World View: U.S. Sending Anti-Tank Missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine Violence Surges

This morning’s key headlines from

  • US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges
  • Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors
  • Russia objects to weapons sale with laughable statement

US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges

Portable Javelin anti-tank missile

In a move that some analysts describe as escalatory, the U.S. State Department announced that it will be sending weapons to the government of Ukraine to provide “enhanced defensive capabilities” to help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and “deter further aggression.” According to State Dept. spokesman Heather Nauert:

US assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself.

She did not describe what weapons will be sent, but unnamed sources say that they will include portable Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The semantics are complex here. It is true that these missiles can be shot at people to kill them, but that would largely be a waste since they are designed to destroy tanks, in particular, the Russia-supplied tanks that the Russians have been using in East Ukraine to win battles and gain ground on Ukrainian forces. For that reason, the Javelin anti-tank missiles are described as defensive in nature.

Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko has been requesting these and other lethal weapons for years, as the Russians have been gaining ground in East Ukraine. President Barack Obama considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but never approved them. Both Republicans and Democrats have called on the government to provide these weapons. President Donald Trump has been considering the plan ever since the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier this year, and finally approved it last week. AP and Newsweek (21-Dec) and Guardian (London)

Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors

The war between Russians and Ukrainians in East Ukraine began in 2014 but has been thought to be a “frozen conflict” for some time because of the “Minsk agreement,” a ceasefire agreement signed in 2015.

However, the ceasefire has been pretty much meaningless, as the violence has been escalating much of the year, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors ceasefire violations. According to the OSCE, there have been 16,000 ceasefire violations in one week alone, December 11-17. According to the OSCE:

We note with concern a sharp deterioration in the security situation with ceasefire violations reaching levels not recorded since February this year.

Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukraine, says that the war is ratcheting up into a major crisis:

A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict and it’s stable and now we have … a cease-fire. It’s a problem but it’s not a crisis.

That’s completely wrong. It is a crisis. This has been the most violent year, 2017, and frankly last night was one of the most violent nights, certainly since February, and possibly this year.

Volker was speaking on December 19, and he was referring to the surge in violence that occurred the day before — just after Russia withdrew its ceasefire monitors from the OSCE monitoring programs. Volker tweeted:

Russia withdrew its officers from JCCC – a ceasefire implementation tool – right before a massive escalation in ceasefire violations. Ukraine just suffered some of the worst fighting since February, 2017. Decision for peace lies with Russia. 9:01 AM – 19 Dec 2017

Volker said that the “massive escalation” in violence was correlated to Russia’s withdrawal from the ceasefire monitoring program, and suggested that it was coordinated by the Russian soldiers in east Ukraine. Reuters and RFE/RL and AFP

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Russia objects to weapons sale with laughable statement

It is worthwhile to take a moment to review the massive program of disinformation and lies that Russia has pursued since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just “volunteers.” That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80 percent of Russia’s army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are “volunteers” is like saying that America’s troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are “volunteers.”

In July 2014, the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia, as was confirmed in 2015 by a Dutch report following a lengthy investigation. Russia made one moronic claim after another, everything from the claim that MH17 fell out of the sky by itself to a claim that the US shot down MH17 to embarrass Putin.

After Putin’s Russian forces invaded Crimea, Putin denied that there were Russian troops in Crimea, but later he awarded a medal to the leaders of the successful invasion. Putin said there were no plans to annex Crimea, but then Russia annexed Crimea soon after.

The point of reviewing all this history is that now we are in a new Ukraine crisis, and we are in the same situation, where everything that the Russians say is 100 percent worthless.

So now we have Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, saying that the US decision “raises the danger of derailing the process of peaceful settlement in Ukraine.”

This is laughable. There is no “process of peaceful settlement.”

The war in east Ukraine is being fought by Russian troops – “volunteers” – supplied with heavy Russian weapons, including tanks. As Kurt Volker says, “Decision for peace lies with Russia.”

The Ukrainian troops are defensive. East Ukrainian is Ukrainian territory being invaded by foreign troops – Russian troops. So if Karasin is serious about a “process of peaceful settlement,” then Russia could stop sending troops and weapons into East Ukraine.

It is also up to the Russians to turn this into a full-scale war. Most analysts believe that the Russians do not want this, and can’t really even afford it. But that’s what would happen if the Russians send in more troops and more weapons. Russia Today and NBC News

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Crimea, Grigory Karasin, Heather Nauert, Kurt Volker, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Russian Buk 9M38 missile
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