The first world war became inevitable once mobilisation orders had been issued in Berlin, argued A.J.P. Taylor, a British historian. The complexities of early-20th-century railway timetables, upon which troop movements then depended, made any alteration virtually impossible. Modern armies do not suffer the same constraints. But as Russia sends more and more units to Ukraine’s borders, a grim momentum is building.
Last week’s diplomacy yielded nothing. Some of Vladimir Putin’s demands are impossible for nato to accept, as he well knew. (Essentially, he wants nato never to admit new members, and to remove its forces from any country Russia threatens.) On January 19th President Joe Biden said that he expects Russia to “move in” on Ukraine.
On January 14th hackers sabotaged Ukrainian government websites, getting them to display a poster of the Ukrainian flag and map crossed out, and warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect worse”. Over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, with field hospitals and fuel dumps. “Battalion tactical groups” have arrived in Belarus, a Kremlin client state north of Ukraine, in apparent preparation for a two-front attack that would divide Ukrainian forces and menace the capital, Kyiv. Only a trigger is lacking, and America says it has evidence that a “false flag” operation is planned to allow Russia to claim its men had been attacked by Ukraine. The odds of war seem perilously high.
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War can yet be avoided, but time is running out https://t.co/PcHWVSmP1X
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) January 21, 2022