Economics could force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, but it could also force them to invade
For the last few months the material crisis in Ukraine has continued its slow deterioration. Since the collapse of the Minsk Protocol, forces nominally loyal to the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have remained in control of territories to the east, bolstered by support from the Russian establishment.
It has been approximately one month since the Ukrainian army withdrew forces from Debaltsevo, in the east of the country. Now, the rebels show no signs of leaving and the presence of-a good number of them AWOL-Russian troops leaves one extremely curious as to what they are doing and/or planning.
It is obvious that there are, and have been for some time, Russian troops operating within the borders of Ukraine. One need only speculate for a short moment to understand precisely why they are there.
In addition to troops, the Russians have brought with them lots and lots of artillery pieces, mostly through rather quiet means (the Russians, cannons). These artillery pieces, in addition to mortars used on behalf of both belligerent sides, have done a great deal of the damage experienced by Ukrainian civilians over the last several months.
The annexation of Crimea, over one year ago, gave Russia a unique strategic challenge which, in practice, represents the root of one hypothetical invasion scenario. The territory which it occupies is, more specifically, strategically useless without the use of a corridor along the southern coast of the country through which to move armaments and other supplies.
Another theoretical scenario has the Russians deciding to simply acknowledge their role in the fight and to accordingly commence a full-scale invasion across most of the border. A third “hypothetical” would be characterized by continued and possibly amplified support, provided by the Russians.
This option, however, much like the one before it, presents a few negative and underlying economic externalities. In any scenario short of a full withdrawal of all support it is likely that this Ukrainian adventure will cost Vladimir Putin a pretty penny. On the opposite side, significantly overlapping categories of EU and NATO member countries also stand to lose much from gearing up for a fight.
Ukraine’s largest coke-fire plant-an industrial process vital to the production of steel-Avdiivka has remained open despite the ongoing conflict. Some 160 documented artillery strikes, electrical failures, and the deaths of some five workers have not hampered their efforts.
Prominent political leaders and administrators in western Europe have no doubt been ruminating obsessively over possible economic and military projections. Indeed, NATO finds itself in a complicated situation-as does Vladimir Putin, in a slightly different manner-as the likelihood of a unified military effort involving forces that are not Ukrainian or American is uncertain. What can be said, however, is that any large military response on the part of the United States or NATO will only come after a significant amount of foot-dragging.
One relationship, which comes about through market necessity, is that which exists between France and Germany. Their amplified and continued participation in the diplomatic process is an essential piece of massive machinery at work behind the militaristic double-speak. Make no mistake, there is real violence occurring in Ukraine, however, the perpetrators are relatively difficult to pin down with a concise definition. In the end a safe, logical conclusion would be that this conflict is being perpetrated by various groups acting to serve their own ends.
François Hollande, speaking on the subject of negotiations between the two European, global players “Through both of us, our countries [Germany and France] have found each other again.” The prospects for a truly friendly relationship between France and Germany are rather slim, although their economies are, by necessity, bound together and dependent on each other. This principle also holds true for other EU member states.
It is clear that, inevitably, time will be the governing factor with respect to Putin’s actual prospects for effective and lasting military action in Ukraine. What is known at present indicates that the possibility of a Russian invasion is very real. What is also known, however, is that an aggressive action would incur, on the part of the Russians, a great economic cost. It is for this reason that one can easily envision Russia using the Ukrainian rebels as their military force over the longer term.
The overall objective in this situation is to reduce the number of artillery shells and bullets being fired to zero. These are all things which fuel the political-military war machine. With that being said it is evident that the Russians have already given both tacit and under-the-radar support to rebel forces in the east of the country.
Transparency is, at present, the most lacking variable in this conflict. It is difficult to discern precisely which path those involved will take, however it is certain that this remains to be seen. Peace and economic autonomy for the Ukrainian people is, then, a goal to be realized in spite of this uncertainty.