Putin’s Pushback: The one-two punch

The news media covers the world 24/7. Sure, cable news has been saturated with Hurricane Ian for good reason. The destroyed homes, boats, roads and bridges both in the Florida and Cuba resembles war. But, rescue and recovery efforts are beginning right now.

There’s been some excellent reporting and commentary on the referendums which I call Putin’s one-two punch. Putin is attempting to legitimize the invasion by holding sham referendums as reported by CNBC news:

“The referendums, widely described as a “sham” by the international community, are seen as having created a pretext for Russia to annex the occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south and pro-Russian, separatist “republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The regions amount to around 15% of Ukraine’s territory.”

Putin’s one-two punch is designed to legitimize an invasion. From the beginning, Putin claimed Ukraine belonged to Russia. By holding these fake referendums, he will claim that the people of the region have decided to be part of Russia. So, Punch 1, The formal annexation and recognition of new boundaries of Russia that includes these regions. Punch 2: Putin will claim it is being attacked by NATO, as it arms Ukrainian fighters to invade Russia. It is all nonsense, but the lies are consistent.

See CNBC link: Fake referendums in occupied Ukraine set the stage for annexation — and immense danger for Ukraine

Please see the map in this link. The annexation redraws the eastern boundary of Ukraine all the way from Luhansk to Crimea. Of course, what Putin wants in Russia, Putin gets, so the legislature will rapidly approve of annexation. With the 1-2 Punch, the invaders become the victims of invasion. Poor mother Russia.

Nobody outside of Russia is really fooled. But Putin’s threat of introducing nuclear weapons is super-scary. The CNN post, provided below, is excellent, as it calls “Putin’s new land grab” a very dangerous step, in changing Russian borders, to suit Putin. I don’t like Congress to run foreign policy, but in this case I support the Graham-Blumenthal draft resolution, to cut off relations with any country which recognizes the annexed territories.

See CNN link: Putin’s new land grab is dangerous for Ukraine – and the world

Who would support annexation? North Korea, Chechnya and Belarus are likely. Iran? I just don’t think so. Syria – maybe. Just countries whose autocratic leaders have demonized the “Western Powers” as they loot and ruin their own countries.

Putin has done this before, to turn his invading army into simply protecting Russian nationals. Crimea and Chechnya are excellent examples. It is a tactic Hitler used in early stages of World War II, claiming his invading army was actually liberating the neighboring countries from oppressive regimes and protecting German citizens who lived there. So Putin is pulling out a tactic from Hitler’s playbook. Austria was the first country to be annexed by force in 1938, and it took seven years and millions of lives lost for it to regain its sovereignty.

This is far more than I intended to write. I wish I could say how all this ends, but every day, there are immense positives and negatives. I use the metaphor, 1-2 punch from boxing, because it is supposed to knock someone out quickly. Not going to happen in this case. Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion has been phenomenal. All I can say, at this point, no quick end is in sight.

Please read the excellent two articles.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Putin’s Plan

There’s some very scary stuff out there. Some of this is relatively new. It is not Communism, nor Fascism, but autocracies without regard to international order and expansionary ambitions. Add in nuclear capabilities, and Russia poses a grave threat.

The Wagner Group is Putin’s secret weapon, and operates very much like a terrorist organization. More specifically, the Group looks like ISIS, which profits from captured territory and uses brutality as their weapon. In my last post, The Wagner Group was hired by the existing Central African Republic to bring the diamond mines under government control, but soon the Group was collaborating with the rebel groups to also profit from the diamond industry. So, putting the fox to guard the chicken pen, and you’ll end up without many chickens.

What goes around, comes around. That’s my first axiom. Chechnya might have seem a far off conflict in 2007 when Putin’s puppet was installed, by the name of Ramon Kadyron, in the Caucasian region, but the invasion of Ukraine, first in Crimea in 2014, then full scale invasion into Donbas in 2022 made crystal clear Putin’s game plan. Of course, prior to this, Putin had vastly increased the military strength of Russia, and their involvement in Syria was kind of a testing ground for further military interventions.

What threatens autocracies is basic civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and speech. The military is used to suppress freedoms. The judiciary system loses its independence. Belarus under President Lukashenko is a perfect example of a country in decline, due to the autocratic government. Putin had easy access to Ukraine through Belarus.

Putin’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) is another threat, and it is no question that they will use cyberattacks against its enemies, including the US and our western allies. Russia interfered in our elections in 2016, and they will do it again. It wasn’t headline news, but the “Rewards for Justice” program offer of 10 million dollars for information on Russia’s interference, as posted on July 28, 2022, is a very serious effort to deepen our understanding of this threat to us and our allies.

See link: Rewards for Justice

Next axiom. The problems with Putin are long term, and awareness instead of denial, is necessary. Also, I’ll add Biden’s axiom, which is when Russia and the US are on the same battlefield, you have World War III. I give Biden high marks on finally pulling out of Afghanistan and finding ways to keep Ukraine supplied with arms without putting boots on the ground.

During the campaign, Trump loudly proclaim that he would withdraw from Afghanistan and never did. He knew how terrible it was going to look, for the US to lose a war.

In February 2022, Russia was going to blitzkrieg Kyiv through a column of tanks entering through the northern front in Belarus. This fell apart.

I don’t know where or when the next large scale advance of Putin’s expansionary plans will be. Part of his strategy is to rebuild the Russian Federation, but it is not easily done. Belarus and Chechnya toe the line with Putin, to avoid invasion. Finland and Norway are now likely to be admitted to NATO. I congratulate Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as able to persuade Turkey not to block their admission.

Russia will continue to look at weaker or less stable countries in Africa, such as Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, Madagascar and Libya as opportunities to intervene. These are also countries ripe for terrorists organizations. Certainly, Libya could easily be the next Syrian style proxy war involving both the US and Russia. Military forces from the US and France are assisting Niger from the threat of terrorist group, Boko Haram, which now affects Nigeria.

Keeping Ukraine alive is expensive. From Wikipedia, “On 28 April 2022, US President Joe Biden asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to assist Ukraine, including $20 billion to provide weapons to Ukraine. On 5 May, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that Ukraine had received more than $12 billion worth of weapons and financial aid from Western countries since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February. On 21 May 2022, the United States passed legislation providing $40 billion in new military and humanitarian foreign aid to Ukraine, marking a historically large commitment of funds.”

Putin’s push requires push back, and there is not better way right now, than by helping to defend Ukraine sovereignty. All Democrat senators voted to support aid to Ukraine. Per CNN:

“Eleven Republican senators voted against final passage of the bill: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.” Aid to Ukraine has become political.

Link: CNN Senate votes to pass $40 billion aid to Ukraine,

Putin’s aggressive intervention policies must be met with resistance with a coordinated response from the US and our allies. It should never become political. I strongly support all the economic sanctions levied against Russia. The US and our European allies must do everything possible to strengthen emerging democracies around the world. Every Democrat in the Senate recognized the importance of Ukraine, and seem to have a better international perspective of the dangers of Putin. So, for my part, I’m supporting Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Stay tuned,

Dave