Revised February 25, 2015
The pacifists and appeasers who lead Europe and the United States, by taking no effective measures to counter Russian military aggression in the Ukraine, have brought us to where we are today.
Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimea, sovereign territory of the Ukraine conquered by Russian troops and purportedly “annexed” by Russia.
After the military defeat of the Ukrainian army at Debaltseve, in flagrant violation of the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 and even the ill-advised Minsk II agreement reached on February 12, 2015, Europe lies defenseless at the feet of the Russian army and Vladimir Putin.
If Putin wants to take Mariupol and seize territory linking his puppets’ “separatist” territories in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces with the Crimea, he can do so.
What was most telling about the collapse of the Minsk II agreement and the military conquest of Debaltseve after the Minsk II ceasefire was supposed to enter into effect on February 15, was that the United States, the EU, and NATO did not even attempt to organize a countervailing force that might halt or even slow the Russian army and its puppets.
No attempt to impose new economic sanctions. No “decision” to send “lethal weapons” to Kiev, which in the event amounted to a cowardly decision not to send such weapons.
Putin appears to have secured blocking votes within the EU which render the possibility of imposing further sanctions on Russia moot. Consequently, the EU was able to do absoluely nothing to deflect the Russian military drive.
Now, we shall return to the pattern of Minsk I, where the Europeans beg Putin to honor his “agreement” (now Minsk II), while his tanks, artillery and other forces and equipment are free to move in and out of the Ukraine at will across an open border, earlier dismantled by Russian military means, and to launch new rebel offensives whenever they deem the moment right.
Meanwhile, the United States has shown that it is all talk and no substance when it comes to opposing Russian tanks on the move in Europe.
NATO’s nuclear deterrent, designed to offset Russia’s immense advantage on the ground with the largest army in Europe, is moot. Inoperative. Not able to be deployed.
Consequently, the pacifists and appeasers who lead the U.S. and Europe have left Europe totally exposed to the Russian military, which is led by a man who has openly expressed approval of the Molotov-Von Ribbentropp agreement of alliance between Russia and Germany in 1939 and its secret division of Poland, who does not consider Russia bound by the prohibition of the threat or use of force in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, and who does not feel bound by agreements Russia makes such as the April 17, 2014 Geneva Agreement, the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014, or the Minsk II agreement of February 15, 2015.
There is no point negotiating with Putin, who is a brazen liar and whose word is worthless.
The next two years are going to be tough, until the United States gets a new president in January, 2017.
Hopefully, he or she will be strong on defending the U.S. and Europe against Russian aggression, and resume forceful leadership of the free world.
National security issues promise to be central to the 2016 presidential campaign.
In the meantime, a Republican Senate, with John McCain as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a Republican House are sure to keep foreign policy issues in the limelight.
Barack Obama’s record of passivity and its consequences will not be easy to defend.
The only point of light for the Democrats is the appointment of Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense. Carter has in his first few days in office already signalled that he will take a hard-nosed, pragmatic approach to defense and foreign policy issues. He may form a rallying point and nucleus around which other serious, experienced foreign policy officials within the Obama administration can rally. As in rugby, they may form a scrum that can push through hard measures against Russia, in response to its continuing policies of military aggression and the annexation of conquered territories.
Putin may yet be surprised by the ferocity of the American response to his mlitary aggression, whether in two years or sooner as the Democrats try to reverse a situation which is currently out of control.
Democracies can be slow to react.
The United States was slow to enter World War I and also World War II. In both cases, however, its entry proved decisive to the outcome of the conflict. These are examples Putin would do well to ponder.
So, in the short run, Putin can take Mariupol and seize a land bridge to the Crimea. In the longer term, however, the responses of the West and its allies to any such actions could send the Russian economy into a tailspin from which it could not recover so long as Putin remains in power.
In five years, if not before, we’ll have a better perspective on Putin’s triumphs of the moment.
The Trenchant Observer