Fletcher: Ukraine likely to become part of Russia

First, let me explain that I am writing this column on April 1. This is not to say the column is some kind of joke but rather to point out the events that I’m predicting may already have occurred by the time this gets printed.

Today’s topic is about the economic situation in Ukraine.

Let’s first set the stage. Ukraine is on the north edge of the Black Sea and is surrounded by Russia and former vassal states of the old USSR. The closest American military presence is an Air Force Base in Turkey, which is on the south edge of the Black Sea. The Black Sea is roughly 300 miles by 600 miles in size. The only entrance to the Black Sea is the Dardanelles, which is a very narrow strait controlled by Turkey. Turkey is in political turmoil with a president besieged by political interests within his own country.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, just seized by military force the Crimea, which lies on the southern coast of the Ukraine. European nations, the United Nations, and the United States cried foul and in retaliation said they won’t let any of Putin’s cronies visit Yellowstone this summer.

In the meantime Putin had his foreign minister speak to Secretary of State John Kerry in France. They couldn’t agree on anything, nor could Mr. Putin or President Obama when they talked on the telephone. Since then Mr. Putin has massed Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.

Things appear to be lining up for an invasion of Ukraine to protect the interests of ethnic Russians living there. This is analogous to Mexico invading the U.S. to protect the rights of Mexican immigrants.

I believe a Russian incursion into the sovereign nation of Ukraine is imminent and Moldova and Ukraine will come under direct Russian rule.

Wars often are caused by money and the largest export from Russia is oil and gas flowing through pipelines laid across Ukraine and ending in Europe, which has almost no oil or gas on its continent and is heavily dependent upon Russian exports to stay warm. All of those windmill projects in Europe don’t provide enough energy to keep homes warm and industries running.

Given a choice between preserving Ukraine’s independence or keeping their homes warm, I’m guessing Europe won’t fight much for Ukraine. Likely Russia will take over Ukraine because it won’t let Ukraine interrupt its cash flow by turning off the oil and gas flow through their nation.

Today the U.S. is no closer to energy independence because of federal policies that have blocked the construction of critical pipelines in our country. Those policies also prevent us from exporting oil. This means we are not ready to supply Europe with fossil fuels for an emergency such as I have described in Ukraine.

The world knows our military is smaller today than at any time since World War II. We allow photos to be published of important naval aircraft carriers moored next to each other. They remind me of Pearl Harbor just before the attack.

From an economic and military perspective it seems to me we have backed ourselves into a corner from which we can’t effectively respond. Putin has just cowed Europe and the U.S. for his own gain.

Apparently, the U.S. has just been displaced as the economic leader of the world.