Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist on June 28th, 1914. The wheels of war didn’t get around to produce an actual major powers clash until August 23rd, when Germany invaded France. It took a couple of months for all the alliances to shake out and for tensions to build up to the point that the great powers were committed, and World War I kicked off in earnest.
Russia invaded Crimea on February 28, 2014. It formally annexed Crimea, against the objections of the United States, Ukraine, the EU and NATO, on March 18. Russia did these things in the name of “protecting” the ethnic Russians who live in Crimea, despite the fact that they were not under any threat.
The next question is whether Russia has designs on seizing other Ukraine territory where ethnic Russians live (and under which, there are significant energy resources). And beyond that, whether Russia has designs on territories outside Ukraine in which ethnic Russians live, and might need “protection,” independent nations that were once satellites of the Soviet empire that Putin appears intent on reassembling. Some of those nations are now NATO members.
The United States has sent troops to Poland, a NATO member that has a long and bloody history with its neighbor, Russia.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland on Wednesday as part of a wave of U.S. troops heading to shore up America’s Eastern European allies in the face of Russian meddling in Ukraine.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said an initial contingent of about 600 troops will head to four countries across Eastern Europe for military exercises over the next month.
First, about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, are arriving in Poland.
Additional Army companies will head to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and are expected to arrive by Monday for similar land-based exercises in those countries.
The show of strength comes as the United States, European allies and Ukraine try to ease tensions with Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. All sides struck a diplomatic agreement last week, but it remains unclear whether pro-Russian demonstrators, who took over a series of government buildings in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, will back down.
That diplomatic agreement was nullified today, and Russia stepped up its threat to invade eastern Ukraine.
Russia vowed to defend its citizens in neighboring Ukraine after the government in Kiev said it’s resuming operations to oust militants from eastern cities.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country would retaliate if its “legitimate interests” are “attacked directly,” drawing a parallel with its actions in a 2008 war over Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region. After a pause for the Easter holiday, a military operation is under way to eliminate militias in Kramatorsk, Slovyansk and other cities, Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Vitali Yarema said today.
“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said in aninterview today with the state-run television broadcaster RT. “If we are attacked, we would certainly respond.”
The Ukraine’s attacks on those “separatist groups” may literally be attacks on the Russian Federation. Some of those “separatists” may actually be Russian military special forces sent to Ukraine to provoke and provide justification for Russia to invade.
A token number of our own forces are now scattered across Putin’s potential targets. He seems to have a plan driving his actions. The Obama administration is in reaction mode without any evident strategy in mind.
Well, other than Obama’s plan to slash American military forces to the bone.