Monday, 14 April 2014

Testing the Water...

It seems the Ukrainian situation refuses to die down, with more Eastern states falling prey to armed groups taking control of government buildings.

It may well be that Russia is looking to mop up all of the Ukrainian states East of the Dneiper river. In fact I said this my to friends when Russian irregular forces started to do the same thing in Crimea.

The thing is, Crimea isn't directly linked to Russia: there is no land bridge. There is a long thin road down a peninnsula that almost gets to Crimea, but there is no bridge over the water. Therefore to cement the annexation of Crimea, Russia needs more Ukrainian land and everything East of the Dneiper is fair game as far as Russia is concerned. Why settle for a disembodied state when you can have much, much more?

However, there is a disconcerting element to this: what if Putin didn't stop at the Dneiper? What happens if he decides to annexe the whole of Ukraine? What possibly could our response be? We wouldn't go to war with Russia, as Ukraine isn't part of NATO. The U.N. wouldn't sanction any "Peacekeeping" action, because it will be vetoed by... Russia.

So there is a great risk of Ukraine being subsumed by Russia, with the West unable politically to have an answer. Mind you Europe must share a large slice of the blame if that happens: if you poke a Pitbull, don't be surprised if it turns and attacks the Poodle sat next to you. Europe provoked Russia all right, with not just talk of economic co-operation, but full integration and membership (economic and political) of the E.U. and (most provocatively) NATO.

Okay, I'm pretty certain that we wouldn't go to war with Russia over the Ukraine. But what if he didn't stop at Ukraine? What if he took back the old USSR states?

Would we go to war?

What about Poland, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia?

Would we go to war?

At what point would Russia provoke retaliation? Its clear to me that the actions in Ukraine are a sounding board for further action. Testing the water.... looking for weakness.

And weakness there is aplenty. Forget the political weakness in Europe, its a given that the political amateurs in the E.U. will be outflanked and outpaced by Putin. That's what you get when a committee of unelected, self-centred bureaucrats get in a position to run anything. They are not leaders, they are directionless yes-men, serving the political elite.

Weigh up the question: Would we go to War? Or lets re-word it: Could we go to War?

Its been a few decades now since the Iron Curtain fell and "freedom" flooded into Eastern Europe. Since then successive Governments have degraded our armed forces, to the point that we now can't wage war on our own against a band of goat-herders, let alone the might of Mother Russia.

We have a fleet of six, yes that's six modern destroyers. We have one tiny not-quite-an-aircraft carrier, with no aircraft to fly off its decks. We have a fleet of submarines that just about hold together, plagued with problems in peacetime, its unknown how they would stand up to the pressure of wartime operations.

Our Air Force operates aircraft designed by committees from the 70s and 80s. None of them offer any benefits of ultra-modern technology. Not one of them offers the technological advantage of the Spitfire did in today's world.

The army is equipped with Challenger 2 tanks, who are equipped with ammunition that is almost at its use-by date. After that, there is no-one making the ammunition any more. The tank can be equipped with updated smoothbore canons, but that's not a reality yet.

So, could we stop Putin if he decided not to stop at the Ukrainian border?

And ask yourself, how quickly would we have to resort to nuclear weapons compared to two or three decades ago, thanks to our degraded conventional forces? How dangerous is it to rely on the last resort?