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 »
Thanks to competition from Europe, America's cheese stockpiles are at a 30-year high. Enter the U.S. government, which announced it's buying 11 million pounds of the stuff (about $20 million). The cheese will be donated to food banks.
"Freddie Mac shareholders cannot force the mortgage finance company to allow them to inspect its records, a federal court ruled Tuesday." A shareholder had asked the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to allow him to inspect its books and records, as Virginia law allows him to do. "The court held that Freddie shareholders no longer possess a right to inspect the company’s records because those rights had been transferred to the Federal Housing Finance Agency when the company entered into conservatorship in 2008."
The Pentagon has "provided more than 1.45 million firearms to various security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, including more than 978,000 assault rifles, 266,000 pistols and almost 112,000 machine guns." Trouble is, it can only account for about 700,000 of those guns. The rest are part of a vast arms trading network in the Middle East. "Taken together, the weapons were part of a vast and sometimes minimally supervised flow of arms from a superpower to armies and militias often compromised by poor training, desertion, corruption and patterns of human rights abuses."
"Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department" has been using a Cessna airplane armed with sophisticated camera equipment "to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings." The public hasn't been notified about the system, funded by a private citizen.