The Drumbeat of War?

The drumbeat of war is starting to be heard, according to a US diplomat. In all likelihood he’s right.  This morning there are two events happening which people should be paying close attention to. Each one could very well prove to be a strong indicator on what’s to come over the next week and beyond.

The first is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a press conference earlier. Lavrov stated that Russia will not wait indefinitely for the official Western response to his country’s demands that NATO cease its eastward expansion and reduce the amount of military power it has on the alliance’s eastern frontier. The Russian government expects a written answer by next week. “We have run out of patience,” Lavrov said. “The West has been driven by hubris and has exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.” He then warned that “if our proposals are rejected … we will make a decision on how to ensure our security in a reliable way.”

Lavrov’s comments indicate that Russia is nearing the point where it will be ready to begin military action against Ukraine. Moscow is already keenly aware of NATO’s position. It was made clear even before this week’s negotiations in Europe between US, NATO and Russian diplomats. The fact that the Russian government is demanding an official written response by NATO and the US by next week could be little more than an attempt to buy time.

Proof of this can be seen in the statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense that troops stationed in the Eastern Military District (Siberia and Far East regions) have been scrambled for movement across the country as part of snap drills to check their “readiness to perform their tasks after redeployment to a large distance.”

The second event is the cyber attack that struck Ukrainian government hours after the latest round of talks between the West and Russia came to a close. The attackers hit roughly 70 government sites, leaving messages visible to all visitors such as “All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.” And “All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.” Ukrainian officials are investigating the attack and have hinted that they suspect Russia’s involvement in it. Most of the affected sites have already been restored. In response to the attack, NATO announced it would sign a new agreement within days with Kyiv on closer cooperation in cyber defense.

So, to summarize Friday morning’s events, the Russian government has publicly stated it expects the official Western response to its security proposals and demands by next week. At the same time, additional military forces are moving towards the Ukrainian border while the Ukrainian government finds itself enduring a cyber attack. The drumbeat of war could very well be banging and the first shots of a new war might come by the end of January. Or as soon as next week….

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