The Inability To Tell The Truth: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

(1) putin and merkelClose to 300 people (including up to 80 children) flying on vacation or business from Amsterdam to Malaysia were murdered by a Russian missile. Here’s the big problem all the nations are facing: the vehicle which launched the missile is in Russia. It is highly probably that it was launched by Russian military forces.  The United States and the rest of the world has to figure out how to handle this rogue nation.

Much of the media is reporting the missile was fired by Ukrainian separatists in the civil war in Ukraine. That is wrong. First there is no civil war. It is an attack on Eastern Ukraine by Russian forces and Russian sponsored forces. The tanks, artillery and other heavy military equipment come in from Russia.

(2) ukraine airplaneThese aren’t Ukrainian separatists. The people in charge of the fighters are Russian citizens. One leader is a former KGB officer who also served in the Russian military intelligence service.

Leave that aside, even if you want to call them Ukrainian separatists, they did not fire the missile. They don’t have the capability, knowledge or training to do this.  The Russians fired it from Russian soil.

Over the past month three Ukrainian military planes have been shot down. In one 40 Ukrainians soldiers lost their lives; in another a Ukrainian fighter plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile fired by a Russian plane. (The so-called separatist have no planes.) These too were shot down by Russian forces. The “separatists” claimed responsibility hiding the Russian involvement. It is deja vu, those forces in unmarked uniforms and in vehicles without insignia who invaded Crimea were not supposed to be Russian soldiers but all knew that they were.

(2) russian bearNow we are at the moment of truth. Will the United States and Europe put the blame on the Russians? A day after the incident what is most noticeable is the silence from the U.S. and Europe concerning this Russian act. The problem is if they blame Russia then they should do something about this brazen act of terror.

I’m not suggesting the Russians shot down the civilian plane deliberately. They thought they were firing at a Ukrainian military plane. Their mistake though has made it blatantly clear that Russia is actively engaged in attacking Ukraine.

This the United States knew. We had compelling evidence of this which forced President Obama into increasing the sanctions on Russia the day before the downing of the aircraft. Obama’s timidity in the face of increasing Russian intrusions into Ukraine is understandable but does not reflect leadership. He’s very reluctant to go it alone because of the great pressures on him not to do this. I give him credit for taking the baby steps that he has done even though it is to pacify the U.S. intelligence community that stares in wonderment at his acceptance of Russia’s bold truculence.

I wrote the other day about the Putin-Merkel pact. I still cannot understand how Merkel has forgiven Putin for his invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea and absorbing it into Russia which happened only four months ago. I suggested that and her failure to condemn Russia’s present aggression against Ukraine gave Putin the green light to continue his activities.

Obama is perplexed, which is not a good thing for an American president. Most of our nation cares little about Ukraine so there is no mandate he do anything. Unlike Reagan who boldly condemned the Soviets downing of a civilian aircraft calling them a nation of barbarians, Obama feels no passion for this issue. The question is whether he will try to hide our knowledge that the Russians fired the missile so he can continue his bland approach.

(2) NazisThe pusillanimous European nations tiptoe around their knowledge that the Russians fired the missile. 24 hours later their perplexity at what to do is magnified by their silence. Are they constrained by the Putin-Merkel agreement? Is Merkel’s friendship with Putin determining the German inaction in the face of this atrocity?

The Russians know exactly what happened. They are in full propaganda mode blaming Ukraine. The blood of 300 innocents is on Putin’s hands. This is a moment of high decision. Putin has been allowed to seize Crimea; he has been allowed to invade Eastern Ukraine using the trickle-in method; he has now shot down a civilian airline. If he is again pampered and given a pass, we will be back in the 1930s when the same thing happened as Germany engaged in invasions and atrocities and the world looked the other way.

4 thoughts on “The Inability To Tell The Truth: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

  1. Hi Matt,
    Off topic currently, but have you heard any rumors about the undoubtedly forthcoming (quote-Jay Carney) book being written by Whiney, ahem Billy’s daughter? In my opinion it will be the most interesting book yet. Maybe we finally get to see Whiney’s 100 page manuscript.

  2. Matt,
    I swear it feels like we are back in the Eightie’s dealing with the likes of Brezhnev, Arafat, Begin, and Sadat. I thought that Gorbachev had brought Russia’s thinking into the modern age, but it seems they were just laying low for 30 years just waiting for their chance to be bullies again. Middle East conflict is just like Whiney Bulger saga, it will never end. Hope you are enjoying your summer. R.N.

  3. What if the shoot-down was intentional? Civil aviation insurers are panicked. Commercial flights are giving Ukrainian air space a wide berth. By destroying the Malaysian air-liner, the Russians have taken command of the skies over Ukraine. Russia has proved that it exercises air superiority over the battle area.
    Why is Obama so cautious? Perhaps, its because Russia is the second most powerful nation on earth by virtue of its plentiful supply of the latest nuclear weapons its’ very creative defense industry can produce. The unspoken real question, the elephant in the room, is whether Ukraine’s independence from Russia is worth a nuclear exchange. Obama knows the answer, so does Capital hill. No one wants to call Putin’s hand for fear that he is not bluffing.

    1. Khalid:

      Russia would have no problem exercising command over the airspace of Ukraine so it did not need an excuse to shoot down a civilian airline. Russia had been doing very well with its invasion using the go-slow approach to build up its forces and equipment pretending they were Ukrainian separatists that it would not want the attention that shooting down a civilian airline would cause. The Russians operating the missile having shot down other Ukrainian planes were on a roll; I have little doubt they thought this was a Ukrainian plane.

      Obama is naturally cautious. Where some people go with 85% certainty he wants 99%. He knows a lot more than he said today but does not want to push Putin into a corner. Rather than giving the performance he did today where he said people should not be confused by misinformation, he should have demanded Putin turn over the vehicle that launched the missile. It is clear it came from Russia and was operated by Russians. I suggest most of the world leaders know this but they have molified Putin so long by closing their eyes to his actions that now that he has forced them to open them they are confused. It’s like catching your best friend with his hand in your wallet. It takes some time to decide what to do.
      This can be handled short of any war. I agree most won’t call Putin’s hand because the uncertainty of dealing with a mad man (nuclear?) and also the demands of the economy. Most Americans wouldn’t blink an eye if Russia invaded and absorbed Ukraine into the Russian empire; that in itself present Obama with a major problem.
      Whether Putin having had his treachery exposed will change remains to be seen. If four months down the road things are back to friendly-friendly between him and Merkel look for him to continue to undermine Ukraine. The ball is really in the court of the Germans and they are not proving to be a reliable ally.

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