Yesterday in a Twitter conversation with @20committee (John Schindler) I made the comment that as the situation in the Ukraine with reference to the downing of MH17 devolves more and more, it became more and more logical for the Russians to go to a “surprise” cold start or “jump start” invasion of the Ukraine. I’m unsure of WHO would be “surprised” by an open naked invasion of Ukraine by now, but we’ll go with the standard descriptive term.
Twenty four hours later, on perusing the International Geopolitical Landscape this begins to look distressingly prescient. I have a track record among folks in my Interwebz community related to my ability to predict anything. I am 99.44% WRONG on predictions (the one accurate prediction was one of those things where ANYONE could have read tomorrows paper today and made it.) I take comfort in that track record. Today I believe it is in jeopardy.
It has become clear in the last twenty four hours that the situation in ref MH17 has deteriorated even more than I had expected it might. At one point, within the first 24-48 hours, VVP could have RELATIVELY inexpensively stood up and admitted that a mistake had been made.
He could have then either said that the mistake had been to provide the weapons for the Separatists (read GRU) or that the training had been insufficient and the operators of the BUK had mistaken the plane for a military one, OR that the Russian operator had mistaken the plane.
RELATIVELY inexpensive, but not cost free. He would have been required to have people tried and punished, or made available to the ICC in The Hague.
It became apparent as soon as 24 hours after the shoot-down that the Russian direction was not to be nearly as open as the US was in 1983 when we shot down the Iranian airliner, and stood up, admitted it, and paid damages.
The Russian answer was, at that point, clearly obfuscation and denial. A categorical list of the OPEN SOURCE evidence against Russia in this case is not within the scope of this blog. I would recommend as perusal of several blogs and Twitter time Lines for that evidence. Best investigator on the BUK and it’s presence or absence from UKR AND it’s repatriation in the dead of night can be found on the TL of @NatSecWonk. Further discussion of evidence can be found on 20committee blog ( http://20committee.com/ ).
Another option open to VVP has always been to stonewall and delay until the Western Media found another scandal or celebrity wardrobe malfunction, counting on our short attention span. This would simply have been to ignore, delay, NOT inform and simply power through the West’s outrage. He and the rest of the Kremlin operatives have either disregarded this option or never thought about it. It becomes apparent to those of us who remember shoe thumping “WE will bury you!” film bites that THIS Kremlin is not the Kremlin of Olde. @thewarroom_Tom (Tom Nichols) on his blog http://tomnichols.net/blog/ points out that there is a very telling difference in how the Kremlin TODAY is handling this issue.
To paraphrase Mr Nichols, the Kremlin of Olde was much like a collection of Mafia Dons. Something would happen, they would recognize they had a problem, and would SOLVE the PROBLEM. Perhaps their solution might have been inelegant, or of a blunt object or brute force approach but it would be SOLVED with a minimum of fuss and perhaps only a bit of yapping from the global chattering classes.
The Kremlin this week appears to be a whole different entity. Saying they were running scared would be inaccurate as that would imply a coherent direction of travel. They are CERTAINLY hyperventilating over the current situational devolution. The last 3 days have seen suggestions that ranged from space aliens to US shooting down MH17. As each new suggestion comes out from the Kremlin or its disconnected minions, the feeling of finally having jumped the shark repeats anew. If it weren’t for the apparent and increasing gravity of the situation, thinking observers would be hard pressed to remain in their chairs due to the attacks of the giggles.
It begins to look as though the Soviet PR machine (term used very loosely here) has become a spaghetti factory, throwing enormous quantities at a wall to see what sticks. NOT the Kremlin of Olde.
So what are they afraid of? They are afraid that their “Special War” operatives who have been sheltering as “separatists” and “Little Green Men” will be unmasked for what they are, Russian Soldiers and Intel Officers leading the “Special War” in the Ukraine. Up until now the Kremlin has been fully figleafed, and not OPENLY associated with the “separatists” as they ran their insurgency and their atrocities. That figleaf, and that deniability is about to be stripped away by MH17 and the current devolving situation. And for a regime that has worked for decades to be “accepted” as a part of the International Community that exposure will be catastrophic.
And thus we come back to my not exactly throw-away comment from yesterday. It becomes more and more logical that a full on, open, “surprise” or “Standing start/cold start/jump start” invasion is in the near future. It would erase most of the squawking from the West’s chattering classes over the shoot down, and would in the fairly near term give VVP Eastern Ukraine, should his troops meet the expected feckless counters from the West. One should understand that this has been MUCH of the goal since the Anschluss of Crimea.
At one point yesterday there was a VERY brief mention that RU had moved “100 units to the UKR border”. I BARELY noticed that as it flashed through my Twitter feed and there was no further mention of it that I saw. This begs the question 100 of WHAT KIND of units? Armor and MLRS units? Platoons? Companies? I’m sure we’ll learn the answers in the coming hours and days.
Sitting in my comfy chair here in Flyover Country USA, I can almost SEE the calculus being run in the Kremlin. Understand that the Bear is injured. Yes it is becoming clearer and clearer that it is a self inflicted injury but that means virtually nothing. If you have ever hunted Black, Brown or Grizzly bears, you know that an INJURING shot is a HUGE mistake as the injured bear lashes out with all of its remaining strength. This is NOT a good picture in either bear hunts or international relations.
Thus an invasion becomes one of the Kremlin’s logical responses. Not a high probability of success response but certainly a logical one that GEN. Breedlove and the rest of SACEUR and NATO should be considering seriously.
As always, my opinions are my own, here in the Swamp.
The recent almost unbelievable breach of Diplomatic Etiquette in Egypt should give EVERYONE pause to read the message.