Ukraine -- and the World -- Holds Its Breath

February 23, 2022

If an invasion happens slowly enough, will anyone notice? That's question Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin seems to be asking himself as he tests the resolve of Western leaders by slowly inching his massive army into Ukraine. Earlier today, the Ukrainian government responded to Russian forces entering dissident-controlled Ukrainian territory by conscripting military reservists, granting citizens the right to bear arms, and declaring a 30-day national emergency (unlike recent emergency extensions by two powerful North American cowards-in-chief, foreign invasion actually qualifies as a national emergency). CBN reporter George Thomas reported from Ukraine that the public is fired up to defend the sovereignty of their homeland against Putin's aggression.

Meanwhile, American sanctions are rolling in much slower than Russian tanks. The Biden administration threw out the playbook on international relations, "holding back on sanctions as a deterrent measure," Representative Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) said. That experiment "has failed." He explained on "Washington Watch" that America should have ratcheted up sanctions as Putin began "threatening his neighbors.... Then, at the negotiating table, you pull those sanctions back as he de-escalates." The Russian army has now entered the dissident-controlled territory, which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.

On Tuesday, President Biden declared the "first tranche" of sanctions on Russia, which Waltz called "too little, too late." Effective sanctions on Russia target "these so-called oligarchs... the wealthiest of the wealthiest in the Russian society," Putin's inner circle, Thomas explained. But when "troops marched into the Donetsk and Luhansk region... some of those oligarchs were vacationing in the Swiss Alps."

Pro-Russian (and possibly Russian-controlled) separatists have controlled eastern border regions of two Ukrainian provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, ever since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, another Ukrainian province. This week, Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics (Soviet style) -- including the majority of those regions which are currently controlled by Ukrainian forces. Putin also said the country of Ukraine has no right to exist. For comparison, imagine if Mexico-backed dissidents controlled the Rio Grande Valley, and Mexico recognized Texas as an independent republic. To complete the analogy, imagine that Mexico had previously annexed California in 2014 for its natural resources and ports, and denied the United States' right to exist. That's the threat Ukraine is facing down, with a military only a fraction of Russia's.

Russian attacks on Ukrainian positions could begin any minute, although one soldier has already died from intermittent shelling along the border. Ukrainian government websites sustained a new volley of Russian cyber attacks earlier today. "If [Putin's] going to move, he's going to have to move quickly," said Waltz. With as many forces as Russia has deployed around Ukraine, it's "incredibly expensive" to keep them in such a "high state of readiness." Not to mention that spring thaws will literally bog down Russian armor columns, which can now blitz through frozen meadows with impunity. Putin's slow-motion invasion may hold all the cards, but it's also on a timer.

Putin's decision to move forces into Ukrainian breakaway regions "is clearly the basis for Russia's attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine," said Thomas-Greenfield. Even President Biden is convinced the former KGB officer plans to invade Ukraine. "People here are very concerned that he has these ambitions to reconstitute not just the USSR, but the Russian Empire," Thomas reported. Putin is only delaying the inevitable in hopes of somehow spinning the facts to justify his ruthless conquest of a smaller, freer neighbor. But it seems clear that the U.S. government, and everyone else, lacks the political will to deter him.