Friday, 28 March 2014


  • War college professor warns of imminent invasion
  • US officials tell of ‘awful’ developments
  • NATO chief briefs US government on threat
WAS Crimea just the beginning?
A senior military academic is warning Europe is staring down the barrel of its biggest war since 1945. And it could start in days, as Russian forces mass on the border with Ukraine — apparently poised to invade.
The commander of NATO forces in Europe visited the White House overnight to voice his alarm at Moscow’s massive military build-up facing eastern Ukraine — on the other side of the embattled country to the already-annexed Crimean peninsula.
Many other military and political voices are suddenly expressing the same fears.
“By the end of the weekend, Europe’s biggest war since 1945 will have begun or Putin will have started to send the troops on the border home,” declared Professor of the Naval War College at Boston University, John Schindler.
And he is not the only academic voicing this concern.
The troops are reportedly not average Russian conscripts. New intelligence reveals the mechanised infantry units and their tanks to be among the best and most highly trained the Russian Federation has — diverted from their Moscow barracks to their tents and revetments overlooking Ukraine.
Also early this morning Australia time, a group of masked right wing ultra-nationalists began a demonstration inside and out of the Ukraine’s main parliament building - calling for the sacking of the police minister after one of their leaders was shot dead.
Commanding position ... Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, uses binoculars to obse
Commanding position ... Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, uses binoculars to observe a training exercise in Siberia, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and chief of Russia's military's General Staff Valery Gerasimov, right. Picture: Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service Source:AP
There are even reports — unconfirmed at this stage — that Russia has in the past few hours erected a massive field hospital designed to treat wounded soldiers.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric has also been heating up, with claims that Russian-speaking people in Ukraine are being treated “brutally”.
The much-talked-about Russian defence exercises near the Ukraine seem to be a spoof, designed to explain away the buildup.
While highly publicised exercises have been underway in distant Siberia, only a few “events” seem to have been staged among the troops massed near Crimea and Ukraine.

US Defense officials say the numbers of troops far exceeds the amount needed for any training exercise. And there is no evidence any large-scale manoeuvres have actually taken place
More worrying is that none of the troops have returned to their bases.
War expert Schindler has been fast and furiously tweeting his fears to all who care to listen in recent hours.
He speculates the real number of Russian troops now in place may amount to 80,000.
“(The) odds of invasion are raising,” he tweeted early this morning. “Only Putin really knows, but the world will know soon enough.”
Massed might ... Russian tanks during exercises in Siberia earlier this week. Russia has launched its biggest military manoeuvres since Soviet times, involving 160,000 troops and about 5000 tanks across Siberia and the far eastern region. Picture: Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service Source: AP
He argues that the presence of Russia’s best and finest forces are unnecessary for a “show of strength”. Many of the units are particularly loyal to Putin, he points out, meaning the Russian president won’t want them far from his side in Moscow for long.
It’s a tactical move not lost on the military head of NATO — Europe’s defence organisation.
General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, gave a classified briefing last night to various US government committees.

“We’re all concerned about what Russia is doing on the border of Ukraine,” Breedlove said after the first briefing. “The size of the forces have a message that are not congruous with respecting the borders.”
Even the United States — until now somewhat timid in its talk of Russia’s ambitions — is starting to get the message.
Ground attack ... Russian Army Su-25 strike fighters fly near the Baikal Lake in Russia. Picture: Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service Source: AP
“The thinking in the US government is that the likelihood of a major Russian incursion into Ukraine has increased,” a senior US official told Fox News.
“I can’t tell you how awful this is,” said one congressional source who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity.
CNN reports two Obama administration officials admitting off-record that new threat assessments are saying an invasion was far more likely than previously thought.
Nothing is certain, the officials said. But there have been “worrying signs” in the past three or four days.
“This has shifted our thinking that the likelihood of a further Russian incursion is more probable than it was previously thought to be,” one said.
In recent weeks the West has been stating its belief that there was only 30,000 Russian troops deployed to the Ukraine region. But there is mounting evidence a further 50,000 have arrived in the past few days.
At the ready ... Russian soldiers stand near a tank outside a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean capital Simferopol. Picture: Dmitry Serebryakov Source: AFP
Pentagon Press Secretary, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby told a press conference early this morning that Russia continues to reinforce its units along the eastern and southern Ukraine border.
“It’s doing nothing to assist in the stability of that part of Europe,” the admiral said.
“I would tell you that the staff here in the Pentagon, both the civilian and uniformed, are constantly looking at other ways that ... we can further reassure our allies and partners in Europe to potentially look at either adding to or reinforcing existing operations or exercises or even adding on additional opportunities,” Kirby said. “We’re looking at that very closely right now ...”
“Our concern is for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and for the Ukrainian people and their nation,” Kirby said.
Testing times ... a video grab taken from the Russian TV channel shows Russian paratroopers taking part in a night drill, 150km outside Russian southern town of Rostov-on-Don, a region next to the Ukrainian border. Source: AFP
Overnight the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of Ukraine. With 100 votes for, and only 11 against, the General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea as illegal. Another 58 nations abstained.
The troop build-up along the border is reminiscent of Russia’s military movements prior to the conflicts in Chechnya and Georgia, one US official said.
A Defense official said if Russia were to invade the mainland, Ukraine would attempt to defend itself and this would be “far from a bloodless event as we saw in Crimea.” However, Ukraine would be outmatched, this official told Fox News.

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