At Christmas I read the newest (and final, given the author's passing) Tom Clancy novel Command Authority where hero and president Jack Ryan is battling to keep Russia from taking over Ukraine with military force, using agents provocateur in conjunction with the substantial number of Russian passport holders in east Ukraine as a pretext for involvement and invasion.
All is passing as Clancy has forseen:
Russia's large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov has arrived near the Russia Black Sea Fleet's base at Sevastopol, which Russia has leased from Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The ship is reported to be carrying as many as 200 soldiers and has joined four additional ship carrying an unknown amount of Special Forces troops. Flot.com also reported over the weekend that personnel from the 45th Airborne Special Forces unit and additional divisions had been airlifted into Anapa, a city on Russia's Black Sea coastline. In addition, it is believed that Russia's Sevastopol base contains as many as 26,000 troops already, according to the German Institute for International And Security Affairs.
Clancy will never be remembered as a giant of literature, but you have to give the man his due in anticipating world events. Russia is no doubt terrified of Ukraine pivoting westwards, especially given the billions of dollars invested there:
Moody’s cited Putin as saying Ukrainian borrowers owed Russia about $28 billion, according to a report this month, before the $15 billion of bond purchases. Ratings agencies will "eventually" have to look at this exposure, Grafe said.With fracking and Canadian oil exerting downwards pressure on fuel prices, one wonders where the Russian siloviki are going to find the money to maintain their lifestyles. For sure V. V. Putin can turn off the taps of Ukraine's gas supply, but that's only likely to make the citizens more angry at Russia.
I'd hope that rolling tanks across the border would be a step too cheeky even for Putin, but who knows what internal pressures are being exerted?