NATO warns how quickly Russian troops could take parts of Ukraine
Published Wednesday, April 2, 2014 7:57PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 3, 2014 2:00PM EDT
NATO’s top commander announced some pretty grim and scary news Wednesday. Russia has 40,000 troops within striking distance of Ukraine. These troops can be ready to attack with 12 hours’ notice and they could invade much more of Ukraine within three to five days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel he is beginning to withdraw troops, but Gen. Philip Breedlove told The New York Times only about 500 troops are moving.
“Over the past several decades it was unthinkable that the geography of European national would be changed by force,” said Breedlove in a Wall Street Journal article. “Yet that’s exactly what we’ve seen.”
Stephen Blank, a military and Russia expert and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council says what is happening is already a war, but adds if Putin moves troops any farther that will be the final straw for the West.
“Putin wants the West to be complacent…but the West has no tolerance for more nonsense,” Blank says to Kevin Newman Live. “I don’t think he (Putin) has the manpower (to invade more parts of Ukraine).”
Blank adds that Putin’s main strategy is to intimidate. Putin knows if troops keep moving, NATO will get involved. U.S. President Barack Obama has been playing the situation with a soft hand, but Blank thinks that will end if troops move toward Ukraine.
If you are reading The Moscow Times, you may think the Russian military can overrun the Ukrainian forces in less than three days. The outlet reports tanks are heading from Crimea into Ukraine not because of an invasion, but because the equipment is in such poor shape, Russia doesn’t want it.
“This humiliation illustrates the yawning chasm in the two countries armed forces – one hollowed out by a lack of finances, the other benefiting from booming oil revenues.”
Blank says this is all a part of Russian propaganda. There are also reports areas of eastern Ukraine are being asked to complete a petition calling for a Referendum to pull away from Ukraine, but Blank says there is no sign of that from the public.
NASA is also suspending contact with Russia because of the Ukraine crisis, but Blank says that it is all just a part of the sanctions. “Russia has very good rocket boosters and it’s a very lucrative business,” he says.
Breedlove says the Russian forces may be used to establish a land link to Crimea and they would be capable of moving into Odessa.
“I think they have all the opportunities and they can make whatever decision they want,” says Breedlove. “This is a very large, very well-equipped force to be called an exercise.”
He says NATO has to consider how to act.