Putin trying to seize a country that’s only 18% Russian is like Trump trying to reverse a national election for his deplorables with a badly designed coup. There are RWNJ geniuses like Ross Asshat favoring retreating from the battlefield and idiots like Tucker Carlson flakking Russian favoritism on the eve of a CPAC meeting in Hungary. It’s like a map of red and blue US states not adjusted for population. These are the behaviors of a “cunning peasant who plays a weak hand well.” that resembles Trump’s portrayal of a middle-class playboy-idiot pretending he comes from old money. Russia invading Ukraine resembles Trump trying to get the US to annex Mexico or Canada. In the current situation one needs to ask whether the Russian seizure of Crimea/Donbas is like the Sudetenland in the 1930s.
Warnings of an expanded Russian invasion of Ukraine have a “High Noon” feel. A renewed crisis could spur the United States and its NATO allies to go beyond, perhaps well beyond, their responses to Russia's 2014 assault. This militarization could cause a dramatic increase in defense spending by both the United States and NATO over the next decade.
This year Russia has undertaken a major military buildup near Ukraine's border and in Crimea. Kremlin leaders have questioned the legitimacy of independent Ukraine, falsely accused it of provocations, and warned the West against crossing ill-defined “red lines.” Moscow has called up “tens of thousands” of reservists on a scale unprecedented in the post-Soviet era.
Last month in Moscow, CIA Director and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns conveyed a warning. The United States and NATO allies worry that Russia may be planning an invasion. Washington has proclaimed an “ironclad commitment” to Ukraine's security.
Ukraine, with substantial help from the United States and NATO, is prepared to deter and defend against attack. Ukrainians can fight. In 2014 in eastern Ukraine, Moscow had to insert regular forces after hastily organized Ukrainians beat back Russian irregulars. Kyiv does not expect Westerners to fight its battles, but it does seek military support.
Ukraine, with substantial help from the United States and NATO, is prepared to deter and defend against attack.
The United States has provided nonlethal assistance, including counter-artillery radars, help on satellite imagery and analysis, and combat medical equipment. Washington is furnishing lethal equipment, such as Mark VI armed patrol boats and advanced man-portable Javelin anti-tank missiles. Since 2014, the United States has provided $2.5 billion in military aid.
The focus of increased assistance might be defensive weapons that can be rapidly absorbed by Ukraine's armed forces. They could help deny Moscow the capacity to conduct a large-scale heavy fire power campaign to rapidly occupy Ukraine east of the Dnieper River and seize key cities, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odessa.
Aid could include hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers and thousands of missiles such as Javelin and the older TOW. Low-cost and easy-to-use Switchblade man-portable loitering munitions might be provided. Coastal defenses may be greatly enhanced by the deployment of truck-mounted Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Lightweight Stinger anti-aircraft systems could enable Ukrainian forces to inflict heavy casualties on any early airborne and helicopter air assaults and down drones that send targeting data to Russian artillery. Aside from improving Ukraine's use of intelligence provided by NATO, its members could accelerate the sale of unmanned combat vehicles and associated precision-guided munitions (PGMs).
The United States is weighing whether to send Ukraine lightweight Stingers or other air defense systems and Iron Dome defenses against short-range missiles. The United States might provide Mi-17 helicopters, which were being readied for Afghanistan. Ukraine has bought Turkish TB-2 armed drones, which proved so effective in last year's Armenia-Azerbaijan war. Ukraine could benefit from better command and control, electronic warfare, and reconnaissance capabilities. All this could help it degrade a blitz, although supply or absorptive constraints might be hindrances.
However, Moscow’s military moves to date seem more calculated to influence the behavior of the Ukrainian government than actually occupy the country. Here are five reasons an invasion isn’t likely.