Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Looming Anniversary Passes

 Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union.  I previously posted here about this looming anniversary, arguing that the large troop buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border along with the many strong demands being made by V.V. Putin of various parties reflected his high awareness of this looking anniversary, which has been only barely mentioned or noticed in the western media.  

As it is, the anniversary passed without an invasion. Not only that there are reports from such sources as NPR, France 24, The Hill, and some other sources, although not yet such places as the NY Times or the Washington Post, that Putin has ordered a withdrawal of something like 10,000 of those troops out of about 104,000 reportedly there. This certainly still leaves a large enough contingent to carry out a serious invasion, if he wished, and certainly to continue threatening one.  However, these same reports say that after an especially tense time this past Wednesday, Dec. 22, which included phone calls with German Chancellor Scholze and President Biden, Putin gave an end of year speech the following day that while still issuing various threats and demands, also indicated that there may be diplomatic discussions about all this in early January. It looks like a very dangerous moment has passed without a major war breaking out.

I get the earliest edition of WaPo, and today's said nothing about any of this, including even Putin's speech three days ago, and certainly nothing about the anniversary that just passed. It had two stories on Ukraine and Russia.  One was about how a war could easily happen navally in the Sea of Azov, where borders are ill-defined with both nations having ports on it, but Russia dominating it, and Ukraine basically having no navy.  The story recounted numerous incidents initiated by Russian naval vessels against various Ukrainian ships, most of them commercial vessels.

The other was about internal Ukrainian politics, particularly about how Ukrainian President Zelensky is apparently going after some oligarchs, something the article admitted is popular there.  But the tone of the article was basically that he is nuts to be doing this in the face of a possible Russian invasion. No mention of any pullbacks or warming by Putin. The story recounted as something quite astounding that apparently in Kyiv nobody is all that worried about a Russian invasion, something I noted in my earlier post. It may be these people are foolish, but so far it is looking like their lack of fear of an impending invasion seems justified.  I hope that continues to be the case, whatever else happens there.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

An invasion would be monumentally stupid. At the least there would be more blowback (sanctions) from the West, and the Russian economy is far from strong enough to bear yet more. It would hurt relations with China and make Central Asian countries more nervous; relations with Kazakhstan are far from perfect at the moment as well. An invasion would strain the economy, likely lead to some protests. And the Ukrainian army might not win a conflict, but they would give the Red Army a black eye. New leaders in the USA and Germany might have led Putin to test them, but he is increasingly out of touch and so backed himself into a corner. And from what I can gather (polls here and there, to the extent they can be believed; personal contacts), there is no stomach for war. The "patriotism" of 2014 has worn off.

The real question is: what is going on in #1's brain? He seems to be playing an increasingly desperate game. The real reforms Russia needs would cut into the corruption and patronage politics Putin has built his power upon. The FSB is turning up the repression, likely as much on their own as from Putin's orders.

Anonymous said...

and thanks for getting the Post - i once worked near the post hq and would see reporters and columnists from time to time inc. karen tumulty and dan balz. not quite movie stars but i thought it was cool.

interesting we opened china as a counterweight to soviet union and now they are closer together. ukraine is not Chechnya and and crimera was not defendable so i think this is all a bluff...hopefully so but he will continue to work the gray zone.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you. May Marina be well. said...

Thanks, Anonymous.