1) “Russia about to launch offensive in Southern Ukraine and stage false flag attacks,” RLI (Robert Lansing Institute),
April 12, 2021
2) Vilma Gryzinski, “Putin vai invadir a Ucrânia? Não, mas quer parecer que o fará; Brincar de gato e rato é uma especialidade aperfeiçoada pelo líder russo e a concentração ostensiva de tropas é uma arma desse arsenal, Veja, 12 de abril 2021 (08h12).
3) Evelyn N. Farkas, “Putin is testing Biden on Ukraine. Here’s what will keep him in check; New U.S. sanctions are coming, and they are a good start,” Washington Post, April 11, 2012 9:00 a.m. EDT).
The Robert Lansing Institute article paints quite a plausible scenario for a Russian invasion of the Ukraine which has the objective of securing Ukrainian territory on the north shore of the Black Sea, linking the Donbas territory controlled by Russian supported and imposed “separatists”. This would create the long-desired “land-bridge” from Russia proper to the Crimea.
The RLI writes;
Russia is about to launch an offensive in Southern Ukraine. The strike is quite possible to be delivered from the annexed Crimea’s side and the breakaway territories of Donbas, in an effort to join them with Crimea, to get access to fresh water to meet the peninsula’s needs, and to have an overland link from Russia to Crimea along the northern coast of the Black Sea.
We believe the offensive is likely to be launched during the Easter celebrations by the Orthodox Church.
The Kremlin is now about to shape a pretext for an invasion. Russia is likely to use the scenario tried out in Georgia in 2008: a false flag attack that would offer a prelude for a total Russian invasion for a limited time, with aircraft and precision-guided weapon. There are several scenarios likely to trigger stepping-up and head-on military clash (the most probable to start with):
1. Religious strives stirred up by Russia’s SOF sabotage groups (to murder a representative of the Russian church in Ukraine, to commit terrorist attack at a religious facility).
2. Violence against a representative of the Russian-associated community or organization in Southern Ukraine.
3. Shelling simulation from Ukraine’s side targeting infrastructure facilities in Crimea.
Russia has built up military forces along Ukraine’s border together with a stream of disinformation by the Kremlin. Meanwhile, information and psy ops GRU experts who had taken part in war efforts in Donbas, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh arrived in Donbas. It means the war is quite possible to start.
Over the strategic and long term, the Kremlin advocates total control to be set up over the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, including Mariupol, Odesa and Berdyansk. But now, Moscow’s task is to strike and seize the water canal that connects the Dnipro and Crimea. That will give Russia a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, through the occupied areas of Donbas.
The United States does not appear to be taking the threat of a Russian invasion seriously, in a manner reminiscent of the prelude to the Russian invasion of the Crimea in February 2014.
Vilma Gryzinski, in her opinion piece in Veja on Monday, April 12, points out that Biden was in charge of the United States’ disastrous policy toward Russia and Ukraine in 2014. She writes:
“Quando era vice de Barack Obama, Biden foi encarregado do caso Ucrânia, seguindo a política altamente cautelosa – alguns diriam até quase indiferente – do presidente no poder.
English (translation by author):
“When he was Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was in charge of the Ukrainian case, following an extremely cautious policy–some would say even almost indifferent–of the president in power.”
The U.S. and NATO need to give the current Russian threat to invade the Ukraine the highest priority.
Leading newspapers–particularly in the U.S.–need to give this matter salient, daily, above the fold front-page coverage, instead of the “catch-up journalism” they have been practicing, with one good story every 7-10 days.
Isabelle Khurshudyan, David L. Stern, Loveday Morris and
John Hudson, “On Ukraine’s doorstep, Russia boosts military and sends message of regional clout to Biden,” Wasington Post, April 10, 2021 (4:00 a.m. EDT).
What can be done to compensate for Biden’s weak leadership on this question to date, and in the past, is anyone’s guess.
From 2009-2013, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden. From 2013-2015 he served as Deputy National Security Advisor. He was at the center of decision-making in Obama’s weak responses to Russian threats against Ukraine in 2014. According to Wikipedia, “Blinken was influential in formulating the Obama administration’s response to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.”
So far, Blinken has responded to Putin’s threats by saying that Russia would suffer “consequences” and pay costs if it invades Ukraine, and by making plans to travel to Brussels to consult with allies on the Ukraine question.
Something greater is needed. Democratic Senators should call on President Biden to strengthen his foreign policy team charged with responding to Russia’s threats against the Ukraine.
This is a hot crisis. Biden needs to take strong deterrent actions, and to do so immediately. One such action would be to state that, if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. will work to expel them from the SWIFT international payments system, and will with the EU impose new and heavier sectoral (sectorial) sanctions on Russia.
Evelyn Farkas, in the article cited aboves, argues that the threat of strong economic sections could dissuade Putin from invading Ukraine. She writes:
Sanctions so far have been targeted and gradual, wary of harming the Russian people and Western business interests. Yet cutting off access to new capital for Russian state-owned funds and entities — or even more extreme, blocking Russia from using SWIFT, an international banking system used to transfer money among about 200 countries — would immediately cause economic and political distress to Putin and his cronies. Just threatening to do so would probably cause Putin to stay his hand in Ukraine.
Biden faces hus first acute international crisis in the Ukraine.
It is critical, not just for Ukraine but also for his foreign policy in general–including Afghanistan, China and The South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan–that he react forcefully to Putin’s threats.
Putin thinks he knows Biden, as someone who is weak in the face of threats, particularly military threats. It is critically important that Biden correct Putin’s assessment of him–at the earliest possible moment.