Russia staging military readiness drills in its west

posted at 8:01 am on February 26, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

What a coincidence, eh? The order does not specifically mention Ukraine, but the message won’t be lost on the Ukrainians — or the Europeans:

President Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered an immediate test of combat readiness of troops in central and western Russia.

Russia’s state news agencies are quoting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying that Putin ordered the test at 2 p.m. Moscow time on Wednesday.

There’s nothing like a mobilization to calm things down, you know. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but Ukrainians can be forgiven for skepticism. This follows some more soothing messages coming from Moscow and the Putin government, specifically foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who declared that Russia would not intervene in Ukraine. He called that a “principled position” while calling on the West to follow suit.

Of course, that may depend on how one defines “Ukraine.” The Crimean peninsula has only been part of Ukraine for less than 60 years, after Nikita Khruschev transferred it administratively within the old Soviet Union. It’s still home to a very large community of ethnic Russians and an important Black Sea naval base. And at the moment, it’s home to a growing conflict between the ethnic Russians and Crimean Tatars, among others. The Associated Press has raw video of a large clash between the two populations outside of a provincial parliament building today:

The Crimean parliament denies that it’s discussing “withdrawal” from Ukraine (in Russian). Russia Today has live coverage of the protests in Crimea, which are still ongoing. Clearly some in the crowd would like to be discussing “withdrawal” at this point.

In Sevastopol, home of the Russian naval base, ethnic Russians have kicked out the city administrator and installed their own mayor — and wonder when Putin will come to take the city back:

When one of the ousted incumbent’s former deputies threatened on Monday to have Mr Chaliy arrested, hundreds of supporters massed outside the city’s main administration shouting the new mayor’s name and chanting: “Russia! Russia!”

Olga Timofeyeva, a local pro-Russia activist, was jubilant as she recalled their triumph. “Thanks to Chaliy, faith, hope and the strength of soul all have been returned to us,” she said. …

The “most cherished dream” of Sevastopol’s residents is for the city to return to Russian territory, says Ms Timofeyeva. “Being without Russia, for us, is like being homeless. It’s like someone boiled off a piece of our heart and discarded it far away . . . like there’s not enough air to breathe.”

Now, following the events in Kiev, some locals are starting to hope that at least Sevastopol – if not the rest of Crimea – could be taken back under Moscow’s wing.

The “snap-check” of ground-troop force readiness looks like something a little more than military curiosity on the part of Moscow. They may have given up on Viktor Yanukovich, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up on Crimea.


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Are these regularly scheduled exercises? Because generally these things are planned and announced well ahead of time just so no one gets freaked out.

rbj on February 26, 2014 at 8:03 AM

rbj on February 26, 2014 at 8:03 AM

AFP called it a “snap check,” so no, I don’t think these were scheduled.

Ed Morrissey on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Time to dust off my 80′s cold war movies.

Oil Can on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

In Sevastopol, home of the Russian naval base, ethnic Russians have kicked out the city administrator and installed their own mayor — and wonder when Putin will come to take the city back:

So throwing military “exercises” in the mix…… What could possibly go wrong.

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Somebody find that reset button, quick!

Bitter Clinger on February 26, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Hmmmm

cmsinaz on February 26, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Wolverines!!!

cmsinaz on February 26, 2014 at 8:11 AM

At first sight, I thought that video was the clip from animal house, where kevin bacon was yelling, “Remain calm!”

rightside on February 26, 2014 at 8:11 AM

Russia staging military readiness drills in its west

…meanwhile Hagel is staging military fracking…all over the place.

KOOLAID2 on February 26, 2014 at 8:12 AM

rightside on February 26, 2014 at 8:11 AM

“ALL IS WELL!!”

Ed Morrissey on February 26, 2014 at 8:13 AM

This will escalate quickly.

forest on February 26, 2014 at 8:13 AM

“ALL IS WELL!!”

Ed Morrissey on February 26, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Obama to Putin.

“Thank you sir, my I have another.” Harold Ramis is very quotable this week.

Oil Can on February 26, 2014 at 8:15 AM

haha, close enough, Ed.

rightside on February 26, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Chechnya and now Ukraine, the Russian army is going to be mighty busy.

Bishop on February 26, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Time to dust off my 80′s cold war movies.

Oil Can on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Cloak and Dagger!

Murphy9 on February 26, 2014 at 8:19 AM

Today’s foreign policy report.

Today’s economic report.

Today’s Obamacare report.

forest on February 26, 2014 at 8:20 AM

forest on February 26, 2014 at 8:20 AM

lol!

Murphy9 on February 26, 2014 at 8:22 AM

O/T Biden, the stupidly intolerant, belongs to the “say anything inflammatory” caucus.
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/199273-biden-new-voter-id-laws-tied-to-hatred

onlineanalyst on February 26, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Count on it… Moscow has spent centuries getting their hands on a warm-water port.

This is one of the few things Russia is more than willing to fight over… to the point of open war.

CPT. Charles on February 26, 2014 at 8:28 AM

rbj on February 26, 2014 at 8:03 AM

AFP called it a “snap check,” so no, I don’t think these were scheduled.

Ed Morrissey on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Georgia?

hawkdriver on February 26, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Time to dust off my 80′s cold war movies.

Oil Can on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Fitting that The Americans new season starts tonight.

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2014 at 8:42 AM

At least there is a Volkswagen Beetle blocking the Fulda Gap.

docflash on February 26, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Anyone remember the Crimean war in the 1800′s?

Mini-14 on February 26, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Did Putin forget who the Cossacks are? In Crimea there is a large community of Cossacks who declared that they are Ukrainian and not Russians. Since historically Cossacks are an Ukrainian warrior class, possibly behind Kiev’s successful protests, they may be a reason Russian troops are mobilizing.

Poles for Ukraine
http://www.polonianews.com

ktrelski on February 26, 2014 at 9:01 AM

In light of all these openly hostile “flare ups” around the world, I think it would now be a good time to gut out military to pre WWII levels.

anuts on February 26, 2014 at 9:03 AM

In light of all these openly hostile “flare ups” around the world, I think it would now be a good time to gut out military to pre WWII levels.

anuts on February 26, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Only Dems and Ron Paul libertarians think that gutting the military is a sane move. Of course not one of them are willing to stand the watch when one of these “flare ups” occur. The former group is too busy holding Obamacare slumber parties and the latter group is too stoned.

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Heh

anuts on February 26, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Some more interesting history. German Crimea occupation 1918.

forest on February 26, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Chechnya and now Ukraine, the Russian army is going to be mighty busy.

Bishop on February 26, 2014 at 8:16 AM

The Tartars are mostly muslim.

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Man, I read drill and got excited, as in Drill, baby,drill.

anikol on February 26, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Did Putin forget who the Cossacks are? In Crimea there is a large community of Cossacks who declared that they are Ukrainian and not Russians. Since historically Cossacks are an Ukrainian warrior class, possibly behind Kiev’s successful protests, they may be a reason Russian troops are mobilizing.

Poles for Ukraine
http://www.polonianews.com

ktrelski on February 26, 2014 at 9:01 AM

He didnt forget, he just wants to see how much damage Cossaks sword can do to the modern tank.

anikol on February 26, 2014 at 10:59 AM

AFP called it a “snap check,” so no, I don’t think these were scheduled.

Ed Morrissey on February 26, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Ruh roh. Thanks end.

Permission to freak out is granted.

rbj on February 26, 2014 at 11:11 AM

From Daily Mail:

Over 10,000 Muslim Crimean Tatars rallied in support of Ukraine’s interim leaders, waving Ukrainian flags and chanting ‘Ukraine is not Russia’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’.

Chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’. That might get Obama’s support.

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Russia will pay a huge price to retake the Crimea, which as has been pointed out, is not really part of the historical Ukraine no matter how many “Cossacks” (whatever they are ethnically)were transplanted.

While the Ukrainians wouldn’t admit it, losing the Russian leaning eastern portion of the country may actually work to their interests in the long term…it certainly has given them a more realistic understanding of the threat Russia poses. The end result is to drive western Ukraine wholly into the arms of the EU and create a useful buffer to a more aggressive Moscow.

ironmarshal on February 26, 2014 at 11:37 AM

And so it begins. I predicted this the other day, after the Russians put out that release about not interfering in the Ukraine. By now, President Obama has turned to other things, like cutting our Military and expanding “investments” (Spending), putting out more false numbers regarding Obamacare (maybe we should start calling it “Obamanotcare” or even “Obamacareless”?) and otherwise issuing orders like a Monarch (and I’m not talking butterfly here).

If I weren’t an American citizen, I would laughing at us and our President as I would a foolish child doomed to learning a hard lesson. But I am also doubting that he has the capacity any longer to learn.

TKPedersen42 on February 26, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Anyone remember the Crimean war in the 1800′s?

Mini-14 on February 26, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Biden does. He saw it on television.

Gene Hunt on February 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Russia will pay a huge price to retake the Crimea, which as has been pointed out, is not really part of the historical Ukraine no matter how many “Cossacks” (whatever they are ethnically)were transplanted.

ironmarshal on February 26, 2014 at 11:37 AM

I don’t believe that Putin has much choice. He cannot let Crimea fall to an unfriendly government. Sevastopol is of strategic importance. He will protect the ethnic Russians (There passing out Russian passports to Crimean ethnic Russians now). His macho image would be destroyed which would open him up to political attacks in Moscow.

An unidentified government official in Moscow has already said that Russia would go to war over Crimea.

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 11:49 AM

There = They’re

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Putin will never, ever, give up the Crimea. He sees it as part of Russia, and so do the people living there. The best the Ukrainians can hope for is a partition of Ukraine. The worst would be a total takeover by the Russians. It is going to get much worse in the coming days, and the west will do what it always does, which is nothing.

Libertyship46 on February 26, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Putin has this under control.

The incompatible parties made their mission of reforming Ukraine impossible when they accepted Julia among them. Now self-seeking opportunism will become the primary object of many associated with the revolution. Which gives Putin an Ace to play. Time.

Putin sits back, encourages the local divisions, corruption, and back-biting that so characterizes Ukrainian politics, and waits for the game to come to him. The revolution had me all excited, but Putin knows how to play bickering rivals off against each other. Most revolutions are failures.

I hope I’m wrong, but the world is what it is.

ShadrachSmith on February 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM

From American Thinker:

Putin is not an empty bluffer so we should probably consider this a war warning. That doesn’t mean that war is inevitable, just that Putin appears ready to do what is necessary to safeguard his access to the Black Sea for his fleet in the Crimea and protect Russians living in Ukraine.

“Putin is not an empty bluffer…”. Unlike Barry “Don’t call my bluff” Hussein Obama.

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Russia is probably going to take back Crimea, because the people in Crimea want to be a part of Russia not the Ukraine. There is not much we can do to stop it. The best we can do is help what is left of Ukraine with economic aid and one day via arms sales.

Also no matter who the president is this would be the case. We are not going to fight a war with the Russians to force the Crimeans to accept Ukrainian rule. It is just idiotic and anyone who thinks we need a massive U.S. army in Europe so we can teach those Russians a lesson in order to prevent this eventuality is a strategic imbecile.

William Eaton on February 26, 2014 at 12:35 PM

From International Business Times:

The International Business Times reported on Monday that Russian ships and special forces units have mobilized on the Black Sea, and airborne units have landed in Anapa, the nearest Russian city to the Crimea. Mass protests have gripped the region in recent days, and plans to give citizens in the Crimea Russian passports all seem to be designed to loosen Kiev’s grip on the region. Russia has used a similar passport move in the past when it invaded South-Ossetia, justifying the full scale invasion by claiming it needed to “defend its new citizens from attack.”

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine:

After the disintegration of the USSR, Ukraine found itself in possession of the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal. There were 176 launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles with some 1,240 warheads on Ukrainian territory. This force consisted of 130 SS-19s, each capable of delivering six nuclear weapons, and 46 SS-24s, each armed with ten nuclear weapons. An additional 14 SS-24 missiles were present in Ukraine, but not operationally deployed with warheads. Several dozen bombers with strategic nuclear capabilities were armed with some 600 air-launched missiles, along with gravity bombs. In addition, as many as 3,000 tactical nuclear weapons rounded out an arsenal totalling approximately 5,000 strategic and tactical weapons.

Ukraine has a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also has two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant, a technology for making electronic to determine the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine has deposits of uranium that are among the world’s richest.

Ukraine announced in June 1996 that all warheads bad been removed from the country.

Does Ukraine still have nuclear capability? We invaded Iraq because Sadam Hussein supposedly had WMDs. (Emphasis is mine.)

Kaffa on February 26, 2014 at 1:11 PM

It’s like someone boiled off a piece of our heart and discarded it far away 

I think something was lost in the translation.

jnelchef on February 26, 2014 at 4:04 PM

RED DAWN

Dagnar on February 26, 2014 at 5:35 PM