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Will Putin Again Use Olympics As Cover For New Aggression, This Time In Ukraine? – OpEd

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Eight years ago today, when the world was focusing on the Olympics in Beijing, Vladimir Putin used this distraction as the occasion to launch his invasion of Georgia. Now, there are both indications and fears that he may use the world’s focus on the Olympiad in Rio to reignite Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The Georgian foreign ministry has called attention to this anniversary and to the ways in which Putin acted and the world reacted at that time, actions and reactions that led to the loss of significant portions of Georgian territory and opened the way to Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea six years later (agenda.ge/news/63194/eng).

In the last few days, a Polish newspaper has warned Moscow is preparing for a new campaign against Kyiv (versia.ru/polskaya-gazeta-vyborcha-obvinila-moskvu-v-podgotovke-poxoda-na-kiev), Ukrainian officials have said they “expect a Russian attack at any minute” (qha.com.ua/ru/obschestvo/ukraina-ojidaet-nastupleniya-rossii-v-lyubuyu-minutu/163789/), and Russian outlets have begun to claim that Ukraine is preparing to attack Russian positions (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2016/08/08/kievskaya_hunta_gotovitsya_k_bolshoj_vojne_na_donbasse/).

Many will dismiss these articles as either self-interested or part of the continuing war of nerves between Moscow and Kyiv, but they may be more impressed by the relatively dispassionate analysis offered today by Moscow’s “Novaya gazeta” which lists recent developments and concludes that one cannot call what is happening anything but “an escalation” toward a major war (novayagazeta.ru/politics/74105.html).

If a major war happens and the signs point to the conclusion that both “the Army of Ukraine and the [Moscow-organized] self-proclaimed republics are ready for it, tens of thousands of people will be killed.” It lists as the most important signs the following developments of recent days:

  • “The attack on the head of the self-proclaimed LNR”
  • “The growing intensity of the exchange of fire”
  • “The rhetoric of ‘hurrah patriots’ in Russia and Ukraine, who are calling for ‘a decisive attack and victory”
  • “The crisis in diplomatic relations between Russia and Ukraine”
  • Efforts on both sides to draw the other into an attack.
  • “The rapid decline in the popularity of both the leadership of the DNR and LNR and of Kyiv rulers,” something both are trying to “compensate” for by militant rhetoric.
  • “The widespread sense of an impending catastrophe – a full-scale war in the middle of Europe.”

In such a war, neither side will win; but one thing is sure, “Novaya gazeta” says. Such a conflict will not end with a truce.” Instead, it will be “a geopolitical catastrophe,” first of all, for Ukraine, but then for Russia and many others as well.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

2 thoughts on “Will Putin Again Use Olympics As Cover For New Aggression, This Time In Ukraine? – OpEd

  • August 10, 2016 at 10:27 am
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    President Putin is the best President in the world right now. He has been helping his country to develop and prosper and is countering the cruel domination of world imperialism and sanctions. US and Europe imperialism has been threatening Russia by encirculating the country with massive weapons of destruction. Any stupid military person would suggest that the encirculated country, Russia, has to react to this massive imperialist deployment of weapons. Russia, under President Putin, has reacted and now is able to boot out world imperialism anytime. And I can state that world imperialism will not react if Russia moves militarily but will use its media only for condemnation. The reason is that world imperialism is really a coward and a fictitious or phony system is able to bomb and occupy poor countries only that do not have armies and weapons. That is, world imperialism goes after defenseless nations such as Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the like. When Iraq had a strong army full of weapons in 1991, world imperialism did not invade the county, but it did after the twelve-year UN embargo and the weakness of the state and the army. In any event, if world imperialism discontinues its threat to Russia, President Putin will not react and will not invade any country, because he is not ruthless as the current imperialist leaders. In addition, world imperialism has created and supported terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and other countries with fighters and weapons, but Russia has been fighting terrorism and has supported Iraq and Syria with massive military equipment and bombings of terrorists. There are other issues that can be listed demonstrating that President Putin is not a colonialist, imperialist, or a war criminal. Imperialist media and pundits have been working very hard to attack President Putin, because he has been kicking their behinds very badly. It is really good for the world to have more of President Putin. May Allah help him doing his jobs for countering imperialism and terrorism.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 2:46 am
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    Paul Goble’s new shilling trip! The US used the Sochi Olympics to attack Russia with the coup and war in Ukraine, not Russia. At least the author could keep his facts straight!

    Reply

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