1) Paul Sonne, “Biden predicts Putin will ‘move in’ to Ukraine because ‘he has to do something’,” New York Times, January 19, 2022 (8:02 p.m. EST);
2) Henry Olsen, “Biden’s ‘minor incursion’ remark was more than just a gaffe;It revealed a weak president,” New York Yimes, January 20, 2022 (1:25 p.m. EST).
Following President Joe Biden’s disastrous remarks on Ukraine on January 19, 2022, which raised the possibility that the West’s response to a Russian incursion into Ukraine might not trigger the full response of heavy sanctions against Russia, one can only react with utter dismay.
His comments, and others about divisions among NATO countries, underline Biden’s propensity to put his foot in his mouth. In this case, he has done so with potentially disastrous results. His remarks have greatly weakened the credibility of the West’s deterrent threats against Putin’s and Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine.
Biden’s answers at his press conference make clear that his foreign policy team is incompetent, above all, because of the quality of the thinking of the man who heads it, Joe Biden himself.
His communications team made a grave mistake in allowing him to hold a long press conference which lent itself to his thinking out loud and rambling on in his replies.
Nonethess, we are where we are, and it is still important to try to deter Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, even by means of an “incursion”.
Consequently, we must now turn our attention to the most likely Russian “incursion”, which would be a military invasion to seize the Ukrainian territory between the Russian-controlled Donbas and the Crimea.
Such an invasion would secure a longstanding strategic objective of Russia, by establishing a secure land bridge from Russia to its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, thereby also guaranteeing the water and electricity supplies for the population of the Crimea.
Putin toyed with seizing such a land bridge in 2015. See the following article from August, 2015:
UPDATE–Latest News (August 12, 2015)
Pierre Vaux, “Ukraine’s Cold War Hot as Combat Explodes in the Last 24 Hours,” The Daily Beast, August 12, 2015.
“UKRAINE: EU sieht OSZE-Mission in Gefahr; Ein Brandanschlag auf Fahrzeuge, Mitarbeiter im Kreuzfeuer: OSZE-Beobachter in der Ukraine sind zunehmend bedroht. Die EU spricht von einer Eskalation des Konflikts, ” Die Zeit, 12. August 2015 (04:49 Uhr).
The Donbas puppets of Vladimir Putin are 100% dependent on Russia for their survival. Russian regular troops as well as irregular troops have been in the Ukraine for over a year, and have played a decisive role in key battles with the Ukrainian military. There can be little doubt that the puppets act, and weave and bob, in response to the movements of the wires by which they are suspended. And there can be little doubt that Vladimir Putin is the puppeteer who controls those wires, and who moves the figures attached to them.
Now Putin and his puppets have resumed fighting near Mariupol, the strategic port city that controls the path and potential land bridge to the Crimea, which under international law remains sovereign territory of the Ukraine under Russian military occupation.
At the same time, four OSCE vehicles were set on fire in Donetzk in front of the observers’ hotel and across the street from the building that serves as the headquarters of the leader of the local parliament, Andrei Purgin.
The tactic is right out of the playbook in the Syrian conflict, when Bashar al-Assad was presumably responsible for the crowds that harrassed and the shootings at U.N. observers which ultimately led first to their withdrawal to their hotel, then the replacement of their commander who sought to keep them safe, and finally their withdrawal from Syria. Russia, as al-Assad’s strongest backer, was intimately familiar with these events.
The strategy is simple: If you don’t want international observers reporting on events, attack them, fire on them, until their mission becomes so dangerous to the individual observers that it must be stopped.
Pilar Bonet (Moscú), “La escalada bélica en Ucrania amenaza los pactos de Minsk; La situación en el frente entre las tropas de Kiev y los insurgentes de Donetsk se deteriora, El Pais, 10 de Agosto 2015 (22:38 CEST).
“Trotz Waffenruhe: Ukraine meldet heftige Kämpfe nahe Mariupol; Seit Februar gilt in der Ukraine eine Waffenruhe, eingehalten wird sie selten: Die prorussischen Rebellen sollen heftige Angriffe gegen Regierungstruppen gestartet haben. Kiew meldet einen erfolgreichen Gegenschlag,” Der Spiegel, 10. August 2015 (19;25 Uhr).
NATO and the West need to keep a watchful eye on developments around Mariupol, and with the EU be prepared to act if Putin tries to take the city.
In the meantime, NATO and the U.S. should proceed with quickly supplying more lethal weapons and training to the Ukraine.
The Trenchant Observer