by John Galt
March 21, 2015 04:00 ET
THERE is this myth, propagated by the Western media that when Russia engages in an activity which seems counter to prior statements or actions that it is a sign of weakness or incoherent strategic goals.
Sadly for the West and the new generation of so-called “Russian” experts, this is the farthest thing from the truth.
At the liberal website Slate, the ‘expert’ speculated that it was due to Assad’s intransigence and the financial cost of the operations in Syria. That of course is almost complete nonsense except that rumors were that Russia was pushing Assad to accept a Federalized state solution for the Kurds in exchange for their loyalty to the Assad regime. The cost of the operation was less than $1 billion dollars and despite the Turkish shooting down of a Russin Su-24, the economic costs have hit Turkey and Saudi/GCC allied terrorist forces far harder than the just over $600 million the Russians spent.
Meanwhile at the American version of Pravda, USA Today, the experts in their article speculated that the withdrawal was to force President Assad into a political solution; again, a wet dream wish to salvage Obama’s reputation in the region as there is no impetus for such an agreement to be reached. The ceasefire currently agreed to is already in tatters as ISIS and pro-Saudi terrorist groups have shattered that peace with offensives and car bomb attacks throughout the countryside. At the same time, Turkish forces continue to attack across the border at Kurdish positions with impunity, thus guaranteeing a larger conflict along the Turkish border is about to develop.
The reality? The situation closer to home is going to require the full attention of the Russian leadership and military and the best pilots will be needed for a possible upcoming conflict if the European Union and NATO allies fail to reign in the militarists running the Ukrainian government.
Vladimir Putin was not ignoring the actions of the European Union’s foreign ministers meeting in Brussels early last week where cracks began to appear in the united front of keeping the sanctions against Russia. Italy, Greece, and Hungary all wanted a change in the policy and direct engagement but Italy has since recanted and agreed to keep the sanctions on Russia should certain yet unspecified conditions fail to be met. The Kiev government is keenly aware of this fact and will wish to manufacture a reason for the sanctions to remain firmly in place while at the same time, doing the same thing the rebels in Syria were attempting: to lure NATO into a conflict with Russia.
Meanwhile, the violence in the Donbas region against the Donetsk and Lugansk regions has increased dramatically in the past three weeks. In some areas around Donetsk and Gorlovka, the number of attacks has double in the past week as this map below shows (data from Russian news sites and Donbas bloggers):
In addition, over the past week a column of 15 Ukrainian Army tanks and APCs were spotted 15 km from the city of Gorlovka in an area where they can attack directly towards Donetsk or move east from their staging point to move against Gorlovka. The following video from NewsFront highlights the location and threat they possess:
This along with reported increased Ukrainian troop activity near Mariupol, Lugansk, and along the Moldovan/Transnestria borders to the west have alarmed Moscow while the OSCE and EU sit silent on the matter. Since the Minsk accords were signed, on a nightly basis the suburbs of Donetsk and Lugansk have endured attacks using small arms fire but in recent weeks, heavier artillery is being used by the Ukrainians in direct violation of the Minsk agreement.
Vladimir Putin, unlike President Obama, can multi-task and understands the complexity of the situation he faces. If the Ukrainians begin a spring offensive in the next few weeks, it will provide him with the justification to launch full fledged military operations in the Donbas region and to the west in Transnestria to protect Russian interests. The benefits for Moscow of such a provocation by the Kiev government are five fold:
1. Russia can destroy large portions of the Ukrainian military, further destabilizing the Kiev government.
2. Justification for such actions will be obvious to the global community and not provoked by Russia, thus providing another black eye for the Obama/EU cabal.
3. Russian citizens desiring to unite with the Donbas region might be provided a Federalized Russian protection scheme which will include Odessa, Transnestria, and all regions east to Mariupol, leaving the nation of Ukraine with no port facilities or ocean access.
4. NATO’s influence in the region will be further diminished and the reputation as a paper tiger cemented in the minds of Eastern European countries.
5. This also opens up the possibility of reversing the pro-EU/NATO desires of Serbia, possibly moving them back into the Russian sphere.
Putin understands the risks and how this might play out over the coming months and understood that he needed his best Spetsnaz and Air Force personnel back in Russia to get rest and ready for possible combat. With Syria still in the forefront of US and EU propaganda and provocation while US troops now directly engage ISIS forces near Mosul; it is obvious to the Russian military and Putin that there is no stomach to defend the corrupt Kiev regime if they fail to get in line and observe the Minsk agreements, and it will be viewed as a lost cause by the West as Russia will end up gaining the upper hand.
Once again, old Vlad is five moves ahead playing chess, while Obama continues to insist on marking “X” or “O” in the chessboard squares.