On or around the weekend of 16 May, 2015, Eric G. Wintemute, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at American Vanguard Corporation, met with senior policymakers in Washington. The meeting was attended by Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland, the Associate Director of Military Affairs at the CIA since January of this year. In the words of other guests who were present at the meeting, Mulholland told Wintemute that everything should be done to draw Russia in the war with Ukraine.
This bit of news has been making the rounds on blogs and twitter accounts reporting on the war in Ukraine. As far as I can tell, it originated on the Moscow blog, pravosudiya.net, run by an amateur named Tatiana Volkova. She describes herself as a choreographer, a web designer, a truck driver and a lawyer. How very Russian. She appears to have obtained this news about Mulholland from a close and reliable friend rather than from some other news source. I have no reason to doubt “gospozha” Volkova, but I would appreciate corroboration of Mulholland’s comment from some other source.
Why am I so worked up over this comment? Mulholland is not some fake product of a neocon think tank. He previously served as deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and commander of US Army Special Operations Command. He also commanded special operations task forces during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and 5th Special Forces Group. He should know better. Why would he say such a thing if it was not Administration policy… a policy conjured up by the likes of Nuland and other neocon warmongers? As Colonel Lang said, “Those challenged in self-esteem may seek to prove themselves by goading The Bear but [we] learned not to do such stupid things.”
How far are we in successfully goading Russia into overtly invading Ukraine? To date, we all owe Putin a debt of gratitude for not taking the bait. Last week it appeared full scale war would break out again in western Ukraine. Best I can gather, the Donetsk rebels got sick and tired of the increasing Ukrainian indiscriminate shelling of Donetsk. This shelling has caused more and more civilian casualties. A strike on a market injuring 60 was the last straw. The rebels struck out at Maryinka and several villages west of there in an artillery search and destroy raid with around 800 troops and up to 40 tanks and IFVs with artillery support. They claim 400 Ukies killed and 60 vehicles destroyed including several artillery batteries. Rebel losses were not inconsequential. Both sides have built up their defensive lines since the Minsk-2 ceasefire began so offensive actions will be more costly for both sides in the future. I doubt this is the beginning of renewed all out war. Just more of the phoney ceasefire.
What is more disconcerting is recent events in Transnistria, an unrecognized state that broke away from Moldova in 1992. Both Moldova and Ukraine have, in effect, established a blockade of this landlocked state far larger than Luxembourg. Poroshenko has pledged to assist Moldova in regaining its territorial integrity. Russia has about 1,350 troops with heavy weapons stationed in Transnistria. Russia has pledged to stand by Transnistria and must find a way to keep its troops and the country supplied. Complicating the situation, Kiev has installed that impetuous hothead Saakasvili as governor of Odessa, stationed an S-300 battery near the border and is building up its troops on that border. NATO ships are building up in the Black Sea including the USS Ross, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis equipped guided-missile destroyer. Will Russia be forced to resupply Transnistria by air over the Black Sea (and the USS Ross) and Ukrainian territory or will Putin convince Moldova to relent? Will the U.S. and NATO force Moldova to maintain a blockade? Is this what Mulholland meant when he said everything should be done to draw Russia in the war with Ukraine? What could go wrong? Everything.