Did Europe Just Witness an August 1939 Von Ribbentrop Moment?

by John Galt
August 16, 2016 04:00 ET


On August 23, 1939, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Russia, Ribbentrop and Molotov, signed an extensive non-aggression pact which resulted in the future de facto division of Poland and surrender of all German claims to the Baltic states and some Romanian border territories in exchange for Germany having a free hand to deal with what they called the “Polish Problem” of that moment in history.

Nine days later the world was introduced to Blitzkrieg, total war, and an overwhelming modern invasion of a nation which was promised help from the West of that moment in history, France and the United Kingdom, but never had a prayer in the face of the speed of the war and ineffectiveness of the Western nations at that time.


Fast forward to 2016, and a meeting a few weeks ago which is still shaking the entire European and Middle Eastern political sphere of influence:


Was this meeting between Erdogan and Putin the modern day equivalent of the Molotov-Ribbentrop meeting in 1939? If so, it pays to analyze the consequences of what Turkey and Russia may gain beyond the obvious economic benefits and which nations might soon fall under the sword of a world weakened by appeasement, apathy, and incompetence.

It is only an educated guess at this point, but based on Putin’s history, he will wait until the last Russian athlete boards a flight out of Rio before anything begins. If Vlad were to restart the Ukraine war, my guess is during market hours (they are UTC+2 in Kiev) so mischief beginning between noon and 4 p.m ET on August 22nd would not surprise me. With Turkey apparently resuming a desire to have a joint defense plan with Russia, it means that their nation is willing to turn a blind eye to events in the Ukraine as the destruction of that government strengthens their ally plus improves the odds of a larger share of natural gas shipments into Europe via the Turkish Stream pipeline.

To continue the parallels to 1939, it probably means that Armenia is now hands off per the agreement. However knowing Russia, in exchange for a de facto peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan,  the Turkish government will be given a free hand to deal with the Kurdish problem on their border without any interference as long as they work with Russia to extinguish ISIS in Syria and cut off supplies to the rebels in northern and northwestern Syria.

Finally, there might be even greater pressure on the U.S. government to extradite Gulen or face the possible closure of its use of Turkish military bases for American forces. The Russian reaction will be to laugh in silence at our plight as the meetings between Iran and Turkey  could push the Ankara government further away from Washington’s sphere of influence.

The key to the entire issue staying a regional conflict and not expanding worldwide will be the reaction of NATO aka, the U.S. government. If Obama foolishly decides to find a loophole to confront Russian military forces in the Ukraine using direct American military intervention, odds are this small conflict could expand to massive World War with dire consequences for the entire planet.

The larger question is not just is this a Ribbentrop moment but worse; is Ukraine the modern day equivalent of 1939 Poland and will the “allies” react should a wider conflict with Russia begin?

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