Editor's Note: Bill Patalon's readers enjoy regular access to his high-profit research and best money-making, market-beating ideas. Today Bill looks behind a global crisis that's playing loudly out on the front pages everywhere, yet the most important factor is almost entirely being missed. Since Bill's been watching this trend for years, he sees, and shares, for us his one-of-a-kind insights…
If you've been watching the developments between Russia and Ukraine in recent days, then I'm sure you've seen reports of the sobering military buildups taking place on both sides of the border.
Today I want to spend a little time updating you on these escalations.
But then I plan to tell you about the real skirmish there – one that's not being reported on by the mainstream media. In fact, it may have already ended the battle in Moscow's favor.
Kiev just doesn't realize it yet.
The deciding factor in this skirmish is something we've been telling you about for more than two years.
And it just keeps gaining in importance – so much so, in fact, that we Main Street Americans need to watch it carefully just to protect ourselves.
This "X-Factor" goes by a lot of names.
But today we're going to refer to it as the "Invisible Front" of modern warfare.
And to set the scene, let's first take a look at what the mainstream media is looking at – the military buildups on each side of the Russia/Ukraine border…
Over the weekend, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency claimed the latest satellite photos "clearly show the accumulation of a large number of Ukrainian military equipment and weapons on the border with the Russian Federation and in the vicinity of Slavyasnk."
According to RIA, a Russian Defense Ministry source says the buildup includes more than 15,000 troops from the Ukraine Army and National Guard, about 160 tanks, 230 infantry fighting vehicles and armored-personnel carriers (APCs), and as many as 150 mortars, howitzers, and multiple launch rocket systems (including the BM-30 "Smerch" andBM-21 "Grad" truck-mounted launchers).
This buildup is big enough "to wipe… the city and all its inhabitants from the face of the earth," the alleged Russian Defense Ministry source told RIA. "This concentration of troops in one area is not compatible with the potential of self-defense forces, armed with only a small number of pistols and submachine guns."
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has a very different view of what's going on.
While Russia is lambasting the Ukrainian military buildup, NATO commanders contend that satellite images taken of areas on the Russian Federation side of the Ukraine border depict Russian military forces deployed in more than 100 makeshift bases. And according to the latest report by The Wall Street Journal, NATO has described these troops as being in "a state of high readiness" and allege the forces could make a major move in as little as 12 hours after receiving a high-level "go" order.
The Journal report says that "a senior NATO military official described the Russian military movements as 'destabilizing to the region, while NATO's secretary-general [late last week] called on Russia to remove its troops stationed there."
Moscow claims the images are "old" and "out of date." But the Obama administration believes in them enough to say that U.S. officials are looking for ways to counter those Russian troop movements.
And, following a pretty thorough review of available satellite imagery, The Washington Post essentially concluded that Russia's military was gearing up for action. The newspaper studied Russian military movements in six key areas near the Ukraine border and concluded that "NATO's argument that these satellite images represent a military buildup does carry some weight… especially near Kuzminka, where an isolated area not used for military exercises in the past is now seeing a lot of activity. Given Kuzminka's strategic location, not far from Donetsk, that certainly seems like something to watch."
Kuzminka, you see, is somewhat remote from normal Russian military centers. It's only 80 miles from Donetsk, an industrial center that's the fifth-largest city in Ukraine. There are few natural boundaries that would slow a Russian onslaught if federation forces decided to move into Ukraine from that direction.
And remember, too: Back on April 7, pro-Russian protesters took over some administrative buildings in several eastern centers – including Donetsk – and declared that the city of Donetsk is now the People's Republic of Donetsk. Ukraine's central government in Kiev has condemned the move. But having a sympathetic populace on the ground could serve as a kind of "fifth column" that would make the city an easy conquest for Russian invaders.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk wants to get the country to the May 25 presidential elections. He's cozying up to Western Europe and has talked about ceding more power to the country's regions in an effort to defuse some of the unrest.
He's also staying on the offensive in the international arena, saying that Russia is looking to start World War III by occupying Ukraine "militarily and politically" and creating a conflict that would spread to the rest of Europe.
Scary stuff, to be sure.
But this incursion may actually be over very quickly – thanks to the "invisible front."
About the Author
Before he moved into the investment-research business in 2005, William (Bill) Patalon III spent 22 years as an award-winning financial reporter, columnist, and editor. Today he is the Executive Editor and Senior Research Analyst for Money Morning. With his latest project, Private Briefing, Bill takes you "behind the scenes" of his established investment news website for a closer look at the action. Members get all the expert analysis and exclusive scoops he can't publish… and some of the most valuable picks that turn up in Bill's closed-door sessions with editors and experts.