Image by Kremlin.ru
There are many facets to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict – the obvious and the more opaque. The obvious is that Russia has aggressively used its power over the Kerch Strait to harass Ukrainian shipping and block Ukrainian ports such as Mariupol. This is in addition to stoking the pro-Russian rebellion in the Donbass region of East Ukraine, which has led to the deaths of over 10,000 people, not to mention the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
This has all been done in the name of keeping the Ukrainian republic from moving closer to the European Union and the NATO alliance, which is obviously Moscow’s red line. You don’t do these things if you want peace; no, Moscow wants control.
However, the incident in the Sea of Azov over the weekend, which saw Russian naval vessels ram, fire upon and board Ukrainian ships, was manufactured by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The timing is very suspect. The declaration of martial law in Ukraine is unnecessary and also suspect.
What is the agenda behind these actions? It is simple: President Poroshenko wants to stay in power. Ukrainian presidential elections are approaching. Mr. Poroshenko is polling behind the famous Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko.
Ukraine is famously corrupt. There is great wealth and power that comes with the presidency. Most autocrats don’t want to lose that advantage. Mr. Poroshenko is no different.
What does a martial law declaration accomplish? It prevents mass demonstrations unfavorable to the government from being carried out as the elections approach. Mr. Poroshenko could even delay the elections until the political conditions are more favorable.
Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin needs an enemy (the United States) to keep the public’s eye off worsening economic conditions, Mr. Poroshenko needs an enemy (Russia).
What concerns me is the mission creep that is happening in terms of U.S. involvement in the conflict. In recent weeks we have seen the first American death on Ukrainian soil, as a U.S. Air Force pilot was killed flying in the backseat of a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet when it crashed.
This is how it starts.
I have written about how America providing weapons to the Ukrainians will embolden Kyiv to take risks with Russia. It seems my predictions have come to pass.
This is not America’s fight. We can support Ukraine, as the people deserve our friendship and support. However, we should not get involved in this frozen conflict stemming from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
American men and women should not die for Ukraine. I’m sorry, but that is just a harsh reality.
The Trump administration needs to be aware of the dangers of going down this path. After all, it was the Ukrainian government that was colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign against the Trump presidency.
This is a slippery slope. Stop the madness.
Originally posted at The Washington Times