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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ukraine's East Under Threat

For John, BLUFThe Russia irritation with Ukraine is not going away, at least under President Putin.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Defense News, by Reporter Kyle Rempfer, 1 January 2019.

Here is the lede plus four:

After Russia fired on two Ukrainian naval ships in late November, seizing the vessels and crew, tensions between Russia and the West waxed and waned in a succession that has become all too common.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea roughly five years ago, and sponsorship of separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, brought similar condemnation from the U.S. and its NATO allies, as did the Russian annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia in 2008.

And yet those breakaway regions remain under Russian control, as the Kremlin proves that geographic boundaries can be redrawn without much more than stern words from the West.  But absent harsher measures and greater push-back, the former commander of U.S. Army Europe warns that the Russian Federation won’t let up.

“I think they won’t stop until they completely own the Sea of Azov and have choked out Ukraine’s very important seaport of Mariupol," said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who helmed U.S. European Command’s Army component from late 2014 through 2017.

During his tenure, Hodges helped oversee the largest buildup of U.S. troops and base infrastructure since the Cold War, as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a quest for client states to buffer against what he sees as NATO’s own expansionism.

To be fair, the two Ukraine naval vessels were barges with field artillery pieces mounted, but the point is a good one.  The Russians are acting like imperialist bullies.  This is not a good thing for a member of the UN Security Council with veto power.  This is made worse by the Budapest Agreement, signed by the US and Russia.  Without the agreement and assurances this would be a confrontation between nuclear armed nations.

All those people, all those pundits and Democrats, weeping crocodile tears over us pulling out of Syria, should ponder this situation and its potential for trouble in 2019.

Hat tip to the Defense News.

Regards  —  Cliff

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