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Force is the only remaining option in Ukraine

Written By | Mar 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2014 — Under the ever watchful and persuasive Kalashnikovs of occupying Russian troops, the people of Crimea overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation. The vote for the split came in at 97%, a result which is statistically almost impossible. Many attribute the low anti-secession turnout to the high Russian troop turnout.

As Crimea is poised to be ripped from Ukraine, there is little diplomatic or political recourse Ukraine or their allies in the West can take. The European Union gets their energy from Russia, to bite the hand that feeds would certainly lead to frigid homes on the blank and unforgiving Eastern European Plane. The United States has the foreign policy credibility of the boy who cried wolf, coupled with an almost non-existent global military projection of strength.

It seems that no one is capable or willing to come to the aid of Ukraine as they see their country dismantled in front of them.

They have two options.

The first is to allow Crimea to float away without further escalation and international peacocking. Russia assumes Crimea into their Federation, and there is no need for war.

The problem with that is it will set another precedent which Vladimir Putin will use to continue to grab territory from former Soviet nations in their time of unrest. If you give a bear a cookie, he’s going to take Crimea. It’s simple science. This is the most likely outcome, Ukraine does not want a war, and the West cannot afford to face off against Russia. Sanctions will do nothing, Russia simply does not care. What Russia will do is use this model to seize territory all over Asia and Europe.

What is to stop Putin from fomenting rebellion in other neighboring countries with large ethnic-Russian populations, and invading and seizing territory?

The Russian government has lied every step of the way, as they continue to encroach upon the sovereignty of another nation. Reports have been leaking in concerning Russian troops crossing over into Eastern Ukraine and seizing key infrastructure points. In addition, Vladimir Putin is demanding that the new government in Kiev recognize ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych, and that they hold the elections that were promised before negotiations broke down under the old government.

This brings us to the second option, and that is war. Right now part of Ukraine is under enemy occupation, and it has forced a vote for secession. The sovereignty of Ukraine and their ability to decide their own fate, and be the masters of their own destiny is being undermined by the former Soviet spymaster from Russia. Vladimir Putin expects the West to do nothing, and he expects Kiev to fold, and he may even expect armed conflict, but should it come to war Russia may have more to handle than they expected.

Currently Russia has roughly one hundred fifty thousand troops stationed around the Ukrainian border, poised to move in on a moment’s notice. One hundred fifty thousand Russian troops, against the ninety thousand or so formal Ukrainian troops who have somewhat uncertain loyalty at this moment. However with Russia pushing into Eastern Ukraine, and with this referendum by force in Crimea, Ukrainians would be remiss if they did not see the Russian threat for what it is, a blatant violation of their sovereign right to rebel and to shape their country devoid of the heavy hand of foreign intervention and force.

That ninety thousand is not alone. The Ukrainian military can call on over one million reserve forces to assist them in a time of war. Of these, even if half answer the call to arms then Russia will have more on their hands than they realized or bargained for. The few troops that Russia has brought to the table leads one to believe that they do not expect to fight. While the formal forces of Russia outnumber those of Ukraine, Russia has to remember that they are on foreign ground. They have to be careful, if they continue their encroachment on Eastern Ukraine, they may step on a hornets nest.

That hornet’s nest comes in the form of the roughly eleven million individuals of military age living in Ukraine. If even ten percent of those individuals rose up in the case of war with Russia, they would drastically outnumber their enemy.

The use and application of civilian militia is not to be underestimated. Right now, several hundred Islamist fighters in the Sinai Peninsular are waging a guerrilla war against the Egyptian army, one of the largest in the World. Several hundred against thousands, and they are gaining ground. Historically, small groups of rebels have kept armies comprised of far more troops occupied and busy for extended periods of time. During the American Civil War the Confederate Raiders in Missouri tied down a Union army numbering fifty thousand for several years using hit and run tactics. During the Napoleonic conquest bands of Spanish guerrillas kept the French general and tens of thousands of troops busy during a long and arduous campaign. Of course the history of Afghanistan is well known by now as the Graveyard of Empires, everyone from Alexander, to the Soviet Union, to the United States have proven that small bands of militia have the ability to bring mightier nations to their knees.

These are groups of hundreds, in some cases thousands.

Imagine the strength if millions rose up. Imagine the message it would send to the world, if millions of Ukrainians answered the infringement upon their sovereignty with armed resistance. Vladimir Putin would be hard pressed to combat millions of Ukrainians swarming his troops and fighting them tooth and nail in every city for every inch of territory that the Russians attempt to take.

Ukraine has every right to fight back against Russia, indeed the people of every nation have the undeniable ability and right to rise up against any power seeking to infringe upon their freedom. If Ukrainians come to the conclusion that all diplomatic options have been exhausted, and they do indeed rise up against the Russian invasion of their territory, that is when the West and the EU will have the most latitude to intervene.

While opposing Russia and Putin overtly would be against the interests of many EU nations, and beyond the ability of the US government at this point, those who wish to check Russian advances in Ukraine would be open to supplying Ukrainian militia with advisers, training, small arms, and means to shoot down those pesky Russian helicopters. Ukraine would go to war on their own, but they would go to war using weapons and training gained from Western allies.

The Ukrainian government has already called up the reserve forces. They seem to be teetering on the idea of declaring that Russia leaves Ukrainian territory or there will be war. Force at this point is the only thing that will check the advances of this new Russian imperialism.

The United States and the EU cannot afford a conventional conflict with Russia, it would involve China and in no time the World would be at war again. But a guerilla conflict backed by the popular support of the people and the West has the potential to force Putin out of Ukraine and Crimea. He does not enjoy a lot of popularity in Moscow and throughout the country, the Russian people have come out in protest of this invasion, and so a prolonged guerilla conflict in which Russian lives were lost has the ability to force Putin to withdraw or face domestic repercussions.

Russia is currently dictating the politics of a sovereign nation while illegally occupying it. They have ignored the threats and warnings of other World powers, and they have flagrantly violated international law, and they have undermined and negated the sovereign rights of a neighboring nation in the name of imperialism and corruption. The only recourse in the face of these events is armed resistance. They say that war and armed conflict is the last recourse and only to be considered after all other options have been exhausted, however when war was the first option considered by the aggressive party, war can be the only remedy to the situation.

What is at stake here, is nothing short of the recognized, natural right of a sovereign nation to determine their own destiny. If Ukraine does not address the advances of the Russian Federation with force, then Ukraine will be lost and forever after subject to the whims of the former Soviet spymaster in Moscow.

Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a BA from Catholic University in DC and an MA form George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, both in history. When he not getting his hands dirty in 2nd Amendment and firearms news he is doing his best to take a crack at some drive-by political analysis. And every now and then he may or may not review a low end bourbon for the tax write off. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Back Porch Politics.