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If Russia shoots US troops that are simply defending themselves while trying to keep a Russian army from advancing into Eastern Ukraine, the US will probably to go to war scale war with Russia. It's that simple. It doesn't matter what Russia claims because it is the US population and political class that makes that call, not international opinion.
This is how this works:
In 1969 the British sent troops into Northern Ireland to help protect Catholics who were being burnt out of their houses and attacked by protestants mobs with the shadowy support of the protestant police force and B Special auxiliary police force.
They were welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the Catholic citizenry.
However a small minority of catholic nationalists/republicans didn't want British troops on their turf and started some semi covert attacks on the troops from the cover of local knowledge. The troops responded unskillfully and started inadvertently killing innocent Catholics in response. Within months the entire Catholic community was turned against the troops and turned a blind eye when a full scale guerrilla war against the troops gradually emerged.
It won't take so long in the Eastern Ukraine, because unlike Northern Ireland (where the troops gained the support of the majority protestant community) US troops have basically to legitmate reason for being in Uktraine.
If, as you say, the US political classes will make the call, at some point, to go to war with Russia in response, they are simply setting themselves up for a bigger disaster than Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined. The US will lose its dominant position - economically and politically, in the world regardless of military outcomes in Ukraine.
And don't make the mistake of thinking Russia won't go full scale thermonuclear in response to (say) the US using Neutron or other battlefield nuclear weapons in the Ukraine. (You use nuclear weapons on our turf, don't think we won't do so on yours).
It never ceases to amaze me that deapite Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq - all wars the US essentially lost - the "US political classes" still think they can win such wars such is their imperial arrogance. And Russia is not Vietnam. You will be creating an enemy many orders of magnitude stronger.
Index of Frank's Diaries
The US is actually a fake military state - like North Korea, with better PR and advertising. It doesn't matter that it's not good at winning wars. What matters is the fake patriotism (for the proles) and the state spending (for the CEOs) that keep the pantomime running.
Practically, a lot of super-expensive hardware simply doesn't work. E.g. the F35 program is a disaster. So there's a good chance the US would quickly get its arse kicked in a real non-nuclear superpower war.
I think the US political classes know this. Hence the huffing and puffing over the Ukraine, and the complete absence of concrete action.
In fact when the US wants to do geopolitics, it sends in the spooks and creates a coup, or sends in the bankers. (See also Gene Sharp, Venezuela, Greece and Spain, etc.) Actually blowing shit up is largely for PR purposes these days.
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