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my guess is that there is a large group of swing voters there that can lean either way for reasons other than pure ethnic background or language preferences

Indeed the Orange Revolution parties had a majority before Yanukovych had one.

The question is if Putin really wants to go all-in.

A not much discussed but IMHO pretty interesting aspect of the Crimea invasion is that no shots have been fired by Russian soldiers (at least on target). One possible motivation is that this is the level where Putin wants to stave off further escalation (which, after all, might go on until WWIII). Another is that he does care about perceptions, even if not that of the West but that of the local population and the home crowd. The latter is supported by how the coup in the Crimean parliament was engineered, which doesn't look like something improvised, but like the execution of a long-prepared contingency plan designed to give the appearance of democratic legitimacy at every step.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 02:55:20 PM EST
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Beppe Grillo's Blog

In fact, the truth is somewhat different and to understand what is actually going on in the Ukraine we have to look to the latest techniques in public communication and manipulation. We have to take two factors into account, as follows: firstly, since the mid-nineties the Ukraine has become an area of strategic importance, that is since Brzezinski pointed out the Country's role as a priority objective for Western interests. Secondly, since the end of the nineties, they have applied very different techniques to hold onto power, very different that is to those that had been applied prior to that time.
It works something like this: apparently spontaneous street demonstrations are in actual fact operations that are carefully planned and organised by Non-Governmental Organisations, Humanitarian Associations and political parties that lead to a crescendo of public operations, amplified by the international media, with backing from within the institutions, particularly the military, that land up bringing about the fall of the "tyrant".
The tension is raised and protests continue until the President, notwithstanding his apparent power, concedes defeat and goes away. These techniques were devised towards the end of the nineties and were utilised for the first time in Serbia in the late nineties. Remember Milošsevic? He seemed to be very powerful although he was he suffered defeat in Kosovo and was suddenly forced to resign thanks to the street demonstrations orchestrated by one of the local movements.
That experiment turned out to be extremely successful and was repeated on various other occasions. It was repeated again various parts of the Soviet Union, including in Georgia, in Kirghizstan and in the Ukraine back in 2004 when the orange revolution was extremely successful, to our great excitement. It was over the Christmas season and we followed that revolution on the screens. All of us cheered that wonderful devolution that, for the first time ever, brought a leader who was pro-West, pro-America and anti-Russia into power.
It was then that Putin, who had had an excellent relationship with the Americans up to that point, realised what was happening and decided to react. And react he did, utilising the very same methods. He began to reduce oil supplies, applied social pressure and split public opinion until, in 2010, Yanukovich won the elections and thus the pro-American Ukraine once again became pro-Russian.
If we are unaware of these movements with somewhat distant origins the we will not be able to understand what has happened in recent days because exactly the same scenario has recurred. The street demonstrations were to a large extent inspired, organised and encouraged by professionals. The new variable that has emerged is extremely disturbing because, amongst the thousands of sincere, innocent pacifists who were not even really able to read the placards, there appeared a bunch of unpresentable neo-Nazi extremists who, for the first time ever and unlike the previous pacifist revolutions, utilised sophisticated guerrilla techniques, including attacks on the Ministries, barricades Molotov cocktails and other surprising and disturbing tactics. In recent days we have seen proof that snipers took shots at both the demonstrators and at the military and then put the blame for it all on Yanukovich. This was all done in order to foment the chaos that eventually led to the fall of Yanukovich.
But why did this all happen right at the end of February? Well, because it happened right during the Sochi Olympic Games, an International event that Putin had planned to revitalise Russia's image as a power to be reckoned with. At the time, Russia could not really afford to retaliate or to take any action against the Ukraine and that's precisely when those armed guerrillas, because that's exactly what they are, applied maximum pressure and thus forced Yanukovich to resign.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 03:54:13 PM EST
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US foreign policy talking heads on PBS were complaining with a straight face that Putin was trying to 'destabilize' the new government in Ukraine. Duh. I see Putin as trying to demonstrate that there will be costs, both Crimea and likely beyond, if the current status quo prevails, while keeping things as 'cool' as is possible. Likely, everything could be mediated but for the triumphalist attitude the western neo-cons have about having 'taken Ukraine back'.

For Putin the best outcome would be a stand still followed by a degree of climb-down in Kiev, and with final status in Crimea being left ambiguous, though clearly under Russian control, and final status of the eastern portion of Ukraine remaining in question. Then allowing the pro-western faction to show exactly what 'benefits' cooperation with the EU and the USA will bring to Ukraine. IMO, this will be very ugly and then public opinion will likely swing significantly towards ties with Russia.

The USA will try to damage the Russian economy in all ways available to it in the meanwhile. This could get interesting next fall when the need for Russian gas in Central Europe becomes critical. If economic or more genuine hostility of a new cold war erupts this could plunge the global economy deeper into recession/ depression. Russia and China might more easily deal with this by putting their economies back on a cold war footing, but such a downturn could also make natural gas less expensive.

Whether this could matter in practice for countries currently dependent on Russian gas is a good question. But Russia could well become the de facto destination for Iranian oil and gas. I have read that the Iranian oil that they could make available to Russia is of better quality that much of the current Russian production and Russia could just use this oil internally while exporting their own production to countries that refuse to abide by US sanctions. Such a situation would strengthen Iran in its dealings with the US and Israel and may also give Russia more of a role in the marketing of Iranian gas. Iranian oil is no more sour on the whole than Arabian oil.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 09:19:30 PM EST
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