Just when you think things might calm down in Ukraine, they heat right back up. The Russians are not content to let Ukrainian government forces mop up separatists in Donetsk. Putin is sending an aid convoy, and has informed the Red Cross of his intentions.
“It was noted that the Russian side, in collaboration with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is sending an aid convoy to Ukraine,” the Kremlin statement said, without revealing when the convoy was going.
The Russians, who pretended to pull their forces back from the Ukrainian border a few months ago, still have between 20,000 and 45,000 (depending on who you believe, NATO uses the lower number and Ukraine the higher) sitting on the frontier. At least one pundit believes this is a pretext for invasion.
“They’ll claim it’s just like [the US has] done in the Middle East many times and in other places in the world,” Rojansky predicted. “They’ll use air power, they’ll use rockets, they’ll use artillery and they’ll say Ukrainians, you must not advance here and they’ll enforce that. They have the ability to do it.” [Matthew Rojansky is the director of the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars]
Putin’s move might very well be testing the waters to see how the U.S. reacts. In typical fashion, President Obama used the toughest words he knew.
President Barack Obama told his Ukrainian counterpart that any Russian intervention without Kiev’s consent would be unacceptable and violate international law.
I’m sure the Kremlin is quaking with fear.
The separatists, under new leadership, have called for a cease-fire but are not surrendering as Ukrainian forces advance into Donetsk. Ukraine’s government is not granting a cease-fire unless the rebels surrender, leading to an impasse. In the midst of all this, the Russian aid convoy will roll in.
What are the chances of the convoy having a chance clash with Ukrainian forces? Either zero or one-hundred percent, depending on whether Putin wants to invade. The ball is clearly in the Kremlin’s court, and as usual, we are left flat-footed with no idea what Russia will do, and no response prepared if they do it.
It’s just another example of hashtag diplomacy by the worst foreign policy administration in history.