Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tour of Ukraine-Russia Border Finds No Signs of Military Buildup

Top Russian officials – including Putin himself – have denied any such troop concentrations near the Western border. One minor Ministry of Defense official, who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to comment, told NBC News that there had been training exercises – war games – in the border region but, once ended, those troops and armor returned to their bases. “All of this international hype is completely unfounded,” he told us earlier in the week.

Still, the stream of YouTube video clips and photos seemed to tell a different story: long convoys of Russian armored personnel carriers on a highway headed toward Ukraine; tanks and artillery pieces moving by rail on dozens of train cars; squads of MI-24 combat helicopters perched on a hill near Belgorod, only 20 miles from Ukraine. Are these preparations for a Chechnya-like invasion, or just more maneuvers meant to intimidate Ukrainians and the West?
We went to look for ourselves. Cameraman Dmitry Solovyov, sound engineer Alexei Gordienko and I packed our bags, devices and news-gathering gadgets into the back of our grey, nondescript bureau minivan and began a journey along the 1,200 mile border between Russia and Ukraine – many segments of which give no indication that it’s an actual border between two countries.
Sudzha, a small town in the region of Kursk, site of the biggest tank battle of World War II, was our first destination. A tank column had been spotted there, 5 miles from the border, about a week before. But as we drove around the quaint town – equally proud of its freshly painted Orthodox Church and its bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin – we saw no tanks, or even armored personnel carriers. We did see ATM machines on almost every block. All was quiet. There was no tension in the air. Outside town, farmers were planting winter wheat.
... we spent the next two days traversing seemingly endless farmland on pot-holed roads, passing chicken coups and old ladies selling buckets of apples -- but no signs of brewing war.

We found more army bases -- in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky and Rostov, both near Ukraine’s southeastern border -- but the only activity we saw was some serious latrine duty and a band of conscripts enjoying a friendly wrestling match.

This report is from NBC News, a mainstream source. They have more reason to lie, because of their establishment ties, than to tell the truth and yet we find them contradicting the White House rhetoric.

Putin does not have to do anything. The forces arrayed in Kiev controlled Ukraine are too weak and unwilling to act against the Russian military presence in Crimea.

If some action originating in Ukraine is undertaken then the result would be similar to the recent Georgian War that saw the aggressive forces of a US-backed government soundly beaten by Russia.

If nothing happens pressure will mount on the coup Government in Kiev, where we might see a counter revolution, the coup Government voted out of office, or the breakaway of Eastern and Southern Ukraine to Russia (an act of 'self determination') as western austerity measures bite. 

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, April 2nd, 2014.]

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