Seventy-five years ago another Soviet thug by the name of Stalin chased a food supply and starved the Ukraine. He killed between 7 and 10 million people and thought nothing of it. In an ironic quirk of history, Stalin was born in Gori, Georgia.
We now say “Ukraine” and not “the” Ukraine because Ukraine is supposedly an independent country. The Orange Revolution was supposed to have peacefully freed it from the Soviet sphere. So much for wishful thinking.
Georgia’s experiment with western-style freedom has ended. The modern-day Stalin looked in George Bush’s eyes and seized the moment. Now Putin is ready to take Ukraine. Anyone who thinks the Georgia events were a one-off and isolated incident is overindulging on vodka.
Ukrainian president Yushchenko’s attempt to limit Russian troop movements and obtain notice of them will fail. Putin will use this as the next pretext. We can learn from Georgia how brutal the Russian “ursus horribilus” can be when it chooses to send a message.
It will get harder for Mr. Putin when he starts to mess with Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These are now member states of the European Union. So are others like Slovakia, Slovenia, and Czech Republic. The Russians may draw a line between the EU members and the EU nonmembers. They will use economic warfare against the former and military intervention against the latter.
All this leads to more trouble. The EU now faces a real solidarity test and it faces the need to think about defense expenditures.
The US faces so many issues now and has demonstrated a complete lack of power or even suasion or influence. American weakness is now at an extreme and invites more trouble. Putin leaned over to Bush and made nice at the Olympics opening ceremonies while knowing full well that he was presiding over an invasion about to commence. One has to be delusional to think the Russians could spontaneously stage a movement about the size of a full division, with complete air and naval support, without preparation and staging.
Other clues about their intention came from the cyber attack launched against Georgia during the three weeks prior to the invasion. In the old days an antagonist degraded infrastructure with bombing and long-range artillery before an attack. He introduced subversives and paratroopers to cut communication lines. Degrade communications and defense, and the attacker will improve his chances when the fighting gets intense.
In the present day the rules are different. Militarily, you must seize complete air control. Tanks are wonderful instruments of combat after you have achieved total air superiority. Without air support tanks are very vulnerable. When it comes to communications, we live in the cyber world. So bombard your enemy and undermine his websites and Internet backbone. That occurred in Georgia from the middle of July.