The Kyiv Drum Beat
Some quick takes on the situation in Ukraine, for those with an interested eye.
Western open-source intel stress there are now 130,000 Russian servicemen deployed around Ukraine, with Kyiv saying the actual figure is closer to 150,000. That doesn’t account for additional forces mustered in Belarus for Union Courage 2022. Russian artillery has reportedly moved into a firing position along the border. Russian units seem to also be moving toward potential jump-off points, with tanks seen as close as 30km from the Donbas.
The take from D.C.
The U.S. State Department says they see no sign of Russia de-escalating what they feel is a looming invasion. As a sign they believe it, they are shifting the embassy “due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces” from Kyiv to Lviv in Western Ukraine– the old town of Lemberg in Galacia in Great War terms, or Lwów in Poland to use WWII framing.
At the Pentagon, the announcement came that another 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne would be sent to Eastern Europe, while the 160-member Florida National Guard unit that has been in Ukraine on a training mission will be “temporarily repositioned” out of the country. Surely the folks they were training had a moment of gravity when they saw the Americans packing up and waving goodbye.
Even though the GIs are pulling out, U.S. and NATO weapons are flooding in, with no less than 14 flights of arms being received in Boryspil alone in the past couple of weeks. This includes pallets of 7.62 NATO link ammo, 40mm link grenades for the MK19, Javelin anti-tank missiles, surplus Hummers, and Stinger MANPADS.
So many Javelins have arrived that the popular Zaporozhian Cossack emblem has gotten a modern makeover.
Russia is publicly saying, through its English language media organs at Ruptly et. al, that it “won’t allow endless negotiations.”
At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense is busy releasing video of troops on winter maneuvers, complete with tube artillery and snowsuit. It should be noted that, rather than troops near Ukraine, the video is of Northern Fleet Naval Infantry at play in the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk.
Notably, however, the Russian Ministry of Defense is also taking some of the oxygen out of the situation, announcing some of its troops are entraining back to their normal garrisons as they finish exercises with Belarus, with some leaving as early as Tuesday.
As the combat training measures are completed, the troops, as always, will make marches in a combined way to the points of permanent deployment. The units of the Southern and Western military districts, having completed their tasks, have already begun loading onto rail and road transport and will begin moving to their military garrisons today. Separate units will march on their own as part of military columns.
This news quickly got pushed out through Ruptly and RT, for those in the West.
As for Kyiv…
Meanwhile, the expected “Day of Attack,” February 16, has been declared a national “Day of Unity” by Ukrainian leader Zelensky. There is calm in the streets and a flavor that the country won’t allow another slice of territory to be gobbled up, as with Crimea and the Donbas area. But overall, it seems the folks on the ground there, who would be most impacted, are not worried, giving one the feeling that Washington is running a “sky is falling” narrative and the clouds are not as dark as it would seem.
Even Radio Free Europe, which arguably is the American version of RT/Ruptly, is running news that the Ukrainians are calm.
At the same time, Ukrainian nationalist groups are eagerly backing the impression that everyone from 8 to 80 is training and ready to fight, in spirit, if not in deed.
Added to this are a reported 17,000 foreign fighters from 27 countries assembled in the country, eager to fight the Russians, with the Georgian Legion spearheading the effort.
From India’s Gravitas News:
Should this all go sour, Eastern Europe and Israel is bracing for up to a million displaced Ukrainian refugees.
This has been a very long, played-out scenario, as the Russians– keep in mind– first added 90K troops to the Ukraine border region as far ago as last March to see what the West would do.
However, as the drumbeat of war is growing louder, my thought is that the West will pull some sort of 1938 style appeasement that allows Russia to save face without, literally, pulling the trigger.
I’m not saying that it is right or wrong, just giving my take.