Russia may be about to invade Ukraine

Russia Warns of Full-Scale War in Eastern Ukraine, Blames Kyiv

The recent deployment of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border and Moscow’s indication that it could intervene in the event of a full-scale war in eastern Ukraine are dimming hopes for a peaceful resolution of the conflict that has festered for seven years and cost thousands of lives.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that Russia had the right to move its forces across its territory at its discretion and was simply taking precautions given the “dangerous, explosive region at its borders” with eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Peskov warned that the situation on the contact line was extremely unstable and said “the dynamics…create the danger of a resumption of full-scale hostilities.”

Question is what the US and NATO should do about it if this happens. Could be very tough to accomplish anything with economic sanctions, partly because there are already sanctions in place and there may not be much more feasible to sanction, and partially because Western Europe is apparently dependent on Russia for energy supplies.

Personally, I tend to isolationism in foreign policy and in general tend to oppose doing largely ineffective things out of righteous indignation. The issue I have is that Western governments tend to make these grandiose statements about how “we will not let this stand” and the like, which they have no realistic way of backing up when their bluff gets called, and Putin in particular has a history of bluff-calling. The problem (beyond the loss of credibility) is that the ostensible ally - in this case Ukraine/Zelensky - is emboldened to take a harder stance than they might otherwise take based on the notion that the US or NATO has their back, when in reality they’re relying on paper tigers, and end up worse off than had they settled upfront.

Of course, a lot depends on what Russia’s ultimate goal is. I think it’s extremely likely that Russia intends ultimately to reincorporate any areas with a lot of Russian speakers back into Russia. But it’s also possible that they have their eyes on the entire Ukraine.

It is a very shitty situation, but NATO & the EU should be prepared to actually help stop Putin’s aggression. They should make this clear and Europe should be prepared for disruptions in natural gas supplies.

I hate to put it this way, but if Russia is basically threatening European energy supplies in the time of Pandemic, how much food do they import these days? It might be time to remind them they’re dependent on a peaceful world for a large percentage of their food. I know they’ve been working hard to cut their reliance of foreign food supplies, but I don’t know how far they’ve gotten.

Of course this potential crisis should hopefully be resolved with diplomacy and not bloodshed.

What specifically does “actually help stop” mean? What concrete actions would you support in order to “actually help stop” Putin’s aggression? That’s the key question.

A big part of the OP here is that there’s a lot of talk about stopping things and the like but when it comes to concrete action there’s frequently not much to back it up. Tossing around terms like “actually help stop” without anything more concrete is part of the problem IMHO.

Based on your post, it seems like you might mean a food embargo?

I think a food embargo needs to be on the table. It is probably the only “sanction” that would give Putin pause.

I think the NATO military forces need to be on alert and prepared to assist the Ukraine if Russia invades.

Per my understanding, Russia is dependent on outside food by choice, not necessity. IOW, they import a lot of food but they also export a lot of food - the food they import is the type that they don’t produce, while they overproduce other types for export. But it’s not like the country will starve without importing food.

That would be risking WW3.

Putin is betting that Europe doesn’t have the military resources to intervene (especially after Brexit) and the U.S. is too divided internally to want to risk another costly, possibly unending military intervention.

Yes, Putin is risking a serious war. Do you suggest we should just let him take the Ukraine? And then in a few years what do we do when he tries to take part of Kazakhstan or Latvia?

Latvia is in a different category from Ukraine or Kazakhstan, though. Latvia is a NATO member, and an attack on Latvia would be the same as an attack upon the United States. The U.S. has a treaty obligation to respond with action, including “the use of armed force”, to such a situation. The U.S. does not have any such treaty obligation with respect to Ukraine (or Kazakhstan, or Georgia*).
*The other one.

The message from Putin to Zelensky is clear: the “peaceful resolution” must at the very least not involve Ukraine getting the best of the Donbas rebellion and at best (for Putin) letting the rebellion win.

And yes, basically making it the established if unwritten rule that anywhere there are large Russian populations, you had better be a Russian vassal.

And right, since Ukraine is not a NATO member, there is no Article 5 mandate, it would be up to each Western nation to choose to intervene or not.

Moving troops around rapidly is often a prelude to war. The idea is to desensitize the other guy to preparations. We did it in Panama. If conditions are right, you can go to war without warning the other guy. If conditions do not pan out, no touch, no foul.

I’m certainly “suggesting” that. Not suggesting in the sense that I think it’s fine if that happens. But suggesting in the sense that if it’s terrible if it happens but the alternative is a lot more terrible, then that’s the option you need to choose.

Worth noting in this context that Russia has been moving in the direction of nuclear first use doctrine (see e.g. here)

I can’t quite tell if what you’re suggesting applies only to places like Ukraine or Kazakhstan, or if you’re also including parts of NATO.

If you’re just talking about Ukraine or Kazakhstan…well, I’m not sure you’re wrong. I don’t know what “the West” should do about Ukraine. Possibly nothing (apart from Strongly Worded Diplomatic Statements).

But if you are also including Latvia, then I think that would be an extremely dangerous course for U.S. (or European) foreign policy to take. There is simply no credible way for the U.S. and the rest of NATO to shrug off attacks on this or that member state–“Well, it’s just Latvia”–and preserve NATO. If that happens, NATO is as dead as the Holy Roman Empire.

And in the long run–maybe not even that long of a run, maybe even in what’s left of my lifetime (I’m 50)–I think that would make war much more likely, not less likely. Devastatingly destructive war, not just “low-intensity conflict”, but war that could wind up being the most deadly war the human race has ever waged. The U.S. and Russia aren’t the only nuclear powers on the European continent; there are four countries with nuclear weapons on or around Europe (or, in the case of the U.S.A., with deep, “entangling” interests in Europe). If the post-World War II institutions for collective security (which include the E.U. as well as NATO) are allowed to unravel, you could wind up with multiple nuclear powers staring at each other eyeball-to-eyeball across contested borders.

A person over on reddit suggested that one of Russia’s primary objectives might be taking control of the North Crimean Canal, which used to supply the majority of fresh water to Crimea, until the Ukrainians damned it up on purpose.

Crimea is in a serious drought right now, at least in part due to the closing of the canal to them.

The canal gets its water from the Dnieper river which starts in Russia, goes through Belarus and then through Ukraine. If the Ukrainians wanted to, they could permanently destroy or poison the canal but the consequences could be much worse for them.

An alternative would be to offer to sell access to the water to Crimea like they used to do, in exchange for peace.

My guess is that if the invasion goes down, it will happen like last time, with the Russians taking what they want and the Ukrainians unable to truly defend their territory.

The West will wag its finger and write some strongly worded letters. Better than WW3 I suppose.

I can’t say what we will or will not do; I know that we must do something other than just wagging a finger. Putin has gathered troops and military vehicles north of Canada around the arctic circle and seems about ready to pounce. If we do nothing in Ukraine, he will feel he can just wade into Northern Canada with token opposition and that we’ll do nothing.

We sit on our hands at our peril.

PS- Don’t forget that Xi is watching all of this and is just itching to wipe out Taiwan.

That doesn’t make much sense. Putin is a Machiavelli, not Attila the Hun. He knows what can get away (Ukraine, more than likely and more’s the pity) and what he absolutely can’t (Canada, most certainly - I mean, c’mon :roll_eyes:). The biggest issues of miscalculation and overreach can come with fringe cases like the aforementioned Latvia.

I disagree with you. Putin feels he is a ‘classic Russian leader’, one put in place to correct the mistakes of past Russian leaders. He might not be able to undo ‘Seward’s Folly’, but he can try to take and secure militarily the Arctic Oil, especially through misdirection and conflicts elsewhere. There have been small dust-ups with forces up there already. That’s not Attila; that’s newspaper clippings. You can disrespect my opinion (or me) as much as you choose; it doesn’t change newspaper print.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/how-climate-change-is-setting-the-stage-for-the-new-arctic-cold-war-feature

This year.

I’m reminded of the old line about the farmer who said he wasn’t greedy; he only wanted the land that adjoined his land.

This is definitely a place where I listen to Beau of the Fifth Column. He already predicted what is going on. Since the US is pivoting away from the Middle East, and back to “near peers,” Russia is now testing to see what it can and can’t get away with. We’re returning to a good war mentality. Russia is testing Biden and sabre rattling.

But do note I said a cold war: no one on either side actually wants the war to become hot. This early posturing, though, is the most risky time, if one side misjudged the intent of the other. It goes to war if one side genuinely thinks the other is willing to go to war.

Later on, when I’m at a computer, I’ll find and link the appropriate videos from his channel.

Just out of curiosity, can you point out or describe the route by which Russian forces would “wade” into Canada?

Better pick the right time of year (he did say “wade”)
https://youtu.be/6nFXYRwXHw4