Update: 10.15.14: Russian troops landed by helicopter and seized a gas plant just beyond the border of Crimea into Ukraine on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian government. The action was Russia’s most provocative since its forces took over Crimea two weeks ago.
Original Story: 03.13.14: The NY Times reported that Russia has massed troops and armored vehicles in three regions along Ukraine’s border Thursday. Last week and this, Russian troops began erecting barbed wire fencing and laying land mines along the Crimea border with Ukraine. Russian troops have been coming across the border into Ukraine running reconnaissance.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he is aware that they could invade.
The referendum on secession in Crimea will take place Sunday. Kerry said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has until Monday to resolve the situation in Ukraine or there will be serious repercussions including sanctions. The West will not recognize the referendum vote in Crimea.
Kerry will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a Sunday referendum vote. If he is going to beg, that won’t help.
The U.S. is operating from a point of weakness, immediately having taken all military options off the table.
Sen. Lindsey Graham asked the administration if we would provide weapons to the new government of Ukraine if Russia invades. Kerry refused to give a strong response. What he said was, “we have contingencies – we are talking through various options that may or may not be available.”
The weapons should already have been sent.
“Our hope is not to create hysteria or excessive concern about that at this point in time,” he said. “Our hope is to avoid that, but there’s no telling that we can.”
This Administration, in an effort to not escalate situations, comes out with responses that appear naive and convey weakness to the dictators and thugs we are dealing with. Our Administration walks around on tip toes while murderous thugs threaten the free world.
In addition to the military buildup, Russian news agencies said the Defense Ministry had ordered six Sukhoi-27 fighter jets and three transport planes to Belarus, a Russian ally, to fend off what the Belarus president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, called a potential NATO threat. The Belarus deployment came after NATO sent 12 F-16 fighters to Poland last week. Intensive training of units involving artillery batteries, assault helicopters and at least 10,000 soldiers has taken place along the border and about 1500 paratroopers have been flown in.
Armored vehicles and trucks in a border village called Lopan, only 30 miles from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
The interim Ukrainian president Oleksandr V. Turchynov hopes that diplomatic efforts by friendly allies will prevent an invasion.
Putin will likely invade because there is no real resistance. Our government is afraid to even say whether or not we will provide arms to the government of Ukraine, a government we helped disarm with the promise of providing them with protection.
Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine and he will do it if the only thing he has to face are sanctions. They are not enough to deal with Putin.
Putin’s goal of rebuilding his Soviet Empire is something he is willing to do gradually. Ukraine, however, is within his grasp now.
A complicating factor is that Nazis are among the rebels who were behind the coup. Some demonstrators were nationalists. but there were also liberals, socialists and libertarians. There were Christians and atheists. There were workers from the provinces, as well as IT geeks from Kiev.
In a message about the aggression coming from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk invoked former U.S. President Ronald Reagan while speaking to reporters in front of the White House Wednesday.
“My message to President Putin, Mr. Putin, tear down this wall, the wall of war, intimidation, and military aggression,” he said. “Let’s stop. Let’s calm down.”
Shouldn’t Mr. Obama be saying that?