Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Five Degrees of Kevin Bacon

The refusal of NATO to step up doesn't prevent individual states from doing something and doesn't stop Ukraine from trying to ease NATO into their fight:

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the agreement on the creation of a joint military brigade, which will include Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian military forces.

Ukraine is expected to provide the joint brigade with 545 soldiers, as stated by Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mekhed. Poland and Lithuania will send 3500 and 350 soldiers, respectively.

Poland and Lithuania have not yet ratified the agreement.

Poland and Lithuania have an interest in keeping Russia at least a country away (excepting Kaliningrad, of course) while Ukraine wouldn't cry if Polish help led Russia to hit Poland and trigger NATO involvement to defend Poland.

And countries that don't have the luxury of seeing Ukraine as merely one of many buffers that Putin would have to batter down before they have to worry about Russia are viewing the option of arming Ukraine as better than counting on Putin's reasonableness at the negotiating table:

In great need of modern military equipment to fight the Russian invasion the Ukrainian government turning to its neighbors, especially those who fear they may be next on Russia’s list for reincorporation into the rebuilt Russian Empire. Poland is the best source because it has the most varied and robust defense manufacturing industry. Western countries refuse to supply Ukraine with weapons because most Western leaders believe it would make no difference against the Russian invasion and would make the Russians angry and even more dangerous. Ukraine’s immediate neighbors, who have also experienced long periods of Russian rule disagree with the Western attitude and are now offering to supply Ukraine.

The longer this drags on, the more chance of that NATO entanglement scenario playing out. I'd rather try to help Ukraine to win--or be too hard a target to further defeat--in order to end this sooner, but Western leaders seem more interested in quickly ratifying a Russian victory over Ukraine that will sate Putin's appetite.

UPDATE: And getting close to Kevin is even better:

The U.S. military plans in March to start training Ukrainian soldiers who are battling Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, a top U.S. military commander in Europe said Wednesday.

U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said a battalion of U.S. soldiers would train three battalions of Ukrainians from the Interior Ministry at the Yavariv training center in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Our troops are from the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade.

They will be training Interior Ministry para-military units, which I assume is being done so as not to be as "provocative." Whatever. These Ukrainian troops are light infantry type forces and are useful for fighting the Russians in Donbas.

Hodges rightly calls Putin's hand puppet secessionists his "proxies" rather than being actual actual local separatists.