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A Second Front for Ukraine

During WWII, Stalin pressured Churchill and his Secretary of State Anthony Eden to establish a second front in the West against the Nazis. He wanted to relieve the pressure on the Soviet Army in and around Moscow under attack by the German war machine. The Allies moved slowly, and it wasn't until September 1943 that they launched a large-scale ground offensive in Italy and almost a year later on June 6, 1944 in Normandy. The Ukrainians have been at war now for almost ten years. The West needs to set up a second front for Ukraine. The effect of a second front would be to drain Russian troops and military equipment away from the front lines in Ukraine and help the Ukrainians attain an early victory. 

How can the West help Ukraine open a second front without NATO going to war with Russia? Remember the little green men who invaded Crimea in January 2014. Their trucks had no license plates, and the soldiers had no identification marks on their uniforms. The Russian media at first denied the invasion and their ambassador to the European Union told the Western news media that the troops weren't Russian. Putin even went so far as to suggest that they may have come from some other post-Soviet state with similar uniforms. After weeks of denials, the Russian government gradually changed its tune and organized a referendum in Crimea that paved the way for Moscow's formal annexation of the peninsula. This is how Russia works. There is no respect for the rule of law. Find a way and do it, then let the truth come out. 

A second front is a way of distracting the Russian war machine from its goals in Ukraine. For instance, Ukrainian expats living in Europe could seize the Kaliningrad Oblast and shut down Russia's only ice-free Baltic Sea port. An invasion of the Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea, could be organized from either Poland or Lithuania. In a previous blog, we talked about the danger of the Kaliningrad Oblast to NATO defence. Germany was forced to give up Kaliningrad to Stalin in the 1945 Potsdam Agreement. It used to be East Prussia, and the town was called Konigsberg in German. This tiny chunk of land is situated between Lithuania in the East and Poland in the West. The Kaliningrad enclave is cut off from the rest of Europe and has no land link to Russia. It makes no sense leaving it in Russian hands. There are one million people living there and it would be child's play to seize it.

You are wondering how it could be done without opening up the conflict further. Well, all you would need is a force of untested Ukrainian reservists dressed in green uniforms who could be bused in from Poland, Germany, France, Austria, etc. along with battle-tested Ukrainian special forces to lead the operation. The Ukrainian force could overrun the entire sliver of land in less than 24 hours: seize the airport and the town, and cut off electricity, water and fuel for the port. This would be sufficient to cause immense concern in the Kremlin and Putin would not know who had attacked this precious piece of real estate.

The Russians love cloak-and-dagger operations like this. These are the usual tricks of intelligence services. We only have to remember American CIA and French DGSE operations in Africa to know that a false-flag operation like this is entirely feasible and can be organized within days. The only way Russia could counter an attack like this would be to send troops by sea to Kaliningrad but without electricity, water, and fuel the Russians would be forced to abandon the port.

A third front could be opened in Finland with the help of Ukrainian mercenaries. Remember the land seized by the Russians during the Winter War. Finland lost around 10% of its territory to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Armistice in September 1944. A group of Ukrainian mercenaries could easily seize the town of Vyborg which was lost to Finland when the Karelian Isthmus was ceded to the Soviet Union. Again, this could be done by unidentified green men and would cause immense worry for the Kremlin. A fourth front could be opened in Eastern Estonia to take back land stolen by the Soviet Union after WW2. The Soviets unilaterally readjusted the border between Estonia and Russia, assigning 75% of the Pechory area (1,250 square kilometres) to the Pskov Oblast in August 1944 and the towns east of Narva (375 square kilometres) to the Leningrad Oblast.

There you have it: a second, third and fourth front that could be achieved within days, not weeks, and would force a reckoning in the Kremlin. Putin doesn't have the manpower to fight a war on four different fronts. He would have to move a huge number of men and tanks north to fight the Ukrainians supported by the Poles, the Estonians and the Finns. 

Audentes Fortuna Iuvat (Fortune favours the brave). Putin knows this. He will always attack first and ask questions later. NATO has shown timid responses to Russian aggression in the past and Putin knows only a weak, undecided foe in NATO. On December 29, Russian missiles flew over Eastern Poland and Poland reacted the usual way. It summoned the Russian chargé d'affaires to demand an immediate halt to such activities, and that was it. NATO did nothing to defend Polish airspace. What Putin ignores at his peril is that NATO is a formidable fighting machine and Russia would be instantly crushed if it launched any attack on NATO. The Russian border runs from North to South over a huge distance of some 2,500 kilometres and it makes Russia extremely vulnerable to attack from the West.