Blue Heron in flight

Thursday, October 5, 2023


Russian officials of late have been quite candid about their plans in Eastern Europe. Not content with trying to capture Crimea and the Ukraine, they have now set their sights upon Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They have also made threatening gestures towards Belarus and the land of my mother's family, Moldova.

An official in the Ukrainian region which Moscow claims to have annexed has said Russia should try to take territory that was formerly part of the Russian Empire "through the might" of weapons.

In September 2022, Zaporizhzhia was one of four Ukrainian regions that Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed, the others being Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk, although Moscow does not fully control any of them.

But the top Kremlin-installed official in the oblast, Yevgeny Balitsky, said Russia should also have its eye on the Baltic states, as well as Poland and Finland, all five of which are NATO countries.

This is the second Russian official I have heard in weeks with this sort of expansionist talk. And it makes the House Republicans movements regarding stopping aid to Ukraine all the more reprehensible. They can literally throw our allies in Eastern Europe completely under the bus with their gamesmanship.

I have to wonder about the Putin wing of the Republican party, Gaetz, Greene, Trump, Carlson, et al. Are they merely clueless or is it possible that they are being funded from Moscow? In any case, these are very small and narrow minds here, way out of their depth and understanding. who are they working for?

An interesting Atlantic Council article from the early part of this year, Putin's plan for a new Russian empire includes both Belarus and Ukraine.

Over the past year, Vladimir Putin has compared himself to empire-building eighteenth century Russian Czar Peter the Great, and has attempted to annex entire regions of Ukraine while declaring that he is “returning historically Russian lands.” A recently leaked document purportedly detailing Russian plans to absorb neighboring Belarus now provides further insight into the imperial ambitions that are also driving the invasion of Ukraine.

Allegedly produced by Putin’s Presidential Administration with input from the Russian intelligence services and armed forces, the 17-page internal strategy paper was made public in early 2023 by an international consortium of journalists. It serves as a comprehensive guide to the unofficial annexation of Belarus via a combination of economic, military, political, and social measures, with the objective of full absorption into a so-called “Union State” with Russia by 2030.

The Russian takeover of Belarus as outlined in the document appears to closely mirror Moscow’s plans for Ukraine, albeit by less direct means. “Russia’s goals with regard to Belarus are the same as with Ukraine. Only in Belarus, Russia relies on coercion rather than war. Its end goal is still wholesale incorporation,” commented Michael Carpenter, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, following publication of the leaked document.

The strategy document for Belarus envisions the comprehensive russification of Belarusian society along with a sharp reduction in the influence of nationalist and pro-Western forces, which are viewed by Russia as virtually indistinguishable in relation to both Belarus and Ukraine. The Belarusian political, financial, business, and education systems would be fully integrated into Russia, with a network of pro-Russian media, NGOs, and cultural institutions established to aid this integration process.

In the military sphere, the Belarusian army would become de facto part of the Russian military, with Belarus increasing the number of Russian bases in the country and allowing Moscow to dramatically expand its military presence. Putin’s recently announced intention to base Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus are an indication that this plan is already advancing.

Are we really willing to allow Russia to take over eastern europe again? Are we on the side of the sheep or the wolves? One day they could be coming for us. 

In 1994, Ukraine agreed to get rid of its nuclear weapons supply in exchange for agreements that we in the United States would protect them from Russian expansion and military attacks. 

At the time of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine held the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including an estimated 1,900 strategic warheads, 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and 44 strategic bombers. By 1996, Ukraine had returned all of its nuclear warheads to Russia in exchange for economic aid and security assurances, and in December 1994, Ukraine became a non-nuclear weapon state-party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). 

What a mistake they made, depending on us.

1 comment:

Jon Harwood said...

You are right in pointing out the expansionism. It looks to me like the aggression of the prior two centuries and the response may well be to fight. The argument that lefties didn't like war in Southeast Asia but now they want it has a point about the similarities of the situation. But, it misses the point about the recipients of the aid. Prior military aid recipients like Vietnam and Iraq did not have the sort of history that allowed them to form a democracy and actually believe in it. Ukraine does have the culture and history to build a democracy and is willing to fight for it.

At the end of the day it is realpolitik and in the realpolitik world we either didn't have the power or the will to transform our prior adventure targets into likable governments. With Ukraine this could well happen.

I deleted moral concerns here because talk about war and morality in the same sentence is a questionable thing.