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In the wake of renewed fighting following the breakdown of the Ukraine ceasefire agreement, Nato Accuses Moscow of Helping Ukraine Rebels to Carve Out State.
That Russia is helping the rebels is certainly believable. Yet, some of the NATO statements are so preposterous that everything NATO says is suspect. Let's take a look.
NATO: “We have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defence systems and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine,” General Philip Breedlove said on a trip to Bulgaria as fears mounted that a tenuous ceasefire would collapse.
Mish: Where can you hide a tank? More importantly, where can you hide "columns of equipment, primarily tanks"? If columns of tanks were heading from Russia into Ukraine, both US and NATO would have satellite images. So where the hell are the images?
Other statements by NATO appear more reasonable.
NATO: A Nato military officer told the Financial Times that the alliance believed Russia now has around 8 battalions – equivalent to as many as 6,400 men – in a state of high readiness on the border with Ukraine. The number of Russian special forces soldiers operating already inside Ukrainian territory has increased from 300 to between 400-500 in recent days, the officer said. The deployment of sophisticated modern weapons systems has become a particular concern.
Mish: Is it believable Russia massed troops on Ukraine's border. Yes. 6,400 men? Who knows? I don't. But where are the images? Can you hide 6,400 men? The problem regarding men is that even if NATO does provides border images, those counts are not necessarily believable unless one can prove when they were taken.
Are there 400-500 Russian special forces in Ukraine? That's certainly possible, even believable. But are those "special forces" volunteers or were they ordered by Putin? And by the way, isn't that much smaller than previous Ukraine estimates that pegged the number of special forces at 2,000-5,000?
BBC Chimes In
The BBC reports Russian Troops Crossed Border, Nato Says
NATO: Nato's Supreme Commander in Europe General Philip Breedlove has confirmed that over the past two days, Nato has seen columns of Russian armour, artillery and crucially - combat troops - entering Ukraine.
Mish: What about nukes?
NATO: General Breedlove also confirmed that Nato believes Russia is deploying nuclear-capable weapons to Crimea - a reference to reports that Russia is deploying short-range Iskander ballistic missiles there that could potentially be equipped with nuclear warheads.
Mish: That report ought to make McCain's hair stand straight up in shades of orange. No doubt McCain will use General Breedwar's assessment to get the US to send nuclear missiles to the Czech Republic. Should the US make such an offer, hopefully the Czech Republic declines.
Russia: Russian defence official Maj-Gen Igor Konashenkov said "there was and is no evidence" to support Gen Breedlove's claims.
Mish: We have heard the accusations on tanks before, repeated nearly every month by Ukraine. If there is strong evidence, can we see it please? Is that too much to ask?
Ukraine, the US, and NATO have had more than enough time to produce some images of convoys of Russian tanks rolling in over the border.
That they have not is strong evidence that NATO and Ukraine talk on tanks is mostly-to-all hype and little-to-no reality.
McCain Will Go Ballistic
Would Russia place nukes in Crimea? The idea is silly.
Russia knows full well McCain would go ballistic. In turn, Obama would agree to send more US missiles to Eastern Europe at US taxpayer expense. That is not a set of events Putin would want.
Unfortunately, McCain is likely to go ballistic anyway, precisely the reason for Breedwar's statement of "belief".
More nukes by any side, any place, is not going to ensure peace. Instead, nukes increase the likelihood of a serious accident.
Related Discussion Roundup
- November 11: More Blowbacks: Russia to Build 8 New Nuclear Reactors in Iran; Putin Signs Another Gas Deal with China
- November 09: Ukraine Split in Two; Expect Major Rebel Advance
- November 06: Prepare for War: Obama Asks Congress for ISIS War Authorization; Republican Hawks Have War Plan Prepared; Clinton-McCain?!
- November 05: Ruble Slide Continues; Russia Forced to Abandon Currency Intervention as Reserves Dwindle
Mike "Mish" Shedlock