Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ukraine sees renewed fighting killing 8 Ukrainian soldiers and 3 rebels.

Medics take a wounded Ukrainian soldier to an ambulance. EPA/New York Times.

Ukraine sees renewed fighting which has killed 8 Ukrainian soldiers and 3 rebels. New York Times. Though the territorial gains in the fighting were minor, the renewed fighting is raising concerns about the stability of the region. The territory taken was in the "gray zones" between the front lines which were used as buffer zones after the cease fire. Each side in the conflict blamed the other for the escalation. Journalists posted near the front lines reported psy-ops targeted against the Ukrainian soldiers. It is unclear what the United States and the new president Donald Trump, will do about the issue. Ukraine fears that better relations between Russia and the United States could cut off support they have received from the United States. 

My Comment:
It's been a long time since I talked about Ukraine. Back in the day I followed the war closely. It seemed as though it was never going to end and it essentially hasn't. It has just been on the back burner. People still die and violence still happens, but as a whole the war has calmed down considerably. The front lines have largely remained the same since the cease fire happened. The days of me watching fresh video from the battle at Donetsk airport are long over.  

All that being said, something seems to have changed now. The Ukrainian forces have advanced into buffer zones. That is a major escalation in the war and threatens the cease fire. I do think that regardless of who started firing first, Ukraine's government deserves most of the blame for the increase in fighting. 

Why? Well to me this looks like a transparent test of the the Donald Trump administration. Ukraine policy didn't really come up that much during the election and to be honest, I don't know what Trump will do here. I don't think anyone really knows other then Trump and his staff. My guess is that either Ukraine took advantage of "normal" rebel shelling or just decided to advance anyways to see what Trump will do. They need that information so they can plan on what to do if he's not on board with the last administration's policy. 

What Trump will do is a good question. It does seem that Trump is way more pro-Russia and anti-intervention than the last president and what Hillary Clinton would have been. If you take him at his word, he is opposed to getting the United States involved in stupid wars and I can't think of a war stupider then the current Ukraine conflict. He generally seems to be looking out for America's best interest and I doubt that he thinks an escalation in the war there is in our interest. 

On the other hand Trump has always been unpredictable. He also hasn't withdrawn US troops that are in Ukraine right now training soldiers there. Part of that is how incomplete his cabinet is, but it's possible he might like the status quo. Trump always likes a strong negotiating position and he can use the threat of Ukraine to possibly bring Putin to the negotiating table. I don't find that too likely but it is possible. 

I also think that this is the first time that any nation has challenged Trump so directly. As far as I can tell this really is the first test for Trump in international relations. Most of what Trump has done so far has been proactive and this is the first time that he has to react to something. I was honestly expecting China to the ones that tested Trump for the first time, but that didn't happen. 

As for Ukraine, I would like again to point out how stupid our policy in Ukraine was. The State Department, along with the CIA helped support the revolution against a legitimate, though corrupt, government for no other reason other than the fact that they liked Russia. When the new government passed laws discriminating against their Russian minority, we supported them. And when the civil war predictably broke out we started to train the Ukrainians, including some of the militias who included some actual, honest to God, Nazis. 

As for the war itself, I don't see it actually spiraling out of control. I really think that this little escalation really was nothing more then a test of Donald Trump. I seriously doubt that Ukraine really wants the war to heat up again. It almost bankrupted them and the battles bled their army dry. They gain very little with an increase in fighting and I think things will calm back down to the status quo very soon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment