30 June, 2022 Brief Update: Turkey Lifts Objections To NATO Membership For Sweden and Finland

Earlier this week, the prospect of Sweden and Finland becoming full North Atlantic Treaty Organization members cleared a major hurdle. Turkey lifted its veto of the two Scandinavian nations joining the alliance. The relationships between the governments of Sweden and Finland and NGOs deemed terrorist threats by Turkey threatened to derail the membership plans completely. Following weeks of debate and hours of negotiations, the three nations came to an agreement. Finland and Sweden will lift their arms embargoes on Turkey, strengthening laws against Kurdish militant activists that Ankara deems to be terrorists, and holding honest discussions over Turkish extradition requests for suspected Kurdish fighters.

Turkey won out. A statement released by President Erdogan’s office said as much. Now Erdogan is expected to push US President Joe Biden to push for a sale of F-16s to Turkey. Biden has stated the potential F-16 sale is separate from the NATO matter, but many experts believe the sale will go through for the sake of alliance unity in the aftermath of Erdogan accepting the new NATO applicants.

Biden Says US Will Respond Militarily To A Chinese Attack On Taiwan

The media, analysts, talking heads and pundits have spent most of Monday breaking down Joe Biden’s comment that the United States will intervene militarily in the event China invades Taiwan. Some believe Biden misspoke, while others are of the opinion that the US president’s words were deliberate and contain message to Chinese leadership. The third group subscribes to the theory that Biden was the victim of another mental faux pas and his thoughts on a US response to a Chinese attack against Taiwan change with each passing week and should not be taken seriously.

For those of you who were unaware of what happened earlier today, at a press conference in Japan Biden hinted he would go further to help Taiwan then he has for Ukraine. A reporter asked him if this meant the US will intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion of the island. Biden replied that it did and said so without expansion or clarification. At a time when tensions in the Western Pacific are on the rise, Biden’s words could end up being tantamount to flicking a lighter while sitting atop a powder keg.

The White House moved rapidly to remold Biden’s words, emphasizing that the president stated US policy is not changing.  In a statement handed out to reporters, the White House attempted to conduct damage control. “He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”

The Pentagon chimed in soon after with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sharing his two cents. “I think the president was clear on the fact that the policy has not changed.”

Given the present tensions between China and the United States, Biden’s comments will elicit a response from the Chinese government. Most likely in the coming hours. In the absence of a reaction, tomorrow’s entry will look at just what military steps the United States and her allies in the Western Pacific could take in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

Ukraine Update 23 March, 2022 (Evening)

  • As evidence grows concerning Russian troops digging in north of Kiev, I do not understand the knee-jerk reaction by Western media outlets in declaring this a Ukrainian victory. Earlier this week it started becoming clear Russia was shifting to a strategy of attrition and Western newspapers, TV new channels and internet outlets openly reported this. The meaning of this was also discussed by pundits and for the most part they were correct. A strategy of attrition means a halt to advances by Russian forces for the time being and a reliance on indirect and direct-fire weapons to degrade Ukrainian defenses. With this in mind, the digging in and preparation of defensive positions by Russian troops should come as no surprise at the very least, nor should it be regarded as a Ukrainian victory. I understand the media and get why they do many of the things they do. But I do not like it, and sometimes I simply have to vent. This is one of those times 😊
  • When the meeting of NATO leaders starts in Brussels on Thursday, President Biden will face increasing pressure from US allies to spearhead alliance efforts to play a more active role in the Russia-Ukraine war. Aside from the ever-present desire by some NATO leaders to implements a no-fly zone over Ukraine or parts of it, there are other methods for assisting Ukraine that nations such as Poland and Slovakia would like to implement. None of these methods will move forward without at least tacit US approval and the Biden administration has been careful not to undertake or agree to any moves that could allow Russia to label the US or a NATO country as a co-combatant. Avoiding escalation has been at the forefront of US policy since hostilities began. On the other side of the coin, the less than stellar performance of the Russian military in the war so far has made some NATO members want to push the envelope so to speak. Right now wouldn’t be an ideal time to risk possible escalation, however. Vladimir Putin’s back is against the wall and if he feels trapped, the Russian leader will lash out. Then escalation becomes almost certain, and so does the prospect of a larger war.

Ukraine Update 22 March, 2022

  • Ukrainian government and military officials claim the possibility of Belarussian involvement in the ground war is increasing by the day. On the heels of this, Western intelligence sources I’ve spoken with claim Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has been deferring deployment by 3-4 days every time Moscow has asked about it. The Belarussian military is made up largely of conscripts and there’s fear in Minsk that joining the war in Ukraine could lead to mass desertions or worse.
  • Russian warships in the Sea of Azov have started firing into Mariupol, a first in the city’s siege. The firing has been largely limited to naval gunfire support, but its not yet known if this is directed fire or indiscriminate rounds.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons if Russia perceives a threat to its very existence as a nation. “If there’s a threat to the very existence of our country, it can be used in accordance with this concept,” the spokesman said in response to a question of whether Russia’s use of nuclear weapons could be completely ruled out. Russian military doctrine, like that of its Soviet predecessor, considers the first-use of nuclear weapons if a conventional conflict is being lost. Originally, this doctrine was developed for a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict in Europe during the Cold War. However, now it would apply to a conflict such as the one in Ukraine right now.
  • NATO has invited Volodymyr Zelenskiy to address the summit of NATO leaders on Thursday. It would be done via video format. Zelenskiy’s press secretary, Serhiy Nykyforov has stated he will take an ‘active role’ in the summit, but did not explain precisely what this means.

Ukraine Update 20 March, 2022 (Afternoon)

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy continues to address the legislatures and parliaments of Western nations. Today it was Israel’s turn. Zelenskiy called Russia’s attack on his country an ‘all out war’ aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people. He then explained this is why the current war resembles what the Nazis did to the Jews during the Holocaust. I think Zelenskiy skirted the edge with this comparison. In his drive to keep international support strong, Ukraine’s leader has made a few borderline outrageous statements. Luckily, Western governments and media have wisely covered up his occasional verbal faux pas.
  • The White House has confirmed President Biden will not visit Ukraine during his upcoming trip to Europe this week. When former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko commented yesterday that Biden should visit as a ‘symbol of our solidarity,’ it touched off a firestorm of speculation. Realistically though, the prospect of a US president visiting a nation while engaged in an active conflict was never even a possibility.
  • Ukraine’s military claims it has intelligence pointing to Belarussian forces joining the war in the coming week. This comes on the heels of another claim centered around a scheme being planned by Russian elites to remove Vladimir Putin from power, end the war and restore economic ties with the West. Aleksandr Bortnikov, head of FSB security agency, is allegedly being considered as Putin’s successor. Claims like these by Ukraine are not uncommon. Most of them have turned out to be little more than wishful thinking or fairy tales. If there is a coup being planned against Putin right now though, I’m sure the coup planners are not very thrilled with seeing their plans prematurely announced to the world.