What To Do About Ukraine

KT McFarland has some thoughts.  After taking notice of President Barack Obama’s foolishness in worrying that supporting the victim of Russian invasion in any material way might antagonize the victim’s attacker, she suggests [emphasis hers]

First, if the Ukrainian people want to fight for their freedom, we should help them.  …with intelligence, communications, and logistics.
If it comes to a civil war, the fighting will be short and bloody, and Russia will win.

Second, we should shore up our NATO allies.  We should reverse course and build the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Finally, the US should take aim at Russia’s economy.  Russia does not have a modern economy, it’s a petro-power.  The only thing it sells that the world wants to buy is oil and natural gas.

To which I add, since I’m as unwilling as the Ukrainians to surrender their Crimea Oblast to the Russians, the following.

Arm the Ukrainian army: anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons are easily transported, and these should be rushed in—by military convoy and by military cargo aircraft.  Russia still will win a short, sharp fight, as McFarland suggests, but they should pay a hard price in soldiers and military equipment, not only in rubles.  And if the supplies are sufficient to drag out the fight, well….

Send a squadron of the US Navy into the Black Sea.  Directly challenge the Russians in occupied Crimea—but make the Russians fire first, or not at all.  Make clear to the Russians that they need to consider challenging the US as well as Ukraine.

Third, in addition to reviving the missile shield, forward deploy—in Poland and the Czech Republic, certainly, but also in the Baltics.  And run some of those forces, along with a naval flotilla, up to the Polish and Lithuanian borders and Baltic Sea boundary surrounding Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast.

Add some serious economic sanctions.

Drill, baby, drill.  And frack, baby, frack.  And sell the output to Europe and Ukraine.  This will immediately drop the price of oil and gas on the world market, severely reducing the major source of Russian income, making it difficult for Russia to maintain its armies in the field—and to continue developing, in contravention of existing arms control agreement, its medium range nuclear missiles.

We also need to deny Russia’s access to the US’ banking system, which is a major part of the international banking system, and pressure Europe to deny Russia access to the European banking system, which is most of the rest of the international banking system.  Without access to credit, dollars, or petrodollars/rubles, the Russian economy—which Senator John McCain (R, AZ) has accurately called a gas station masquerading as an economy—will be severely constrained, if it doesn’t collapse altogether.

Other than the prompt price drop, drilling/fracking won’t have an immediate effect on the Russian economy as a whole until the oil and gas actually start arriving in Europe and Ukraine, and freezing Russia out of the international banking system won’t produce an immediate effect until the Russians run out of dollar reserves.  But we need to keep both pressures on, not just until Russia pulls back from eastern and southern Ukraine, but also until Russia withdraws from Crimea.  And agrees to cancel its lease on the naval base in Sevastopol.  Russia has demonstrated these last several months that it can’t be trusted with military bases on other nations’ territory.

Finally, we have an agreement with Ukraine—as do Great Britain and Russia (which has already welched on that agreement) under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum—to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity if they give up what was at the time the third largest nuclear weapon inventory in the world.  They did their part; we need to do ours.  Alone, if needs be.

Whatever we decide to do, though, we can’t wait on the EU or the rest of NATO.  They’re even more timid (if you can believe it) than Obama when it comes to Russia (or to the PRC, or Iran, or Syria, or northern Korea, or… but let’s stick with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for now).

We need to move; Ukraine is out of time.  The window for idle chit-chat has closed.  Unless we’re going abjectly to surrender.

Update: According to General Wesley Clark (USA, Ret) and Phillip Karber, this administration even has refused Ukraine’s request for requests for such passive defensive equipment as body armor, night-vision goggles, and communications equipment. Such things are…provocative.

Appalling timidity from the Obama administration.

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