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“Right now my advice to the Ukraine government is to maintain maximum restraint, but to prepare for the worst, because I don’t think Vladimir Putin is going to stop where he is. He is not going to stop anywhere until he gets rid of the leadership in Kiev,” Saakashvili said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Monday. “The West should be ready that there might be a war here.”
There several similarities between Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and its 2012 invasion of Ukraine and one main difference. Russia has yet to cross militarily into greater Ukraine, outside Crimea, and wage a full scale invasion of the country, as it did in Georgia. But Saakashvili said he sees plenty of signs that’s exactly what Putin plans to do next.
There are multiple Russian intelligence organizations stirring up trouble all over Ukraine’s south and east with a goal of preparing a pretext for a large-scale military intervention, he said. The huge military exercises currently ongoing on the Russian side of the border are of the same scale to those that immediately preceded the Russian invasion of Georgia, he pointed out. Russia is also putting out massive amounts of propaganda to establish a narrative that could support a large scale intervention, again eerily similar to their actions in 2008.
“Putin certainly has plans for large scale military intervention in the whole of Ukraine,” said Saakashvili. “I think Russia is looking for a hot war.”
Secretary General announces North Atlantic Council to meet following Poland's request for Article 4 consultations
The North Atlantic Council, which includes the ambassadors of all 28 NATO Allies, will meet on Tuesday 4 March, following a request by Poland under article 4 of NATO's founding Washington Treaty.
Under article 4 of the Treaty, any Ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
The developments in and around Ukraine are seen to constitute a threat to neighboring Allied countries and having direct and serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.
The United States should hold off on punishing Russia until the European community is on board with a specific response to the growing crisis in Ukraine, the Senate’s top Democrat said Monday.
In an interview, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Congress should let the situation play out for “a while” before trying to impose any new sanctions on Russia, which is dispatching military forces into Crimea — forcing the West to scramble for a response.“The most important thing is for us – the United States – to make sure that we don’t go off without the European community,” Reid said Monday in the Capitol. “We have to work with them. Their interests are really paramount if we are going to do sanctions of some kind. We have to have them on board with us.”
The comments are Reid’s first since the crisis in Ukraine deepened over the weekend. Congressional leaders from both parties have condemned Russia’s actions in recent days but have said little about how they might proceed.
Reid said he’s spoken to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough “a couple times” about the situation and was scheduled to get a classified briefing from CIA Director John Brennan on Monday. McDonough also has spoken with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Ukraine is the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, which has caused some havoc in those markets lately.
While political unrest continues to grow in and around the country, global grain prices have charged upwards. ”The importance of the Black Sea region to global grain markets should not be understated,” Luke Mathews, an analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a note this morning (paywall).
Global corn prices have risen by over 8% since the beginning of the year.
The problem isn’t this year’s harvest—the country is sitting on some 4 million tons (3.63 million tonnes) of corn and 2.5 million tons of wheat, according to estimates by Agritel SA. The problem is that local farmers are sitting on their stockpiles instead of selling them off, because they’re worried about the possibility of an imminent and potentially debilitating currency depreciation.
The Obama administration says any Russian threat to Ukraine's navy would be a "dangerous escalation" of an extremely tense situation.
The State Department says Monday Washington would hold Moscow directly accountable for such an escalation but did not elaborate on potential consequences. But department spokeswoman Jen Psaki adds that she could not confirm if Russia had in fact made such threats.
Earlier Monday, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Russia had issued an ultimatum to the crews of two Ukrainian warships in Crimea, demanding that they immediately surrender or be stormed and seized.
Secretary of State John Kerry is leaving for Ukraine late Monday and then will travel to France and Italy. He had planned to see his Russian counterpart in Paris, but Psaki said that meeting was no longer certain.
FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”
That’s a nice thought, and we all know what he means. A country’s standing is no longer measured in throw-weight or battalions. The world is too interconnected to break into blocs. A small country that plugs into cyberspace can deliver more prosperity to its people (think Singapore or Estonia) than a giant with natural resources and standing armies.
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.