February 2, 2022, President Biden ordered about 3000 American troops to go to Central Europe (Germany, Poland and Romania) to reinforce NATO allied forces in view of Russia placing 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian boarder. About 1,700 service members, mainly from the 82nd Airborne Division, will deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland. Both North Carolina and Poland are near and dear to my heart so this news story catches my attention more than the Omicron variant.
Ironically, President Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine February/March 2014, right after the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the world watched. Tomorrow, February 4, the world will have an opportunity to watch the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics hosted by another country with a centralized political system, China. I hope that at the end of 2022 winter Olympics, we will not watch another annexation.
If history repeats itself, here are some obvious parallels:
|Winter Olympics||Feb 7-22||Feb 4-20|
|Location of Olympics||Russia||China|
|Host Political System||Central Govt.||1-party, Communist|
|President of Russia||Putin||Putin|
|Ruling Party in USA||Democratic||Democratic|
|Number of Russian troops||25,000+||100,000+|
|When did Russia enter Ukraine||+/- Feb 22||TBC|
I am not an expert on Ukrainian politics but I can only assume that there exists a mix of Russian sympathizers (most likely in Eastern Ukraine) and sovereign Ukraine proponents (most likely Western Ukraine). Speaking as I am holding my Polish passport, free Ukraine as a buffer between Poland and Russia is a very good thing. Speaking as I am holding my American passport, we have an obligation to support our NATO allies. While not yet a member, Ukraine has close relations with NATO and NATO’s Secretary General said that in 2008 NATO decided that both Ukraine and Georgia will become members it is just not clear when. President Putin is very much opposed to Ukraine joining NATO. Russia is demanding from the US assurances that the US will never allow Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. But the decision about Ukraine’s readiness to join NATO should only be made by Ukraine and 30 allies in the Alliance. This is diplomacy in a nut-shell. Russia threatens that they will be forced to take measures to eliminate unacceptable threats to their national security. US responds with a statement of economic measures which will be stricter than in 2014 (how did that work out for Ukraine and Crimean?) and the world is watching – first the Olympics and then ….
I cannot predict what will happen regarding the political tensions. I am glad that the United States is sending troops to Europe and I trust that 3000 additional soldiers added to boots on the ground measure up well with 100,000 on the other side. I do hope that other NATO countries are also stepping up. Luckily, I do not have to bet on this one; I can only hope that there will not be a perfect symmetry between the parallels of 2014 and 2022 and that nothing worse will happen.