Saturday, December 4, 2021

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

The Pentagon is not being quiet about obvious plans by Russia to invade Ukraine early next year as Moscow is very clearly building up troops and materiel along the Russia-Ukraine border and daring NATO to try to have Ukraine join in order to see what happens.

As tensions mount between Washington and Moscow over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence has found the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops, according to U.S. officials and an intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post.

The Kremlin has been moving troops toward the border with Ukraine while demanding Washington guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO and that the alliance will refrain from certain military activities in and around Ukrainian territory. The crisis has provoked fears of a renewed war on European soil and comes ahead of a planned virtual meeting next week between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders,” said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”

The unclassified U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Post, which includes satellite photos, shows Russian forces massing in four locations. Currently, 50 battlefield tactical groups are deployed, along with “newly arrived” tanks and artillery, according to the document.

While Ukrainian assessments have said Russia has approximately 94,000 troops near the border, the U.S. map puts the number at 70,000 — but it predicts a buildup to as many as 175,000 and describes extensive movement of battalion tactical groups to and from the border “to obfuscate intentions and to create uncertainty.”

The U.S. analysis of Russia’s plans is based in part on satellite images that “show newly arrived units at various locations along the Ukrainian border over the last month,” the official said.

Details of the U.S. intelligence provide a picture that Secretary of State Antony Blinken began to outline this week on a trip to Europe, where he described “evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine” and warned there would be severe consequences, including high-impact economic measures, if Russia invaded.

Biden said he is preparing measures to raise the cost of any new invasion for Putin, who has dismissed the U.S. warnings as rumors and said Russia is not threatening anyone.

“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be, will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden said Friday.

The Russian military moves come as Moscow has raised eyebrows in Washington with a sudden mobilization of reservists this year and a dramatic escalation of its rhetoric regarding Ukraine.

Russian officials have defended the reserve mobilization as a necessary measure to help modernize the Russian armed forces. But the administration official raised concerns about the “sudden and rapid program to establish a ready reserve of contract reservists,” which the official said is expected to add an additional 100,000 troops to the approximately 70,000 deployed now.
We 100% know what the plan is: for Russia to destabilize Ukraine's government and topple President Volodymyr Zelensky,in a coup, and then they just happen to have a multi-front invasion force on hand to "protect Moscow's interests and the Russian people of the Caucasus". Classic GRU playbook, classic Putin. Everyone knows what's coming, and NATO is just going to ignore things like they did five years ago.

Only this time, Ukraine will end up as part of a new Soviet Union, long a Putin dream. A whole bunch of other former Soviet states will be next. Everything that's happened n the last five year, Brexit, a crumbling EU, Trump and his threats to leave NATO, American isolationism, and the previous invasion of Ukraine, all planned by Putin and pushed along.

Now he's moving to the military stage.

It gets much worse from here.

DeWine's Purity Problem

Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine is facing increasingly angry (and violent) Republicans who don't find him sufficiently loyal to Herr Trumpenfuhrer, and it spilled over into confrontation at Friday's party Central Committee meeting.

An Ohio Republican Party Central Committee meeting ended abruptly Friday after raucous opponents of Gov. Mike DeWine in the audience refused to leave even after party officials brought in sheriff’s deputies.

The decision to adjourn the meeting because of heckling and interruptions from the audience came after Ohio GOP Chair Bob Paduchik and other state party leaders themselves engaged in an often-heated debate with several committee members over party contributions given to DeWine’s re-election campaign.

The boisterous meeting is the latest illustration of how divisive DeWine, a Greene County Republican, has become among Ohio conservatives. DeWine has built strong Republican connections during his 40-plus years in politics, but there has been growing discontent on the farther right -- both within the state GOP and among activists -- about many of his actions in office, such as stay-at-home and business closure orders issued in the early weeks of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Columbus-area farmer Joe Blystone are challenging DeWine in next year’s primary, though DeWine has significantly more money and name recognition than either challenger.

The state GOP’s central committee was unusually contentious from the start. Debates broke out on usually mundane agenda items such as approving the minutes of the previous meeting and the treasurer’s report.

Friday’s meeting agenda included five proposed resolutions -- an “unprecedented” number, Paduchik said -- that sought to, among other things, demand the return of nearly $900,000 the state GOP gave DeWine’s campaign in cash and in-kind contributions.

Another resolution sought to expand an audit of party finances, ordered after Paduchik announced a roughly $640,000 accounting error, which involved past party contributions to former Rep. Steve Stivers. The effort to expand the audit to include the years 2017 and 2018 has a political significance, as Jane Timken -- now a candidate for U.S. Senate -- was state party chair at the time.

The sponsor of that resolution, committee member Mark Bainbridge, criticized state party treasurer Dave Johnson about party finances, leading Johnson to reply, “I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.”

Bainbridge and four other committee members filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Republican Party earlier this week over the financial issues.

Both those resolutions and a third attempting to reverse Paduchik’s reorganization of standing committee members were tabled.

As the debate among committee members began, demonstrators in the audience, crowded together in the back of a room at a conference center in suburban Columbus, began to jeer Paduchik and supporters, leading Paduchik to issue multiple warnings to them to quiet down.

After the vote on the third resolution, committee member LeeAnn Johnson said the audience was harassing committee members and trying to participate in voice votes. That led the central committee to adjourn and Paduchik to order everyone to leave the room except committee members and credentialed media.

When some audience members remained in the room after several minutes, the committee voted to end the meeting. Sheriff’s deputies entered the room, though a reporter didn’t see the deputies attempting to forcibly remove anyone from the premises.

The demonstrators came from a number of other places around Ohio, representing a variety of groups. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Pukita urged supporters on social media to attend the meeting.

Christine Gingerich, a member of a Canton-based group called “We The People,” said she came to the meeting because she heard -- inaccurately, as it turned out -- that the central committee might vote to endorse DeWine for re-election. Charlotte Chipps of Morrow County, who’s helping Blystone’s campaign, said she attended for the same reason.

The state GOP central committee will meet next on Feb. 4, 2022, said party spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin. It remains to be seen whether the committee will take up the two resolutions it didn’t get to on Friday, both of which seek to reduce the number of central committee members eligible to vote on endorsing DeWine in the 2022 GOP primary.
There's no guarantee that Gov. DeWine will even be the GOP candidate at this point, let alone get another term.  We'll see.
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