There was plenty of competition for the biggest political story of the week just ended: banks failed, we were on the brink of an international banking crisis and the indictment of the immediately past American president loomed among other things. I’m focusing on Ukraine today.
Call it what you want, but to me it was obvious (and if it surprised you I suggest you take a healthy dose of reality pills) that the United States was spying on the Russian navy’s activities in the Black Sea. It’s not a long jump to assume that the information it gathered was making its way back to the Ukrainian military. Here is the post-World War II (if not prior) reality: everyone, friend and foe alike, spies on everyone else and much of the findings are shared.
Two Russian fighter jets harassed the American drone and one got a bit too close clipping the drone and sending it to the bottom of the sea. (Side note: Just how bad are both the American and Russian jet jockeys? It took two shots to down a balloon over the Great Lakes and now a fighter hits a drone.) My prediction is that there will be much “strong diplomatic language” but since both sides are equal sinners little will come of the drone incident.
Despite the strong pro-Russian (and that’s exactly what it is) element in the Republican Party much of the rest of the free world realizes that Russia is the aggressor, democracy is their target and they must be stopped. Ukraine is a proxy war and it has increasingly become so. When and if it ceases to be a proxy war we are really onto something.
The next escalation in the war is the west giving advanced aircraft to Ukraine. The Ukrainians have been asking for that aid for some time now. Last week Poland “broke the dam” when it announced the near-term delivery of four advanced fighter jets. Shortly thereafter Slovakia followed with the promise of 13 more.
Poland is an interesting case. I’m am anything but a fan of its current far right-wing, authoritarian government. Why would they be the first to “break ranks”? Remember they have been at the forefront of “escalations” that aided Ukraine before. I think two things are at play. The Poles, with what they perceive as cause – and I don’t know enough about Polish history to fully explain why – have a dislike (I think I’m being mild in my verbiage) of the Russians. They also look at the map and assume that if Ukraine falls, they will either be next or on the short list.
Now I’ll throw in a wild card that I can’t fully connect the dots on yet: China. It appears China brokered an Iranian- Saudi “alliance agreement”. That is a huge deal that I simply lack the time and expertise to completely comment on. To me the big deal within the big deal is that China was the broker. Add to that the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to meet Vladimir Putin in Russia. In the future Putin, who was just indicted by the International Criminal Court, will find it often “uncomfortable” to travel outside of Russia.
China is to a great degree trying to play it safe to date. It seems to not want to take a direct involvement nor alienate either side at this point. If it jumps in it will severely escalate the war likely from a proxy situation to a direct conflict. If it stays somewhat on the sidelines, could it become the honest broker and raise its global stature? I don’t have that answer but I’m certainly watching and future historians will write about this.
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