Vladimir Putin from his course of rebuilding the geographical extent of the old Soviet Empire, Ukraine finally had enough of giving peace a chance, and yesterday began to use its military and pro-Ukrainian militias to attack Russian invaders in East Ukraine.
One immediate result of this punch in Putin’s nose, other than dead Russians, is the Russian leader’s sudden interest in releasing the OSCE delegation, a team of West European observers (including NATO officers), who had been captured and detained by “pro-Russian separatists”, or that is Russian special ops forces dressed up as pro-Russian Ukrainians.
One explanation of Ukraine's decision to finally try military force against the Russian invaders, who have captured many towns and facilities in Eastern Ukraine with relatively small numbers of infiltration troops, was contained in a New York Times report on Friday, confirming what most Ukrainians well understood was the case: the US-sponsored sanctions against Russia were having no effect on stopping the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While Putin has not yet used his large military force on Ukraine’s eastern border to launch a conventional invasion of Russia’s former territory, he has employed numerous small teams of Russian special ops troops, in concert with gangs of alleged pro-Russian separatist Ukrainians, to achieve a fairly bloodless but effective takeover of much of Eastern Ukraine.
The New York Times report noted (explaining the surprising news that Russian financial markets were actually now improving over their condition a few months ago):
“By the time Mr. Obama imposed his first sanctions on March 17, the fall of the ruble and markets had stabilized. The ruble, trading at 36.57 to the dollar before the sanctions, improved to 35.64 to the dollar on Thursday. The Micex stock market index closed at 1,237.43 the Friday before the first sanctions and was up to 1,306.01 on Thursday.”
Accepting that Obama's sanctions were not working (certainly not in any reasonable short term), and deciding that death by a thousand little Russian takeovers was unacceptable, the Ukrainians decided to use the ancient and violent solution to rid itself of the Russian invader.
However, now the question is whether or not this Ukrainian counteroffensive is actually part of the Russian plan? If Putin was biding his time, waiting for just such an attack by the Ukrainians to enable him to claim a provocation (that the pro-Russian separatists' rights are being violated), Putin could act in short order to send a much larger invasion to bolster his special ops teams in Eastern Ukraine.
And if that happens, among other very bad outcomes for many of the players, Barack Obama is going to be facing the fact and the criticism that his assessment of the Ukrainian situation, and what was required to stop Russian aggression, was just dead wrong.
As for now, the Ukrainian military and pro-Ukrainian militias can claim one small but significant victory, with the West European team’s release. What the next hours and days will bring is open to speculation, but the situation certainly seems to be completely out of any control or influence of the United States or NATO at this point.
Acknowledging their uselessness, on Friday President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who doesn't exactly trust Obama all that much anyway), issued a joint declaration, promising to seek even harsher sanctions (than the ones presently accomplishing nothing) to stop Putin from achieving his evil scheme of getting back all that territory Russia never accepted losing.
Part of their joint statement:
"We're united in our support for Ukraine, including the very important IMF programme approved this week to help Ukraine stabilise and reform its economy."The Ukrainians no doubt appreciate any support they can get on that count, but at this point, unless they can stabilize their eastern front, Ukrainians will not have any economy (they control) to stabilize for much longer. Yet, Obama has ridiculed calls to send arms and to provide training to Ukrainian soldiers, saying that won't stop the Russian army. At this point, it seems neither will Obama's little sanctions.