Friday, August 22, 2014

Rescue Me

As Ukraine's Western allies attempt to broker a peace deal--some even worrying that Ukrainian advances are undermining that objective!--keep in mind that a ceasefire in place without a secessionist surrender just benefits Moscow.

Well, yeah:

Analysts and diplomats say Russia's calls for an end to fighting look like an attempt to freeze the conflict on the ground to maintain Moscow's influence in Ukraine.

Remember, even as Moscow calls for an end to fighting, they funnel armored vehicles, other arms, and fighters into the secessionist ranks. This is not a commitment to peace as much as it is a commitment to victory.

Meanwhile, in Crimea (remember that place that Moscow conquered and which seems forgotten in the effort to contain Russia's eastern Ukraine aggression?):

The first summer season in Crimea under the Russian flag has been a disappointment, local business owners complain, blaming fighting in eastern Ukraine for their troubles.

The Crimean peninsula was once the pearl of Soviet vacation spots, with hotels and spas dotting towns along the Black Sea coast.

The Ukrainians should probably make lots of high-speed sonic-boom-creating fighter flights as close to those beaches as international law requires in order to disrupt future tourism.

And maybe naval live-firing exercises at dawn.

As an aside, the first article notes that Ukraine's paratrooper brigade is fighting in the east. I've long seen pictures of airborne armored vehicles in action, so I knew they were fighting (I assume from other pictures that a mechanized brigade is fighting, too, plus the newly mobilized National Guard troops).

Early in the crisis, that paratrooper brigade was reported as "disbanded" because it failed in early efforts to reassert government control by surrendering weapons and vehicles to the secessionists. Clearly, as such things usually are, it was a leadership issue and the brigade is clearly a major unit in the east with better (new?) leadership.

UPDATE: Feel the deep love of peace coming from Moscow:

The Russian military has moved artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces, NATO officials said on Friday.

The West has long accused Russia of supporting the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, but this is the first time it has said it had evidence that the Russian military was operating in Ukrainian territory.

The Russians are surely being aggressive jerks. But you have to admire their commitment to achieving victory in the face of adversity (see Syria). You'll hear no talk of "responsibly ending" the Ukraine War from Putin.

The Ukrainians are fighting and dying to defeat Putin's aggression. We should help them rebuild their military and provide intelligence.

I don't think Ukraine needs large weapons from us--not in the short run. Hopefully, we are helping the Poles and Romanians ship in surplus Russian parts and whatnot to put Ukraine's weapons back into service. That's the best way to improve Ukraine's military arsenal in the short run.

And I'll say again, Russia still holds Crimea. If Russian escalation does not halt and if Ukraine's offensive to reclaim eastern Ukraine is stalled by Russia's escalation, Ukraine should consider using what they have to bombard Russia's Sevastopol naval base. Ukraine has planes, missiles, and warships (mine laying would be nice). Maybe they should be used.