When Moscow tells us that their massive military maneuvers in Western Russia have nothing to do with what’s happening in Kiev it’s like the old Marx Brothers’ routine: Who are you going to believe, me (Moscow) or your own eyes?
In fact, while not a major military incursion by Moscow, the ongoing power plays in Crimea manifested in the presence of yet-unidentified, armed Russia-loyalists at two airports could be an ominous harbinger of things to come.
First, Moscow is signaling strength to Kiev, reminding their western neighbor that Mother Russia is a force to be reckoned with. You Ukrainians may be able to change your government—against Russian wishes—but you can’t change your geography.
“Location, location, location” doesn’t just apply to real estate, it matters in geopolitics, too.
Russia is also flexing its muscles at the Europeans and the United States. Moscow is cautioning the “West” that the “East” won’t brook any foolish attempts to bring Ukraine into a European or American sphere of influence.
Remember that the ongoing crisis was precipitated last November when Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich scuttled a trade pact with the European Union in exchange for a competing economic package from Russia, leading to months of street protests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also wants to make it crystal clear that Russia considers any thought of trying to bring Ukraine into NATO a complete non-starter. Indeed, it’s a move Moscow might even go to war over.
Lastly, the military maneuvers are meant to buck-up the Russian people in light of what appears to be a short-term loss for Moscow after the success of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Putin wants Russians to know that this matter in Ukraine is still not decided.
While it’s unlikely that Russian troops and tanks will roll out of these ongoing field exercises over the border and into Ukraine, there’s good …read more