Is Russia Preparing to Invade Ukraine?

London’s Sun isn’t much of a newspaper. Most of its articles are about crime, actresses on vacation and reality TV actors behaving badly. But even the Sun knows that the potential outbreak of war in Central Europe is worth covering:

Russia is reportedly deploying a massive army on the Ukrainian border amid fears of an imminent invasion which risks destabilising Eastern Europe.

Ukraine‘s Deputy Defence Minister Ihor Dolhov says a recent surge of troops now means there are 55,000 Russian soldiers ready to invade.

There are allegedly thousands more stationed in Russian occupied Crimea and in pro-Moscow breakaway republics in the west and east of the country.

Ukraine is digging in because it is convinced Vladimir Putin wants to topple its pro-West government.

Russian military aircraft have been getting into the act, too:

As well as the build-up of troops, an array of Russian aircraft have allegedly been spotted practising huge bombing raids over Ukraine.

What is driving the timing of these Russian military demonstrations? The Sun explains casually, assuming that its readers will get the point.

Some Russian observers believe Moscow may use the dying days of Barack Obama’s presidency, which expires in January when Donald Trump is inaugurated, to carry out military strikes.

The Ukrainian news report on Russia’s military buildup is here.

The Daily Mail is similar to the Sun, possibly a bit more respectable. It, too, warns a Russian invasion may be imminent:

Vladimir Putin has deployed 55,000 troops on the Ukrainian border in Russia’s latest muscle-flexing exercise prompting fears of an invasion. The sudden influx of feet on the grounds adds to up to 7,500 Russian soldiers already stationed in Ukraine.

Putin’s deputy defence minister Ihor Dolhov made the announcement in Kiev, where officials are said to be convinced Russia is attempting to topple the government.
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There have also been reports of another buildup of soldiers in Belarus near the Ukrainian border, according to Unian.

The Daily Mail adds this chart to show how Russian troops are encircling Ukraine:

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So the Sun and the Daily Mail are on the case. How about Britain’s more reputable papers? I’ve seen nothing about the Russian buildup there. The New York Times? Lots about failed peace talks, but nothing about Russian troop movements.

I have no idea whether Russia will invade Ukraine between now and January 19. I assume it won’t. But its troop movements, if they are as reported by the government of Ukraine and picked up by a handful of disreputable tabloids, are news. Why are they not being treated as such?

One possibility is that the Ukrainian government, our ally, is making up stories about Russian troop movements that outlets like the New York Times know to be false, and therefore don’t cover. That is possible, but highly unlikely. More probable is that the Times, and other Democratic Party newspapers, have been tied up in knots about Russia ever since the infamous incident in one of the 2012 presidential debates when Mitt Romney said, correctly, that Russia is our foremost geopolitical opponent, and Barack Obama responded, “The 80s are calling, they want their foreign policy back.” This was considered a brilliant quip by some. The implication, apparently, was that Romney wanted to return to the days of the Cold War, which was long over with Russia now our friend.

This was consistent with the “reset” button and with Obama’s supine posture with regard to Russia throughout his eight-year administration. But it wasn’t consistent with reality, as Democrats apparently now know, since they now are charging Donald Trump with planning the same spineless attitude vis-a-vis Russia that we have seen for the last eight years.

That political whiplash is ultimately of little importance, but if Russia is indeed massing troops to threaten an invasion of Western-leaning Ukraine, that is a fact of the utmost importance. It seems odd that it isn’t being discussed in America’s press, if only to explain why the Ukrainian reports aren’t true.

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