Putin is on a roll, and so are his tanks.Part 1  Welcome to “Boots on the Ground”

 By Robert Edgren, MBITA member and contributor July 14, 2014  

It is typical for a journalist to cover their rear by writing something and then projecting one or more alternative scenarios. But sometimes one has to put the CYA aside, and go with their gut feeling, tap into their experience and not pull any punches. That’s what I am going to do today with this update. A brief overview of my experience is below.  Trying to put all the parts of the puzzle of Ukraine – Russia – Crimea – EU – US seems like trying to play poker in the dark. But in one sense, it is quite predictable. It became very predictable just after the Sochi Olympics.  Putin's military will soon be crossing over the border to grab as much of Ukraine as they can, which may be up to and including the central city and capitol Kiyv. Anyone in the room willing to stop him please raise your hand.

I am going to get straight to the main issue in this situation. Gas and oil. Forget all the collateral issues for now, be them corruption, where to get energy, patriotism, flag waving, rhetoric, the right or wrong side of history, hanging on to every word Putin mutters, and Putin’s hunk photos, Obama and Putin’s stares at the D-Day commemoration. Also, I am not going to address alternative energy. The crisis is now, not ten years from now.   Crimea. The first chapter. The loss of Crimea was just not a loss of a beautiful resort, but also a loss of newly discovered oil and gas untapped in the Black Sea shelf. Discovered and verified about a year ago, fifty miles off the coast of Crimea, this find is estimated to be worth trillions. Would Vladimir Putin risk this slipping out of his hands? Having remained in Ukrainian possession, this would have had an incredible negative impact on Moscow and help free both Europe and Ukraine to jostle loose of the Russian oil cartel. But the spigot is in Putin’s control now. (By the way, Putin approached Ukraine about a year prior to make it a joint venture for what’s that is worth). They turned him down. Who is they is a good question.   Ready for the other shoe to drop? The area of Donbass of Eastern Ukraine, also about a year ago, along with Crimea, has massive unmeasured untapped oil finds. This is where cities and areas you may have heard of are saturated with separatists or controlled by them including Donestk, Luhansk,and probably soon Mariupol.   Putin on the Ritz. So, for a moment, put yourself in President Putin’s shoes. If you have not read it, rush out now to the book store or go online, buy a copy of the Art of War. Read it. Keep a neutral mind. Now you are ready to walk in Putin’s shoes, as he is writing the sequel. As Putin, in your hands, you have a nation of millions on a nationalistic fury carousel. You just accomplished seizing the third area that “belonged to Russia”, without a bb gun being fired. There are oil fields one  hour drive from your border, an area, that can be historically 
disputed as your country. If you think, act, negotiate like Putin, you will have your answer to what will transpire within a short time. In other words, yes, Russian tanks will roll through the borders of East Ukraine, just how far should be the question people and politicians should be asking. Who is going to stop him? The Ukraine military where many of the enlistees have never fired a weapon? The EU ? NATO? UN? or the US ? Given their recent track record, I would not bet on it. Place your bets. Let’s put it another way. Every businessperson is somewhat a gambler. At this point in time, if you were going to put your money on the West or Putin, where would you put it? I would put mine on Putin, certainly not because I like him, but rather at this point he holds most all the cards, and has many more up his sleeve.  
A long shot.For the long shot risk takers, the rewards could be grand. The big bright spot is the new president Poroshenko, who seems to have a spine that can stand up to Putin. He wants to rally Ukraine. He wants to engage the “enemy”, he wants to confront Putin. Will it work? So what to do? Go against the flow and send Moscow your resume. BP didn’t hesitate. Moscow will need all kinds of oil expertise and consultation, especially off shore which is not their forte.
There are investors arriving in the East buying properties and businesses ten cents on the dollar.
Some prize businesses and real estate can be snatched up for great bargains. Can you loose?
Yes. but this is how many Western regular people found themselves being millionaires after the Soviet Union collapse

It is a sad state of affairs when the President of the United States, allows resurrected Soviets, to rebuild their tyranny. Crimea should never have happened.

The author of this article has been writing for more than 20 years on East Europe matters. He has stayed in over 30 cities in Ukraine and Belarus. He was in Ukraine doing press work  during the Orange Revolution. During the Orange Revolution he was the only Western reporter to spend a night in “tent city”, and attend Tent City’s victory dinner. He has spent two summers in Crimea. Over the past 15 years he has interviewed over 500 Ukraine and Russian citizens.



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