War in the Ukraine -- Check Back for Updates

Update from 03/14/2014

Many Ukrainians expect war with Russia
By Alexander J. Motyl
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
Alexander J. Motyl is professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark. He served as associate director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University from 1992 through 1998. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia and the USSR, he is the author of six academic books and several novels

The following are excerpts from Alexander Motyl: 
February 28, that euphoria was replaced with the deepest of fears. Vladimir Putin's Russia invaded and occupied Crimea. That was bad enough. Far worse was yet to come. On Saturday, March 1, Putin claimed to have the right to "defend" "Russian citizens" anywhere in Ukraine, thereby giving himself carte blanche to invade any part of Ukraine he chooses. Which province would be next?

On Tuesday, March 4, our existential angst got worse. At a revealing press conference, Putin claimed he had the right to go to war with Ukraine in defense of "Ukrainian citizens." Putin also said if he made the decision to go to war, "women and children" would act as a shield for Russian troops.

Putin's ideological mentor, Aleksandr Dugin, insists that Russia's goals go beyond Ukraine into Europe -- a reunification of the Slavic peoples.  Meanwhile, Russian troops and tanks are massing on Ukraine's borders. Terrified realists that we have become, we suspect the worst: that they will soon be attacking a country that dared say no to Putin.

As the clouds of a massive land war appear to approach Ukraine, we watch our screens with horror and hope against hope that Russian bombs will not begin to fall on our friends, colleagues, and family in Ukraine.

Many Ukrainians in Ukraine now believe that a Russian invasion of mainland Ukraine is inevitable. If it happens, war will break out and thousands will die [emphasis mine].


Will the failure of the West to take strong action embolden Putin to order Russian troops to take all of Ukraine?  Will Russian troops install a puppet regime in the name of restoring the democratically elected former president to Ukraine? Even a show of force in Western Ukraine (with U.S. and NATO troops on Ukrainian soil and possibly the capital Kiev) or in NATO countries to Ukraine's western border could cause Putin to recalculate the risks of going further.  But alas, the West appears weak while Putin's Russia appears strong and determined.  

A YouGov/Economist survey of 1,000 adults interviewed March 8-10 found that 78 percent view Putin as somewhat to very strong leader. Just 45 percent see Obama the same way. Worse, more Americans, 55 percent, view Obama as a weak leader.

“They have already amassed a military force in the region way too big to simply control Crimea,” said Tymchuk, head of the Center for Military and Political Research, a Kiev-based think tank.

From the same article:  

Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, warned ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who reemerged in the Russian southern city of Rostov-on-the-Don to make a statement more than a week after his first news conference in Russia.
(note the NY Times article below states that Russian military forces are massing on the border with Ukraine in places that include the Rostov region)

Yanukovich insisted he is still his nation's leader.

“I remain the only legitimate president of Ukraine, as I also remain the commander in chief" of its armed forces, he said. “I am alive, I have not been impeached in the order provided for by the constitution.”

New York Times: 

"In Moscow, the military acknowledged significant operations involving armored and airborne troops in the Belgorod, Kursk and Rostov regions abutting eastern Ukraine, where many ethnic Russians have protested against the new interim government in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, and appealed to Moscow for protection." -- according to the New York Times

The Defense Ministry "outlined what was described as intensive training of units involving artillery batteries, assault helicopters and at least 10,000 soldiers."

". . . columns of armored vehicles and trucks in a border village called Lopan, only 30 miles from the Ukrainian city Kharkiv. One statement announced that another 1,500 paratroopers from Ivanovo, east of Moscow, had parachuted onto a military base in Rostov, not far from the Ukrainian cities Donetsk and Lugansk."

According to the BBC:  
In the east Ukraine city of Donetsk, one person died in violence between rival protesters, said officials.

Several people were also injured as several hundred pro-Russia protesters clashed with a similar-sized group of Kiev supporters in the city's Lenin Square, said local health authorities.
(My note:  the 1500 Russian paratroopers in the New York Times story above are across the border not far from the city of Donetsk, where this violence between factions took place).  

Ukraine crisis: Russia tells UN it 'does not want war'
(my note:  Are they lying or telling the truth?  And what is the price of peace, the re-installing of the former president who may act as a puppet of Russia?  Note again that Russian forces are 2-3 hours from Kiev, the capital of Ukraine)

Update from 03/12/2014

G7 warns Russia on 'annexing' Crimea

Andriy Parubiy said Moscow had not withdrawn its troops after carrying out military exercises near Ukraine's eastern and southern frontiers last month.

He said the Russian army "is only two to three hours" from Kiev, adding that Ukraine's "units are positioned to repel attack from any direction".

Remember Mein Kampf?  Not to overdo comparisons but I understand if people read it, believed that what he wrote was his intention, Hitler laid out what he planned to do.  

Note the words of Putin.  Is there any doubt what he plans to do?  If the West continues on its current path of reaction, Crimea and some, if not all, of the eastern portions of Ukraine are the Kremlin's for the taking.

Putin Not Backing Down
During a one-hour call with President Barack Obama on Thursday, Putin said that Ukraine’s government came to power as the result of an “unconstitutional coup” and was “imposing entirely illegitimate decision onto Crimea and the eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine,” according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website.

Russia cannot ignore calls for help on this matter and is responding accordingly, in full compliance with international law.”

On Thursday, the parliament of the semi-autonomous and largely pro-Moscow region of Crimea voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, and set a date for a referendum on the subject for March 16.

The West takes baby steps in its confrontation of Russia over Crimea. 

An encouraging one is revealed in the number of Western leaders drawing parallels to World War II and seeking not to repeat history

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the situation remained "highly precarious, the slightest miscalculation could see it spiral out of control".

He drew parallels with World War Two, saying: "It matters because we know from our history that turning a blind eye when nations are trampled all over and their independence trashed... that stores up far greater problems for the long run."

Hillary Clinton:  “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s… All [ethnic Germans] who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous,” according to the Long Beach Press Telegram.

U.S. Sen. John McCain:  "If Putin is allowed to go into a sovereign nation on behalf of Russian-speaking people, this is the same thing that Hitler did prior to World War II. He went into the Sudetenland on behalf of German-speaking people. Went into Czechoslovakia on behalf of German-speaking people."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: “I think Nazi Germany stands on its own as a unique and barbaric government that’s probably known no peer in terms of its brutality," he told reporters Wednesday. "I think the point that she (Hillary Clinton) was making, that in terms of the claims that they needed to move into a neighboring country to protect an ethnic group tied to them is certainly similar to the argument that Hitler made in the 1930s.”

Crimea votes to join Russia, accelerating Ukraine crisis

The Crimean parliament on Thursday said it had decided "to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation".

It said it had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin "to start the procedure".

- a referendum is to be voted upon in Crimea on March 16. If what they are doing is good and right, why the hurry?  This referendum, according to Ukrainian government officials and to Western observers violates the Ukrainian constitution.  

Updates from 03/05/2014

Half-Russian, Russian-speaking Ukrainian calls out Putin on his lies

(Add her voice to Russian Pastor's Strong Denunciation of the Kremlin's Behavior)

-- CNN story (note: this gives a background to the long propaganda campaign being waged by Russia in Eastern Ukraine. The author feels that Putin's efforts will backfire and Ukrainians will remain united.  She has lived in Eastern Ukraine and now lives in the capital)

"Over our 22 years of Ukrainian independence, fears of language or ethnic persecution have never come true. But they were kept alive by Russian propaganda. We understand that Putin is trying to escalate tension and provoke civil war in Ukraine right now. He can't afford for a free Ukraine to succeed: His own people might get an idea that it's possible to overthrow a tyrant and build a prosperous country."

Putin's Body Language

"Non-verbally, this is Gorbachev; verbally, we’re listening to Brezhnev," he said, referring to former Soviet leaders. "In this sense his demeanor is deceptive, precisely because it doesn’t appear outwardly belligerent."

-- Erik Bucy, a professor at Texas Tech University who researches non-verbal communication, said that it's clear Putin is trying to make his case calmly even though his words are "quite combative."

Hillary Clinton on Putin

Putin is a man “who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness,” Clinton said.

That includes reasserting control of what used to be countries under the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, she said.

“When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia.”

Leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia said Tuesday they were "shocked" by Russia's actions in Ukraine, saying it resembled Soviet crackdowns in their countries during the Cold War.
- and don't worry, Poland, the U.S. has 10 airmen in your country (that should scare off the Russians, for sure).  Sorry about the sarcasm but the U.S. needs to get serious.  I wonder how many may have to die in Ukraine for that to happen.  Lord, please help me to be wrong.

Update from CNN
The mood in Ukraine grew even more tense Monday as additional Russian troops poured into the Crimea region. Russia again defended its actions, saying it's protecting Russian citizens in a country that was on the brink of civil war. Meanwhile, world leaders opposed to Moscow's incursion plotted what to do next in the Ukraine crisis. What sanctions will there be? What kind of aid will Ukraine receive? Will there be fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops?

In Crimea: Russia consolidated its hold on the peninsula. Russian troops arrived at a ferry crossing in Kerch, across a narrow sea channel where Ukrainian border guards reported seeing armored vehicles massing.

My thoughts:
I think it is important to remember what Putin has said and what he has done so far.  

1) Putin has said that he views the breakup of the former Soviet Union (of which Ukraine was a part) as the biggest catastrophe of the 20th century
- this may mean that he has desires to put much, if not all, of it back together. So far, he has taken two restive provinces from Georgia and now Crimea is in his hands and despite the bluster from the West, is his for the taking. 

2) Putin was given unanimous authority to use force in Ukraine (not one member of the Senate in Russia opposed him)

3) It is reported that the Russians have threatened to use force if the Ukrainian armed forces didn't give up their bases in Crimea. Though that deadline has passed, so far, without incident, one has to wonder why force is needed if Russia is only intent on protecting ethnic Russians (especially since not one shot has been fired at Ukrainians thus far). Why not just starve them out?

4) Putin stated that he reserves the right to send troops to help any of the Russian majority areas of Eastern Ukraine if requested or needed
- one report stated that the Russians were fomenting trouble in Eastern Ukraine in order to create such a pretext.  Whether that is happening, the bottom line is that he said it was possible so therefore we should see it as possible. 

5) Putin stated that he was invited into Crimea and into Ukraine in general by what Russia sees as the legitimate president of Ukraine, Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovich
- one would suspect that this means that Russia would like to see him reinstated.  The question is how far is Russia willing to go to see that happen? Will they consider a total takeover and if that were to happen, would Yanukovich then be a Russian puppet?

6) While the Crimean peninsula is in his hands, Russian troops are still seen as gathering men and equipment across the border. Ukrainian authorities claim 16,000 troops are already in Crimea.  If Crimea has been subjugated without firing a shot and the situation is contained and if, as Putin stated, it is just to protect Russians and if there is no unrest against Russians in Russian MAJORITY areas of the country, then why the need for more troops?

The West should anticipate that Putin is not yet done with what he has planned for Ukraine.  And they should also note that all of their threats against Russia (concerning what they will do or are doing economically) have not yet stopped him/turned him back.  Even their face-saving efforts have not yielded results as of yet.  While that may change, the West, and the Ukraine, needs to brace itself for a large invasion of the East of Ukraine, if not the entire country.  My feeling is that U.S. troops should leave Germany and re-position themselves in Western Ukraine and the capital Kiev, if Ukraine would permit it. It's not just Putin who can check the other without firing a shot. 

Updates from 03/04/2014: 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Kiev Promises 1 Billion

How to Pray for Ukraine (from a missionary family)

Russian Missions' Leader's Response and a Russian Pastor's Strong Denunciation of the Kremlin's Behavior
- in short, the Russian pastor says that Putin is lying

Crimean Leader States that Majority of Ukrainian Forces in Crimea Surrendering; Seeking to Speed up Referendum on Crime's Status/Sovereignty

Russian Forces Mass Along Ukrainian Border

Putin Claims He Ordered Troops Back to Bases and That Crimean Forces are Local Pro-Russian Forces not Russian Troops

Russia Gives Crimean Forces Until 5 AM Local Time to Give Up or Face Force  (GMT - 3 AM/EST 10 PM)

I wonder if Ukrainian troops were to put up a brave fight, would they inspire the rest of the Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression?  It may also raise the stakes for Russia in both casualties and world opinion if Crimean-based Ukrainian troops sacrificed themselves for their country. And what a great, patriotic contrast to the traitor admiral.  While no one would blame them for surrendering against impossible odds, imagine with me the inspiration and potential trouble they could foreshadow for a prolonged Russian occupation   

Also, this ultimatum gives us a glimpse of Russian intentions.  If Russia was going to stop at Crimea, why the deadline and the threat of force?  Why not just starve them out?  

I think it demonstrates that they want absolute control of the Crimean peninsula so that they can move on to other Eastern areas of Ukraine.  Remember that Putin hinted at such earlier when defending Russian actions as protecting ethnic Russians.  Also, since news reports and even diplomatic babble indicate that the Russians already have operational control of Crimea, then why the further buildup of armor across the border from Crimea?  We are told that the Russians have 16,000 in place already, if not more. These give evidence of the alarming possibility that the Russian bear has just begun to charge.  

Surrender or Face 'Storm,' Russia Reportedly Tells Ukraine

The Russian military has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 5 a.m. Tuesday (10 p.m. ET Monday) to surrender or face a "storm," Interfax news agency reported.

"If they do not surrender by 5 a.m. tomorrow, we will start a real storm in Ukrainian bases in Crimea," according to the statement sent by the Russians to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, a ministry source told Interfax. NBC News could not immediately confirm the report.

The ultimatum was attributed to Alexandr Vitko, chief commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Ukraine crisis: U.N. Security Council meets
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
updated 5:15 PM EST, Mon March 3, 2014

Ten Ukrainian military and naval bases in Crimea were blocked Monday by armed men, the newly appointed naval commander of Ukraine, Rear Admiral Serhei Gayduk, told a Ukrainian TV station.

His predecessor, Denis Berezovsky, who on Sunday said he would not submit to orders from Kiev and defected, was said to have entered the Ukrainian naval base in Crimea under the protection of a group of Cossacks and tried to persuade other Ukrainian officers to defect. However, Gayduk was at the base and urged officers to maintain their allegiance to Ukraine, the Defense Ministry's Seleznyov told CNN. Troops responded by singing the Ukrainian national anthem.

Why Russia No Longer Fears the West
article by Ben Judah

(Scroll down for some demographic information and maps)

Russia has full operational control of the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot. 

This development along with a lack of resolve from the West, may further endanger the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Note what Putin reportedly said: 

“In the case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” a statement issued by Putin’s office said, “Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”

Clearly, Putin has no reason to believe that the West will do anything substantive to stop him.  Looking back at the takeover of Russian-population centers in Georgia, still under the control of Russia, Putin may feel he just has to weather the diplomatic protests and other weak responses from the West.  Then, he probably predicts that the West will seek a thaw or a reset in relations, things will go back to some kind of normalcy and then, if he wanted, he could cause trouble somewhere else near the Russian borders it shares with its neighbors. Rinse and repeat, to use the metaphor.  This is the same Putin who stated that the breakup of the former Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.  

Ukrainian border guards on Monday reported a buildup of armored vehicles on the Russian side of a narrow sea channel dividing Russia and Crimea, Reuters reported, citing a border guard spokesman.

He said that Russian ships had been moving in and around the port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked mobile telephone service in some areas. The buildup of Russian armor was near a ferry port on the Russian side of the Kerch Channel, opposite the Ukrainian city of Kerch.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian State Border Security Service said there had been several attacks on border posts in eastern Crimea just along the border with Russia.

Rear Adm. Denis Berezovsky, who was appointed Saturday by interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, said from Sevastopol on the Black Sea that he will not submit to any orders from Kiev.  He was quickly suspended and replaced by another rear admiral, the Defense Ministry in Kiev said in a written statement.

-- a BBC video news report stated that his efforts to get Ukrainian naval officers in Crimea to follow his lead have largely failed.  

Update on US and EU response:  It sounds like the European Union cannot find a united response outside of diplomacy and concern.  

I've been monitoring U.S. officials' response and those of the U.S. Congress of both parties as well as U.S. allies and all indications are that there isn't the stomach for putting defensive troops on the ground in Ukraine.  All the talk is about economic and diplomatic pressure.  Therefore, it is not likely to get better but worse in the short term.  If this stance continues, we could see a repeat of Germany and the Sudetenland.  How far it goes from there in repeating history largely depends on Russia since the world doesn't seem to have the courage to strongly deter it from further aggression.  

There are implications for the disputed islands between Japan and China, the disputed islands between North and South Korea and so many other trouble spots around the world. If large countries, especially those with formidable military capabilities, know that the U.S. and Europe will do nothing but complain, it will embolden further military action worldwide against disputed holdings and risk war in more places globally. 

See Anybody Else Think That the Ukraine Will Become Divided with Russian Interference . . . for my opinion as to what the U.S. and its allies should do to avoid a repeat of World War II Germany in the Sudetenland and then on to Poland

- I recall that there was a defense pact with Poland that wasn't honored when Hitler came threatening and if all of the Ukraine is in peril, 4 NATO signatories are on its borders, none of them major European countries.  Then there are the Baltic countries as well. Would NATO abandon them if defending them meant war with Russia?  I know it seems I am getting well ahead of events on the ground but if the Russian bear isn't blocked from further aggression, it already acted in Georgia, it is now acting in Ukraine, what will it do next if the West continues to do nothing?

Ukraine mobilizes troops amid crisis with Russia
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Diana Magnay and Victoria Eastwood, CNN

Ukraine's shaky new government mobilized troops and called up military reservists Sunday even as the defense minister said Kiev stood no chance against Russian troops in a rapidly escalating crisis that has raised fears of war.

Amid signs of Russian military intervention in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, Russian generals led their troops to three bases in the region Sunday demanding Ukrainian forces surrender and hand over their weapons, Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Crimean Media center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN.

Speaking by phone, he said Russian troops had blocked access to the bases but added "there is no open confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military forces in Crimea" and that Ukrainian troops continue to protect and serve Ukraine.

Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the actions by Russian forces in Crimea "a declaration of war."

A divided Ukraine
updated 11:50 AM EST, Thu Feb 27, 2014

Two maps: one on language and the other on the 2010 presidential elections show how the war in the Ukraine may move ahead and perhaps end up

Timeline of Ukrainian Events Since 1991

At 10,000 square miles (26,100 sq. km), Crimea is the size of the U.S. state of Vermont

Ethnic groups (2001)
58.32% Russians
24.32% Ukrainians
12.10% Crimean Tatars

Language:  Officially Ukrainian but Russian and Crimean Tatar also recognized

Capital and largest city is Simferopol

Putin requested and received authorization by the Russian Senate to use force in the Ukraine

Russian upper house approves use of military force in Ukraine
By Tom Watkins, Laura Smith-Spark. and Ingrid Formanek, CNN
updated 1:19 PM EST, Sat March 1, 2014

ABC Entertainment News | ABC Business News

“Are we talking about the threat of any direct military confrontation between Russia and the U.S.? No,” Rumer said. “But this is a very tense situation, and in a purely military sense, we have to keep in mind that the United States has allied commitments one-for-all, all-for-one under the NATO treaty to four of Ukraine’s immediate neighbors.”  [emphasis mine]

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/vladimir-putin-barack-obama-ukraine-104132_Page2.html#ixzz2uknCDaIE

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