My intrepid research assistant, Yehoshua Wakenin, has been scouring the dark corners of social media for the latest intelligence developments among the group of nations once described as “the Axis of Evil.” Iran, China and North Korea, along with Russia, are rushing into major military preparations in the spring of 2021 as if it were the eve of war.
Here are a few examples of unusual military activity:
● China is ignoring international sanctions by stockpiling cheap Iranian oil and blatantly defying international maritime boundaries by stealing other nations’ sandbars for military outposts. The Chinese Navy is preparing to defend these artificial islands with the world’s largest nuclear submarine.
● Iran (with China’s blessing) is increasing its nuclear partnership with North Korea. Supposedly mothballed nuclear plants in North Korea are steaming back into life. Kim Jong-un’s sister warns the West: “Don’t make a stink about it.”
● Russia has engaged in a massive movement of troops to the north, east and south of Ukraine. From Belarus to the Crimea, it looks as if Putin is preparing another invasion to bolster his faltering separatist movement in the Donetsk region.
It is possible that these massive troop movements and equipment buildups around the world are early indicators of a coordinated war plan for 2021. It is also plausible that this simultaneous upsurge in military activity is just a bit of theater to protest the pressure of international sanctions or test the resolve of the new American president.
It is tempting to dismiss all this military activity as mere coincidence or some sort of April Fool’s propaganda by the Axis of Evil. Doing nothing could be a Pearl Harbor level mistake. On the other hand, overreaction by the West could easily tip the scales towards a series of localized military conflicts, any one of which could lead to the outbreak of a wider war.
Any misjudgment could be fatal. If we do too little, the Axis may see us as weak and be tempted to make a move. If we do too much, the Axis may feel cornered and launch a preemptive strike.
“Russia has repeatedly denied sending troops and arms to support the separatists, and the Kremlin said this week that Russia is at liberty to move troops on its own territory.”
Ah, but whose territory is it? Russia has previously claimed large sections of Ukraine, including Crimea, Donbass and other eastern Ukrainians cities and regions as “its own territory.”
At the same time, Putin is telling neighboring NATO nations that they must not permit any movement of their own troops on their own territory if it is in the direction of their borders with Ukraine. Somehow that would be a provocative “threat” to Russia. But that “no movement toward Ukraine” rule does not apply to Russia’s ally. Belarus has moved most of its armored forces to the northern border of Ukraine, and Russia has not said a word in protest.
Irony is not dead in the Kremlin. “Russia is not a participant of the conflict,” Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, accusing Ukraine’s armed forces of “multiple” provocations in the region… A senior Russian official dismissed reports of Russia planning an attack on Ukraine as “fake.”
Mr. Wakenin sent me several videos of enormous Russian military convoys moving these “fake” forces up to the Ukrainian border. At the same time, so many train flatcars have been seized to transport Russian tanks and armored vehicles down to the Crimean border with Ukraine that the lack of rail transport threatens to wipe out Russian farm output.
This is the planting season, and the Russian farm machinery factories cannot find a single flat car to ship their tractors. Farm machinery is often too wide for Russian roads but not for Russian rail. A flatcar can carry two tractors but only one tank. The Russian farmers are so desperate to get seeds in the ground in time for the spring planting that they are threatening to import foreign tractors by river barges.
But allowing importation, the Russian tractor makers have warned the Kremlin, would devastate their domestic tractor industry, not to mention draining Russia’s currency reserves to pay for foreign tractors while Russian-made farm machines rust in the rain waiting for an open flatbed.
The Kremlin’s decision was to deny the tractors first priority. The trains must keep on moving military equipment before anything else. This is not mere saber-rattling or rehearsal for a propaganda parade. This looks more and more like a mobilization for war.
On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the US government publicly pledged to stand by Ukraine in the event of Russian aggression. On Friday morning, April 2, the Russian government warned President Biden against sending troops to Ukraine to buttress its ally.
A few hours later, President Biden called the Ukrainian president and personally “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”