Despite calls to observe the notional ceasefire, Russia appears to be ready to renew the war against Ukraine:
But there are signs of both sides going back to a war footing: Kyiv is on high alert and has deployed special-forces units and battle-hardened battalions to the front, while Russia has reportedly amassed large amounts of military hardware in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula it seized from Ukraine in March 2014.
Ominously, there are reports of Russia's activity in Crimea. A move out of Crimea either overland or with airborne or naval infantry would imply an escalation beyond the incomplete Russian conquest of the Donbas region in the east.
When Russia announced their "withdrawal" from Syria (which was just a reduction of forces by a bit) earlier this year, I wondered if Russia wanted to refocus on Ukraine. Their limited military really would have trouble with multiple fronts given that most of their military is not in top shape.
Perhaps they are focusing on Ukraine now.
All the more reason we should be working to help Ukraine kill more Russian soldiers who have invaded Ukraine and to complicate rather then help Russia's intervention on behalf of Assad in Syria.
If Putin wants to exploit our election period to make gains on the ground (and make a traditional attack timed to coincide with the Olympics games), this would make an interesting test to see if Trump can move beyond his pro-Russian advisors and to see if Clinton can refuse to grant Putin "flexibility" lest more emails be released.
UPDATE: Uh oh, Russia may be manufacturing a pretext for renewed war:
President Vladimir Putin says he'll beef up Russia's military force in Crimea, after Russia's security service claimed that it thwarted a would-be terrorist incursion from Ukraine over the weekend.
The Federal Security Service, the FSB, said that teams of commandos from Ukraine's defense forces made two attempts to enter the Black Sea peninsula, with the intention of sabotaging vital infrastructure. The FSB said Ukrainian forces attempted to cover the infiltration by directing heavy fire at the Russian side, killing two Russian servicemen.
Ukraine denies the charge and our ambassador to Ukraine says there is no evidence of such an attack.
And even Ukraine did try to sabotage military or other valid targets, what's wrong with that? Russia took Crimea from Ukraine! Surely it isn't illegal to try to fight back, is it?
I hope Ukraine is ready with naval mines to plant outside of Crimean naval bases; and has long-range artillery and missiles to bombard the Sevastopol naval and air bases.
If Russia restarts the war to make it a war of movement again, Ukraine needs to increase the cost to Russia by breaking Russian things and killing Russian troops.
Tip to Instapundit.
UPDATE: If Russia is looking to make gains in Ukraine, we should be especially be wary of making deals with Russia over Syria that makes their situation easier:
Russia is eager to make whatever deals it can to win the war in Syria and get out. Many American military leaders and intelligence officials are warning the U.S. government that closely cooperating with the Russians will not end well for the United States and the West because the Russian goal is keeping the Assad government in power. That is not and never will be popular in the United States, not as long as Iran’s official policy is “death to America and Israel.” But American leaders are attracted to the idea that cooperation with Russia and Iran in Syria would do more to destroy ISIL than any other strategy.
We might ease Russia's problems rather than make them worse under the odd notion that we need Russia to defeat ISIL? Good grief.
We are more than strong enough to defeat ISIL without siding with Assad to help him survive this civil war. It drives me nuts that some in our government are thinking of making that kind of trade.
As if Russia could be trusted to fight ISIL after pocketing the Assad concession, anyway, if it was a good deal.
And don't think that Assad will be suddenly grateful to America if we side with him at this late date.
When you strike a king, kill him, as the saying goes--not strike him and then offer a hand, saying "let's not bicker and argue over who killed who!"