Russian troops crowd Ukraine’s border. One Utahn has been there, done that.
SALT LAKE CITY — After the opening of the Beijing Summer Games 14 years ago, Ronald Fox was sent on short notice to cross Ukraine’s border to represent the White House and State Department after Russia invaded the nation of Georgia. Sound familiar?
Some headlines from Monday:
- Stocks drop sharply as market eyes Fed, Ukraine tensions
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moving missionaries out of Ukraine
- The U.S. Department of Defense said about 8,500 American troops were put on heightened alert and were awaiting orders to deploy to the region, should Russia invade Ukraine
Fox joined Boyd to discuss his experience and what we can learn this time.
“Tell us how you saw this movie play out 14 years ago?” Boyd asked.
“It was almost identical to what we’re facing today. I will say that the degree of saber rattling is a little louder this time than it was at that time,” Fox said.
Inside Ukraine’s border
In Ukraine, Fox said he set up a meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko who became seriously ill from dioxin poisoning in an apparent assassination attempt during his campaign for the presidency in 2004; his face was disfigured and pockmarked.
“There was seriously a great number of Russian agents that were moving throughout the country, gathering the information, measuring weaknesses,” Fox said. “I had a Marine actually standing out in front of my hotel room 24/7.”
He said inside the Ukrainian government there were sympathies toward Russia at the time.
“And then there were a number of people who had been in what they call the Orange Revolution where they broke away from Russia and wanted to remain very independent,” Fox said.
Troops on high alert
“We now officially have 8,500 US troops on high alert possibly going to the region. Probably not into Ukraine, but probably a station there in Eastern Europe. What are you watching for in the days ahead that maybe we’re missing?” Boyd asked.
Fox said if Russia is going to cross Ukraine’s border, the motorized tank divisions have to start advancing before the frozen ground begins to thaw in mid-March.
“I think you made a very good point about the fact that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is rattling his sabers just for his own political necessity of him being important within the eyes of his own people,” he said.
Fox also said he was concerned about the 2022 Winter Games opening Feb. 4 in Beijing.
“I have a feeling that they may not blow up until after the Games,” he said. He added tension between China and Taiwan are already ratcheting up in 2022.
“All these issues — whether it’s Ukraine or Taiwan — it’s playing kind of a Russian roulette with the world,” Fox said.
Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.