Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Preparing to Deter the Next Invasion

Ukraine needs a stronger military and stronger economy to resist Russian pressure and aggression. Iraq certainly shows that a corrupt country undermines military effectiveness.

Ukraine will purge themselves of pro-Russian elements which did so much to undermine Ukraine's military:

Ukraine's president approved legislation Thursday to purge government bodies of officials linked to the rule of the country's previous leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

The law is aimed at restoring public trust in authorities and building "a new system of government in line with European standards," President Petro Poroshenko's office said in a statement.

People may be banned from government jobs for 5-10 years. As long as this isn't too heavy handed, this is absolutely necessary to promote rule of law. And it was done in other former Soviet satellites in the past.

Further, if it is accompanied by efforts to bring in Russian speakers and ethnic Russians who weren't part of the corrupt government bureaucracy, getting rid of the worst of the people who did help Russia undermine Ukraine and could again is a good thing.

In another effort to promote rule of law, Ukraine is also working to combat corruption in the judiciary:

Separate legislation, awaiting approval, includes will obligated judges and law enforcement officials to declare their financial holdings, and will create an anti-corruption agency charged with investigating any extravagant lifestyles of government officials.

Promote rule of law and Western investment will flow to Ukraine. With Russia losing that investment, Ukraine has an opportunity to soak up that money with no place to go.

With a stronger economy, Ukraine can better resist Russian pressure by being able to afford alternate energy sources and by making their standard of living better than Russia's--reducing that Russian appeal to join Russia.

Ukraine needs help to rebuild their military, too. We should do that.

Our mantra in this age seems to be that others must provide the ground force rather than us. When Ukraine is willing and able to be a ground force to defend themselves, why won't we help them now before it is too late? Look at the difficulty we are having in Iraq and Syria getting that local ground force!

Much of the heavy weapons for Ukraine should be Russian-designed stuff--our new NATO allies who are switching over have that to sell if Ukraine needs more--to fit their arsenal. Remember, more than thirty years after Camp David, Egypt is still shifting their arsenal from Soviet to American weapons. Ukraine doesn't need that kind of churn.

Modernize the Russian stuff with Western components, but leave the platforms in place. We can help with training, command and control, and weapons for niche military capabilities they don't have. Once we've maxed out on that route (and once Ukraine is more prosperous), we can think about providing Western weapons to replace Russian-made equipment.

With Russia's proxies still fighting despite the ceasefire in Donbas, the Twilight Struggle is already beginning. Ukraine needs to win this before Russia feels strong enough to make a lunge for Kiev.

UPDATE: Ukraine is, on the surface, determined to be better prepared to fight Russia:

Ukraine's new defence minister vowed on Tuesday to build an army capable of withstanding Russia as sparks flew ahead of talks between Moscow and Washington over their worst standoff since the Cold War.

The high-stakes diplomacy comes after renewed bloodshed despite a tenuous truce, with indiscriminate shelling killing seven people in a funeral procession in the disputed southeastern port of Mariupol.

A sense of public disbelief and fury at the mounting death toll and the humiliating performance of Ukraine's once-proud armed forces has set the backdrop of a crucial general election at the end of the month.

Really, Ukraine should only be disappointed in their response to the subliminal invasion of Crimea. Ukraine put in a decent fight against the local and Russian irregulars in the Donbas region, failing only when the Russians committed larger numbers of conventional forces to the fight.

And as I've written before, Ukraine could not risk pushing too much of their regular forces into the east lest they be cut off by a big Russian escalation that could catch such a deployed Ukrainian force in a pincer.

But by all means, prepare to defeat Russian forces in the east--or at least kill lots of Russians in a losing battle. That could deter a war that Ukraine might lose.