Putin's Olympics has moved from athletics in Sochi to military action in Crimea where Russian special forces have seized the autonomous republic from Ukraine.
Interestingly, this is exactly the same maneuver Putin pulled off in 2008 while attending Beijing's spectacular Olympics Opening Ceremonies. On August 5, a Russian spokesman said Russia would defend Russian citizens living there if their peacekeeping troops were attacked.
Georgia invaded South Ossetia claiming its citizens were attacked to reclaim the territory, thus bringing down around their heads the full force of the Russian 58th Army and Airborne Troops within a day. Russia claimed these actions were a necessary humanitarian intervention and stabilizing initiative. Georgia lost about one-quarter, or two regions, of its land to Russia.
This pattern is no different and Ukraine is next.
Ukrainian thug Viktor Yanukovych has been encouraged to undertake egregious actions in order to destabilize Ukraine, thus providing an excuse to swipe pieces of the country in the name of humanitarian or stabilization kindnesses. Yanukovych looted the place with his cronies and children, revised the constitution to make himself a dictator, jailed his opponent despite global outcry, snubbed the European Union's generous offers and purposely caused riots by murdering citizens in the streets of Kiev. He fled to Russia where he will hold press conferences claiming that he is a victim and Ukraine has fallen victim to thugs in the street, ergo must be stabilized.
Putin has done this with complete impunity: Russia has a veto on the United Nations Security Council and will prevent any intervention; Europe is powerless to protect Ukraine militarily or justifiably given the fact its government has yet to join the EU and NATO is an unlikely ally because Ukraine never joined.
Crimea is the first to fall and my belief is that it's only a question of whether Russia partitions Ukraine into two or three pieces. Crimea, mostly Russians, is already a key to Moscow military strategy as the country's only warm-water seaport that can operate year-round. Crimea has already partially seceded as an autonomous region with its own parliament and premier so the ties that bind have been loosened for some time.
The United States is powerless to do much about this situation lest it provides more ammo to Putin who has already represented President Barack Obama's relatively mild warning to Russia as a call to arms. On the strength of Obama's threat that there would be "costs" to an outright invasion of any part of Ukraine, the Russian Parliament has given Putin the mandate to invade Ukraine and to withdraw Russia's ambassador from the United States.
Europe must take the lead and that means Germany and possibly NATO. Generous financial help to keep Kiev afloat will be needed as well as negotiations with Moscow.
The Ukrainian government must pull out the stops to generate an outcry from around the world and from the United Nations, then it must flex muscle by mobilizing its troops and garnering other military allies if possible. Regardless what happens, Putin is a powerful and cunning chess player and fully revealed his national strategy.
Stir up trouble throughout its "near abroad" then pretend you are the solution to give yourself the excuse to invade. Azerbaijan, Ukbekhistan, Kazakstan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Armenia take note.
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