NATO, Poland warn Russian invasion of Ukraine possibly imminent

posted at 1:21 pm on August 6, 2014 by Noah Rothman

At an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday convened at Russia’s request, Moscow’s envoy in New York called the crisis in eastern Ukraine a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Ukrainian forces are closing in on the remaining pro-Russian strongholds in Ukraine’s east, and the situation appears increasingly tenuous for the pro-Moscow separatists.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops stationed along the country’s western border, the Kremlin is flirting with the notion of sending a humanitarian mission to intervene in Ukraine. This has sparked fears in the West that Russia is planning to use the humanitarian condition in Ukraine as a pretext for a military invasion of portions of that country.

“We would like to send a convoy with Russian humanitarian assistance under the egis and with the accompaniment of the ICRC to Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as to other inhabited areas of Ukraine where IDPs are concentrated from the east,” said Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

“Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade, NATO said on Wednesday,” Reuters reported.

“We’re not going to guess what’s on Russia’s mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground – and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in an emailed statement.

NATO was concerned that Moscow could use “the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission as an excuse to send troops into Eastern Ukraine”, she said.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also warned that Russia could be preparing to intervene directly in the fighting in Ukraine. He noted on Wednesday that the risk of an invasion of eastern Ukraine “is for sure higher than it was several days ago.”

Russia is currently conducting extensive military exercises on the Ukrainian border. American officials are “deeply concerned” about aviation operations Russia is conducting along its Western border which are expected to continue until the end of the week.

“A NATO military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that early this month Russia had significantly increased the number of troops near the Russian border,” another Reuters report published Wednesday revealed.

The roughly 20,000-strong troop presence included tanks, infantry, artillery, air defense systems, as well as logistics troops, special forces, and various aircraft, the officer said.

Previously, Russia has used military exercises as cover for intervention, military analysts say.

In spite of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union member states, President Vladimir Putin and his allies have shown no signs of backing down from their gambit in Ukraine.

In response to the sanctions, Putin and top officials announced plans to hold a legislative session in the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea next week, are reportedly considering banning flights over Russian territory by European airlines, and have banned the import of a variety of foods from nations participating in sanctions.


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If Putin wanted to invade Ukraine, he would have done it already. Crimea voted to join Russia, and that was the only part of Ukraine and its ever-changing borders he cares about.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Obama almost has America on a level playing field amongst the nations.

Mission accomplished.

portlandon on August 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Honeybama don’t give a $hit.

aquaviva on August 6, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Honest question… wouldn’t this be a good time for the President to stand up and offer to take the lead on the logistics of moving aid into that region, if Putin is honestly just trying to aid his ‘people’ then he should be OK with supplying the aid and allowing American or NATO troops to actually do the transporting.

Good idea???

Von Kleist on August 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Poot is going to send a few trucks loaded with diapers, formula, and teddy bears into Ukraine and a few trucks with their drivers will just happen to get immolated by some roadside bombs.

Of course there will be Russian media onsite immediately to broadcast to the world the remains of the torched bears, the shredded diapers, the spilled formula, and the morons of the world will gush sympathy.

Bishop on August 6, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Don’t worry. We have Team SMART Power!!!!1111!!!!!elebinty on the job. Obama, Kerry, and Hagel have this all under control and are 30 moves ahead of Putin. We also have that fugly biatch Paski(?) to run the hashtag divisions on Twitter.

All is well. We are in the best of hands.

jukin3 on August 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

In the 21st Century, Czechoslovakia is spelled U-k-r-a-i-n-e

PJ Emeritus on August 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

“We would like to send a convoy with Russian humanitarian assistance under the egis and with the accompaniment of the ICRC to Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as to other inhabited areas of Ukraine where IDPs are concentrated from the east,” said Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

I don’t know why Russia doesn’t just send in a whole lot of unaccompanied minors as refugees…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Honest question… wouldn’t this be a good time for the President to stand up and offer to take the lead on the logistics of moving aid into that region, if Putin is honestly just trying to aid his ‘people’ then he should be OK with supplying the aid and allowing American or NATO troops to actually do the transporting.

Good idea???

Von Kleist on August 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Obama doesn’t know how to lead anything except his own party.

Merkel is in charge of negotiations…she’s basically in charge of the EU.

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 1:40 PM

I don’t think Vlad can back down. Folks at home won’t let him. He’s riding a tiger of his own making.

butch on August 6, 2014 at 1:41 PM

The Long and the Short of it

Sometimes I get all these cuddly feelings about Russia, that we are in a new post cold war world and Russia is our greatest friend. Maybe. And there are those that say that, historically, Ukraine has been part of Russia, so it’s not so bad.

Putin has supposedly been suggesting that as super powers we should heed each others interests. I’m open to that. But Russia needs to do a better job of making that clear.

You know I really like the idea of working with Russia. Of them and us being like one. Working against Muslim radicals, and what not. I’m still not sure why we don’t seem to see eye to eye on the situations in the Middle East, like with Iran and Syria etc. So there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out even if the Ukraine situation wasn’t a big deal.

And if Russia has legitimate gripes about how the Russian minority in Ukraine is being treated, Putin needs to try to make that point more loudly, and maybe we would be agreeable to trying to strongarm things so that minority is treated better.

But an outright invasion? Unless there is a huge amount of conciliatory points made by Putin, we of course have fears that Russia would be enroute to more invasions of like Poland, and so we might want to get cracking with serious sanctions like cutting off European natural gas imports from Russia (Europe can get their gas from us, at market price).

anotherJoe on August 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

It’s OK…

Obama to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard

Seven Percent Solution on August 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Putin better not do it! Obama might have to get off the golf course and make a statement. Can’t our poor President vacation in peace?

Jack_Burton on August 6, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Better not have any airliners fly over Ukraine. Where did that story disappear to anyway?? Amazing!!

Deano1952 on August 6, 2014 at 1:49 PM

BHØ: “Duuuhhhhh, nobody show me a newspaper or a news report or a website with the words ‘Ukraine’ or ‘Russia’ in it. I cannot read about these developments in the news media, understand? No Reading!

ExpressoBold on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

It’s OK…

Obama to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard

Seven Percent Solution on August 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM

And just 4 1/2 months from now, it will be back to Kailua for 16 days!

Del Dolemonte on August 6, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Hashtags to the ready!!

faraway on August 6, 2014 at 1:55 PM

If Putin wanted to invade Ukraine, he would have done it already. Crimea voted to join Russia, and that was the only part of Ukraine and its ever-changing borders he cares about.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Ukraine as a whole has significant strategic value to him. Ports to the south and a possible impediment for gas movement through the rest of the country. Given that Putin has been the driving force behind other land grabs, the inference that he simply wouldn’t like to reacquire the Soviet Union’s territories is somewhat at odds with both irregular and regular empirical evidence of Russian activities concerning those countries over the last decade or more.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Sorry, Jack. I didn’t even see your post. Great minds and all that:)

Clink on August 6, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Haha no prob. But to be fair, our useless President just makes it too easy. :-)

Jack_Burton on August 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Since Obama surrendered, there’s no country to stop Russia, or any other country, from invading another. International vacuums will be filled by tyrannical regimes.

cajunpatriot on August 6, 2014 at 1:57 PM

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

He should resign.

There…your wait is over

Ditkaca on August 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

You know it is really fortunate that Obama cancelled his two-week vacation and is staying in Washington to better communicate with foreign leaders, consult with State and DoD, and otherwise exercise global leadership……

Oh wait, Snuggles didn’t do that. That’s what he should be doing. Even if the First Yeti howls about not being able to mooch off of stupid supporters in MA.

Happy Nomad on August 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Step one: put down the golf clubs.

TarasBulbous on August 6, 2014 at 2:01 PM

BHØ: #BringBackOurColdWar

ExpressoBold on August 6, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Obama’s only enemy is inside the US. He only hates Americans.

faraway on August 6, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Calm down everyone. Antisense will be along in a moment to assure us that Russia would never invade Ukraine.

In fact, it is the Ukrainians who are invading these cities. The Russian military has ALWAYS been there.

makattak on August 6, 2014 at 2:12 PM

BHØ: “Duuuhhhhh, nobody show me a newspaper or a news report or a website with the words ‘Ukraine’ or ‘Russia’ in it. I cannot read about these developments in the news media, understand? No Reading!“

ExpressoBold on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Republicans are always hammered over what they read; ‘journalists’ demand to know which newspapers they read, they want to know Republicans Summer book reading lists. Republicans have to be careful which books they are seen carrying, because the book becomes the story.

Under Barry, not so much. I suspect he gets his news from ESPN.

slickwillie2001 on August 6, 2014 at 2:15 PM

RE:

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Honest question… wouldn’t this be a good time for the President to stand up and offer to take the lead on the logistics of moving aid into that region, if Putin is honestly just trying to aid his ‘people’ then he should be OK with supplying the aid and allowing American or NATO troops to actually do the transporting.

Good idea???

Von Kleist on August 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Was it ’cause I put in the form of a question that threw off sweetums?

Von Kleist on August 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

In spite of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union member states, President Vladimir Putin and his allies have shown no signs of backing down from their gambit in Ukraine.

So you’re saying that economic sanctions against multi-billionaires, many of whom are nothing more than state-sanctioned gangsters, isn’t working as expected. Disappointing. Baffling. Unexpected.

banned the import of a variety of foods from nations participating in sanctions.

However, on this point Putin had better tread carefully. If anything could provoke a reaction on Obama’s part, it would be trifling with the price of arugula.

dreadnought62 on August 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Why does Hot Air completely ignore that Lugansk is getting shelled?

Remember Srebrenica? Blocking off the city, leafleting it, letting everyone leave without weapons. Then shelling it. That was called a war crime, by the US government…. Then they copied it in Fallujah.

Fortitude on August 6, 2014 at 2:28 PM

The worst thing Putin can expect from the West is a “sternly worded note”.

GarandFan on August 6, 2014 at 2:31 PM

the whole problem re: what obama can do is that its too late now.
just like libya.
just like syria.
just like egypt.
just like…the list goes on.
an advantage of leading from behind is that your inactions prevent you from being able to take action. a built in procrastination method.

dmacleo on August 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

You again. Here’s the thing, slick, at this point there is very little Obama can do. Why? First, because he failed to recognize the situation, and it was very pointedly and publicly done during the debate with Romney (remember: the 1980s is calling…blah…blah). Now if Obama had come out and said: The United States has no interest in Eastern Europe, that would be one thing. Oh, wait a minute. His actions in scrapping the missile defense system in Poland said exactly that. Regardless of Obama’s intention, the Russians saw it as an opportunity just as the North Koreans did in 1950 when the Truman Administration left Korea off its list of American vital areas.

Second, after recognizing an interest in the area, that must be followed up with diplomatic, informational, military and economic (that’s the DIME model of foreign policy tools, if you’re keeping score) meaures to further that interest. That could mean economic aid to countries in the region, military exercises, presidential visits to the capitals (do you know that the only eastern European country Obama has visited is Poland in 2011; he has made jaunts to vital countries like Senegal and Costa Rice but not Hungary or Latvia or Romania). It could also mean getting the hell out of the way of fracking, pipelines and developing LNG export terminals so that the Europeans at least have some options against the Russians in the winter.

No doubt in whatever circles you navigate the “what would you do” question is powerful stuff. Here, you have a lot of folks with military experience and common sense who knew in 2008 that handing the keys of state to an affirmative action hire like Obama was just asking for trouble. Also, I think Obama’s (non)actions are indicative of the “you didn’t build that” mentality he espouses. For folks like him, armies just materialize in the field. Whaddaya mean the soldiers have to be fed? Feed ‘em! Do you think that Obama was even vaguely aware of the tonnage restrictions imposed upon naval vessels by the Montreux Convention for using the Turkish Straits? Were you even aware of that? Because that means the favorite response of all American presidents, that being send over a carrier battle group, can’t be done in the Black Sea.

So, in short, at point there is little that can be done in Ukraine and that is entirely of Obama’s making (or more accurately non-making).

dreadnought62 on August 6, 2014 at 2:42 PM

anotherJoe on August 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

If that was sarcasm, you missed by a mile.

If you’re serious, you’re a complete moron.

Either way, you don’t know Jack, Joe.

ZeusGoose on August 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM

I here to see all the suggestions on what Obama ought to do. I will wait patiently until I see one.

coolrepublica on August 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Real sanctions on Russia. That includes banking. Put sanctions on businesses doing business with the Russian military especially the french.
Redeploy NATO forces out of Germany and Western Europe into Poland, Latvia and Romania.
Make it clear that if he doesn’t stop this now we will send military advisors and military aid to the Ukraine and freeze Russian assets in the USA and elsewhere.

V7_Sport on August 6, 2014 at 2:59 PM

The German stock market is down 14 points since the sanctions are in place. Europe won’t put up with the sanctions much longer.

Their ‘economic luster’, all propaganda, is the only thing which keeps their people off the streets and away from the pitchforks, socialists and marxists that most are.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Sanctions are all meaningless.

Putin has the ultimate ‘weapon’.

“Iran and Rusia will renounce the US dollar for oil, do you understand?”

“Da, friend, da”.

End of all stories.

Putin is a lucky bastard. He lives in the age of Eunuch obama and he thanks his god for it, hourly.

Putin knows that the West and the USA have lost their moral authority.

obama killed the last smidgen of it.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Redeploy NATO forces out of Germany and Western Europe into Poland, Latvia and Romania.
Make it clear that if he doesn’t stop this now we will send military advisors and military aid to the Ukraine and freeze Russian assets in the USA and elsewhere.

V7_Sport on August 6, 2014 at 2:59 PM

1. Obama can’t redeploy NATO forces. Since Ukraine isn’t a signatory, there’s no treaty obligation to assist them.

2. Even if he could, there isn’t as much as you think. On the US side, we’re down to the 2nd Stryker Rgt in Germany and the 173rd BDE in Italy.

3. Deploying to the countries you mention won’t help Ukraine in the least.

4. Who will pay for the logistics of the forward deployment? Hint: you and me, the American taxpayer.

5. What military aid would we send to Ukraine? They’re wholly equipped with Russian gear. Are you proposing retooling them completely? That would take years. Otherwise, we’ll be buying Russian equipment to give them.

Ukraine has been in a precarious position, and it would have required a deft hand to play the balancing act with the Russians of “They’re not in NATO, but then again you don’t want to go messing with them either.” Obama was the wrong leader at the wrong time. But then again that’s true for every arena except the golf course.

dreadnought62 on August 6, 2014 at 3:16 PM

As with IS (ISIS), the train has long since left the station, and it can’t be stopped.

Send obama a “thank you” note. He scrooomed you, royally.

Schadenfreude on August 6, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Ukraine as a whole has significant strategic value to him. Ports to the south and a possible impediment for gas movement through the rest of the country. Given that Putin has been the driving force behind other land grabs, the inference that he simply wouldn’t like to reacquire the Soviet Union’s territories is somewhat at odds with both irregular and regular empirical evidence of Russian activities concerning those countries over the last decade or more.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

The only port he needed, he was leasing till 2047. He is rumored to be in talks with Merkel working out a deal where Russia keeps Crimea and pays Ukraine a billion dollars for it. They should take that deal, because Ukraine is broke, too broke to afford the current military activity there, so one wonders where the money came from. (Rhetorically, of course.) Then US and UK would probably refuse to recognize Crimea, but it’s frankly none of their business.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

the whole problem re: what obama can do is that its too late now.
just like libya.
just like syria.
just like egypt.
just like…the list goes on.
an advantage of leading from behind is that your inactions prevent you from being able to take action. a built in procrastination method.

dmacleo on August 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Because governing means voting present as much as possible…

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Ukraine as a whole has significant strategic value to him. Ports to the south and a possible impediment for gas movement through the rest of the country. Given that Putin has been the driving force behind other land grabs, the inference that he simply wouldn’t like to reacquire the Soviet Union’s territories is somewhat at odds with both irregular and regular empirical evidence of Russian activities concerning those countries over the last decade or more.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

The only port he needed, he was leasing till 2047. He is rumored to be in talks with Merkel working out a deal where Russia keeps Crimea and pays Ukraine a billion dollars for it. They should take that deal, because Ukraine is broke, too broke to afford the current military activity there, so one wonders where the money came from. (Rhetorically, of course.) Then US and UK would probably refuse to recognize Crimea, but it’s frankly none of their business.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

They should take that deal…Cause Putin aint’ gonna leave his Blacksea pipeline unsecured.

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

If Putin wanted to invade Ukraine, he would have done it already. Crimea voted to join Russia, and that was the only part of Ukraine and its ever-changing borders he cares about.

ezspirit on August 6, 2014 at 1:24 PM

As evidenced by the fact that he arms and trains pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine…

NotCoach on August 6, 2014 at 3:32 PM

The world does not revolve around just money. Something sanctions cannot solve. However letting Finland into NATO, and giving/selling weapons and stationing US forces there by moving them from Germany might get Putin attention…so would arming the heck out of Poland.

And at this point, what heck, arm the Ukranians too (nothing important because it might end up in Russian hands). If Russia wants to get bogged down in a Slavic p$ssing match we should asset them in getting stuck.

Don’t give stupid speeches, and warnings…just do it. The Russians would respect that more anyway.

William Eaton on August 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

dreadnought62 on August 6, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I seem to recall we (army) are down to 12 or so bases in germany now, and german bases (kasernes) are pretty small.
that figure sound right?

dmacleo on August 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Obama supports respecting strict borders in the Ukraine…On our own southern border not so much….

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Don’t give stupid speeches, and warnings…just do it. The Russians would respect that more anyway.

William Eaton on August 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Obama and his ilk have revealed US to be a paper tiger.

We are downsizing while our enemies are pumping up their militaries.

workingclass artist on August 6, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Europe can get their gas from us, at market price.

anotherJoe on August 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Putin knows Obama is a rabid environmentalist, he won’t let us drill enough to really make a difference. This should have been underway many years ago if we had a president who loved his country.

Perspicacious on August 6, 2014 at 4:07 PM

The US won’t intervene in any meaningful way.

DarkCurrent on August 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

However letting Finland into NATO, and giving/selling weapons and stationing US forces there by moving them from Germany might get Putin attention…so would arming the heck out of Poland.

William Eaton on August 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Is Finland eager to join NATO?

I think I might have asked this question before…

DarkCurrent on August 6, 2014 at 4:19 PM

I’ve seen this movie, but I thought John Wayne and Robert Mitchum were in it.

Orlando Bloom and Matt Damon don’t seem quite up to it.

formwiz on August 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I have a difficult time getting overly riled up about Ukraine, a country that has had maybe thirty years of “independence” most of which were under the exact same kind of kleptocracy we decry in Russia. I just don’t see any desire to return to the Soviet era plan for worldwide socialist revolution but rather a very natural desire to have dominance over the neighboring countries.

theblackcommenter on August 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

theblackcommenter on August 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Yeah, problem is we agreed in writing to make sure that this didn’t happen while we aided in disarming them.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Yeah, problem is we agreed in writing to make sure that this didn’t happen while we aided in disarming them.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Did we sign a treaty or something?

I think we did with some of the Indians, but maybe not with the Ukraine

DarkCurrent on August 6, 2014 at 5:26 PM

It’s a no brainer that Putin will invade Kiev, then Warsaw, ect…

Faramir on August 6, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Putin can’t let Russia die the slow death of demographic implosion. That is Russia’s future, so he must act now to reaquire empire.

Faramir on August 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM

It’s a no brainer that Putin will invade Kiev, then Warsaw, ect…

Faramir on August 6, 2014 at 5:29 PM

When will this happen?

DarkCurrent on August 6, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Yeah, problem is we agreed in writing to make sure that this didn’t happen while we aided in disarming them.

Ebola on August 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Problem is, they trusted us. They shouldn’t have done that, and now they are paying dearly.

Great picture here: Who Destroyed Thousands Of Weapons, Leaving Ukraine Defenseless?

slickwillie2001 on August 6, 2014 at 5:48 PM

However letting Finland into NATO, and giving/selling weapons and stationing US forces there by moving them from Germany might get Putin attention…so would arming the heck out of Poland.

Is Finland eager to join NATO?

If they weren’t before they certainly are now…if you don’t understand the history of the region, from Finland in the north to Hungary in the south you really can’t fully understand what’s happening. Finland certainly has a long history dealing with the Russians. It is interesting that Polish officials came out with this statement.

I have it on good authority that Polish special forces are very active trying help the hapless Ukrainians deal with the rebels and get ready for the Russians. Although Barry says he won’t give weapons to the Ukrainians ’cause that might allow them to protect themselves, Nato arms are flowing through Poland and Hungary.

ironmarshal on August 6, 2014 at 9:25 PM