

My bottom-line has been the same for decades: NATO is now useless and should've been dismantled once Warsaw Pact was over and USSR went down the sink. Let Europe worries about its own security. Having NATO expand across all Eastern Europe is ridiculous and serves no defensive purpose. It's not "North Atlantic" anymore, I don't know what it actually is, but it's an expensive blob that is of no real use to barely anyone in Europe or America, except a few political leaders and some weapons manufacturers. To be blunt: why the fuck should any American or Canadian care about what might happen to Russia, Ukraine or Macedonia? Heck, why any Englishman should care about that? It's time to let go of dreams of global hegemony, and it's time to let go of the lunacy of wanting to be the world's cop. Countries and alliances should worry about their own defense and security, and stick to that. You don't defend NYC or London by fighting in the Donbass; you defend these places by having powerful navies and airforces first of all.

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15 hours ago, Werthead said:

Interestingly, Ukraine has seemingly suggested that the rounds of negotiations did result in some minor agreements behind closed doors, which may have taken the temperature down just a notch, but not by much. Ukraine still fears a military intervention by Russia in at least the disputed eastern territories between now and the spring. Ukraine has increased military preparations against a Russian invasion, including trying to acquire portable and man-mounted anti-air and anti-armour systems as well as their continuing rollout of drone acquisitions from Turkey (the use of which in achieving several small victories against Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country seems to have sparked some of this Russian response). It looks like Ukraine's plan in the event of an invasion is to almost immediately switch to a partisan-style guerrilla uprising and hit the Russian forces with asymmetrical warfare.

I'm guessing that the invasion would focus on the southern, Russian-speaking parts (where the locals might actually be sympathetic to the invaders), and that they wouldn't try to push beyond Odessa and Dnipro. That would give them a land link to Crimea and Transnistria, while cutting Ukraine from the sea and supplies from Turkey and other potential allies.

If the Russians actually tried to take Kyiv or Lvov, or went anywhere near the Polish border, it would be a disaster for them, and they probably know it.

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14 hours ago, Clueless Northman said:

My bottom-line has been the same for decades: NATO is now useless and should've been dismantled once Warsaw Pact was over and USSR went down the sink. Let Europe worries about its own security. Having NATO expand across all Eastern Europe is ridiculous and serves no defensive purpose. It's not "North Atlantic" anymore, I don't know what it actually is, but it's an expensive blob that is of no real use to barely anyone in Europe or America, except a few political leaders and some weapons manufacturers. To be blunt: why the fuck should any American or Canadian care about what might happen to Russia, Ukraine or Macedonia?

 

Speaking for the Polish side of me: thanks but no thanks. 

 

But not only would it be an abdication of responsibility it would be astonishingly stupid. I mean, you can see right now Russia pushing the boundaries of what they can get away with when NATO does exist. If you just left the smaller nations to defend themselves against them you'd just end up with another, bigger, USSR and no allies, whether it be soon or down the line. 

 

Like 'of use to barely anyone in Europe' yeah that's why Eastern European countries keep wanting to join. 

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The determination that Putin has probably made is that Russia has two ways forward: becoming a really democratic country which clamps down on corruption, stops the mass leeching of public money to the oligarchs and basically sorts it shit out, which will give his political career the lifespan of a flea on the back of a terminally depressed lemming, or continue trying to create a sense of paranoia and fear and blaming Russia's crippling problems on other countries, particularly Western countries for trying to hem Russia in. The latter is a much easier thing to achieve.

The problem is that this solution, trying to recreate the USSR, won't work because Russia by itself cannot project enough force to make it work, especially if NATO is willing to simply stand up to him and not let his bullshit fly.

It makes you wonder how much internal pressure he is under, because these recent moves do seem somewhat out of character for him. Although clearly not a nice guy, Putin has mostly acted rationally, playing a weak hand spectacularly well on occasion, and at all times seems aware that Russia is not the Soviet Union and cannot try and throw its weight around like the USSR did. Russia's greatest successes in recent years have come through providing limited but forceful interventions on behalf of allies (such as in Georgia and Syria) without getting bogged down in a lengthy guerrilla war (the memories of Chechnya are still very fresh in the Kremlin) and without risking war with the United States. The US even swatted down Russia over Syria and Russia chose not to respond rather than risk a military confrontation with the infinitely superior US. These recent moves seem contrary to that limited-risk doctrine.

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4 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

Time will tell, but imo this has all been by design. Putin went into the talks with unrealistic demands he knew NATO would never meet in order to say that he tried and will now justify an invasion that way. 

52 minutes ago, Werthead said:

It makes you wonder how much internal pressure he is under, because these recent moves do seem somewhat out of character for him. Although clearly not a nice guy, Putin has mostly acted rationally, playing a weak hand spectacularly well on occasion, and at all times seems aware that Russia is not the Soviet Union and cannot try and throw its weight around like the USSR did.

Yeah, Wert's response here informs my response to Ghjhero's - while I suppose Putin using the failed talks as a pretext makes theoretical sense, I'm not sure who exactly that's supposed to convince.  Anybody that is on board with Putin invading after the talks almost certainly was already on board.  For me, Putin's actions can best be explained as internal pressures from hawkish elements within the regime that he's trying to mollify without descending into perilous military action.

 

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18 hours ago, Clueless Northman said:

Yeah, Western media are hopeless. Nuclear countries bitching about each other and accusing each other of wanting to attack in full strength isn't exactly great and actually cause for serious concern.

I don't think Russia's current leadership is stupid enough to invade Ukraine. Bomb its military to bits, sure, but boots on the ground beyond the separatist areas would be bonkers because it's obvious that most Ukrainians would oppose it and partisan warfare would ensue. Russia had enough in Afghanistan and knows very well how military overreach is a very bad idea; even if Putin might think USSR as such was viable, he definitely is of the opinion that USSR trying to control half the planet doomed it and he might even consider that the Warsaw Pact might have been too much.

Sending military stuff and possibly troops to Latin America is basically trying to put the same pressure on the US that the pressure has been putting on Russia by shipping stuff to Ukraine. We're back at a Cuban missile crisis kind of poker game - missiles in Cuba being an answer to US missiles in Turkey.

Frankly, I think Russia would stop worrying if Ukraine was actually a "no-side zone", frozen between EU/NATO and Russia-China, not being allowed to join one side and being able to trade and deal with both as some kind of neutral country - a bigger Cold War Finland -, and being at long last quite safe because no side would dare to touch it for fear of the other side's reaction. Sure, I understand that some Ukrainians probably dream of joining EU, but that's never going to happen (not just because of Russia, but first of all because of peoples of EU have enough of its expansionism); any deal about Ukraine's status should allow it to keep the current level of freedom of movement with Europe, and should also allow some kind of more privileged access to Russia than EU or US has.

My bottom-line has been the same for decades: NATO is now useless and should've been dismantled once Warsaw Pact was over and USSR went down the sink. Let Europe worries about its own security. Having NATO expand across all Eastern Europe is ridiculous and serves no defensive purpose. It's not "North Atlantic" anymore, I don't know what it actually is, but it's an expensive blob that is of no real use to barely anyone in Europe or America, except a few political leaders and some weapons manufacturers. To be blunt: why the fuck should any American or Canadian care about what might happen to Russia, Ukraine or Macedonia? Heck, why any Englishman should care about that? It's time to let go of dreams of global hegemony, and it's time to let go of the lunacy of wanting to be the world's cop. Countries and alliances should worry about their own defense and security, and stick to that. You don't defend NYC or London by fighting in the Donbass; you defend these places by having powerful navies and airforces first of all.

As an American I can say I do not share these sentiments.

I believe in NATO and for which it stands. It's not about being the Worlds policeman for me either, I've complained of problems with that many times.

It's about standing together with allies and mutually wishing to defend and uphold the peace as a united group of nations.

I care about seeing the Putin's of this planet stopped from rolling fucking tanks into the Nordic states.

Fuck him, if he is left unchallenged in Ukraine, he will be looking at Sweden, Norway and Finland next.

Russia is in need of some major finger burning imo.

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Listening to NPR, they had a former Obama official on talking about Russia (I think he was a Russian negotiator or something).  He said that during the 2015 Ukraine showdown one of his Russian counterparts said to him: "Americans have a short memory.  We care a lot more about Ukraine than you do."  I can't disagree with either of those statements.  If Putin decides that he wants his legacy to be reuniting Russia and Ukraine, then the US is not going to war to stop him (Ukraine is not a NATO member).  The US will help arm a Ukrainian insurgency, which will no doubt be a huge problem for Russia, but that's not the same. 

Could Russia eventually annex Ukraine, if they're willing to pay the immense toll in terms of lives lost and economic sanctions?  Probably.  There could be an ongoing insurgency campaign for years, but perhaps one that would grow easier with time (perhaps not, hard to say).  The question is just whether that is worth it to Putin, and whether the successful "reunification" of Ukraine into greater Russia is worth the substantial cost. 

We have to hope that it is not, because there will be no winners from such a war, just a great many dead people and dramatically worse relations between the US and Russia. 

Edited by Maithanet
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19 hours ago, Clueless Northman said:

My bottom-line has been the same for decades: NATO is now useless and should've been dismantled once Warsaw Pact was over and USSR went down the sink. Let Europe worries about its own security. Having NATO expand across all Eastern Europe is ridiculous and serves no defensive purpose. It's not "North Atlantic" anymore, I don't know what it actually is, but it's an expensive blob that is of no real use to barely anyone in Europe or America, except a few political leaders and some weapons manufacturers. To be blunt: why the fuck should any American or Canadian care about what might happen to Russia, Ukraine or Macedonia? Heck, why any Englishman should care about that? It's time to let go of dreams of global hegemony, and it's time to let go of the lunacy of wanting to be the world's cop. Countries and alliances should worry about their own defense and security, and stick to that. You don't defend NYC or London by fighting in the Donbass; you defend these places by having powerful navies and airforces first of all.

Thank you Mr. Lindbergh.

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1 hour ago, DireWolfSpirit said:

As an American I can say I do not share these sentiments.

I believe in NATO and for which it stands. It's not about being the Worlds policeman for me either, I've complained of problems with that many times.

It's about standing together with allies and mutually wishing to defend and uphold the peace as a united group of nations.

I care about seeing the Putin's of this planet stopped from rolling fucking tanks into the Nordic states.

Fuck him, if he is left unchallenged in Ukraine, he will be looking at Sweden, Norway and Finland next.

Russia is in need of some major finger burning imo.

I dunno if trying to annex Scandinavia would be realistic, I think the Baltic states would be much more likely.  But still unlikely.

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1 minute ago, Larry of the Lake said:

I dunno if trying to annex Scandinavia would be realistic, I think the Baltic states would be much more likely.  But still unlikely.

Speaking “Realpolitckly” adding the Baltic States to NATO was a mistake.  That said allowing Russia to stomp and bully its neighbors is simply unacceptable.

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3 minutes ago, Larry of the Lake said:

I dunno if trying to annex Scandinavia would be realistic, I think the Baltic states would be much more likely.  But still unlikely.

Finland and Sweden have notably started making noise about joining NATO recently. It looks like this crisis has them spooked. 

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4 minutes ago, Ghjhero said:

Finland and Sweden have notably started making noise about joining NATO recently. It looks like this crisis has them spooked. 

Adding Sweden makes a certian amount of sense.  Finland would send the Russians into fits of apoplexy.  I’m sure they haven’t forgotten losing to Finland in the “Winter War”.

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