Ukraine–A new Cuban Missile Crisis between two nuclear superpowers?

For balanced insight into the Russian perspective on Ukraine, see,

Leonid Ragozin, “Russia’s Ukraine manoeuvres are a response, not a provocation; The Ukrainian government’s push for NATO membership could provoke a dangerous escalation of the Ukrainian conflict,” Al Jazeera, April 13, 2021

Leonid Ragozin is a freelance journalist based in Riga.

Whatever Putin’s motivations may be for a massive military mobilization on and near the Russian border with Ukraine, he has committed the grave foreign policy offense of credibly threatening to invade a sovereign European country. Whether or not Russia invades, Putin and Russia should be punished for these actions.

The U.N. Charter in Article 2 paragraph 4 probits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence” of any state. The architects of the Charter knew that the architecture for the maintenance of international peace and security they were building required the prohibition not only of the use but also of the threat of the use of force. This fact must be born in mind as the nations of the world continue their project of building international law and institutions that can be used by nations to preserve the peace.

So, will Russia invade Ukraine? More importantly, what is the U.S. and the West doing to dissuade Putin from invading the Ukraine?

The decision to send more American troops to Germany was a good move, demonstrating American resolve. The decision not to send two warships to the Black Sea, after having notified Turkey of their passage through the Bosphorous, gave the appearance of weakness, not resolve. Biden’s request for a meeting with Putin simikarly suggested weakness and a lack of resolve. Biden’s announcement, AT THIS MOMENT, that U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11–SEPTEMBER 11 appeared to send a message of surrender and defeat.

Biden’s announcement of minimal sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2020 elections, and for Russia’s massive cyber attack known as “Solar Winds” on U.S. cyber infrastructure, suggest to this observer, and probably Putin, that U.S. reaction to these aggressions is not very serious or costly.

For an insightful view of the current situation and the big picture, which includes the oossibility tgat Russia and the U.S. could end up in a face-off similar to that in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, see

Torsten Krauel (Chefkommentator / Meinung), “Eine neue Kuba-Krise droht – an der Ostgrenze der EU,” Die Welt, den 15. April 2021.

This is a dangerous situation. If Putin invades Ukraine and doesn’t face resistance or crippling sanctions, China could be emboldened to invade Taiwan.

James Rowles

War looms over Ukraine; Biden’s apathetic reaction


Raven Saint and Will Stewart, “‘Ready for conflict’: Putin’s threat to the West is laid bare in new footage showing build-up of troops and military convoys on Ukraine’s border as Kiev warns it could be provoked by Russian ‘aggression’; New footage claims to show inside of Russia’s massive deployment on border; Ukraine estimates there are now a staggering 85,000 Russian troops in the area; There have been mounting tensions in the country’s eastern Donbas Andrii Taran, Ukraine’s defence minister, issued a statement earlier today; US is to dispatch two warships to sail through the Bosphorus on April 14 and 15; Washington continuing to fly reconnaissance planes to monitor Russian activity; But it comes as Russia claims to have intercepted an American RC-135 spy plane,” The Daily Mail (Mail Online), April 10, 2021 (05:27 EDT, updated 10:02 EDT).

As leading American newspapers are asleep at the wheel, on a slow Saturday afternoon, Vladimir Putin and Russia are mobilizing for war against the Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Defense Minister, some 85,000 Russian troops have been moved to within striking distance of the border. U.S. officials are quoted in recent news reports as speculating about what Vladimir Putin’s intentions might be.

The reports are silent about what, if anything, the United States and NATO are doing to affect Putin’s calculations and intentions.

To be sure, the U.S. has given Turkey notice that it intends to move two warships into the Black Sea, in accordance with the notification requirements of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which regulates such movements. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken plans to travel to Europe next week to consult with allies on the developing Ukraine crisis. Oh, and the U.S. is continuing to monitor Russian troop movements through aerial surveillance.

America is sending two warships into the Black Sea. I’m sure that has Putin, probably ensconced in his palace in Sochi, quaking in his boots.

This is a sad spectacle to observe. Joe Biden’s foreign policy team and Secretary of State Blinken continue to not impress. One has the impression that Joe Biden intends to follow the disastrous foreign policy of Barack Obama, which witnessed the Russian invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea in February and March 2014, and the Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine beginning in April 2014, culminating in the movement of regular Russian troops into the Donbas in August 2014.

Obama subordinated important foreign policy objectives, e.g., in Syria, to the goal of reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran.

He reached an agreement with Iran, but failed to secure the bipartisan political support needed to sustain it. Biden would be foolish if he continued this approach. A resumption of the agreement with Iran should not be hard to secure. Biden need do Putin no favors to secure this objective.

Putin was stopped, not by anything Obama and the U.S. did, but rather by the European Union which imposed serious economic sanctions on Russia on September 5, 2014, and reached a standstill agreement with Putin in the Minsk I Agreement signed on September 14, 2014. Obama, for his part, was paralyzed and caught up in an internal American debate over whether the U.S. should provide Ukraine with “lethal” military assistance.

After the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea, the U.S. and the EU placed very light “sanctions” on Russia, in what amounted to a slap on the risk for invading a European country.

Undoubtedly, this slap on the wrist only emboldened Putin, who proceeded with his invasion of the eastern Ukraine with both irregular and regular forces.

The situation today is similar to that which existed in the Ukraine in February 2014, prior to the Russian invasion of the Crimea at the end of the month. Russian troops were massing on the frontier.

And then they moved.

In the background, Putin can see Biden’s lack of resolve in failing to reverse Donald Trump’s disastrous surrender policy in Afghanistan, embodied in the February 29, 2020 Doha agreement with the Taliban. Biden has not even replaced Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump’s ambassador in charge of negotiating the “cut and run” surrender agreement with the Taliban.

Putin can see America and NATO are willing to accept defeat in Afghanistan.

He may also be emboldened by the Russian-Chinese agreement to jointly oppose the West, quickly concluded after Buden’s statement on national television that Putin was “a killer”, and after Bkinken’s confrontational ministerial-level meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, and their respective delegations, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Moreover, Putin is facing no strong deterrent pressure from NATO and the U.S., who have not even bothered to rebut the fallacions legal arguments Russian officials have advanced as potential justifications for an invasion of the Eastern Ukraine.

War is in the air. America and Europe are asleep, paralyzed, and in the absence of strong leadership don’t know what to do.

In these circumstances, and barring resolute deterrent actions by the U.S., the EU, and NATO, it appears likely that Russia will send military units into the Donbas, and perhaps beyond.

An obvious strategic objective for Russia would be to seize the territory between the Donbas and the Crimea,including the port of Mariupol, in order to form a “land bridge” from the Russian mainland to the Crimea.

It is time for Biden to bring in some real heavyweights, the best in the country, to assist his current team in managing U.S. foreign policy towards Russia, and the world. The current team, alone, is clearly not up to the task.

James Rowles