Ukraine: The Opening Move

In the early hours of Wednesday, Russia finally made its opening ploy. Europe will be the first chessboard played in the initial moves in this global game. Putin came in with strong combination play. He knows his chess and has played this manoeuvre before. Russia tested the West’s resolve when it annexed the Crimea with a mere slap on the wrist from the world.  Crimea finally showing its true value for Russian forces entering the Ukraine. History has a nasty habit of repeating.

The Ukraine is another development move in a bigger, longer game. And, despite talks and social media fluttering, this has not been an unexpected play by either side.  One might suggest a mere pandemic slowing for this inevitable showdown. It was always coming. In December 2021, with an overwhelming bipartisan margin of 88-11, the US Senate voted to approve the largest military budget in US history.  Nearly $770 billion dollars.  The New York Times acknowledged, “The legislation’s main focus—shifting attention from ground conflicts in the Middle East in favour of a renewed concentration on Beijing and Moscow—aligns with the foreign policy vision Mr. Biden outlined this summer as he ended America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan.”

The Russo- Ukrainian war has been an ongoing thorn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pride since as early as 2014. But, more than an issue of pride, Ukraine is being played as a castle on the chessboard.

Coming hard and fast to the front, not as a pawn, but as an opening challenge. Russian intelligence has been playing in the sandboxes of bordering Moldovia and Slovakia for over 10 years preparing the ground. The tanks and troops massed on Ukraine’s borders are not a case of “sudden positioning”.   Not by either side. US or, Russian.

In early December 2021, President Joe Biden ruled out sending US troops to the Ukraine. His comments “That is not on the table,” and “We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, that’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine” seemed to indicate a public “hands-off/ not our problem” stance. Almost a veiled invitation for President Putin to move forward.

Despite this announcement, as early as Jan 24th, 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put 8,500 additional US troops on heightened alert. Ready to deploy into the area. Biden later publicly told President Putin that he would likely increase US troops’ presence in Europe to “reassure NATO allies” in the event of an invasion.

To the Biden administration Ukraine is a gambit play. It was an internal “wait-and-see move”. Not for the sake of Ukraine, but for the US.  War, in some form, was always coming. Biden wants it. His polls are down, sinking under a bloated economy. The Democratic Party is in shambles and State mid-elections polls show a turning red tide of conservatism.  Inflation is at a 40 year high of 7.5% and rising. The dollar is crashing under the weight of unregulated spending.  A distraction is needed. A figurative lynching for the rising mob.

Federal Chair Jerome Powell’s proposed interest rate increase won’t stop the economic carnage. It will literally “break the bank”. A wave of bankruptcies, creeping unemployment and increased internal political violence is already in motion despite the best efforts of the administration to play it down. Biden needs a distraction. Biden needs a war.

As this plays out, over the next few days and weeks, Americans will be fed on a traditional scapegoat. Since the days of McCarthyism, we have loved to hate the “commies”.  In saving the world, we believed we could save ourselves. The money machine of war has historically boosted failing economies since before WWI and WWII.  This is no different. This is not about saving anyone. It’s about money and the shifting of resources power in a climatically changed world.

Russia is not the Queen in this game. China is. As we stand, wringing our public hands on the borders of Ukraine, China is making her moves.  The recently renewed marriage vows between Russia and China plainly illustrated the major pieces in this game. Sanctions are pawns the US can afford to lose, for now. It’s a short-term vision that expects Europe to bear the costs. Summer is around the corner; Europe won’t feel the real pain until next winter.

The question is, can the Biden Administration flounder through the mid-term elections boosting his polls on a distant war? Donald Trump is back in play and there while he may not make another election, neither will Joe Biden.  Two more years of combined internal political chaos and economic destruction is more than any distant war can support. The colour of money will be red. American blood on foreign soil. Again.

Russia and China are playing on a long vision. Not a four-year plan. King and Queen joined in this chess game. Together, they have both the resources and time to nip at a politically crippled US. The US is at its weakest point ever. A result of 7+ years of political strife and 3 years of pandemic, it now lacks a seasoned diplomatic corps, experienced HUMINT intelligence and, a cohesive population. Fighting for the “free world” has failed on the home front. We are spread desperately thin in both hard resources and global manoeuvrability.

As explosions rock the cities of Ukraine, blood will flow.  Across the borders and around the world. This is not about democracy or freedom. It’s about survival. What’s the colour of money? Red.


Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner is a journalist and photographer. She has worked globally for over 20 years, in times of peace and conflict. Karin directs her pen and lens to document the contrasting narratives of the human experience. Her work invites you to engage the world from new perspectives.

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