More bad news on Russia and Ukraine


First, the good news: “Russia’s military says more than 10,000 troops are returning to their bases after concluding a month-long drill in southern regions, including those near the Ukraine border. Russia’s Southern Military District command said in a statement on Saturday that the drills had taken place in a total of 10 regions. They included Rostov, which borders Ukraine, and Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.”

And now, the bad news: This withdrawal may be less than meets the eye. The bigger concern comes from the Russian units on Ukraine’s northern/northeaster border, which are from the Western and Central Military Districts and not mentioned in this press release. Russia will still be able to invade on short notice during next month’s negotiations. 

More bad news: The Russians are adding to their list of demands and conditions for peace talks, not reducing them: “The security guarantees the Russian leader is demanding would preclude any further NATO expansion and would roll back any NATO military presence in the Baltic or central European states which joined the Western alliance in waves since 1999. The Kremlin is adamant that former Soviet republics of Ukraine or Georgia should not join the Atlantic alliance.” Vladimir Putin doesn’t just want a veto over future NATO members; he wants to bar the deployment of NATO forces in any country that joined NATO after 1997. That would include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, or North Macedonia.

And while we shouldn’t be surprised to hear boasts, threats, and saber-rattling, it definitely feels like cooler heads are not prevailing among some of the region’s military officials: “The nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would be destroyed completely in the event of a major new military conflict in Europe, Belarusian Security Council deputy chief Maj. Gen. Vladimir Archakov has warned.”

More bad news: Russian politicians and propaganda outlets like RT are continuing to warn that Ukraine is about to start the war by attacking Russian forces: “Ukraine may strike at Russia in February 2022 and launch an offensive in several directions, including in Crimea, an opposition MP in the Russian State Duma claimed on Sunday.” This certainly seems like the sort of disinformation that a regime would want to spread, so it could falsely claim to have been attacked and launch a massive “retaliatory” counterattack.

NATO and Russia are hoping to start negotiations on January 12, 2022.

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