War Drums Beating as Russia Poises for Something In Ukraine
Numerous analysts are sounding the alarm as Russia appears poised for new military actions in the Ukraine. There has been a significant buildup of Russian tanks and troops along that border, as well as deployment of a new missile system. As we previously reported, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared martial law in 10 provinces, and called up reserve troops for “military exercises.” Both sides appear to be preparing for war.
The Institute for the Study of War reported:
“Russia will likely escalate militarily against Ukraine imminently. Russia is setting military conditions to prepare its forces for open conflict with Ukraine. Russia is already creating the pretext to escalate by circulating the false narrative that Ukraine and the West are preparing imminent attacks, including a chemical weapons attack, in Eastern Ukraine. Russia may fabricate evidence of a chemical weapons attack – or may itself conduct a chemical weapons attack — near Russia-backed areas of Ukraine to create chaos, justify the overt involvement of the Russian Armed Forces, and set conditions for future military operations. NATO’s inaction following Russia’s escalation in the Sea of Azov is likely emboldening Putin to continue challenging the West in Ukraine. NATO must reassess the threat that Russia poses to European security and the rules-based international order and respond decisively to deter an increasingly likely Russia military escalation in Ukraine itself.”
According to Mark MacKinnon, Senior International Correspondent in Moscow at the Globe and Mail, Putin’s approval rate is falling. When that happens in Russia, the outlook is grim.
“As support for Vladimir Putin tumbles to its lowest level in five years, anxiety – rather than hope – is growing among his critics. Some fret that a continuing crackdown on dissent will widen as the Kremlin seeks to head off any expression of the growing dissatisfaction. Others worry the Russian government may instigate new fighting in neighbouring Ukraine as a way of whipping up both patriotic feeling and support for the President…
“…Mr. Putin saw his popularity soar both after the seizure of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s victory in a brief 2008 war with neighbouring Georgia. Some worry that he’ll be tempted to seek another such boost, with the Azov Sea, a strategic body of water between Russia and Ukraine, seen as a potential target this time.
Recently demonstrations against Putin have been met with “the stick” as leaders were arrested and received heavy sentences.
Continuing sanctions against Russia have created a sagging economy.( Putin signed a law pushing the retirement age higher and holding back payments to retirees), and the recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, something may be ready to blow.
“I don’t think Putin needs [an escalation in Ukraine]. He is really very much concerned about sanctions. He understands that the economy is just in a terrible situation right now. He understands that the country needs normal relations with the West. But in terms of foreign policy, it’s important how the regime feels inside Russia. People’s anger is growing. People’s dissatisfaction is growing. People are looking for answers and cannot find them.” Mikhail Kasyanov, former Russian Prime Minister
Featured photo: A column of Russian tanks descends on Crimea in 2014