Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
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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