Could US-Russia conflict happen in Ukraine?

The Man

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Jul 2011
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#1

U.S. Marines assault a beach near Mykolayivka, Ukraine, using a Turkish Higgins landing boat during exercise Sea Breeze 2017, a Ukraine-hosted maritime exercise held in the Black Sea. US Marine Corps

After Russia fired on three Ukrainian naval ships Sunday, seizing the vessels and crew members, tensions on Russia's doorstep appear to have reached a fever pitch.

The incident took place in the Kerch Strait — a key waterway to both countries that bridges the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

And while Ukraine is not a NATO ally, members of the Western alliance have issued formal condemnation of Russia's actions, which appeared to be unprovoked.

"There is no justification for Russia's use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel. We call on Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized, without delay," a NATO statement issued Tuesday afternoon reads.

A U.S.-Russia conflict remains unlikely, but there are U.S. troops currently in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region that could respond.


A soldier with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Tennessee, demonstrates room clearing procedures in Yavoriv, Ukraine, Nov. 15. US Army

In Ukraine specifically, the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment has troops on the ground helping that country run its Yavoriv Combat Training Center.

The CTC — similar to the Army's versions at Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Irwin in California, and Hohenfels in Germany — is an immersive program designed to get soldiers ready for combat deployments.

The Army also keeps a rotating armored brigade in Eastern Europe year-round, which partners with local forces from Latvia down to Bulgaria on military exercises.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division is finishing up its rotation and preparing for the arrival of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

They are joined by the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, which spent Thanksgiving in Romania.

Marine Corps

The Corps keeps a relatively light footprint in the Black Sea region. The Marines operating in the area usually hail from the Black Sea Rotational Force — a handful of several hundred Marines and sailors who participate in security cooperation exercises across the region.

But, "Marines in Romania who had been part of the Black Sea Rotational Force departed on their normally scheduled rotation in September," Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Marine spokesman, said. "We have a very small contingent visiting in Romania this week for a ceremonial event taking place to honor Romania's national day."

While modest in size, the Corps' presence in the Black Sea serves as a powerful deterrent against would-be aggressors. Highly mobile and agile, the Marines in the Black Sea bounce around the region helping train and advise partner forces to boost collective security.

From July to September this year, the Corps kicked off three training evolutions with partner forces in Ukraine, Romania, and Georgia.

This year's iteration of Sea Breeze in Ukraine involved roughly 50 Marines with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. The training, which involved company sized mechanized attacks, stoked the ire of Russian officials.

"Military activities will take place in direct proximity to the conflict zone in southeastern Ukraine where Ukrainian military units continue to shell peaceful Donbass cities every day despite a 'bread truce' announced on July 1 by the Minsk Contact Group," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a July Moscow briefing. "Attempts to flex muscles in these conditions will hardly help stabilize the situation in this region."


Pararescuemen from the 131st Rescue Squadron train their Ukrainian counterparts at Vinnytsia Air Base, Ukraine, Oct. 16, as part of Clear Sky 2018. Aimed to promote peace, security and interoperability between regional allies as well as NATO partners, the two-week exercise brought together nearly 1,000 military personnel from nine countries. US Air Force

Similarly, the Air Force has held exercises of significance in Ukraine this year.

The California National Guard has been linked to Ukraine through a State Department partnership program since 1993, often rotating airmen through the country for training. That partnership has stepped up recently.

The Air Force wrapped up Clear Sky 2018, a large, multinational air exercise hosted by Ukraine in October.

"It was basically the largest of its kind in Eastern Europe ever," Lt. Col. Robert Swertfager, the partnership program director for the California Air National Guard, told Military Times last month.

The exercise paired California Air National Guard assets with the Ukrainian Air Force during close-air support missions, cyber defense operations and air sovereignty defense.

Special operations airmen, to include pararescue jumpers and joint terminal attack controllers, trained throughout October in Ukraine.

The Air Force also has multiple air assets in Europe that fly reconnaissance and air sovereignty missions over NATO allies. One ongoing mission is through unarmed MQ-9 Reaper drones, which began ISR operations from Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, in May.

"U.S. Air Forces in Europe regularly conducts exercises with allies and partners in the region, however, we do not currently have USAFE-assigned Airmen in Ukraine," Lt. Col. Petermann, an Air Forces in Europe spokesman, told Military Times.

Navy


The Ticonderoga class-guided missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) during exercise Sea Breeze 2017 in the Black Sea, July 14. US Navy

The Naples-based U.S. 6th Fleet does not keep a permanent presence in the Black Sea, but maintains a rotational basis of warships and support vessels through the waterway. Sixth Fleet officials declined to say if any warships are heading there now, but the command always releases the names of vessels entering and exiting the Black Sea.

In the summer of 2017, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Hué City and the Ukrainian auxiliary ship Balta conducted search-and-seizure training during exercise Sea Breeze. The Balta played the role of a "non-compliant" vessel and it was boarded by Hué City sailors.

Over the past 12 months, the guided-missile destroyers James E. Williams, Carney, Ross and Porter sailed the Black Sea, making stops in Bulgaria and Romania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the naval operation dedicated to NATO's collective defense of the Black Sea.

Home-ported in Rota, Spain, the Carney also visited the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Jan. 8 and exited the Black Sea five days later.

The Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship Oak Hill and the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit transited the Dardanelles Strait on March 7 to participate in the Romanian-led Spring Storm exercise.

On May 9, a detachment of the Sicily-based "Red Lancers" of Navy Patrol Squadron 10 brought their P-8A Poseidon planes to participate in NATO Maritime Group 2's Sea Shield exercise.

On July 7, the 6th Fleet's flagship Mount Whitney entered the Black Sea to participate in the annual Sea Breeze exercise with Ukraine. The nations focused on maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control drills, search and rescue, and amphibious warfare, according to the 6th Fleet.

The next month, the Military Sealift-operated expeditionary fast transport ship Carson City arrived in Constanta, Romania, where it dropped off the U.S. Army's Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

The Spearhead-class vessel later shuttled soldiers and their equipment from Poti, Georgia, back to Romania.

Tensions with the nearby Russians haven't come by sea but rather flared in the sky.

On Jan. 29, an Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker fighter intercepted a Navy EP-3 Aries II surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea. According to the Pentagon, the interdiction became "unsafe" when the Russian pilot closed to within five feet of the Navy aircraft and veered into its flightpath, forcing the turbo-prop plane to fly through the fighter's jet wash.

On Nov. 5, the incident was repeated. Videotaped footage released by the Pentagon showed a Flanker on the starboard side of a Greece-based Navy EP-3Aries II banking right of its nose before the Russian hit his afterburners, forcing the plane to fly through the turbulent wash.
Here's where US troops are stationed near the Black Sea waiting to respond to Russian aggression

On the other side, there are regular Russian troops in the Donbass, alongside the armed separatist forces

and, of course, various units in Crimea too.

If the current crisis were to escalate, and, all out fighting broke out between Russia and Ukraine tomorrow, a new offensive, say, from Donbass, and/or Russian forces from Crimea attacking into nearby Ukrainian Kherson region... what would these US troops do? Would Washington pull them out? Or order them to stay, and, perhaps, fight the Russians (and Donbassians) alongside the Ukrainian military?
 

Chief

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Nov 2009
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#2
Here's where US troops are stationed near the Black Sea waiting to respond to Russian aggression

On the other side, there are regular Russian troops in the Donbass, alongside the armed separatist forces

and, of course, various units in Crimea too.

If the current crisis were to escalate, and, all out fighting broke out between Russia and Ukraine tomorrow, a new offensive, say, from Donbass, and/or Russian forces from Crimea attacking into nearby Ukrainian Kherson region... what would these US troops do? Would Washington pull them out? Or order them to stay, and, perhaps, fight the Russians (and Donbassians) alongside the Ukrainian military?
I don't think Trump has the guts.

Also, I am not sure if the US people have the will. Fighting with Russia isn't going to be like beating up some tiny nation that one of our big city police departments could probably beat... which are the fights we are more used to. That would be a nasty bloody thing.

I think for the US to have the will, Russia would have to do something significant that affected the US directly.

I think we have reason to. But without the will to, it's not happening.
 
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The Man

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Jul 2011
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#3
I don't think Trump has the guts.

Also, I am not sure if the US people have the will. Fighting with Russia isn't going to be like beating up some tiny nation that one of our big city police departments could probably beat... which are the fights we are more used to. That would be a nasty bloody thing.

I think for the US to have the will, Russia would have to do something significant that affected the US directly.

I think we have reason to. But without the will to, it's not happening.
I am no longer at all sure what's gonna go down over there...

Probably the scariest thing, that I have heard some voicing online on Russian forums, is that even Putin himself might not be entirely in control anymore, that the FSB (who also command the Border Defense Forces and the Coast Guard) may have acted entirely on their own, in defiance of his wishes, in the incident off Crimea!

After all, Putin really did not want an armed confrontation with Ukraine right now. Everything's been going well, he was to meet Trump in Argentina (which is uncertain now), the Europeans have been losing their unity on the sanctions, with especially the Italians and the Hungarians increasingly taking Russia's side on the issue.

And now, this...

It's not the first time either. Previously, for example, in the incident where the Syrians mistakenly shot down a Russian surveillance plane after an alleged Israeli air strike, Putin moved to diffuse the situation: Putin says Israel didn't down Russian aircraft; Netanyahu offers condolences

Only to be contradicted, in from of the whole world, by his own defense ministry not long after: Russia: Israel to blame for downed plane over Syria, deliberately misled us

After that, Russia upgraded Syria's air defense systems: With Russia's S-300 in Syria, Israel will have to think twice about the next strike

Putin never wanted that either, he has a good personal relationship with Netanyahu and whatever there was to resolve here, they could have resolved privately between them


Yet, the military reportedly twisted his arm into approving the S-300 to Syria...

Putin has spent years and many billions of dollars rebuilding and upgrading and powering up the military and the FSB and other security and intel services; to make Russia powerful again

But some now think he may have actually created a monster he himself can no longer hold on a leash...

If the FSB really did go rogue in this case...

That's, honestly, kinda terrifying...
 
Likes: THOR
Mar 2012
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#4
I don't think Trump has the guts.

Also, I am not sure if the US people have the will. Fighting with Russia isn't going to be like beating up some tiny nation that one of our big city police departments could probably beat... which are the fights we are more used to. That would be a nasty bloody thing.

I think for the US to have the will, Russia would have to do something significant that affected the US directly.

I think we have reason to. But without the will to, it's not happening.
I think it would be chaotic and people would be over the top due to Trump. Had anybody else been president right now, I would agree with you that the American people wouldnt have the desire to engage over Ukraine. But because its Trump, they will demand it I fear. You would hear people say "what is he taking sides with Putin?" "Why wont the US fight?" They think he is in bed with Putin so they might expect something be done. Then of course they would complain we are in another war.
 
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The Man

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Jul 2011
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#5
I think it would be chaotic and people would be over the top due to Trump. Had anybody else been president right now, I would agree with you that the American people wouldnt have the desire to engage over Ukraine. But because its Trump, they will demand it I fear. You would hear people say "what is he taking sides with Putin?" "Why wont the US fight?" They think he is in bed with Putin so they might expect something be done. Then of course they would complain we are in another war.
You think many Americans would want their kids dying over there for God knows what good cause?
 
Mar 2012
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#6
You think many Americans would want their kids dying over there for God knows what good cause?
No of course not. But that wouldnt stop many from suggesting that Trump wont fight Putin because he is loyal to him. Its not that they want the war but that they want Trump to stand up to Putin.
 
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#7
You think many Americans would want their kids dying over there for God knows what good cause?
Being macho as a leader gets everyone else killed. Ukraine is right next door to Russia. Russia won't tolerate an aggressor on their door step. Neighboring NATO countries will be dragged in. How do you have a limited conflict when two macho's are duking it out?
 
Likes: The Man
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#8
I am no longer at all sure what's gonna go down over there...

Probably the scariest thing, that I have heard some voicing online on Russian forums, is that even Putin himself might not be entirely in control anymore, that the FSB (who also command the Border Defense Forces and the Coast Guard) may have acted entirely on their own, in defiance of his wishes, in the incident off Crimea!

After all, Putin really did not want an armed confrontation with Ukraine right now. Everything's been going well, he was to meet Trump in Argentina (which is uncertain now), the Europeans have been losing their unity on the sanctions, with especially the Italians and the Hungarians increasingly taking Russia's side on the issue.

And now, this...

It's not the first time either. Previously, for example, in the incident where the Syrians mistakenly shot down a Russian surveillance plane after an alleged Israeli air strike, Putin moved to diffuse the situation: Putin says Israel didn't down Russian aircraft; Netanyahu offers condolences

Only to be contradicted, in from of the whole world, by his own defense ministry not long after: Russia: Israel to blame for downed plane over Syria, deliberately misled us

After that, Russia upgraded Syria's air defense systems: With Russia's S-300 in Syria, Israel will have to think twice about the next strike

Putin never wanted that either, he has a good personal relationship with Netanyahu and whatever there was to resolve here, they could have resolved privately between them


Yet, the military reportedly twisted his arm into approving the S-300 to Syria...

Putin has spent years and many billions of dollars rebuilding and upgrading and powering up the military and the FSB and other security and intel services; to make Russia powerful again

But some now think he may have actually created a monster he himself can no longer hold on a leash...

If the FSB really did go rogue in this case...

That's, honestly, kinda terrifying...
Do you think Putin wants to have peaceful relations with the USA? At least tolerate each other and to avoid hostilities. Trump talks of wanting to get along with Putin which is far better then arming up against each other. AS you mentioned people surrounding Putin may be getting trigger happy. Likely here too. Syria is volatile enough, add Ukraine just up's the risks of something stupid happening. The more the two keep talking to each other , perhaps the risks will be minimized.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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#9
Do you think Putin wants to have peaceful relations with the USA? At least tolerate each other and to avoid hostilities. Trump talks of wanting to get along with Putin which is far better then arming up against each other. AS you mentioned people surrounding Putin may be getting trigger happy. Likely here too. Syria is volatile enough, add Ukraine just up's the risks of something stupid happening. The more the two keep talking to each other , perhaps the risks will be minimized.
One can only hope...

But, I don't know. I don't know anything anymore. Not after this recent incident. It all seemed to be deescalating before then, and now, suddenly, boom!

I cannot predict anything there anymore...

Just hoping there won't be a big war, in the end...
 
Likes: THOR
Jan 2007
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#10
I don't think Trump has the guts.

Also, I am not sure if the US people have the will. Fighting with Russia isn't going to be like beating up some tiny nation that one of our big city police departments could probably beat... which are the fights we are more used to. That would be a nasty bloody thing.

I think for the US to have the will, Russia would have to do something significant that affected the US directly.

I think we have reason to. But without the will to, it's not happening.
Before one starts a war, better count the price. Starting war is easy, finishing war is difficult.
 
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