NATO Commander Says Russia Doesn’t Need to Invade to Take Over Eastern Ukraine

Moscow may be able to annex parts of eastern Ukraine without an overt military incursion.

Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander of U.S. European Command. 
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
See more stories about...
Sara Sorcher
May 2, 2014, 10:47 a.m.

Rus­sia does not need to in­vade Ukraine to take over east­ern parts of the coun­try, NATO’s top mil­it­ary com­mand­er said Fri­day.

In­stead, Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin may be able to an­nex pieces of Ukraine simply by en­cour­aging un­rest among pro-Rus­si­an forces in­side the coun­try, said Air Force Gen. Philip Breed­love, who com­mands U.S. and European NATO forces.

“As little as a week and a half, two weeks ago, I would have put mil­it­ary in­cur­sion as the most likely out­come,” Breed­love told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “Now, I don’t take that op­tion off the table — [Putin] can still use it, his force is im­min­ently pre­pared to do that — but he may be able to ac­com­plish his ob­ject­ives with simply the un­rest his forces are caus­ing in east­ern Ukraine right now.”

Rus­sia has tens of thou­sands of troops sta­tioned along the bor­der un­der the aus­pices of a mil­it­ary ex­er­cise. Ukraine has ac­cused its neigh­bor of in­filt­rat­ing with gun­men mas­quer­ad­ing as loc­al mil­it­ants to seize build­ings and ter­rit­ory in east­ern Ukraine.

While Rus­sia denies this, Breed­love agrees the un­rest in Ukraine is “ab­so­lutely or­ches­trated and em­powered by Rus­sia.” If Putin con­tin­ues to suc­ceed in fo­ment­ing un­rest, and “dis­trust in the Kiev gov­ern­ment,” Breed­love said, “Putin “¦ may nev­er now have to come across the bor­der with the lar­ger land ele­ments.”

What’s hap­pen­ing now in east­ern Ukraine looks eer­ily fa­mil­i­ar to what happened in Crimea. Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Mar­ina Koren de­tails Rus­sia’s emer­ging play­book for an­nex­ing an­oth­er coun­try’s ter­rit­ory. Un­marked troops once flooded in­to Crimea just as they are seiz­ing parts of east­ern Ukraine now. At first, there were only sus­pi­cions, not of­fi­cial con­firm­a­tion, that they were backed by Mo­scow. Only after Crimea was an­nexed did Putin own up to send­ing troops to oc­cupy and an­nex the ter­rit­ory.

What We're Following See More »
SANDERS UP TEN POINTS
Trump Leads Tightly Packed Group Vying for Second
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

In one of the last surveys before New Hampshirites actually vote, a Monmouth poll has Donald Trump with a big edge on the Republican field. His 30% leads a cluster of rivals in the low-to-mid teens, including John Kasich (14%), Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio (13% each) and Ted Cruz (12%). On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 52%-42%.

Source:
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
‘HERMETICALLY SEALED’
Bill Goes on the Offensive Against Bernie
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

“Bill Clinton uncorked an extended attack on … Bernie Sanders on Sunday, harshly criticizing” the senator “and his supporters for what he described as inaccurate and ‘sexist’ attacks on Hillary Clinton. ‘When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,’ … Clinton said. … The former president … portrayed his wife’s opponent … as hypocritical, ‘hermetically sealed’ and dishonest.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
×