(Military officials have mobilized all active and reserve service members
to defend Ukraine in the event of a Russian Invasion)
While the Monday deadline set forth by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama led only to the seizures of financial assets belonging to members of the Russian parliament and other business leaders, the situation in the Ukraine is far from resolved. In fact, if reports streaming in from the former Russian republic are accurate, then things are about to take a turn for the worse.
A Ukrainian serviceman was killed on Tuesday at a Ukrainian base that came under attack in Crimea’s main town Simferopol, the first death on the peninsula from a military clash since the region came under Russian control three weeks ago. As news spread of the death of the serviceman, in an assault on the base by unknown attackers, Ukraine’s pro-Western prime minister denounced it as a “war crime” and called for international talks to prevent an escalation of the conflict.
He said the attackers had told the Ukrainian servicemen that they were under arrest and their documents were confiscated. It was unclear, Seleznyov said, who had staged the assault.
He described the attackers as “unknown forces, fully equipped and their faces covered”.
This is, by no stretch of the imagination, an act of war, or at the very least is being perceived as one by western allies. The probability that these were state-sponsored Russian or Crimean (now one in the same) forces is extremely high. The attackers were fully equipped, suggesting this wasn’t some band of rogue terrorists or rebels. The only full equipped personnel with their faces covered currently operating in Crimea are Russian troops.
(Armed men believed to be Russian troops patrol the area around a Ukranian military base)
If Ukraine’s prime minister is calling this act a “war crime,” then we can only assume that they now believe they are, in fact, in the midst of a war. And that may well be the case. If not today, then in coming days and weeks. In Crimea, Russia has mobilzed at least 80,000 troops, while the Ukranians have themselves sent 40,000 troops to defend the border in what neighboring Estonia has suggested will lead to an invasion by Russian troops.
The western appointed President of Ukraine has already indicated that his country will never give up Crimea. On the other side of the border, the Russians now believe they have every right to annex Crimea based on a seemingly overwhelming “democratic” vote in support of Russian rule by the people of the small peninsula.
For now, the East vs. West battle has been taking place on the periphery, with no serious repercussions for either side. Essentially, all the United States has done at this point is to seize the financial asset of those individuals who have been marked as supporters of the separatist movement in Crimea – including many Russian politicians.
But what happens when, as Karl Denninger notes, real economic sanctions take place? The one thing that Ukraine has over Crimea is control of electricity and gas resources. They have not yet wielded this weapon, but it makes sense that this could be used to further pressure the acting government of Crimea.
First is that Crimea has nearly no electrical generation capacity on the peninsula. There are only two routes into there by land for electrical power and both go into Ukraine.
Ukraine has no obligation to leave the power on. If they turn it off then Crimea is roughly, by my figures, 80% short of its electrical demand requirements.
Second of course are the gas pipeline issues; there appears to be exactly one gas pipeline route into Crimea and it doesn’t come from Russia.
What do you think is going to happen if Ukraine decides to literally “pull the plug” on Crimea?
Is Vladimir Putin just going to stand by as the Crimean grid collapses?
Keep in mind that President Putin has made it clear that he believes there should be no division of Ukraine and Crimea. And the way things are going, with troops massing all over the region, it looks like Putin is prepared to take steps to ensure a united Ukraine. Moreover, we now have Russian state-sponsored television threatening to turn the United States into radioactive ash, an obvious attempt to, once again, scare the crap out of President Obama.
In August of 2013 the United States made similar military movements in and around Syria, only to pull back on threats of invasion after members of Putin’s government warned of the possibility of nuclear counter strikes.
Will Vladimir Putin do the same, and simply pull back his troops and lose face to Obama this time around?
We highly doubt it.
Though it was a Hollywood script, one can’t help but see the parallels between what is happening in Ukraine right now and the opening credits of the movie Red Dawn. Watch the video for yourself and decide, especially after the first minute, where the country (former Russian state of Georgia) in question is different but the circumstances are almost identical. Keep in mind that this movie was originally filmed in 2008 and released in 2012, specifically because of the objections of China, who was originally featured as the invading force:
Yes, it is a Hollywood script. But it seems to be, at least in part, mimicking reality.
Does anyone remember what happened next?
It started with an EMP attack that took down the power grid of the entire West coast, followed by an invasion of the United States.
From a historical perspective, the military and civilian casualties in World War I were 37 million people. That war started from a seemingly insignificant assassination of an archduke from the Austro-Hungarian empire.
But just as we saw in the build up to this single event that changed the world back in the 1910’s, we are now seeing military mobilizations and positioning on a massive scale in Europe, Asia, the middle east. The chess pieces are actively in motion and the end game is quickly approaching.
Will cooler heads prevail?
Maybe. But what if they don’t?
Eventually, someone is going to give the go-ahead and then all bets are off.