Streetwise Professor

August 15, 2014

Putin Takes An Off-Ramp. Just One Problem: It’s the Donbas/Novorossiya Exit

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 2:56 pm

The mystery of the convoy deepens. This morning (ET), it was widely reported that many of the white Russian trucks were virtually empty. So apparently the humanitarian aid was to consist of stale air.

Last night (ET-morning in Ukraine), several journalists witnessed a column of Russian armor entering Ukraine.  Nato and some western governments confirmed that this had in fact taken place. Around 11 ET, Ukraine released a synopsis of a call between Poroshenko and UK PM Cameron, in which the Ukrainian president claimed that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed most of the invading column. Russia vociferously denied this. Russia also claimed that Ukrainians were attacking  the route of the convoy. But it did not claim that the convoy itself was attacked. So what were the Ukrainians shelling on this route if the convoy and the armor weren’t there? And how would the Russians know about this shelling inside Ukrainian territory.

The murk just keeps getting murkier.

The most plausible hypothesis  is that the the convoy is part of an elaborate deception operation to distract attention, create a potential incident that would create a pretext for a Russian invasion, and/or to provide cover behind which a Russian force could assemble and then mount an attack into Ukraine.

Western leaders have desperately been offering Putin “off-ramps.” Putin only concludes from this that Western nations will do nothing to stop him. It is the West that wants the way out, not Putin.

Or, to put it another way, Putin has indeed taken an off-ramp. The problem is that it is the Donbas/Novorossiya Exit, and he isn’t going for a pit stop.

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  1. The whole “humanitarian convoy” thing has been a real mystery. At first I thought it was clearly a PR stunt for Putin to get out from under the bad press he’s been getting. But halfway through its route it changes course, suggesting that there is something on the convoy that they don’t want found, that they will deliver to the terrorists without the Red Cross inspection. But why do this when they have purely military convoys moving over the border almost daily?
    Now the convoys are being inspected by the Red Cross and Ukrainians, and they are largely empty, suggesting that they were unloaded at some point after they changed course, again trying to hide something. But why?
    The convoy itself has attracted much media to the border, and that media has now witnessed the blatant military movement over the border to support the terrorists(something that the Ukrainian media has reported about 40 times now, but nobody has been listening to them). This is obviously bad for Russia and for the re-supply effort.

    I can only conclude that the whole thing has been ill conceived, poorly executed, and just not thought out well at all, like some spur-of-the-moment brainstorm by someone who has the power to implement such ideas.

    Comment by Gordon — August 15, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

  2. Mukden 1931.

    Comment by Chris — August 15, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

  3. The simplest explanation I have read is that the convoy is Putin’s Mavi Marmara. Clearly Russia is taking a page from the Hamas playbook in this conflict, and sending a peace flotilla to the Ukraine is a guaranteed win regardless of how it ends.

    Comment by aaa — August 15, 2014 @ 6:07 pm

  4. +++Clearly Russia is taking a page from the Hamas playbook in this conflict +++

    No wonder. Same school, same teachers.

    Comment by LL — August 15, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

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