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What can stop Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine?

by aquilon Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:04:17 AM EST

The phone call between Putin and Obama two days ago, and assurances from Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov that "...we have absolutely no intentions of crossing Ukrainian borders", made in yesterday's interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel, likely indicate that all parties involved in this conflict are prepared to make certain concessions, and common ground has started to emerge. Understanding of the simple truth that further escalation of the tensions is a "loss-loss" proposition seems to gradually take hold in European capitals, Kiev, Moscow, and even Washington. Let's take a look what is at stake here.

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Russia
It's no secret that oil and natural gas contribute over 70% of its total export revenue, followed by metals and precious stones. These are industries controlled by oligarchs close to Putin. In an unlikely scenario of Europe trimming its purchases of oil and gas from Russia, pain will be felt there, no doubt about that. Currently, Russian exports of natural gas to Europe are in the order of 200 bcm annually. There is a project (code name `Altai') to build a pipeline to China, with design capacity of 30 bcm a year, which should be operational in 2015. As it stands now, Russia doesn't have a viable option to compensate for potential losses on the European market.  Besides, according to Greenpeace International, "... 5 million tons of crude oil are spilled in Russian oil fields each year "due to lack of maintenance and obsolete drilling and production equipment. And if this happens in the industry, which is considered a cash cow, one can imagine what is going on elsewhere. The country is looking for ways to modernize and diversify its economy by bringing in advanced technologies, knowledge and expertise. If Russia is subject to the same kind of sanctions that were imposed on Iran, it will also have crippling effect on its economy and military. Moving into Eastern Ukraine would make both prospects a less distant possibility. Unlike in Crimea, there will be at least some resistance and casualties, which is not going to improve the image of Russia and Putin. Moreover, quite a few regional king makers will almost certainly feel at risk to be pushed aside under the Russian rule. And don't forget the poor state of local economies, which Russia will have to take responsibility for.

Europe
On average, Europe gets more than 30% of its natural gas, and 35% of oil from Russia. At the same time, there are several nations in Eastern and Central Europe (such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, to name a few) that almost entirely depend on it. Currently, there are limited options to replace Russian gas, and all of them require substantial initial investments with energy costs rising regardless. Russia also produces (and exports) about 12% of world oil. Taking even some of it out will send a shockwave through the markets, with a devastating effect. Keeping in mind that the recovery in Europe is still fragile, this may throw a monkey wrench in the works. For Germany, it would be a double whammy: it imports 36% of its gas and 39% of its oil from Russia, and is the second largest (after China) exporter of manufactured goods there. No wonder that Germans are very cautious when it goes about economic sanctions against Russia.

United States
Judging by the sheer volume of trade with Russia - which is almost ten times as low as the EU has - the US economy may not be as vulnerable to direct impact of sanctions. Although, imports still cover roughly 40% of its oil needs, so there will be costs for the US too. What is also likely to happen, is the reversal of the current trend towards cuts in defense spending in an attempt to reign in budget deficits, which the GOP-controlled House felt uneasy from the outset. Conflict with Russia would shift focus away from the civil war in Syria, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and revived Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ukraine
Ukraine, especially its east part, has high concentration of Soviet-era coal and ore mining, metallurgy, chemical and machinery industries, which are extremely energy-inefficient. What keep them afloat are relatively cheap oil, natural gas and raw materials from Russia, and local labor. Ukraine exports ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products, largely to Russia (~25%). They can't compete with similar goods from developed and developing economies on quality. Once the price advantage disappears, there is nothing much Ukraine will have to offer to the world. On top of this, the government provides gas subsidies to households. In these circumstances, any attempt to make a sharp turn away from Russia will be equivalent to economic seppuku.  The amount of aid required to survive the shock will be enormous. And all of this is accompanied by the urgent need to reform the political and legal system, which is a separate can of worms.

If Russia occupies East Ukraine, torn apart, the nation will struggle with identity and sense of inferiority for a while. Expect extremists taking charge on each side, at least, initially. Eventually, there will be largely industrial East integrated into the Russian economy, and West, a primarily services-based, backyard (rather than showcase) of Europe, neither doing particularly well. Under continuous uncertainty, private capital will hardly be willing to take a risk of investments there.

I must admit this is a rather simplistic view of the reasons why I think a political solution is in the best interests of all major players in this conflict. Ukraine can actually benefit from its proximity to, and economic ties with, Russia, even drifting towards European- style democracy, as long as pragmatism and cool heads prevail.

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And, as for the UK, The City and the Russian oligarchs have a mutual interest in stability. A lot of the huffing and puffing in the USA is necessary for domestic political reasons.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 10:47:15 AM EST
Energy is just not a very significant factor in Putin's calculus regarding the Ukraine.  (And neither is international finance, which you did not mention, thought the finance types at Bloomberg and FT still do.)

It is true that there might be some short term considerations and high prices in Europe for gas, but, because of high demand globally, Russia will easily find other places to dump its oil and gas reasonably quickly while Europe scrambles for other sources as well,and Russia does not need to export to get by, so it can easily weather any delays in finding markets. Energy is at worst a moderate inconvenience when viewed at the geopolitical level, largely because of Russia's relative self-sufficiency in all things that have to do with Putin's capacity to govern the country.

What matters in the Ukraine to everyone concerned is raw political power and not much else. For Russia there is also an added concern of national security given the Ukraine's proximity, but it is really power -- Putin's ability to do his job at getting Russians to agree on things enough to engage in collective actions  -- that matters more than anything else.  And since this crisis started, Putin's capacity to govern in Russia has increased dramatically.  This is working out for him, so there is little reason for him to stop.

For this reason, I think the only thing that can really guarantee the prevention of Russian tanks moving into the Ukraine is an invitation by the current Ukrainian government for a temporary, lightly armed (incapable of protracted offensive action against Russia) contingent NATO peacekeeping forces -- 20,000-30,000 people -- to be deployed in Eastern Ukraine to secure military bases or other strategic assets.  Russia is aggressive with its military where the US isn't likely to be forced to shoot, so a movement of US and other NATO troops, essentially as human targets daring the Russians to kill them, as Putin has been using Russia forces lately, would almost assuredly prevent Russian incursions in the Ukraine. While other paths are possible, I really don't think any of them provide the kind of guarantee that forcing Russians to kill NATO soldiers in order to invade eastern Ukraine would provide.  

And this is exactly what Putin himself would do if he were head of NATO instead.

by santiago on Tue Apr 1st, 2014 at 01:25:10 PM EST
contingent NATO peacekeeping forces

What is your contingency plan if the austerity program leads to Greece-style riots, and some of them target some of these forces?

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Apr 1st, 2014 at 02:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Santiago, I agree with your premises but not your recommendation. NATO troops of any sort would, inherently, be a provocation to Russia. UN peacekeeping forces might be less so. But addressing some of Russia's concerns about the government in Kiev via US and Russian diplomacy might help. The fact that right wing fascists in Kiev are calling such a prospect 'total capitulation' does not make it so. Absent a major blow-up in eastern Ukraine which targets ethnic Russians I don't see Putin doing more than just leaving his forces in place as a reminder. Even without invading there is a lot he can do inside Ukraine, especially eastern Ukraine. What he can do and what western NGOs and governments can do in Ukraine should be the subject of negotiations. The neo-cons need to be put in a box and sat on a shelf and Victoria Nuland needs to be reassigned. The latter would, especially, be a calming move.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 1st, 2014 at 03:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's my larger point here.  Putin is determined to use military force to secure his objectives and is willing to risk confrontation with the US to do it, betting that the US won't engage because that would be game over.  An anti-Russian government in the Ukraine is a major threat to Russia and to Putin's ability to govern in Russia. (As I've noted before, Ukrainians, despite the language differences, are a lot more like Russians that Texans are like Americans. The US would never stand for Russian-supported Tea Party government declaring in Texas, or even in Canada, so we should presume that Putin is highly motivated to secure either an allied government in the Ukraine or to annex at least eastern Ukraine.  

None of this has anything to do with energy. It's all about power, specifically Putin's power within Russia.  Unless we are willing to out-Putin Putin by quickly inserting military forces in the Eastern Ukraine (which is, btw, technically quite possible. US airborne forces could have 10,000 troops in eastern Ukraine within a couple of hours given US military assets already in Europe. Russia would not be able to move in ahead of them and would risk a shooting war if they tried, which is our gamble that Putin is unwilling to do.)  it makes more sense to tone it down and be ready and willing to just give Putin what he needs in the Ukraine.  So far this seems to be what is happening.

by santiago on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 10:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your tactical proposal--of moving NATO troops into the Ukraine--is frankly insane, not because it will lead to Global Nuclear War (a separate issue altogether) but because it can only have the opposite effect of its stated goal of keeping the Ukraine a single country.  

At the first hint of NATO movement out of NATO countries the Russians will seize those objectives they consider worthwhile--and do it first.  

Notice that the western Ukraine is not a region the Russians consider worthwhile.  They will never seek to annex it.  

The eastern Ukraine is a different matter--they would rather not, but if annexing it is what is required to keep NATO bases out, they will do it in a heartbeat.  

Putin's strategy is easy to understand, once you understand his goals.  His tactics--well, his tactics are clever, and are deliberately meant to surprise.  

His goals are basic:  The survival of Russia as a nation, which explicitly means preventing its subjugation to the West as a resource colony.  That means no neo-liberalization.  The reference point is the looting out of Russia by the West during the Yeltsin years.  Putin's first job in coming to power was to put an end to that, his second job was to create a regional (thank you, John Kerry) base of political and military power sufficient to prevent a re-invasion from the West.  

The Western response was less than good-natured.  In fact, since the time of Yeltsin the US has steadily pushing forward NATO bases deeper east into Europe.  The Cold War ostensibly being over, these bases have no purpose, but their real purpose is pretty obvious to everybody, certainly to the Russians who are used to the fact that every few decades they are invaded from the West.  

For his success in saving the Russian nation Putin remains immensely popular.  

His tactical success in Crimea could only increase that popularity.  The US attempted a coup to match the coup in Kiev (5 billion dollars, by the US own admission, going into the Kiev destabilization) but Putin anticipated this and secured the Crimea (a strategic necessity) without the use of main force.  

So you see this is not about "power"--except in the sense that for its own reasons (economic failure at home) the US has restarted the Cold War.  

If you were really interested in peace in the Ukraine (not a US objective), you would consider how to reconstitute the remaining provinces into a multi-national, multi-linguistic federation of autonomous regions.  

It is already too late for that.  The IMF austerity is being implemented, fating the Ukraine to become a failed state.  

The Russians may yet be forced to peal off the East and South for their own protection.  The privatization of Ukranian agricultural lands will not go as well as Western oligarchs think.  The remainder will sink it into open chaos.  

--Gaianne  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 02:37:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At the first hint of NATO movement out of NATO countries the Russians will seize those objectives they consider worthwhile--and do it first.

NATO has been concerned that they are no longer able to monitor crucial Russian internal communications. How do they know that the Russians cannot monitor their own communications. If so, NATO paratroops might land in fields occupied by Russian tanks and trucks to transport them back to a friendly nation. I doubt NATO would take that risk.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 03:00:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speed and stealth is everything, and it is one thing the US is very good at still. It is very likely that NATO would win any race to critical transit points in eastern Ukraine even if Russia received word just as NATO forces did. As long as lightly armed US troops are physically controlling key roads and transit passes, it would mean that Russia would have to shoot them to get by. Since that would likely be unacceptable to Russia for obvious reasons, it's the only real way to insure no Russian invasion. The problem is that it risks nuclear war, which is something that Putin has proven willing to do in Crimea (and Russia also did in Kosovo). But Russia has a lot more at stake in the Ukraine than the US does, so I think it is unlikely we will see Obama agree to that kind of gamble.
by santiago on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 04:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speed and stealth is everything, and it is one thing the US is very good at still. It is very likely that NATO would win any race to critical transit points in eastern Ukraine even if Russia received word just as NATO forces did.
Russia beat the US to Berlin in 1945, to Sarajevo in the 1990s and to Crimea this year. In the latter case, with speed and stealth.

Where has the US used speed and stealth for large troop movements recently?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 04:18:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are not the same things at all. In neither of the cases you listed was the US trying to reach them with a small force before the Russians did. (Although they probably should have.) The problem for the Russians in the Ukraine is that they have to move large forces, in this case in order to occupy eastern Ukraine against a potential fight with Ukrainians, whereas a small group of US or British special forces on the NATO side is sufficient to achieve the American objective of blocking roads and transit for Russian forces. If the Russians have to shoot at NATO in any way, they lose, so there is no need for a comparable sized force to match the Russians.

US speed and stealth has been very effective and has had, and continues to get even now, almost continuous, real battle condition experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, etc. It is very unlikely that the Russians would be able to win such a race in the Ukraine, even starting from a much closer distance.  

by santiago on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 05:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In neither of the cases you listed was the US trying to reach them with a small force before the Russians did. (Although they probably should have.)
That is exactly my point - wherever the US has gone in my lifetime it has been with massive force with a slow buildup and in technicolor and quadraphonic sound. But it appears to be elementary strategy that if you can put a small force in charge of airstrips and communication centres it doesn't matter that the other guys can beat you with massive force. After all, the US still does not want to get into an actual shootout with Russian troops. So, while the US wonders about how to deliver a crippling blow, maybe Russia will simply take control of Donetsk or Kharkiv with a small force. And then you'll come back to tell us that the US is still superior in speed and stealth.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:37:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And no, Panama and Grenada don't count.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:39:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree that such a move on the part of NATO would be the kind of risk-taking that they presently don't do, operationally, outside of the early reconnaissance and special forces things, which is what winning the race to to parts of eastern Ukraine would have to entail. I'm not at all convinced that anyone in the US or NATO establishment has the kind of strategic, "outside-the-box" thinking that such a move would require and that Putin has shown himself to be so good at. But I am pretty certain that such a move is about the only way to actually stop Russian tanks from rolling into the Ukraine if Russia intends to send them sometime soon.
by santiago on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 01:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, given that Russia may well have much better human intelligence on NATO than NATO has on Russia, Russia may have a heads up days before and then hours before the event. And Russian vehicles and personnel could well push physically right past lightly armed NATO airborn units in any case without firing shots. Would NATO then fire the first shots against a superior force backed by armor and air power? And in eastern Ukraine it would likely be NATO troops that would need protection from angry mobs of civilians. And what reason do you have to believe that the Ukraonian military either would remain neutral, split or not side with Russia vs. NATO?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 05:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US, like Russia, has been placing human intelligence assets throughout the Ukrainian government and military since 1990. (They even recruited two native Ukrainian speakers right out of my high school, one of whom later went on to become an astronaut instead.)  This is the one place in the world where the US may actually prepared for something intelligence-wise, but yes, clearly it would require a sounding from Ukrainian generals that they are against the Russians. (And perhaps they've already sounded and found lacking, which may be why we haven't seen anything like this yet, since is otherwise exactly the the thing NATO forces have been training for in Europe since the fall of the Warsaw Pact.)

There are always choke points in transit routes where it is impossible to push past -- bridges, tunnels, cut passes, etc.  Those are where units from both sides would be racing to get to first, but NATO only has to reach some of them to be successful. Russia would have to capture nearly all of them because it is the side that has to move in a sufficiently large invading force.  NATO's objective would not be to defend eastern Ukraine against Russian forces, but merely to force the Russians to have to kill some Americans to get by.  Russia actually needs to insert a full army into the area to be successful if the Ukranian army looks like it won't stand down.  As long as NATO can reach some of key sites first, it means Russians would have to shoot to move them to secure a position capable of defending against a possible Ukrainian counter attack.  Since Russia would be the invader, NATO can shoot at Russians even, without the same consequences, and NATO would be betting on Russian beliefs about notoriously trigger-happy American troops for this kind of poker stand-off anyway.  

It's really just classic Saul Alinsky with armed forces instead of civil groups:  Get a some people in the way and force the opponent have to deal with the problem, a strategy that Putin himself has already mastered and thus completely understand if he's been outplayed at it.

by santiago on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 05:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to be assuming that:

  1. Nato troops inserted into Eastern Ukraine would be greeted as liberators rather than occupiers (now where have we heard this before?)
  2. Russia would not shoot at "lightly armed Nato troops" inserted there.  Why ever not?  They can always claim Nato troops started the shooting first.  They could just bulldoze their way past NATO checkpoints. They could insert their own special forces (with unmarked uniforms)to take them on and claim they were local freedom fighters.

And what would "the West" do then?

Whinge

"The West" cannot win a conventional war against Russia in Eastern Ukraine. It would be the most ignominious climbdown since - well Afghanistan - another war of occupation which isn't going very well.

Why take Russia on on precisely the terms it is best equipped to win on - a conventional war close to its own borders and amidst a region who's indigenous population is not disposed to support "the West"?

The West might win concessions using sanctions and trade and diplomacy. But only the truly stupid start a war they can't win.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 04:03:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to assume neither Russia nor the US have the stomach for shooting at each other right now. So you might get a tense standoff after which Russia would negotiate conditions for a withdrawal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:18:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you might get a tense standoff after which Russia would negotiate conditions for a withdrawal.

Including negotiation of who withdraws.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm with Santiago here that the US probably has the ultimate upper hand militarily, but at atrocious cost and Russia really wants neither a failed state nor a smoking crater in the heart of the old Rus.

The failed state risk is an important perspective in my opinion. The US doesn't have a problem with failed states as buffer states, especially far away from the US mainland. And clearly the trigger for Russian action in Crimea has been a collapse of state power in Ukraine including things like a (short-lived, but that just adds to the perception that Ukraine does not have a functioning state) repeal of legal protections for minorities.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:56:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An ultimate GEO-political consideration might be that this civilization is past its peak and is heading towards a nasty overshot fast --- fundamentally because of (gasp!) energy limitations, plus global warming.

If so, things like international trade, financial markets, cultural wars, even LBGT rights, technological advances are just games to distract beta (etc) players. Russia would be then in a unique position (only Norway would compare) to be fully self-sufficient to last longer in a civilized form --- if only it won't be looted in the last minute by Western corporate-financial monsters. Preparing for the Mad Max world, ain't it fun?!

by das monde on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:18:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ain't it fantasy?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 06:11:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ain't it fun-tastic?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 06:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was a minor miracle no one "lost the head" and started shooting in Crimea - with wildly unpredictable results.  The chances of the same happening with NATO troops (and Russian special forces) inserted all over Eastern Ukraine must be close to zero - whatever the armchair generals in neo-con think tanks might think in their game playing scenarios.  Don't forget there are many actors on both sides who might actually want a shooting war...and the situation could very quickly spiral out of control.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are no such assumptions. 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.  Same has been the case with Putin's risking of Russian forces.  Full on war with the US means the game would be over for Putin, since Putin doesn't want a war, and neither does anybody else.  Putin knows this, but he has been betting that the West won't take the same risks that he is doing, largely because he knows that Ukraine really isn't very important, resource or strategic-wise, to the US or Western Europe.

The chess match that Putin has been playing involves putting his forces in places that risk nuclear war or full-on conventional war to remove them.  Like the classic prisoner's dilemma game, it means only a willingness to do the same on the part of the West is capable of thwarting Putin's strategy, a condition which is inherently unstable because of the uncertainty involved and so unlikely to be made by the West.

If the Ukrainians were to react negatively to US troops entering their country, which is always a possibility, then such a strategy to match Putin's risk-taking won't work, I agree.  It is dependent upon support from Ukrainians.  My sense right now, however, having talked to many different Ukrainians over the last few weeks, Russian as well as Ukrainian speaking, is that such support would be forthcoming for the US at the present time.  They really don't want Russia coming any further right now.

The West, meaning the US all alone, certainly can "win" a conventional war against Russia in the Ukraine. Such an outcome is not guaranteed, but both Russian and US generals know that this is the case. A conventional war in Eastern Europe is actually the war that the US is best equipped to fight as well, and it is the one that it has spent more resources, time, and preparation training for than any other, Afghanistan and Iraq notwithstanding.  The US is still equipped mostly with pre-2000 era heavy equipment exactly designed for that very fight, so although that scenario is also the one Russia is best equipped for, it is still the one NATO has always had all the equipment already in place in Europe to do as well. That's what makes this crisis such a scary prospect, similar to the conditions at the beginning of WWI.

However, if a war of any kind starts, it's a loss for everyone, because it really would be a big one, and both sides know this and are specifically trying to avoid it while bluffing each other and making strategic moves that require the other side to back away when war is the only other option. So far Putin has outplayed NATO in every way in this chess game, largely because he has been willing to take risks the West has not.  He has been willing to play chicken with the prospect of full on war with the West, which means that unless the West is willing to do the same, it cannot possibly gain an equivalent standing in any negotiation.  

Not being willing to do that means allowing Putin to have the upper hand in negotiations.  To me, that's perfectly okay and is probably the best thing for the West to do in this case, precisely because the Ukraine really isn't that important to anyone except Russia, and really should never have been staked out as a NATO objective in the first place.  

by santiago on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 10:03:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
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

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that Israeli troops really were welcomed by locals during the first invasion of Lebanon. It didn't last.....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those wars were largely there for the mil-ind establishment to make money from government hand-outs, not as genuine military or geopolitical operations.

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.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 07:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The West, meaning the US all alone, certainly can "win" a conventional war against Russia in the Ukraine.
Sounds like destroying the Ukraine in order to save it, though.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:43:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you speak to any Ukranians living in Ukraine, or expats? Because, let me tell you, expats are not the best people to rely on for a sense of what the natives at home think, looking at the Irish experience during the Troubles.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:48:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did speak with actual Ukrainians presently living in the Ukraine, but visiting abroad for a variety reasons, not expats. Here in NYC we recently held couchsurfing/airbnb party that ended up being made up mostly of Russian, Ukrainian, and Estonian students and visiting academics, abroad for only a month or two at most, all far left of center politically. Even the Pussy Riot-supporters among the Russians were quick to circle the wagons in support of any criticism of Putin.  While the Ukrainians, some from Crimea as well as other non-Kiev areas, were quite hostile and genuinely fearful of the prospect of losing political independence, even those who didn't like the new fascists in Kiev. Is this representative of the masses in the region?  Probably not, but I kind of expected to see more ambivalence on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the prospect of Russians moving into the eastern Ukraine, but hostility to that idea was pretty universally felt. Everyone except the Russians are kind of tired of the authoritarian stuff that they continue to identify with Russia and Putin.
by santiago on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 12:51:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a cliche that Russians have long preferred stability to liberty. Might that be different for the Ukrainians? And I wonder if envy of Russia having an effective leader, especially compared to Ukraine, since Putin came to power might play a part. Envy easily leads to hatred.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 01:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that the people in Kiev are fascists is 100% Russian disinformatiya. The government is supported by exactly the same parliament which supported Yanukovich. Are there extremists in the Rada? Yes. Were they their previously as well? Yes. Is the Ukraine the only country with nasty political forces? No. In what country are they the mainstream? Russia.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 03:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Between 1/5th and 1/3rd of the Ukrainian cabinet are from Svoboda or Pravy Sektor. In other words, unreconstructed Nazis.

I really don't think Ukraine has anything to let Russia know about the mainstreaming of far-right thugs.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 04:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here in the Astoria area of New York where I am there are lots of Ukrainians (in Bayside, Brooklyn are the Russians), and as developments have changed in their home country this week, so have their feelings about what their compatriots back home are thinking. Among expats especially, there is now a new sense that Russia will also have to annex eastern Ukraine and that people both support it and that it is probably best for everyone anyway. Some are even resigned to the rest of Ukraine being made part of Poland. It's a much different attitude than the more strident, pro-Ukrainian sentiment last week, and I doubt that a NATO visit to eastern Ukraine would be well received by locals anymore.  That window seems to have past and a sense of inevitability regarding the return of at least eastern Ukraine to Russia seems to now be setting in.  
by santiago on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's going to be supremely ironic for Poland to partition another country with Russia...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 02:04:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention NATO acquiring a long border with Russia after all....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 02:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a hard time seeing this actually happen.  If nothing else, Polish annexation of Western Ukraine would add something like 20 million people to the Polish population. ~60 million.  Putting on order with the big countries like the UK, France, Germany, and Italy.

A rump Ukraine seems more likely. I do think that union between Moldova and Romania is likely if the Russian try to annex Transnistria. Between this and separatist movements, it's going to be a very different Europe.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 03:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Ukraine really isn't that important to anyone except Russia, and really should never have been staked out as a NATO objective in the first place
The flashpoint here was not NATO, but the EU. I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read somewhere that Ukraine is a job for EU to show itself relevant.
by das monde on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:20:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have their job cut out for them.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

Mutual scapegoating? In the other pan of the balance put Victoral Nuland, $5 billion in US aid, the US AID,l and everything else that came up with a bunch of foaming fascists and flag-waving Nazis as their accomplishment. Is it even clear that the US opposed the EU's 'us or them' offer? I suspect the focus was on who would get the prize.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 10:18:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

Unlike the perfect execution of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures, I suppose?

Look, the entire European establishment bought into the idea we had a post-realist world order in Europe. They didn't even have the phrase "sphere of influence" enter their heads during the trade negotiations with Ukraine last fall, because they don't think in those terms any longer. I've kept telling people for years this is totally wrong, but they needed this kind of brutal wake-up call to get it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 03:05:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putinism and the Anti-WEIRD Coalition

[...]

Americans of all stripes have a well-honed ability to ignore inconvenient facts, and our better educated citizens seem particularly prone to this (as I noted with our "expert" inability to see what North Korea believes, even though they aren't shy about it). At root, I suspect Obama and many Americans refuse to accept the in-our-face reality of Putin and his regime because they represent a past version of ourselves, caught up in retrograde views that are entirely unacceptable to our elites, therefore they pretend they do not exist, because they don't actually exist in their world.

Simply put, Vladimir Putin is the stuff of Western progressive nightmares because he's what they thought they'd gotten past. He's a traditional male with "outmoded" views on, well, everything: gender relations, race, sexual identity, faith, the use of violence, the whole retrograde package. Putin at some level is the Old White Guy that post-moderns fear and loathe, except this one happens to control the largest country on earth plus several thousand nuclear weapons - and he hates us.

Of course, this also happens to explain why some Westerners who loathe post-modernism positively love Putin, at least from a safe distance. Some far-right Westerners - the accurate term is paleoconservatives - have been saying for years that the West, led very much by America, has become hopelessly decadent and they've been looking for a leader to counter all this, and - lo and behold - here he is, the new "leader of global conservatism." Some paleocons have stated that, with the end of the Cold War, America has become the global revolutionary power, seeking to foist its post-modern views on the whole planet, by force if necessary, and now Putin's Russia has emerged as the counterrevolutionary element. Cold War 2.0, in this telling, has the sides reversed.

[...]

We are entering a New Cold War with Russia, whether we want to or not, thanks to Putin's acts in Ukraine, which are far from the endpoint of where the Kremlin is headed in foreign policy. As long as the West continues to pretend there is no ideological component to this struggle, it will not understand what is actually going on. Simply put, Putin believes that his country has been victimized by the West for two decades, and he is pushing back, while he is seeking partners. We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

However, too much emphasis on social and sexual matters - that is, telling countries how they must organize their societies and families - will be strategically counterproductive.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 7th, 2014 at 06:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am quite familiar with the WEIRD concept, but I don't actually think it applies here, especially between the two groups really making the decisions in this -- Russians and Americans.

On matters of political strategy and military affairs at least, Russians and Americans are so uncannily alike in their thought processes and ways of looking at the world that "mirror image" is really the best way of characterizing them. After all, these are the two peoples who have been studying each other, for billions of man-hours, over a nuclear chess board for almost 70 years now.  That's why so many Americans have man-crushes on Putin, after all. We really do understand and appreciate the guy.  And contrary to what many in the commentariat have been writing in the past few weeks, Putin, and Russians in general, have displayed an amazingly accurate understanding of how Americans think strategically as well.  

by santiago on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:28:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet the author's points about the differences between Russia's perspectives and those of the USA stand. Especially attitudes about gender and national myths such as The Third Rome and how those factors will work in this situation. While I am certain that there are many others in the US defense and intelligence community who also understand these differences they certainly have not been on display in public pronouncements recently. Steve Cohen has been the most outspoken in US media and his reach is limited. Had having Putin and Russia move more towards western values been a goal the best means would have been to leave Ukraine alone - by both the EU and the USA. All that will happen now is that the views that the WEIRD find objectionable will only be strengthened, at least for the short and medium term. That is just how dialectical processes work.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the points about the differences between Russian actions and what I will refer to as the interpretation of the West's "chattering classes" do stand, but not with respect to the actual policy actions of the US or of the defense and policy thinkers who have the most influence on outcomes. Also, they do not stand with respect to the author's own theory of a sort of anti-neoliberal ideological basis for Putin's actions.  

All of Putin's actions, and those of the US, are completely explained the the realist theory of international relations -- that the interests of power always take precedence, and that "the strong will do what they must while the weak can only do what they can."  No ideological explanation is necessary, and it appears doubtful that Putin is really interested at all in anti-neoliberal or any other post-modernist inspired discourse. He has never indicated, in his entire, well publicized life, any interest in such thinking.

Realism, on the other hand, is the same principal of foreign policy (and all policy really) that has dominated thinking in the affairs of statecraft since Thucydides first made the observation, and later re-popularized by Machiavelli,  Henry Kissinger, and now still be taught and argued by people like John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, as well as having comprised the core pedagogy of both US and Russian military staff colleges for over a century, at least.  

Realism is how US and Russians think and how their soldiers and diplomats have been educated, and it is how they expect the other to interpret events and actions, and nothing that has actually transpired in events in Europe, right down to the infamous "fuck the EU" phone call and exposure by Russia, contradicts a purely realist interpretation of what is going on in both Russian and American policymakers' minds.  Only the blogosphere, and perhaps various EU heads of state, appear to be consistently duped by US and Russian press releases.

by santiago on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 03:48:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington and NATO's New Surrealpolitik    Finian Cunningham

--------  As the unelected Kiev junta sends armed balaclava-clad paramilitaries to quell protests in Ukraine's eastern cities it declares the operation «anti-terrorism». The acting (sic) president in Kiev Oleksandr Turchynov has labeled all those seeking political autonomy in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and other pro-Russian cities in the east of the country as «terrorists and criminals»; a new set of laws cobbled together by the junta - two months before scheduled official elections have taken place and therefore of dubious legality - gives the self-appointed politicians in Kiev the power to prosecute any one that does not recognize their self-imposed authority...

Meanwhile, NATO has warned Moscow to «step back» from alleged military aggression (from within its own borders!) towards Ukraine - even though the US-led alliance has escalated the presence of its fighter jets and troops in Russia's neighboring countries. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of the 28-member NATO organization, has also led calls for speeding up the incorporation of Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina into the nuclear-armed pact. This is in addition to a deal hastily worked out by NATO and the NATO-backed junta in Kiev for joint military exercises to be carried out on Ukrainian territory.

This constitutes a new genre of politics, which one might dub «surrealpolitik». The former realpolitik of the bygone Cold War decades may have been cynical and callous, but at least such thinking was based on an objective reality that vying sides could commonly recognize and therefore negotiate. In the new genre of surrealpolitik, one side's version of reality seems more in the realm of fantasy, which makes any dialogue between political contentions nearly, if not totally, impossible.

 

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the article cited above:
NATO installs an unelected regime in Kiev through a coup d'état against a legally elected government. That is a fact. Yet in the surreal world of Washington and its NATO allies, this fact is inverted into a fictional notion that what happened in Kiev during February was the culmination of «a democratic revolution». Airbrushed from the objective narrative are details such as the new regime arrogating administrative power through a campaign of Western-backed street violence and terrorism, including the fatal shooting of police officers by covert snipers.

Without supporting evidence, the sniper-assisted regime in Kiev, which was promptly accorded the authority of «government» by Western capitals and their media, has since counter-charged Russian secret services and the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych of orchestrating the shootings. Of course, the incriminating leaked telephone conversation, dated February 26, between EU ministers Catherine Ashton and Estonia's Urmas Paet on Western-backed covert snipers is conveniently deleted from the official Western record.



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:45:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps some in Washington and Brussles don't realize that the US Reality Creation Machine's effect does not extend to Ukraine and Russia.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:59:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's two ways to interpret what is going on when one side is engaged in actual use of agents of force to obtain an objective and the other side, with the same or better force capabilities, does things like merely warn the force-using side to stop, or else...

The wrong interpretation is to imagine that anything new, like a new surrealpolitik paradigm, has infected the thinking of the non-aggressive side, which is what I see all over the blogosphere, like in your blockquote here.

The right interpretation is that the NATO side has already determined that use of force in Ukraine is not worth the effort, so it is writing the Ukraine off but cannot tell that to their allies in the Ukraine and elsewhere because it sounds too ruthless and unsupportive of justice, democracy, and the rule of law, the shared values for which any use of force must be consistent in the first place.  In Realpolitik, when someone uses words and official statements rather than actions, it is code for: you're not that important to us right now.  No one should infer from this that policymakers on the NATO side have a different view of reality at all.

As a young community organizer in Chicago, President Barrack Obama used to lead intense organizer trainings, called "week-longs" where trainees learned to abandon the "justice junkie" mindset and adopt Saul Alinsky's unique style of Machiavellian street politics. The week's training begins by reading Thucydides' "Milean Dialogue," the core text for the Realist school of international relations. The exercise that Obama, like all trainers then, like now, taught was to divide the trainees into the Melians and Athenians, and let them try to negotiate an outcome.  One of the key lessons was to not think like the stupid, self-righteous, but sympathetic Melians, but to think instead as ruthlessly and strategic as the Athenians.  Don't waste your resources on something where you can't build power as an outcome.

I really doubt Obama has forgotten this formational part of his entry into politics. Nothing else he has done indicates that he has. I'm pretty sure the US and NATO just aren't seeing where it helps them build power to get involved militarily in  Ukraine at the present time, or they would have already done so.

by santiago on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 03:12:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you are right and I have just missed those occasions where Obama has exercised realpolitik. Then it is also possible that I simply disagree with what he saw as a realpolitik decision -- such as giving Wall Street a pass in '09. Perhaps that is an acceptable decision if you consider that temporary stability is more important than the long term survival of a viable society.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 12:45:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And so what about Obama's decision in '09? A calculated decision to let the financial cancer rage, considering that this would likely get him his best shot at two terms and that "Après moi, le déluge"? Even had he failed to get a second term he could have gone down as the most important single term president in US history? He could have brought about a reset that would have given the nation another three generations.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to take into account who Obama's advisors were: Summers and Geithner...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And who chose those advisors.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:49:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They were "serious".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that, while understanding the implications of realpolitik is necessary, it is not a sufficient guide to decision making. And that there courageous acts of realpolitik as well as cowardly acts. It is one thing to apply realpolitik dealine with Chicago politics while backed by the Pritzkers and quite another to apply it in Washington dealing with Wall Street while having been backed by Wall Street. In Washington crossing powerful economic interests can get your balls stomped - or worse.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:57:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what about the whole business of letting Victoria Nuland, AID, etc., etc. carry out the activities that so signally furthered the downfall of Yanukoviych? Mis-calculated realpolitik?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 12:55:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think that was a case of miscalculated Realpolitik, and I think they didn't realize until the phone call how much the Russians knew about what they had been up to there, but by then it was too late. In any case, it a created a problem that Putin HAD to resolve while the US only has to hover around and take advantage of any opportunities that may or may not present themselves.  So, strategically, it was a pretty ruthless and low-risk (for the West) move that would have impressed Saul Alinsky, if not Henry Kissinger.  I think Putin proved himself better player and politician than they expected to him to be.  
by santiago on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 08:58:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's only effective realpolitik if at least half the participants are still alive at the end.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, strategically, it was a pretty ruthless and low-risk (for the West) move that would have impressed Saul Alinsky, if not Henry Kissinger.
Poor European Atlanticist, they're not "The West" but just its useful idiots.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eastern Ukraine's future: Do Kiev and Moscow actually agree?   Christan Science Monitor

Earlier this week, Russia laid out its vision for eastern Ukraine and how Ukraine can move toward reestablishing its stability and territorial integrity - or what's left of it. Ukrainian officials called the Russian road map, published on the foreign ministry's website, an "ultimatum" and a "completely unacceptable" demand. But, as Yatsenyuk's speech showed, the two sides share common themes with regard to Ukraine's east.

The prospect of a federalized Ukraine. Yatsenyuk promised government reforms that would transfer to Ukraine's regions "the broadest scope of authority and financial resources." The Russian memorandum also calls for decentralization in Ukraine - it called the process "federalization" - and said it should be written into the Ukrainian Constitution. Yatsenyuk's statement confirmed that this was being done.



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be relatively easy for Russia to re-route its oil trade stream towards Asia, primarily, China, although this would mean lower prices and higher delivery costs. I am not so sure about Russian natural gas, though.

I agree that any restrictions limiting use of the global financial and banking system (which I mentioned as similar to the sanctions Iran is subject to), would immediately affect Russia's industries exposed to foreign trade, and indirectly all others, including consumer market. Russia is much less self-sufficient and far more integrated into the global economy than the USSR ever was.

As for deploying NATO contingent in Ukraine, I see multiple issues with this. First of all, the alliance doesn't have a mandate for the presence of its troops in the country. Setting up a legal basis for this may take significant amount of time, and I'm not sure all member countries will get on board. Second, what government would be willing to commit its troops that are, for all intents and purposes, unable to even defend themselves?

Besides, Russian military would make its move into Ukraine at first signs of NATO potentially coming in there.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 08:59:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia does not need to export anything for its economic well being during a crisis situation.  It is an essentially self sufficient country. Exports are gravy, and that's why economic consequences are simply not very important to Putin. Securing Russia from what he, and most Russians, see as a Western invasion is what matters to Putin with respect to the Ukraine. A hostile government in the Ukraine is an existential threat to Putin's capacity to govern in Russia, so he needs to be ruthless and take risks to secure the threat, something he has done exceedingly well so far.

NATO, relying on US assets in Europe, could have US airborne forces deployed in key transit sites within about 3 hours, which is how such an operation would likely go, with a secret request from Ukraine announced only afterward.  Russia would not be able to react in time to a US deployment without actually having to risk shooting US troops already in place, in which case it would be "game over" for Putin (and potentially for a lot more than him), just as it would have been "game over" for Ukrainians if anyone had shot Russian troops in Crimea (or, vice versa, if Russians had shot Ukrainian troops). That's the gamble of that strategy.  

Neither the US nor Russia has ever, historically, seriously relied on legal mandates for anything determined important enough to use military forces, so legal issues just aren't a serious factor here. Laws are a discursive, diplomatic tools, not a actual restrictive impediments, at the level of world powers like the US and Russia.

Putin risked the possibility of nuclear war in Crimea already, as well as the lives of his undefended and unmarked troops. That means, strategically, using simple Prisoner's dilemma game theory, only a similar willingness to risk such a thing on the part of the US can secure Ukraine from Russian tanks. Because Ukraine really isn't very important to the US, however, it's unlikely that Obama would sign off on that gamble, and all appearances are that the US would rather risk losing at least the eastern part of the Ukraine in an effort to satisfy Putin's needs, at least being able to claim the partial success of having installed a government hostile to Russia in Kiev, which was a major defeat for Putin from which he partially recovered with the invasion of Crimea. A unified Ukraine is less important to NATO, and Russia, than a buffer state Ukraine at this point, so I don't expect to see NATO forces deployed there, and I do expect to Russian forces entering eastern Ukraine at some point if the current set of Ukrainian Ukrainian leaders remain in Kiev.

by santiago on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 02:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the situation in Kiev will 'improve', from Putin's point of view, over then next few months, so he does not feel impelled to invade. And after a year of so of IMF 'aid' much of eastern and southern Ukraine will be clamoring for union with Russia, and much of the Ukrainian military might support them.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 02:53:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if by self-sufficiency you mean Russia's ability to survive adversity, then I am on board with this. The nation has demonstrated it numerous times throughout its history. However, if you are talking about the Russian economy shrugging off sanctions, especially, as stringent as in Iran's case, I respectfully disagree. Export makes up 1/5 of Russia's GDP, and brings cold hard cash to support various ambitious programs, like socio-economic development of the Arctic zone, or space exploration. Even without any serious sanctions in effect right now, Russia already faces outflow of investments and a possibility of zero or negative growth this year. Once living standards start go down, Putin's popularity will take a hit, and dissenting voices become louder.

Yes, unlike NATO, the U.S. government can fast-track decisions on use the military to "protect national interests". But making a case that Ukraine falls into this category in a war-weary country requires Houdini skills.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 10:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 aquilon:
Yes, unlike NATO, the U.S. government can fast-track decisions on use the military to "protect national interests". But making a case that Ukraine falls into this category in a war-weary country requires Houdini skills.

Practically, it may not require, but it is certainly much easier for a Republican President to make that case. At present Republican warmongering is conflicted by the desire to make Obama and the Democrats 'look weak' on defense. I would bet that Putin has taken that into account.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 07:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin risked the possibility of nuclear war in Crimea already, as well as the lives of his undefended and unmarked troops. That means, strategically, using simple Prisoner's dilemma game theory, only a similar willingness to risk such a thing on the part of the US can secure Ukraine from Russian tanks.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin risked the possibility of nuclear war in Crimea already, as well as the lives of his undefended and unmarked troops. That means, strategically, using simple Prisoner's dilemma game theory, only a similar willingness to risk such a thing on the part of the US can secure Ukraine from Russian tanks.
Well put.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see nuclear war having been mentioned a few times in this discussion. Frankly, I'm puzzled where it comes from. Nukes starting raining down because of Russia's takeover of Crimea? Sorry, I simply don't buy it.
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 11:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How I agree.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 03:18:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I almost agree. Obama is either a pragmatist or simply doesn't care. Therefore, no nuke threats.

But that wouldn't have been true of President Palin, or some other future president of a similar stripe.

I wouldn't be surprised if Putin considered the US election cycle in his calculations.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:06:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm positive that was the case. Actually, even on the right fringes of GOP there has been no audible talk so far, about direct military support for Ukraine, let alone a nuclear strike. President Palin? As long as independent votes are a majority in the U.S., this is an unlikely scenario, even considering the two-step election process. The current GOP polls leader Rand Paul has seemingly inherited some libertarian genes from his father, and doesn't look inclined to get the nation too actively involved in European affairs this far to the East.
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Fri Apr 18th, 2014 at 12:54:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is, quite frankly, that Putin does not send them in. If he does, there will be no stopping them.

So what might convince Putin not to invade the Ukraine (again)?

Well, I have no idea what so ever. But either showing weakness or sending NATO troops to the Ukraine seem like mad alternatives which certainly will increase the risk of a Russian intervention.

I very, very much want to warn everyone against engaging in mirror-imaging:

Be Wary of Mirror Images.
One kind of assumption an analyst should always recognize and question is mirror-imaging--filling gaps in the analyst's own knowledge by assuming that the other side is likely to act in a certain way because that is how the US would act under similar circumstances. To say, "if I were a Russian intelligence officer ..." or "if I were running the Indian Government ..." is mirror-imaging. Analysts may have to do that when they do not know how the Russian intelligence officer or the Indian Government is really thinking. But mirror-imaging leads to dangerous assumptions, because people in other cultures do not think the way we do. The frequent assumption that they do is what Adm. David Jeremiah, after reviewing the Intelligence Community failure to predict India's nuclear weapons testing, termed the "everybody-thinks-like-us mind-set."69

Failure to understand that others perceive their national interests differently from the way we perceive those interests is a constant source of problems in intelligence analysis. In 1977, for example, the Intelligence Community was faced with evidence of what appeared to be a South African nuclear weapons test site. Many in the Intelligence Community, especially those least knowledgeable about South Africa, tended to dismiss this evidence on the grounds that "Pretoria would not want a nuclear weapon, because there is no enemy they could effectively use it on."70 The US perspective on what is in another country's national interest is usually irrelevant in intelligence analysis. Judgment must be based on how the other country perceives its national interest. If the analyst cannot gain insight into what the other country is thinking, mirror-imaging may be the only alternative, but analysts should never get caught putting much confidence in that kind of judgment.

We have a pretty good idea what military capabilities the Russians have in general (fast rearmament, but not done yet). Specifically on the Ukrainian border they have something like 4 mechanized brigades in the first echelong, and maybe another 6 mech brigades in the second echelong, 100 km back from the border. On top of this there should be a battalion of airborne guys (with their helos, including attack helos), and lots of Spetsnaz (special forces) running around, the latter very likely already inside the Ukraine. All units should be in full combat readiness, and at a peak level of training: a mix of professional soldiers and conscripts at the tail end of their service time. This is a very sizeable force!

However, while we have a good idea of the Russian capabilities, we have no idea what's happening inside Putin's head. I'm not sure what it's worth after all the caveats above, but I've been feeling much more worried in the last few days, nonetheless. So better buckle down folks.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 08:33:02 PM EST
Well said. The reality is that this is very much (in military terms) the Russian sphere of influence. If they want to put boots on the ground, they can do so very easily.

I think the positive point of view is that unlike Crimea (which had a host of geo-political and cultural significances for Russia and Putin) the rest of Ukraine is more valuable to Russia and Putin as a buffer state than as part of Russia.

As part of Russia there would be:

  • ongoing protests, which might actually strengthen other anti-Putin protest groups across Russia.

  • an extra financial drain - Ukraine is broken, if it's part of Russia, then it starts costing Russia money.

  • A direct border with the EU. Not so positive if you're playing military chess games and not so positive regarding trade, smuggling etc.

And balancing that, there's just not that much positive right now. By taking Crimea, Putin has a PR victory, Russia regains both it's culturally significant sites and it's Florida - and they keep the naval base.

The rest of Ukraine just isn't as strategically or culturally significant. That is not to say that Russia has no desire to take it over - I'm sure there remains some historical yearning - but there isn't the hurry there was over Crimea.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 04:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
culturally significant

Odessa?

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:31:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Specifically on the Ukrainian border they have something like 4 mechanized brigades in the first echelong, and maybe another 6 mech brigades in the second echelong, 100 km back from the border. On top of this there should be a battalion of airborne guys (with their helos, including attack helos), and lots of Spetsnaz (special forces) running around, the latter very likely already inside the Ukraine. All units should be in full combat readiness, and at a peak level of training: a mix of professional soldiers and conscripts at the tail end of their service time. This is a very sizeable force!
They reportedly have also been setting up supply lines. Therefore one might expect them to be ready for a Blitzkrieg-like incursion. But they don't need to do that necessarily.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and field hospitals and stuff. The second echelong supposedly has a higher fraction of support units than the first echelong. The job of the first echelong is to surge forward, identify the weak spots in the enemy line, break through, push on, probably avoiding cities, and link up with the airborne units. The second echelong follows and eliminates the bypassed and surrounded enemy units, mopping up, and occupies the cities.

If the Russians push the button, we will probably see a classical performance of blitzkrieg, which actually is a Russian invention (or at least pretty much - it's a but complicated) - before Stalin murdered all the officers.

Anyway, Deep Battle with Operational Maneuver Groups, here we go.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 08:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does this count as mirror-imaging?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 09:18:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully not, as it's less based on what we would do, and more on Russian Cold War standard operating procedure.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:06:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
blitzkrieg, which actually is a Russian invention (or at least pretty much - it's a but complicated)

Oh? According to De Gaulle, he invented blitzkrieg, which was adopted by the Germans... and not by the French. Specifically, the use of armoured divisions as a strike force with integrated air and infantry support.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:28:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... de Gaulle would say that, wouldn't he? He was, after all, de Gaulle! ;)

Really, you can go back to JC Fuller as well and say that the British invented it, or you can ask "what is Blitzkrieg, really?" And you'll see that it is not at all that clear-cut, that the Germans themselves did not have a formalized Blitzkrieg doctrine, and that there actually were considerable differences between the Soviet Deep Battle, and what in practice became the German Blitzkrieg, and so on.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What concerns me is that we don't understand Putin. He's not a product of a mediated world and has a type of dour peasant honesty that the hyper-mediated, intrigue-seeking west doesn't appreciate (or know how to deal with). He is out of a comic-book era, whilst Obama and Kerry are PR creations, like sitcom actors.

Russia helped with transit and airspace in the Afghan War, Russia saved Libya from airstrikes by negotiating chemical weapon disposal, Russia is suffering from a 400% increase in Afghan poppy production since the Taliban regained power leading to increased rates of heroin addiction, Russia helped the joint Space Station mission, Putin sees that NATO breaks its promises, while claiming the moral high ground. Putin's Chechnya intel could have saved Boston from the bombing.

It seems to my admittedly jaundiced eye that someone thought Putin would invade Crimea and thus provide a reason to further demonise him, but that didn't work as Crimeans saw the writing on the wall and cut loose from Kiev once it became clear that their choice was between two kinds of totalitarianism, the Russian kind that kills journalists, imprisons punk rioters and oligarchs and pretends to be a democracy, against the guys with the flash ties talking about IMF loans designed to indebit generations, also pretending to be a democracy, and loftily preaching that its interests are beyond criticism or judgment, because corporate money rules, baby, in the name of freedom to profit anywhere anytime and austerity forces whole countries to their knees.

The efforts to justify the invasion of Iraq sound to the rest of the world as ludicrously bad faith, making the E-USA protagonists look increasingly impotent as they swagger and preen cluelessly sounding belligerent and enacting sanctions. They know it will take 20 years to build the infrastructure to supply the EU with American Fracked gas, the costs getting it here make the EROI look retarded. So that's a nice dream for the oiligarchs but not remotely realistic in the short to medium term.

So it's not about principle, (ritual lip-flapping notwithstanding), it's not about gas even, which leaves only one possible reason to keep trying to wind Putin up, which is to shock doctrine Ukraine while mouthing platitudes of friendship, and give NATO something to do, being a military organisation it is frothing at the bit to get some battle experience (quicker promotions) and thereby justify its existence.

It is horrifying to see this playing out, at the beginning I was fairly sanguine about anything really threatening to world peace yet now by deductive reasoning it appears that there's a Dr. Strangelove element that wants a hot war, ASAFP.

Because it will fatten a lot of wallets conveniently parked very far away from the battlefield, or to divert world media attention from other issues of equally grave import, such as an upcoming Bankster Bailout to be forced on savers and pensioners, a new Supreme Court decision placing even more political power into the hands of the super-rich perhaps? A dollar crash as China, the BRICS, rebel elements in Europe and Russia opt out of the petro-eurodollar and create a currency basket?

Any or all of the above...?

It was utterly predictable ten years ago that signing longterm European gas contracts with Putin would come to this, but some saw their chance to peel off billions by middlemanning and they created this shituation, selling our security and capital away to enrich Mad Bad Vlad the Impaler.

What could possibly go wrong?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 08:50:59 PM EST
Putin is not hard to understand, but certainly Western elites do not understand him.  It has been a long time since our oligarchs met anyone they could not simply buy for cash.  

But Putin is not playing.  He is looking ahead at the hard and uncertain task of maintaining a functioning country.  Everything he does relates to that goal.  

He knows well that the West is a declining empire specializing in short-term crazy gambles.  His main challenge, which he recognizes, is not to get sucked in.  He seems cautious because he is cautious.  

But our elites mistake caution for someone about to back down.  Putin is not about to back down on those things that matter.  He will certainly not fire on NATO troops if there is another way.  But if there is no other way?  Our elites will be shitting bricks as they watch their hare-brained, off-the-top-of-the-head, best-case policies go awry.  Then it will be NATO--not the Russians--trying to decide if they really and truly want to go nuclear.  

Think back to Syria.  What put paid to NATO's beloved no-fly zone?  Probably that Russia was offering the Syrians the real-time info to shoot NATO planes out of the sky, as well as sink the American cruise-missile ships.  

The good news was that the US Air Force was not ready to take major casualties.  They still aren't.  The rush to war is being driven by the politicians--who are clueless and desperate--not the military, who have just had a decade of bitter experience with best-case-scenerios dissolving in the face of hard reality.  

--Gaianne  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 10:26:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why It's Going to Be Impossible to Isolate Russia | Alternet

Asia Times Online's Spengler coined a formulation: "A specter is haunting Europe, and that is the specter of a Russian-Chinese alliance at the expense of Europe." The alliance is already on -- manifested in the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are military technology synergies on the horizon -- the ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense system is to be unveiled by Moscow, and Beijing would absolutely love to have it. But for the real fireworks, just wait a few weeks, when Putin visits Beijing in May.

That's when he will sign the famous $1 trillion gas deal according to which Gazprom will supply China's CNPC with 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas a day for 30 years, starting in 2018 (China's current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet).

Gazprom may still collect most of its profits from Europe, but Asia is its privileged future. On the competition front, the hyper-hyped U.S. shale "revolution" is a myth -- as much as the notion the U.S. will be suddenly increasing exports of gas to the rest of the world any time soon.

Gazprom will use this mega-deal to boost investment in eastern Siberia -- which sooner rather than later will be configured as the privileged hub for gas shipments to both Japan and South Korea. That's the ultimate (substantial) reason why Asia won't "isolate" Russia. (See Asia will not 'isolate' Russia, Asia Times Online, March 25, 2014.)

Not to mention the much-anticipated "thermonuclear" (for the petrodollar) possibility that Russia and China will agree payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal may be in yuan or rubles. That will be the dawn of a basket of currencies as the new international reserve currency -- a key BRICS objective and the ultimate, incendiary, new (economic) fact on the ground.



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:54:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What concerns me is that we don't understand Putin.

Oh, I think we do. He's a former KGB colonel and a hard-nosed politician. He's the only one who appears to be acting rationally in the sense of "realist" geopolitics. While his tactics may be unpredictable, that's part of a "rational" approach to conflict, attempting to exploit surprise to his advantage.

Living in postmodern democracies we're not used to this kind of old-fashioned statecraft, but we cannot say we can't understand him.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:28:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure he's making it up as he goes along. I think he was probably as surprised as anyone that Crimea ended up annexed to Russia.

I'm imagining him going to bed every night, looking in the mirror and thinking "I can't believe you got away with that, you wily Russian bear you".

And that's me put off lunch.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He can only get away with things because the West is not acting rationally. And they can't, because they don't have clear goals.

Taking control of Crimea with unidentified troops was a stroke of brilliance. Puting is crazy, but he's not a madman. Whether or not he got to keep it after that depended on what the other side did.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is he crazy? Looks to me like he's rationally pursuing his interests.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He does crazy - i.e. unexpected, rule-breaking -  things. But I said he's not a madman. He's not insane, just not playing by the West's rules when it doesn't suit him.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia is not helpful at demarcating the differences between 'mad', 'crazy' and 'insane'.

Maybe it needs further editing. ;)

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:02:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine you're playing a table-top wargame and your opponent does something out of left field and scores a tactical win.

You'd exclaim "that's crazy!", half amused and annoyed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:06:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:

I'm imagining him going to bed every night, looking in the mirror and thinking "I can't believe you got away with that, you wily Russian bear you".

Funny, the first time I read that I thought you were talking about Obama... you know the guy who turned interdimensional chess up to 11?

Now Putin just showed him it actually goes to 12.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:59:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Putin may be the only one who knows it doesn't actually go up to 11, it's just labelled that way.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:00:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touche!

The only one who didn't drink the party punch spiked with brown acid and Kool-Aide.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't Russia use parachutists or something?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:56:34 AM EST
At least they will be able to read the street signs. Western special forces will be using Google translate.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:07:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I foresee Google Glass augmented reality headgear for US special forces in the near future...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They must make sure to set Google to Ukrainian. If it thinks it's Russian Google gives even more nonsense that usual (a few weeks ago I used it for an article which I thought was from Pravda. It was from Ukrainian Pravda....)
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:16:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because parachutists are light troops. The mechanized units of even the very weak Ukrainian army will be able to counterattack and sweep them away.

It doesn't matter that you and your friends are some kind of bad-ass superman Rambo guys when the enemy shows up with 50 tonne tanks with 125 mm guns, supported by rocket artillery.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 08:51:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The central point is the lack of firm center of control over the Ukrainian military - the last minister of defense ordered the troops in Crimea to fight, they did not and he was fired (or resigned, depending on your sources). Will the Ukrainian military fight Russian invading troops or will they meet them with a resume in hand, expecting the same treatment as their Crimean colleagues, to be hired with higher wages and better pensions? Will they fight NATO troops? Will it matter what the government in Kiev says about it?

I bet Russia has better intelligence here then the west, but any troops sent to Ukraine from any other country is a gamble with the Ukrainian military reaction.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:44:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, given the state of Ukrainian military (which makes even the Swedish military seem pretty OK), the main difference between the Ukrainians fighting or not will be at what speed the Russian mechanized spearheads can advance.

If they put up a fight, it will take several days, maybe even a week, for the Russians to reach their objectives, depending on what they might be. If the Ukrainians don't fight, it might all be over in 48 hours.

I think the Ukrainians will fight. And I think they might ask the Poles (not NATO) to race in to hold the territory west of the Dniepr, so the Ukrainians can focus 100% on the Russians in the east.

The Russian army is in a much better shape today than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. But I don't expect them to feel very happy about sending troops through Belarus just to run into the Poles. The Poles are in a very good shape.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 11:56:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me add that even if the Ukrainians request Polish support, it is not in any way certain that the Poles will come, or that the Americans will allow them to.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 12:11:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And if they take Lviv, they may not want to give it up again....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 12:28:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's just say I really don't think the Poles would enjoy sharing more of a land border with Russia than they already do.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 01:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the Russian brigades are air mobile with helicopters. They could bring in artillery and light to medium armor.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 12:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the head of the Ukrainian air force has stated that he will not take orders from the current regime.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 12:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any source for this?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 01:59:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it was in an updatae to and/or a link from a comment on Club Orlov of March 24, but I cannot find it now. It was not the Defense Minister, but the head of the air force.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The commenter was quoting a Spanish speaking air controller in Kiev who was sending out a stream of comments in Spanish about the military police intercepting the arms that were arriving by air for the national guard, etc.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why It's Going to Be Impossible to Isolate Russia | Alternet
I fault the President for lying to the American people on behalf of Chevron and Shell Oil, I seriously fault him for not sending US election monitors to observe the Crimean election even though they were invited and independent election monitors from 23 different neutral countries did observe the election and declared it fair, and I fault him for trying to start another cold war on false pretenses that we can't possibly afford if we want to have any chance of an economic recovery here at home.

Crimea has been trying to secede from Ukraine ever since the day after former Soviet President Khrushchev gave Crimea to a Soviet Ukrainian State in 1954. With a couple of short exceptions. Crimea has been part of Russia or the Soviet Union for 208 of the last 231 years.

Between 1954 and 1991 Crimea belonging to Ukraine was largely symbolic, as
Ukraine was a Soviet State. Even so, a majority of Crimean residents were outraged over what Khrushchev did in 1954.

In 1991 the as the Soviet Union was in its death throes the people of Crimea
overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin the Soviet Union, and early in 1992 the Crimean Parliament declared its independence from Ukraine, an was an
independent country for 3 months before the Ukrainian military stomped on their
independence.

Even so, Ukraine allowed Crimea some independence, including an independent
symbolic Parliament, an independent symbolic President, and an independent
Constitution too. In 1995 however, after the Crimean President had been advocating that Crimea rejoin Russia, he was sacked by Ukraine and the Crimean Constitution declared null and void by the Ukraine leadership.

In 2006, 2008, and 2009 after 15 or more years of the Crimean economy falling to pieces under the direction of Kiev, pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian demonstrations were put down by Ukraine.

Last November and last January the former Ukraine President signed contracts
worth over $10 billion with Chevron and Shell to frack Russian owned natural gas fields in Ukraine and in Crimea, and then he tried to change his mind and rejoin Russian influence, which caused a huge amount of outrage in the western part of Ukraine, which is pro-western politically.



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 06:23:18 AM EST


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:06:37 AM EST
I am with those who are disappointed with Obama's Presidency even if his domestic efforts were largely stymied by GOP congressional majorities and scorched earth policies.  However if I have even a semblance of faith in him, it is that he won't be stupid enough to let himself get embroiled in a war in Ukraine.  He has been smart enough to avoid "boots on the ground" in Libya and Syria, and it is even more of a no-brainer for him to avoid was with Russia - and it doesn't matter a damn what the US "political classes" and opinion formers think; that is simply the reality.

As for the EU, pathetic. Children trying to pretend they are playing with the big boys.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 12:41:58 PM EST
No-one has been talking about war. Even McCain has called such ideas idiotic.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 03:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Santiago above has been, with Migeru's apparent agreement. Meanwhile McCain has lost all credibility even in most Republican circles

But I agree. Talk of war over Eastern Ukraine, never mind Crimea is very far fetched.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 04:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear war over Crimea was IMO never in the cards, but things could have gotten extremely ugly if Kiev had sent a mechanized brigade down to clear out the Russians. The Russian forces were light infantry with next to no heavy weapon support - they would have been massacred. And then we would have had Russian tanks in Kiev in a couple of days.

Of course, to get from there to nuclear war would require something like Poland joining the war on Ukraine's side (which is insane even by the standards of the lunatics running the show in Warsaw) and the French or Americans deciding to back Poland. Which would be out of the question unless Russia were to actually cross the border and not withdraw. Which would have been unusually stupid of Putin.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 04:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the now sacked - or resigned - defense minister order the troops to fight. There is also the somewhat confused case of the sniper(s) that shoot a Ukrainian soldier and/or a pro-Russian militia man, but failed to trigger a confrontation.

Ukrainian serviceman killed in Crimea - Europe - Al Jazeera English

A Ukrainian serviceman has been killed in an attack at a military facility in the Crimean capital Simferopol, the defence ministry has said.

Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from Kiev, said news of the soldier's death had been received with "shock" and that Tuesday's attack had escalated the situation, which he said was "hugely tense".

Our correspondent said Ukrainian authorities described the dead soldier as a warrant officer, but a Crimean news agency, which cited a source in Ukraine's interior ministry, called the victim a self-defence fighter.

It said self-defence fighters were shot by a sniper from an uncompleted building opposite a Ukrainian military base, which is flying a Russian flag. The defence ministry described those behind the attack in the peninsula as "armed masked men".

So it is not so much if Kiev - as in the cabinet - had acted differently, but if Ukrainian military had acted differently.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 03:43:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My memory might be playing tricks on me but I only remember the defence minister allowing the soldiers to use their weapons in self defence. I read it as silly passive aggressive posturing.

I do however agree that one of the key points that gets too little play in the discussion of Russian and NATO options is the stance of the Ukrainian military. Or lack thereof as it were. Would they shoot western paratroopers? Presumably that's what the upper officers were trained to do. Would they follow orders? Disintegrate without a shot being fired? Split?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 08:33:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An der Ostgrenze der Ukraine: Nato beunruhigt über russische Truppenpräsenz - Europa - FAZ
Bekannt wurde unterdessen, dass Kommandanten ukrainischer Kriegsschiffe auf der Krim sich dem Befehl der Übergangsregierung in Kiew widersetzten, ihre Waffen zur Verteidigung einzusetzen. Der ukrainische Verteidigungsminister Igor Tenjuch sagte am Sonntag in Kiew, Russland sei es ,,trotz des Befehls an alle Kommandanten, Waffen einzusetzen", gelungen, die Schiffe zu übernehmen. ,,Bedauerlicherweise" hätten die Kommandanten selbst über ihr Vorgehen entschieden, sagte er.

I read that as a refusal to obey orders, but I could be wrong. In general, the position of the Ukrainian military is crucial and very little is known so the few datapoints can be interpreted in different ways.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Apr 7th, 2014 at 03:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some additional context on Putin's thinking from a Russian liberal historian. I believe it may presume too much order in his thinking, and that it claims to know more than it can do. But it is still interesting in its detail. The main thesis that Putin is trying to move away from or change the current international system of politics is well founded in myview.

Vladimir Putin's statements and actions concerning Crimea and Ukraine are not ad hoc responses but rather represent a new "'Putin doctrine'" for Russian action in foreign affairs, a doctrine that dispenses with many of the most fundamental principles on which the international system has operated, according to Vladimir Ryzhkov.

In a Ekho Moskvy blogpost yesterday, the liberal historian, politician and commentator identifies seven parts of this new doctrine and discusses the way in which Putin and his regime plan to extend its application from Crimea and Ukraine to Moscow's relations with the rest of the world.

The first principle of the new Putin doctrine, Ryzhkov says, is that "the Kremlin no longer considers the West as a partner deserving its trust." The West's effort to draw Ukraine into NATO and the EU represent at one and the same time a crossing of a line and a return to the "old policy of containment."

Moreover, he continues, "the real policy of the West" in Putin's view, is one based on "deception, the taking of decisions behind Russia's back, the presentation to it of faits accomplis, and expansion. Russia is not only being surrounded, but it is being robbed - and "from now on, [it] will operate exclusively from that perspective."

The second principle of the Putin Doctrine is that "Russia no longer considers itself part of European or even more Euro-Atlantic civilization." It is a democracy but one of "a special type." And "if almost 100 percent of the population of Russia supports the re-unification of Crimea, then this means that this decision has firm democratic legitimacy."

Putin, Ryzhkov says, wants Russians to unite "around a new ideology and policy and become literally a single organism" which excludes those who disagree. Under his rule, "Russia does not believe any longer in the universal values of freedom, human rights and democracy ... or in any other universal models."

Instead, according to his doctrine, "every strong country is its own system of values and its own model."

The third principle is that "international law is no longer a system of rules or even a system of coordinates." Instead, it is "a menu from which every strong country can choose what is useful to itself." Thus, Moscow is free to choose to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity in the case of Chechnya but the right of self-determination in the case of Crimea.

"A strong Russia has the right to `sovereign democracy,'" the doctrine holds, but "a weak Ukraine does not. In this way, Ryzhkov says, the world once again becomes "the free play of force and a balance of their strength, "on the one hand a return to the Westphalian system ... and on the other to Brezhnev's doctrine of `limited sovereignty.'"

The fourth principle is that the Putin Doctrine applies to the post-Soviet space because that is the "historic legacy" of Russia and the basis of "the strategic security of Russia." As a result, it holds, "the sovereignty of the post-Soviet states from now on is to be sharply conditioned by an account of the interests of Russia."

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are an exception - they are already in NATO and the EU - but any efforts by the West to advance further into the region will be met by a prompt and harsh Russian response. Indeed, Moscow's willingness to move from diplomacy to more forceful means is, Ryzhkov says, "the chief distinction of the new doctrine."

(Russia's moves in Georgia in 2008 were a demonstration of this. But "now, anyone who decides to `cross the red line' on the post-Soviet space must be ready for real opposition from Russia, including a military response," the commentator says.)

At the same time, Putin's Doctrine is "an invitation to all strong countries to reconsider the rules of the game, to cease to be ashamed of being strong, to define for themselves their `zones of influence' and `red lines.'" In 2012, Putin said that Russia "will not only follow but attempt to formulate the rules of the game in the world. That time has come."

The fifth principle of this doctrine involves a modification of the main principle of the Westphalian world, the inviolability of state sovereignty and territorial integrity." Now that principle applies only to those states who are able to "defend with their own army or military political bloc" challenges to it.

"The sovereignty and integrity of weak states (and failed states in the first instance) will become a place of competition among the strong states and their blocs." In short, Ryhkov says,there will be two "leagues" of states - the strong which will have guarantees and the others which won't.

The sixth principle of the Putin Doctrine is that "the role of international organizations (the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and others) will be sharply reduced." Cooperation in them will be possible on some occasions, but when the interests of a strong power are ignored, that power can act independently of their constraints.

And the seventh principle, if one can call it that, is that "the new `Putin Doctrine'" is based on the assumption that there is a very different and "new balance of forces in the world." The West is declining in importance, while Asia, Latin America and Africa are increasing, and "the major non-Western countries ... will be interested in [Putin's] new rules of the game" in order to gain what the shift in power justifies their taking.

Such a world will be both "more dangerous and even more explosive," but in Putin's view, those are the risks for all when each strong player hopes to win.

http://www.interpretermag.com/putins-new-foreign-policy-doctrine-points-to-a-hobbesian-world-ryzhkov -says/

by chumchu on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 05:18:10 AM EST
A return to great power politics with multiple great powers instead of just the US. Exceptionalism - it is not just for the US anymore.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 05:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only one of those statements that isn't utterly banal is the second one.

The first, third, fifth and sixth principles are all just statements of obvious facts, while the fourth and seventh are simple corollaries to the Russian goal of great power status.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 08:00:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After three decades of proclaimed 'unipolar world' and US triumphalist nonsense even a forceful restatement of the obvious is helpful. Russia is back, but it is far more nationalist than the Soviet Union ever was. Way to go, US neo-cons! You sure contained the risk that peace might break out.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 11:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
chumchu:
The second principle of the Putin Doctrine is that "Russia no longer considers itself part of European or even more Euro-Atlantic civilization."

That Czar has decided ours is naked.

(He's passed on Monsanto GMOs too.) Maybe they make you gay.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 09:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
while Asia, Latin America and Africa are increasing

Africa? Which countries does he have in mind? Or is he just saying that Russia wants some of the loot this time?

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 11:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The less Americans know about Ukraine's location, the more they want U.S. to intervene

Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation.  Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least "somewhat closely," most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground -- or even where the ground is.

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine's actual location, the more they wanted the U.S.  to intervene with military force.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 08:56:15 AM EST
I think what is stopping a Russian invasion of Ukraine is mainly that it has no good outcomes for Putin. Best case he acquire the east of Ukraine without bloodshed and gains a angry western neighbour in the rump-Ukraine that would be screaming bloody murder and begging to join NATO. Worst case, he gets bogged down in a war of occupation, which can't be won because he can't treat it like Chechnya. Add loosing gas exports because pipelines are blown up. Such a war is something that would seriously undermine Putins rule in Russia.

I think best case for Russia right now is a negotiated solution where much of Kiev's power is devolved to the regions. Then Russias influence can not simply be couped away in Kiev, and we go back to the old power-plays where Russia holds most of the cards in Ukraine. This is what Russia is officially pushing for, and I think they are honestly trying for that as best solution.

I am worried that the west will refuse negotiations and that facts on the ground will evolve towards civil war, in particular in light of recent stormings of government buildings and declarations of local republics in the east. I think Russia will try to stay out officially (while unofficially supporting their side, just as the west will be supporting the other side), but might get dragged in if there are massacres in the east.

A test if I am right or wrong about Putins plans will be the next couple of days. Will Russia send troops to local republics that has requested them? Will they accept provinces that vote to join Russia? I think they won't and that Crimea with its bases was a special case.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 04:04:33 PM EST
Kiev is already making noises about sending in the army to squash the unrest in the East.

If they do so, there will be massacres that Russia cannot fail to respond to.

But the most likely outcome of that is that Russia will cut the balls off the Ukrainian army and proclaim a security guarantee for an Ossetia-style construction (or pre-2001 Kosova), which maintains the legal fiction that Eastern Ukraine remains under Kiev's limited sovereignty.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 03:53:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kiev might not be fully in control of the Ukrainian military and they might send them only to find that some or all of them don't respond or don't respond as expected. Has the head of the air force been replaced? He has said that he won't take orders from the coup masters.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 05:30:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 09:43:49 AM EST
It is much more likely that a POTUS that relished power politics would have seized the opportunity to secure both of his possible turns in January of 2009 by using his power to rein in Wall Street decisively. Had Wall Street read Obama as being such a person they would likely not have supported him in 2008.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 05:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 08:58:21 AM EST
The article says
A source close to the company has said that Crimea will be marked on Google maps as Russian territory for Russian users and as Ukrainian territory for Ukrainian users. For the rest, it will remain a disputed territory and its border will be marked with dotted lines, the Moscow-based Vedomosti newspaper reports, which posed a dire problem for map services.
Why doesn't Google do the same with Gibraltar?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 04:46:07 AM EST
Either Kiev doesn't react and gets Crimea 2.0, or they react and give Moscow enough propaganda ammunition to justify an intervention to the Russian people and the Westerners naive enough to believe what they see on RT.

Acting is risky, but I'd say not acting is even riskier. This is what being a militarily weak neighbour to Russia looks like.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 11:55:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose we can stop using this macro ironically now... :P

[Starvid's Rysskräck™ Technology]

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 11:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say this is what being a failed state looks like.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 03:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
O rather, it's what failing a state from outside looks like.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 04:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, because Ukraine has not been crippled by the quarrels of its own homegrown oligarchs.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 05:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its economy has certainly been, but last time I checked, the oligarchs did not have their own Spetsnaz units running around in Donetsk.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the failing of the Ukrainian state took place two months ago in Kiev, not last week in Donetsk.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the failure of the Yanukovich government, then the occupation of the Crimea. No we are seeing what might well turn into the physical desintregration of Ukraine as a state.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the failure of the Yanukovich government, followed by the disbanding of the Berkut, the disarray of the military and police, and two months later here we are and we don't even know the extent to which the "provisional" government in Kiev has any actual control of the country. They have failed to follow through on their "ultimatum" to the rebels in the East.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 02:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Physical disintegration follows political disintegration. Recall the failure of the Yanukovich government was right after a highly publicised agreement between Yanukovich and the putative leaders of the "revolution", brokered by the international community.
Witnessed by
For the EU
Radoslaw Sikorski, Polish foreign minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister
Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister
For the Russian Federation
Vladimir Lukin, Russian special envoy
That's a black eye for Germany and Poland, too. But somehow that's supposed to be Russia's fault?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 02:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you see, the problem with that agreement is that the USA was not a party. Remember? Fuck the EU! (Not that having been a party to the agreement would have hindered the future actions of the US Government in any way.)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:04:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Russia aims to annex eastern Ukraine, I think the conclusion of this thread is that there is nothing stopping them. So if Kievs goal is to avoid eastern Ukraine being annexed by Russia, their one and only chance is to gamble that Russia does not really want to annex eastern Ukraine. So they should try to avoid forcing Putins hand. Which means negotiations to accomodate Russia and the pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine.

Ordering in the army as the cabinet reportedly has done, risks massacres that forces or enables Putin to follow up his rethoric with troops. It is also a risky gamble, because if the army does not go, the cabinets claim to be ruling the country can be fatally wounded, encouraging other forces - local mobs, seperatist, contenders for central power - to take over local control.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Apr 13th, 2014 at 04:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a real possibility Putin is bluffing. Taking Crimea without bloodshed was one thing, sending in an entire mechanized corps to batter down organized resistance is quite another.

Putin is clearly trying to destabilize eastern Ukraine to take control of it, either via annexation or indirectly via "federalisation". Do nothing, and the territory is lost. Try to stop it, and Putin might send in the tanks, or he might back down. Which it will be, I don't know. I do however know that Putin respects only one thing: strength.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is looking more and more as if Kiev is the one doing the bluffing, but no one is paying any attention. The government in Kiev may well have little effective control over the Ukrainian military.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:07:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:46:27 PM EST
Very interesting. And this made me laugh, it reminds me so much of when I was in Russia. :)

"Now we drink Cognac," is his surreal answer. "I'm sorry?" I reply. Sure enough, we immediately cross the street to buy a bottle of Cognac before congregating around a nearby park bench to drink it and, rather incongruously it seems to me (though it's a custom out here), eat chocolate.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 01:05:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That reminds me of when I was in Russia - and I've never been. It's the standard story every good reporter in that part of the world has to tell.

Well, the chocolate doesn't feature in every story.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 02:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I thought it was funny. I had expected vodka, but we were treated with French Cognac, and chocolate. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 02:58:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Militias getting ready for war, the army acting like a covert network in civilian clothing. Interesting indeed.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 03:08:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, right?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 07:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 04:51:47 AM EST
In Spanish, though...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 04:58:22 AM EST
To each region its own oligarch?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 12:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 06:23:06 AM EST


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2014 at 06:52:22 AM EST


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