Earlier this week, most main-stream media outlets carried stories of a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s Borders. The sources of such reporting can be traced back to NATO statements, which are in turn relying on US espionage assets in Russia and Ukraine. Not long after the story broke, the Ukrainian government denied the reports. Two days after Kyiv’s denial, they U-turned to say that there has been a Russian military build-up, but over 250 kilometres from the Ukrainian border deep inside Russian territory. The White House has said that they are not concerned with what is being described in alarmist terms as a build-up on Ukraine’s borders.
The alarmist language within western main-stream media about a supposed Russian military movement belies the more likely reality that it appears Russia is alarmed to a degree by goings-on in Ukraine, and are in fact in a preparatory response mode. Having conducted successful war games, they have moved a certain number of involved troops to military hubs in anticipation of future Ukrainian military aggression against the self-declared Independent Donbass Republics, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
The Ukrainian parliament has in recent weeks replaced a number of Ministers, including the Defence Minister Andriy Taran, and Minister charged with cooperation and talks to negotiate a settlement, Pavel Ryabikin. It is understood Taran resigned hours after releasing the statement to say there is no Russian Military border build-up. His replacement is lawyer and a former Deputy Prime-minister known for taking a hard-military stance against the self-declared Independent Republics, Oleksi Resnikov.
An equally concerning appointment for those who do not want to see military escalation, is the appointment this week of founder and former leader of extremist pro-fascist group ‘Right-Sector’ which even the BBC described as ‘Ultra-nationalist’, appointed as Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the Military. The Right Sector is a pro-fascist group that confirms the use of violence to achieve their goals. Their founder and their ideology has now been placed at the heart of Ukraine’s armed forces. Russia has reason to be in preparatory mood.
That’s not all that Russia has had to consider when deciding not to stand down some of the troops that had been participating in war-games. Since the suspension of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE in East Ukraine and the self-declared Republics several weeks ago, Ukraine forces have intensified their attacks on the Republics causing damage to homes, infrastructure, and loss of life.
As extremist nationalist elements tighten their grip within the Ukraine government, their decisions are being misrepresented by partisan media and governments as aggressive actions by Russia. This is best exampled in Western media claims that Russia is denying Ukraine vital gas and coal supplies. This is not the case. In reality, extreme Nationalist elements within the government have made a conscious decision not to purchase Russian supplies. It is true that Russian producers such as Gazprom are directed through Russian state policy to ensure home-supplies before exporting, and this has led in the past to supply reductions to Ukraine. But Gazprom recently reconsidered it’s supply to Ukraine and added to it, but Ukraine is refusing to buy Russian gas and coal directly from Russia, and instead pays more, often for the same gas and coal, from EU countries as intermediaries such as Germany. The energy supply crisis is worsening an already harsh economic crisis little changed since the dissolution of the USSR.
There can be little doubt Russia is concerned about developments such as increased level of Western state and media propaganda focused on weaponizing Ukraine and Ukrainian extremists, recent arms shipments from the United States to Ukraine and intensifying military actions by Ukrainian forces against the Russian-back people’s Republics, and all of this cannot but raise a red-warning flag in Moscow. Moscow’s response appears to be, be-prepared, and to further develop the military relationship with China.
Recent war game modular experiments in Washington demonstrated that the United States would loose if involved in confrontation with China alone. The Russians know that the US is stretched and have publicly stated that the US will not back their commitments to Ukraine, comparing them to Afghanistan. The loose cannon in the room is the relationship between US political Hard-line anti-Russian elements, extremist nationalist elements and groupings in Ukraine, and a Western media craving for and crazed by alarmism. A toxic mix that may be somewhat tempered into the future by EU energy-realism, and a US realization that it cannot back-up an unplanned and distant military intervention in Ukraine.