Friday, December 22, 2017

Is Russia Having Fun Yet?

If Russia really is able to divert resources from the fight in Syria, Ukraine could be in for renewed Russian assaults. While it would be good to keep Russia busy in Syria, helping Ukraine more to resist the Russians would be a good idea. That will happen.


The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the administration approved the sale of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems and associated equipment to the country at a value of $41.5 million. The administration has not yet moved to approve heavier arms requested by Ukraine's government, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The idea expressed in the article that it is "provocative" to arm Ukraine rather than the right thing to do to repel an invasion by one member of the sainted international community of another founding member of the United Nations is mind boggling.

The .50 caliber sniper rifle useful for both antipersonnel and anti-material shots at long ranges is a small sale. But it will help with the static fighting in the Donbas.

And it is a start that is a warning to Russia that more will come if they don't negotiate in good faith.

The infantry anti-tank missiles would help if Russia escalates to mobile warfare.

And I'll say again as I have from the beginning that arms sales to Ukraine should be to fill gaps in combat and support capabilities to knit together what Ukraine has, and not for new major weapons systems.

I've argued that Ukraine has plenty of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery. Help putting it in the field and updating it is useful, but new weapons alien to their military and logistics system is pointless and a long-range project that won't help on the battlefield any time soon.

Combat aircraft are pointless, really, in the near term, given Russian superiority in aircraft and air defenses.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the provocative action. Stopping Russia is the right thing to do under both international law and simple decency.

And we might get more war in Ukraine as Russia declares their war in Syria over (it isn't over, but it could be a lull to switch resources to Ukraine):

On Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said it was recalling officers serving at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian side of obstructing their work and limiting access to the front line.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak and security chief Olekshandr Turchynov said the decision, coupled with a recent surge in fighting in the eastern Donbass region, suggested Russia had switched to a more offensive strategy.

And really, as long as Russia wants to deny they have invaded Ukraine, how is supplying weapons to Ukraine something that should upset Russia one bit?

Although Ukraine may yet be their own worst enemy in this struggle. Some problems can't be killed so easily.

UPDATE: Just ... wow:

The U.S. decision to supply weapons to Ukraine is dangerous as it will encourage Kiev to use force in eastern Ukraine, Russian officials said on Saturday.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and continues to fight in Ukraine. Their record includes shooting down a civilian airliner with huge loss of life.

Yet because Russia denies that they invaded and occupied portions of Ukraine, in their mind it is completely consistent to say that arms for Ukraine are the problem of prolonging the fighting.

No. Arms for Ukraine help them fight the Russian invaders. We have no obligation to go along with Russia's fiction.

Or did American arms and supplies sent to the USSR from 1942 to 1945 just encourage the Soviets to use force in eastern Ukraine (and other parts of the former Soviet Union) against the Nazi invaders?

More body bags containing not-Russian soldiers need to go back to Russia before the Russians will get out of the Donbas. Russian-occupied Crimea is a separate matter, of course.