Russia Moves Troops into Donbass

Russia Moves Troops into Donbass 1

It takes courage to stick your neck out on Russia at a time like this:

Gabbard is correct: the West did not have to wind up at this juncture with Russia over Ukraine. But surprisingly, some key press outlets are kinda-sorta acknowledging that the quick Russian movement of soldiers and equipment into the Donbass falls into “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” terrain. This is the lead item from the New York Times’ daily e-mail summary:

Russia Moves Troops into Donbass 2

This is remarkably measured for a house organ of the military-intel state. We’ll turn to Putin’s statements on Russia’s intentions soon, since some of the more, erm, ambitious ones seem to have been overlooked. However, the flip side is that that if you accept the precedent that the US used in Kosovo, it’s hard to depict Russia sending its military into Donbass as an invasion when it was invited in.1

Mind you, additional actions by Russia beyond what are very narrowly necessary to defend and assist the people of Donbass can be depicted as aggression against Ukraine. Here Putin appears to be trying to tread a fine line. As we have said repeatedly, Putin does not have any interest in invading or conquering Ukraine. However, he also wants Ukraine no longer to serve as a staging ground for US/NATO operations against Russia. How to achieve the latter end is not at all obvious.

From Putin’s speech of February 24:

Those who aspire to global dominance have publicly designated Russia as their enemy. They did so with impunity. Make no mistake, they had no reason to act this way..

Even now, with NATO’s eastward expansion the situation for Russia has been becoming worse and more dangerous by the year. Moreover, these past days NATO leadership has been blunt in its statements that they need to accelerate and step up efforts to bring the alliance’s infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders. In other words, they have been toughening their position. We cannot stay idle and passively observe these developments. This would be an absolutely irresponsible thing to do for us….

The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.

It is not our plan to occupy the Ukrainian territory. We do not intend to impose anything on anyone by force.

If you read the address, it is far more sharp-edged than Putin’s speech when he recognized the breakaway republics and the press conference shortly afterwards. It also confirmed our reading that the immediate trigger was Ukrainian president Zelensky rejecting the Minsk Protocol. That was the template that Russia had pressured the Donbass to accept and Germany and France had also signed.

Putin was caustic about the US dismissiveness about Russia’s concerns and interests. He also gave a warning:


1 From Putin’s speech of February 24:

The people’s republics of Donbass have asked Russia for help.

In this context, in accordance with Article 51 (Chapter VII) of the UN Charter, with permission of Russia’s Federation Council, and in execution of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22, I made a decision to carry out a special military operation.

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