Azov – and now what?

December 2, 2018

Following on from the last entry and the events occurring in the Sea of Avoz, reader may be pondering why the blog has not written anything more – until now.

As the previous entry stated, “Everybody also knows that there should be a response as The Kremlin pokes to see if it is yet to meet steel or still prods into mush.

Naturally no response will make it continue to believe there is still room to go before meeting any form of real push back.  A meek response will be something it is well prepared to suffer as a result of this incident and making a Kremlin point to all who look on.

A reaction is required – but neither an under nor overreaction – from both Ukraine and its supporters.  Calculating and cool heads are required both within and without Ukraine.  Chest thumping, testosterone filled red mist is not the order of the day.”

So where are we?

Having allowed a little time to pass and for decisions to be made – or not – the response publicly  has been somewhat meek and in some cases far from seamless.

Ukraine introduced Martial Law, initially for a limited period, in numerous regions bordering the sea and its major tributaries.

There are presidential elections in March 2019.  The dilemma when wanting to be seen to be doing something, even if actually doing nothing (or very little) at all, is not only the perception when taking action, but also the perception of concluding it – particularly when the threat will not diminish.

Such actions require justification to instigate and require a similar justification to remove if not to look weak.

That threat is not going to change before presidential elections in 2019 – nor for many years afterward.  A behavioral change from within The Kremlin is extremely unlikely.

Everybody could see the Kerch Strait incident having a high probability of occurring months ago.  A little like sanctions, once Martial Law was applied it is very difficult to remove, for just like sanctions, it is a response to a belligerent and aggressive actor that threatens regional security.

It also has to be said there were “issues” domestically.

No two Ukrainian ministries were apparently able to explain just what, exactly, this meant in a coherent and unified manner.  It may very well be that command and control issues were dealt with ably when it comes to administration and chains of command, however a different explanation of what it all meant was offered by numerous ministries.  Not exactly an informational success story.

Nevertheless, a learning curve.

The anticipated “concerned” and “very concerned” communiques spewed forth from capitals around Europe and beyond.  Meetings of NATO, the EU et al will soon occur – long after the event and the situation on the ground/water has begun to solidify.  The moment when this particular incident was fluid and its immediate outcomes malleable has passed – no doubt to the relief of those sending communiques with no will/desire/coordination to do anything more.  A second communique after the first is equally as effective as the first – it isn’t in practical terms.

What occurs behind the curtain would be far more interesting to know.

In the meantime The Kremlin pushed and once again met with political and diplomatic mush.  It will push again and again until it meets with far greater political and diplomatic steel.

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