The Conversation

Russian troops drop a minefield in Crimea

Hey, didn't their used to be a determined group of international activists who thought land mines were a crime against humanity, given their propensity for causing civilian collateral damage, sometimes long after the conflict has ended?

What are those folks up to these days?  Because they might want to check out the freshly-dug minefields Russia is dropping across the Crimean peninsula.  

"Russian combat engineers were seen placing mines in the land bridge connecting the peninsula to the mainland in order to foil any Ukrainian attempt to retake Crimea," reports Haaretz.  "Currently, Kiev has made no plans to order any such invasion."

Well, no, I don't imagine they do.  The Ukrainians are not eager to take on 1,000 to 1 odds against the vastly more powerful Russian military.  They might put up a fight in a defensive battle for their home territory, but nobody doubts what the outcome of that would be.  They're not going to invade any peninsulas.

Apologists for the Russian invasion like to say that Vladimir Putin has little choice but to defend the vital warm-water naval port in Sevastopol.  Granted that's a major strategic asset, but what were the realistic odds that Kiev was going to take it away?  Putting Marines around Russian navy bases to fend off potential mischief is one thing; sending platoons in unmarked uniforms to occupy the Cinnabons at all the local airports is another.  

And what about Russia's ostensible need to protect ethnic Russians from rowdy Tartars and hotheads from Kiev justifies the way they've been treating international observers?  Haaretz again:

A third attempt by an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observer mission to enter Crimea was thwarted when militiamen fired warning shots in the air when they tried to cross over into the peninsula. An official at the Russian Ministry of Defense warned Saturday that the international crisis brewing around Ukraine could lead to the suspension of the international observer missions monitoring the reduction of the Russian nuclear stockpile.

Those wacky "militiamen" have also taken to firing shots over the heads of reporters, because they think the international press is biased against Russia.  A few rifle slugs buzzing past their ears should make them friendlier!

Russia's strategic objectives in Crimea may be perfectly understandable; Crimean demographics might make its separation from Ukraine inevitable; but what Putin is actually doing is indefensible.


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