In a recent CNN article, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Allied Commander, General Philip Breedlove, stated adamantly that Russia has “all components necessary to move on Ukraine.” With Russian troops strategically placed at Ukraine’s border, it begs to be asked: is the world ready for another conflict? Though sounding like an ominous recollection of cold war days past, it’s a serious question that the world must consider.
With estimates placing somewhere around 40,000 Russian troops at the Russia-Ukraine border, augmented by “fixed-wing aircraft, rotary aircraft, all of the logistics required in order to successfully make an incursion if they needed” as General Breedlove pointed out, to the untrained (and trained) eye it seems realistic that Russia is poised for a mass incursion into a sovereign nation. Though Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is adamant that Russia has “absolutely no intentions or interest in crossing the borders of Ukraine,” again, their actions speak much differently.
In a very tale reminiscent of the days of Hitler and World War II, in which the nations of the world were caught with their pants down, figuratively speaking, the possibility exists for an out-and-out conflict. This possibility must be dealt with.
While I applaud the efforts of foreign policy makers across the globe in their attempt to tactfully handle the Russian situation, the Russians have proven time and time again to be elusive, as exhibited by Putin’s op-ed in The New York Times amidst the Syrian arms negotiations. It is this elusiveness that must the force the world to prepare for the worst and be prepared to back up its words decrying Russian action.
In the end, Obama and our world cannot allow Russia or any other state actor to step over the “red line“–again–without punishment. Talk’s cheap and in today’s world, but nothing is accomplished without action. We cannot place all our cards on the table by following what one foreign minister says to another–they simply cannot be trusted!
We must trust our instincts and reflect on history as we respond to the continued threat of Russian aggression. If this means continually supplying the Ukrainians to ensure their defenses, so be it. If it means placing military assets in the region, then let’s do it. The world needs to put its money where its mouth is and show Russia that the world cannot be led astray and bullied by political circle talk. The world must not only be ready, but more importantly must be willing to act if Ukranian national sovereignty is to be defended. Without this affirmation, the world might once again enter an era in which borders are mere suggestions and sovereignty is something that is simply sniffed at.
War is not something to be supported or advocated lightly, and I’d be the last to say war is a good thing. Nonetheless, war is a evil that unfortunately has a place in the world if we wish to stand by our principles. It is this harsh realization that we must contend with and still be prepared to deal with head on. The world cannot do this if the international community remains unprepared.
If America, and by proxy the international community, continually holds out for further diplomatic action and the prospect of a “peaceful” resolution, Russia will have the flexibility to maneuver unchecked. As the most powerful nation on earth, we have the responsibility to lead the world by example, and show Russia that we are ready to defend our principles.
Hank Prim | Hillsdale College | @HankPrim