CNN chronicles the Obama Administration’s sudden and catastrophic failure to ignore Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now that a thousand troops and a couple of armored columns have “accidentally” popped up on the wrong side of the border:
A top Ukrainian army officer said a “full-scale invasion” of his country was under way Thursday, as a U.S. official said up to 1,000 Russian troops had crossed Ukraine’s southern border to fight alongside pro-Russian rebels.
U.S. officials said Russian troops were directly involved in the latest fighting, despite Moscow’s denials.
Rebels backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers fought Ukrainian forces on two fronts Thursday: southeast of rebel-held Donetsk, and along the nation’s southern coast in the town of Novoazovsk, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Russian border, said Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion.
It’s not just the Ukrainians saying Vladimir Putin has failed to live up to the promise of hashtag. The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, charged that Russia couldn’t arrange a victory for the separatists by supplying them with weapons, so they’re “intervening directly in the fighting on Ukrainian territory.” NATO concurs:
Intelligence now indicates that up to 1,000 Russian troops have moved into southern Ukraine with heavy weapons and are fighting there, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday.
NATO provided what it said is evidence: satellite images showing Russian troops engaged in military operations inside Ukraine.
“The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine,” NATO said in a news release.
Commercial satellite imagery shows the same, according to a British security source with detailed knowledge of UK intelligence estimates. One image that British intelligence has analyzed, dated Tuesday, shows 15 heavy trucks, at least seven armored vehicles and at least nine artillery positions.
Maybe the DEPLOY CANNON INTO FIRING POSITION button is right next to the GPS button on those Russian self-propelled guns. They were trying to ask for directions back to Russia, but they hit the wrong button.
Another button they’ve been hitting by “accident,” to use Moscow’s favorite word, is the one that shoots rockets at the Ukrainians:
Two SA-22A gun/missile air defense systems were observed in separatist-controlled parts of Luhansk province on August 2, the source said. This system is not in Ukraine’s inventory but is used by the Russian military.
Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council said that Russian forces were in full control of Novoazovsk as of Wednesday afternoon.
Russia’s military fired Grad rockets into the town and its suburbs before sending in two convoys of tanks and armored personnel carriers from Russia’s Rostov region, it said in a statement.
“Ukrainian troops were ordered to pull out to save their lives. By late afternoon both Russian convoys had entered the town. Ukraine is now fortifying nearby Mariupol to the west,” the NDSC said.
A number of villages in the Novoazovsk, Starobeshiv and Amvrosiiv districts were also seized, it said.
The rebels have admitted they’ve got a few thousand active Russian troops fighting with them, although they have claimed – I kid you not – that the Russians are on vacation, and thought helping the rebels out would be a good way to spend their holidays.
The U.N. Security Council is in session, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko canceled his golfing vacation to Martha’s Vineyard… er, sorry, wrong President, Poroshenko canceled a trip to Turkey… and the Obama Administration has updated its readiness posture to “irritable.” USA Today has the action from the Security Council meeting:
“Russian soldiers, tanks and air defense have supported and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured and fueled by Russia,” Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. told the council.
She noted that it was not the first time that Russia has been called to account by the council for its activities inside Ukraine.
“At every step, Russia has become before this council to say everything but the truth,” Power said. “It has manipulated, obfuscated and outright lied.”
In response, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said the conflict was all Ukraine’s fault, calling it the “direct consequence of the reckless policy of Kiev, which is conducting a war against its own people.”
He added that rather than blame Russia, The United States should “restrain your geopolitical ambitions. Countries around the world would breathe a sigh of relief.”
What a card that Vitaly Churkin is! If the Obama Administration’s geopolitical ambitions were any more restrained, ISIS would be opening branch offices in Minneapolis. This bunch approaches the problem of Russia invading Ukraine with all the enthusiasm of a little kid opening the do-it-yourself root-canal kit Santa Claus brought him for Christmas.
Somebody tell President Obama that 2012 called, and it wants its foreign policy back.
(Navigational aid to help lost Russian troops find their way back home provided by Canada at NATO.)