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Once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.

Screen capture LiveUA Map May 4, 2019.

Ukraine’s five-year-old “frozen conflict” has not been forgotten by EU / NATO, which methodically if slowly has focused on containing the irritating Bear now pummeling Mariupol and targets north by northwest along a line of embattled territory on the western edge of Donetsk Oblast. In addition to a vigorous round of military exercises conducted by NATO in 2018, typified perhaps by the 31+ nation Trident Juncture 18, the United States has continued training-related deployments to Ukraine in a “train-the-trainers ” effort to improve Ukraine’s defense against greater incursion by Russian forces.

Not to flack the rah-rah: Ukraine has been made to pay a near daily — or daily — price in injury and death for having become a Russian test bed (no different than Syria) for Moscow’s defense technologies and “hybrid warfare”.

Russia’s cynical “Passportization” program appears also under way with the only resistance to it to be found in Ukrainian disinterest.

The Russian propaganda mill plies a familiar routine with web videos: the most recent shelling appears to come from Ukrainian forces without cause (I’ll leave the look-up on such as “Donetsk, fighting” to the reader). However, as displayed on any given LiveUAmap, Russia’s military-integrated activity should seem clear enough.

Primary source for this section:

Chang, Felix K. “Are the Russians Coming?: Russia’s Military Buildup Near Ukraine.” Foreign Policy Research Institute, February 25, 2019.

Drawing from the above source, this is what BackChannels tallies for undeniable Russian military presence in proximity to Ukraine’s border:

12 Battalions
340 Helicopters
500 Tactical Aircraft

Derived from the same source but focusing on what has been observed in relation to Russia’s military presence on the Crimean Peninsula:

A-50 AWAC (1)
BMD-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles
IL-76 Military Transport Aircraft
S-300 Air Defense Batteries (2)
S-400 Air Defense Batteries (5)

Analyst Felix K. Chang’s winter 2019 observation for the Foreign Policy Research Institute:

“Together with two other S-300 air defense batteries nearby, Russian land-based air defenses in the region could simultaneously launch as many as 192 surface-to-air missiles. Interestingly, their crews have been training to counter not only hostile aircraft, but also sea-launched cruise missiles, seemingly in preparation for a NATO intervention. Whatever the case, the airspace above Crimea and Donbas has quickly become among the most well-defended in the world.

For cruising through related offerings on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, the open source seems short of up-to-the-minute Ukrainian war reportage but for the Live UA Map, a conflict pin board, and reporting by Michael MacKay via Twitter and through his column in Radio Lemberg.

BackChannels has been seeing the numbers, finding Russian-side videos (in which the fire always comes from Ukraine, not the Russian-backed separatists that provoke it), and finding videos from when the conflict was all bloody new, shocking, and hot. Now it’s still bloody and plenty hot, but it has become a part of the daily fare in the world’s conflict-related horror show.

Perhaps a warning should be issued: once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.

MacKay’s tweet, much in line with thinking by America’s Democrats and possibly some Republican moderates, begs a few questions about Ukraine’s “frozen conflict” among others: how much “patience” has the west? How much destruction and how many lives lost is acceptable before jawing about Russian barbarism and kleptocracy and posturing about western defense support and strength lose their charm?

Russia has recently claimed victory in Syria. This is what that looks like:

Ruptly, January 20, 2016

With the winter-is-coming cloud of nuclear warfare hanging over east-west confrontation — and with the incredible billions of dollars laundered out of transnational criminal enterprise spiked into the bloodstreams of states — the way forward for the democratic attenuation of political power and the promotion of faith in rule of law may be difficult to see. While one may hope for hope in that regard, locking related conflicts into one place without limit seems itself dispiriting and on the side of evil.

For how long may Ukraine be expected to endure a Moscow-engineered “status quo”?

And for how long may EU / NATO — already somewhat compromised by Moscow’s use of Islamic Terrorism and Syrian mass migration to induce / “inspire” the western “New Nationalism” — abide Moscow’s favor for Feudal Political Absolutism (worldwide) and its concomitant eroding of the ideals, principles, and values associated with democracy and the still open societies of the west?

PBS NewsHour, May 2, 2019. For more information online:
Wilmont, Simon Lereng. The Distant Barking of Dogs.
VOA, April 9, 2019, prior to elections.
UATV English, April 30, 2019

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