Ukraine Preparing For Full Scale War…Or Not?

Peter’s Commentary:

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Vadym Prystaiko says he is preparing for full-scale war against Russia.

Prystaiko wants Canada to supply lethal weapons and training to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Tank

Ukrainian Tank
Photo by Victor Dashkiyeff

From CBC News, February 21, 2015:

Vadym Prystaiko, who until last fall was Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, says the world must not be afraid of joining Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear power.

“The biggest hub we ever had in the railroad is completely destroyed and devastated,” he told host Evan Solomon about Debaltseve, captured by Russian-backed rebels after the terms were to have taken effect earlier this week.

‘What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little’— Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister

“We see that they are not stopping,” he says, suggesting the fight was now heading south to the port of Mariupol.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see what they are trying to do.… They are taking more and more strategic points.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister goes on to say about Vladimir Putin:

“Personally I don’t trust him,” he says. “You look at him and you think, ‘Are you serious?'”

“Nobody knows what is going on in his head. I believe he is becoming very emotional [over the two countries’ historic ties],” he suggests, calling Putin’s intentions “difficult to predict.”

Prystaiko echoes the view German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have expressed to U.S. President Barack Obama privately a year ago: “He is rational in his own way. He is in some parallel universe … and he sees differently than everyone else.” <Source>

The above was from Saturday. On Sunday the following was reported by China Daily:

HOWEVER…Rebels Agree To Start Heavy Weaponry Withdrawal

The Ukrainian government and the pro-independence insurgents have agreed to withdraw their heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine over the next two weeks.

“The plan was signed in the early hours of this morning. We have two weeks to remove heavy weapons starting from today,” the Interfax news agency quoted senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin as saying.

A government spokesman also confirmed the plan to withdrawal heavy weapons starting from Sunday.

Meanwhile, TASS news agency quoted Basurin as saying that the actual pullout will start from Tuesday and preparations are underway.

The pullback is part of the latest cease-fire deal agreed upon among the Contact Group members over Ukraine crisis in the Belarusian capital of Minsk where leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine helped materialize the hard-won deal after overnight talks on Feb. 12.

The situation in eastern Ukraine seems to show encouraging progress as Kiev and the insurgents swapped altogether nearly 200 prisoners of war on Saturday evening as they had planned and no shelling, according to the Interfax, was recorded throughout the night. <Source>

Ukraine In A Fluid Situation

Ukraine is in a very fluid situation and there are lots of parties with different agendas. One moment we have a cease-fire, the next we don’t, and then seemingly we have one again.

Should America provide aid in the form of lethal weapons to Ukraine, it would be seen by Russia as a declaration of war, Russian defense analysts have said.

From The Moscow Times:

But if such aid were sent, “Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict,” said Evgeny Buzhinsky,  a former lieutenant general on Russia’s General Staff now at  Moscow-based think tank the PIR Center.

Speaking to The Moscow Times on a condition of anonymity, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s public advisory board warned that Moscow would not only up the ante in eastern Ukraine, “but also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts.”<Source>

And Putin has made it clear that major improvements have been made to improve the effectiveness of Russia’s military administration. The Russian military is now able to take decisive action against any external pressure.

“No one should be under any illusion that it is possible to achieve military superiority over Russia or put Russia under any pressure, we will always have an adequate response to these wild thoughts. Our soldiers and officers have proved that they are ready to act decisively, consistently, professionally and courageously, and perform the most difficult tasks, like an efficient and modern army, which keeps its traditions and military duty, ought to do,” Putin said.

Hopefully the cease-fire will come into effect, and these threats of war will subside. However just before going to post this on Monday morning, I came across the following Reuters article:

Ukraine says it cannot withdraw heavy weapons as attacks persist

Kiev accused pro-Russian rebels of opening fire with rockets and artillery at villages in southeastern Ukraine on Monday, all but burying a week-old European-brokered ceasefire deal.

The Ukrainian military said it could not pull weapons from the front as required under the tenuous truce, as long as its troops were still under attack. <More>

 Conclusions

The situation looks very grave to me. I could see this easily escalating into an all out war. Two aspects that concern me the the most are:

1.) There is a patent lack of trust between the West and Russia.

2.) There is no hotline, red telephone. Or other system in place between Russia and the US to help de-escalate tensions. Such a system existed during the previous Cold War.

Let us all hope that calm(er) heads can prevail and Ukraine does not have to prepare for war.

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