Blog No. 61 Part II The National Security Strategy: Ukraine

Part II: Ukraine

In Part I of this blog, which dealt primarily with the Islamic State, we urged readers to take their own look at the National Security Strategy (NSS). In Part II, addressing Ukraine (and the Russian threat to Eastern Europe and the preparedness of NATO), we renew that suggestion although the portions of the document relating to the issues discussed here are relatively brief. Indeed, it is one of the most notable features of the NSS that Ukraine, the broader Russian threat and NATO are given surprisingly little attention.


Blog No. 51. Eastern Europe and ISIS: While America Sleeps

On November 13, The New York Times published an article reporting on the hundreds of career Army officers being forced into early retirement as a result of the drastic reduction in the size of the Army:

For the first time since the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the Army is shrinking. Faced with declining budgets, the Army, the largest of the services, cut its force this year to 508,000 soldiers from 530,000, with plans to trim an additional 20,000 troops next year. If funding cuts mandated by Congress continue, the Army could have fewer than 450,000 soldiers by 2019 — the smallest force since World War II.

The focus of the article was the personal hardships imposed on the soldiers and their families, hardships especially stinging in light of the many sacrifices made by the soldiers, often including multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. A further irony lay in the timing of the article, coming on the heels of Veterans Day on which Vice-President had expounded on our “sacred obligation” to veterans. […]

Blog No. 43, Part III: Ukraine – and What Lies Beyond.

A period of relative calm had pushed Ukraine out of the center of media and public attention for a brief time when President Petro Poroshenko addressed Congress on September 18. It is, however, a situation that we dare not lose sight of for very long. President Poroshenko gave an eloquent speech that drew several standing ovations. He may be Ukraine’s most important single asset: a leader of vision, courage and pragmatism. While it is doubtful that Ukraine will receive the weaponry that he seeks, Poroshenko gave the impression that he will find a way for Ukraine to survive. […]

Blog No. 33 Update 2: Another Message From Ukraine

We have received a copy of another email from Nita Hanson in Ukraine.  As indicated in a recent blog (“Blog No 33 Update – A Postscript Directly from Ukraine”), Nita is the founder of an American, faith-based mission in Ukraine. We thought that this message, like her earlier one, would be of interest to followers of, and an excerpt appears below.

Interest in Ukraine on the part of the government, the media and the public has appeared less intense in recent days. The situation is no longer referred to as a “crisis” and, in the fashion of current news coverage, it has slipped from the front pages. Perhaps that is because, despite the Russian troops massed on the Ukraine border, it is believed that  Russia does not plan an invasion. For example, an April 10 article in The New York Times (relegated to page A8 of the print edition) was headlined “Russia Plotting for Ukrainian Influence, Not Invasion, Analysts Say.” That may be, and hopes that is the case, because as we have indicated, we see no prospect for a successful outcome to a military conflict in Ukraine.


Blog No. 33 Update – A Postscript Directly From Ukraine

Nita Hanson, the writer of the letter below, is the founder of God’s Hidden Treasures ( The organization is an American, faith-based, mission that has been serving the poor, the afflicted and the orphaned of Ukraine since 1997. I received a copy of Nita’s letter from the missions committee of our local church, which is one of the supporters of GHT and Nita’s work. I felt that the letter provided a valuable insight on the plight of Ukraine previously discussed in Blog No. 33, “Putin, Ukraine and Echoes of Munich.” Feeling that the letter would be of interest to followers of I asked Nita’s permission to share it with you, and she graciously agreed. Too often, discussions of issues in the media and here are conducted at a somewhat abstract level that may seem disconnected from the actual people who are affected by those issues. I hope that Nita’s letter will help to supply that connection for the grave problems faced by Ukraine.


Blog No. 33. Putin, Ukraine and Echoes of Munich

After Britain and France approved Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement of 1938, it became a symbol of appeasement that still reverberates.  Indeed, Vladimir Putin’s telephone call to Barack Obama on March 28, offering a resumption of diplomatic discussions, raised the question of whether he may be seeking a 21st century version of the Munich Agreement. Russia’s incursion into Crimea, on the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians, reminded many observers of Hitler’s purported grounds for annexing the Sudetenland.  A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton observed:

“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s,” she said. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

Putin and Obama shake hands […]

Blog No. 32. After Crimea: A Different World? has been reluctant to add its voice to the cacophony of comment and opinion on the Ukraine crisis, much of it from sources far more knowledgeable than we. Yet it seemed there might be a point to putting down in one place what seem to be the principal issues:

1. Is the annexation of Crimea reversible?

2. Does the occupation and subsequent annexation of Crimea foreshadow a similar incursion into, and possible annexation of, eastern Ukraine?

3. Does Ukraine have the military capacity to resist a Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine or beyond? Should the United States and NATO provide military assistance to Ukraine and, if so, what kind?

4. How serious a threat do the Russian actions in Ukraine represent to other nations of eastern Europe?

5. What is the purpose of economic sanctions and what effect will they have?

6. What is the likelihood of our being drawn into direct involvement in an armed conflict in Europe? If that should occur, are we sufficiently prepared militarily and politically?

The ultimate question is suggested by the statement of NATO Secretary Rasmussen, in Washington on March 19. Calling the Ukraine crisis a wake-up call for NATO, he observed that, “We live in a different world than we did less than a month ago.”  The question is whether we are prepared to deal with that different world.

2014. Russia annexes the Ukrainian region of Crimea, after Russian troops invade and the area votes to secede from Ukraine. The vote and annexation is condemned internationally. The Economist, Mar 20th 2014, K.N.C., P.K. and A.C.M.