The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and brinkmanship.
Ukraine battles militants, Russia demands cash for gas: The hijinks continue. I am very curious to see what happens in the Elections on 25 May. If the current regime is selected they gain instant credibility and legitimacy and I would expect them to double down on their efforts to crush the eastern separatists.
Hard for NATO to defend Baltic states from Russia – Spiegel: This should not be news for anyone who has paid attention to the anemic state of the militaries of mos NATO countries. The question is will Russia even go after the Baltic states? I think the answer to that right now is no.
China Suspends Cybersecurity Cooperation With U.S. After Charges: I sometimes wonder when China is going to come out in the open and make it clear that they are an enemy of the United States and the rest of the world. So far they have been able to have it both ways and benefit from selling products to the West while acting contrary to Western interests. Eventually that will cease when they can no longer achieve their geo-strategic goals through threats and bluster.
Egypt’s Brotherhood entrenched for war of attrition: It looks as though the Egyptians should prepare themselves for years of low-level conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood. A template is probably the decades long Turkish war with the PKK.
Poroshenko Declares Victory in Ukraine Presidential Election: The question becomes will Poroschenko be able to get eastern Ukraine under control? I think not. I do however, think that his election will solidify the rest of Ukraine in determination to not allow the east to secede. Putin is backing off for now, but I fully expect him to renew support for the rebels if it is convenient for him to do so. Don’t think for a minute that Putin will not snap up more territory if he thinks he can do so cheaply.
China Sinking Fishing Vessel Raises Tensions With Vietnam: Lest we forget that Ukraine is not the only flashpoint. China continues its efforts to wrest control of offshore resources away from other asian countries. Asia has the potential to be an even wider regional war than anything between Russia and the Ukraine.
Ukrainian separatists report heavy losses in Donetsk airport battle: It looks like the Ukraine is not going to stand down and the election gives new legitimacy to Ukrainian efforts to stamp out the rebels. The ball is definitely in the court of Putin now. Will he step up support for the rebels?
U.S. to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan: I will believe it when I see it. I just cannot see Karzai signing the new SOFA after the stink and resistance to doing so he has made so far. Karzai seem determined to cut his own throat, or maybe he does not realize that 20 minutes after the US turns out the lights he becomes target # 1 for the Taliban.
Lithuania accuses Russia of harassing ships in Baltic Sea: If these incidents are true then Russia has decided to move the area of their hijinks since it is apparent that the Ukraine is willing to fight to to avoid losing any more territory and Putin is apparently unwilling to commit conventional forces to separate Eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country.
Syria Elections a Forum to Celebrate Assad: In other news, Assad gets reelected in a landslide, (who expected that?) and vows to continue his whooping of the rebels. Absent foreign intervention there is now no question that assad will win. Foreign intervention is likely not forthcoming mainly because of the significant jihadi presence among the rebels. If there is one thing you can say for Assad it is that he generally keeps hi pet Jihadis under pretty tight control.
Ukraine military launches offensive against rebels: Given the rhetoric and legitimacy of Ukraines newly elected president I suspect the Ukrainians are fixing to get serious about retaking the east from the rebels. I also fully expect that the pleas for western military assistance in the form of arms and armaments will increase as well. What I cannot guess at is how those entreaties will be met. The US should have plenty of excess equipment sitting around given how the admin is intent on gutting the US military. We could give the Ukrainians MRAPs instead of giving them to local police in the US.
Militants Overrun Iraq’s Second-Largest City As Government Forces Flee: Just so that we are not all distracted by events in Ukraine, let us not forget that the civil war in Iraq continues and the government forces are not doing so well. If the Iraqi government were smart they would supply weapons to the Kurds and give them a free had to deal with the insurgents. Since the government is not smart and focuses on sectarian policies they will not do so.
80% of Syria rebels are Islamist, senior IDF officer says: These are the folks that the president is talking about arming. Is ousting Assad worth providing arms and training to people ideologically affiliated with those who carried out the 9/11 attacks?
Insurgents in northern Iraq seize key cities, advance toward Baghdad: The meltdown in Iraq continues. It sure is nice to see that the corrupt government of Maliki is getting what many have said it would over the years. His sectarian policies are finally bearing fruit and reigniting the Iraqi Civil War. Now watch as the ISIS guys stay far away from the Kurds. Mainly because the Kurds don’t mess around, they will kill an insurgent and then go find the insurgents family and kill them too. That is how deal with Arab rebels, threaten to destroy their entire families, and then do it.
Ukraine minister: 3 tanks crossed border from Russia: If true, this is yet another act of war on the part of Russia.