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Ukranian Standoff: What's Next?

by aquilon Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:03:55 AM EST

The secession referendum in Crimea on the 16th of March, the outcome of which is easy to predict even if vote rigging doesn't happen, will give President Putin yet another pretext to append the peninsula to the map of Russia. For many Russians on both sides of the Kerch Strait, this will correct the mistake initially made by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, and repeated by Boris Yeltsin 40 years later. Even the Russian intelligentsia seems to largely support Putin on this. The new government in Kiev is going to reject the results of the referendum and accuse Russia of violating international law by using its military might to redraw Europe's borders. The Kremlin insists that these Ukrainian authorities came to power as a result of a coup by pro-Western and anti-Russian extremists, inspired by the US and EU, and that ethnic Russians in Ukraine are now facing discrimination to say the least. NATO will likely to organize military exercises in close proximity to Russia and/or Ukraine, and may even undust the plans to install U.S. missile defense systems in Central Europe, which, by the way, as we were told initially, would protect NATO allies against rogue states like Iran. Then there will be a whole slew of sanctions, including economic, against, and visa restrictions for, Russian officials, which is, perhaps, the most efficient way to get the message through. Russia, of course, threatens to retaliate... Apparently, both sides are currently digging in preparing for return of cold war.

front-paged by afew


Let us try to look at the situation at different angles to see if a compromise is possible. Ukraine is pretty much a failed state, at least, economically. It has been on life support in the form of loans and foreign aid for quite some time. Corruption, cronyism and racket from officials at all levels of government, are rampant, disincentivizing any investments. The administration of the former President Victor Yanikovich was a clear winner in terms of robbing the country, although its predecessors were not too far behind. No wonder that Ukrainians had enough of that.  The popular movement that swept away the Yanukovich's government brought together protesters from the entire political spectrum, including the far-right end. An unfortunate side effect was that, in eyes of many Ukrainians, Yanukovich represented the policy of closer ties with Russia, rooted in the East and South of the country. The pendulum swung so far towards the West that even the parliament faction of the Party of Regions, which was the political base of the former authorities, swore allegiance to this mood. The prospect of Ukraine potentially aligning its foreign and military policy with NATO under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was that "red line", which triggered heavy-handed Russian reaction. Let's not forget that for Putin and majority ordinary Russians, NATO is still an enemy, and, so far, the alliance has failed to prove otherwise.

I strongly believe that giving Ukraine this either/or choice was a huge blunder by the EU (and the US, for that matter). They simply overplayed their hand. On top of this, implementing the measures to reduce budget deficit, especially, in the light of Russia rising prices of natural gas, would inevitably hit most vulnerable social groups (retired and low-income population), and hardly improve the image of the government among voters. No doubt that it wasn't the only consideration in favor of the Russian option. Transparency and the rule of law weren't high on Yanukovich's list of priorities either.

So here's where we are. If nothing else, Russia will keep Crimea, no matter what the West says and does. In case Ukraine doesn't let it go, the territorial dispute will complicate the country integration with the EU. Strained relationships with Russia will make economic recovery much slower and more painful. The confrontation over Ukraine is also going to hurt Europe and Russia on almost every front.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Does NATO really need Ukraine, unless it wants to move to Russian borders? Is the EU ready to get the country through the period of reforms on its own, or even with the US, if Russia is shut out of this process? This is what has to be clearly understood in Washington, Brussels and Kiev. The stand-your-ground law doesn't work well in this situation.

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European Tribune - Ukranian Standoff: What's Next?
Is the EU ready to get the country through the period of reforms on its own, or even with the US, if Russia is shut out of this process?

If I understood the treaty proposla correctly, it was for Ukraine to agree to be pillaged by the EU without any chance of joining or otherwise influence the EU. And yes, the EU appears ready to gut economies despite the inevitable blow-back, after all it is being done to the southern membercountries.

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by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 03:42:51 PM EST
A swedish kind of death:
And yes, the EU appears ready to gut economies despite the inevitable blow-back, after all it is being done to the southern membercountries.

that's my take on it too. of course being mother russia's barrier state is no fun either.

of course the usa budget is up now and the pentagogo gain by a bit of sabre rattling with Archenemy no 1, (this year's).

last year it was n. korea, remember?

'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 Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 03:53:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Far as I can see, Ukraines role as middle-man in supplying EU with gas and Russia with markets, should make a failed state scenario there unwanted by both the EU and Russia. This, and the fact that Russia appears satisfied with controlling Crimea should point towards things settling down along the current lines.

However, if the actors were that rational, bringing Ukraine to the brink of civil war in the first place would not have happened. So, there is that.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 03:47:43 PM EST
telecommando putsch, an artificial crisis, created a la naomi klein, after crashing the ukraine economy the IMF will move in and the corporations will buy up manufacturing and key businesses like telecoms, utilities for pennies.

then some fracking courtesy of the usual suspects, and mission accomplished!

'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 Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 03:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cross-border gas pipelines are regulated by evolving de facto or formal legal frameworks. Basically, a country has reduced sovereignty on the land some 100km of either side of a pipeline. Ukraine was ever only so much independent...
by das monde on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 08:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU seems decided to import its gas from Norway and the US if that's what it takes to hurt Putin. Of course, without its role as gas transit country, Ukraine's economic future is even bleaker. But who cares about Ukraine's economic future? Not Brussels or Frankfurt, that's for sure.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:50:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, it's about time for Realpolitik. Does Putin have a reliable partner for an agreement? It seems Germany's Angela Merkel is turning around and would be trusted by Russia. I read the CDU - Konrad Adenauer Foundation for democracy (sic) here and here. I was surprised.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 05:06:45 PM EST
Putin have a reliable partner for an agreement?

Sadly, most Western national leaders are, or are striving to be, front men for oligarchs. Merkel might be the closest he gets to a true leader.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 10th, 2014 at 05:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Sadly, most Western national leaders are, or are striving to be, front men for oligarchs.

What a good thing Putin isn't.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 03:16:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, Putin probably deals with his oligarchs at least on a basis of equality. I am not certain who was the last US President to do so.

"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 08:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush the Lesser. He was one of 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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 08:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He might have thought he was, but, if so, he was deluded. Cheney had control of much of the dirty side of the administration and Bush, like Reagan, was the front man.

"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 09:00:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you serious? He has a net worth of merely 35 million. I though maybe Hoover, but he was only worth 70 million. Clinton, with $80 million is a bit closer.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 09:04:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My criterion is the power the leader has vis-à-vis the various billionaire oligarchs and my sense it that W would have gotten slapped down had he been so foolish as to seriously oppose Cheney on a plan near and dear to oil oligarchs' hearts. Bush 41 seems to me to be a much more likely answer to my question. Not Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford or, even Nixon, IMO - (Bebe Reboso and Howard Hughes?) - though the USA was a significantly different country under Nixon and before. The most certain answer is FDR, but he was a 'one of'. It has NEVER been pretty.

"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 09:45:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He just wasn't powerful enough to stay on the list.  

--Gaianne  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 03:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Realpolitik:

How Crimea Plays in Beijing » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Oh, Samantha ...

The herd of elephants in the (Ukraine) room, in terms of global opinion, is how the authentic "international community" - from the G-20 to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) - who has had enough of the Exceptionalist Hypocrisy Show, has fully understood, and even applauded, that at least one country on the planet has the balls to clearly say "F**k the US". Russia under President Vladimir Putin may harbor quite a few distortions, just like any other nation. But this is not a dinner party; this is realpolitik. To face down the US Leviathan, nothing short of a bad ass such as Putin will suffice.



'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 Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 07:57:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great article...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/10/ukraine-and-west-hot-air-hypocrisy-crimea-russia

Less than a month ago, a violent insurrection in the streets of Kiev against the elected government was greeted in the west as an uprising of "the people of Ukraine" choosing the west against closer ties with Russia. Everyone knows, if they stop to think about it, that such a simplistic characterisation of "the people of Ukraine" is wilfully naive, but the breathless journalists and huffy politicians gushing their stuff never stop to think. Thinking is dangerous. It can lead you to see the other person's point of view.
The one thing we know for sure is that we don't know what's going on. The situation is volatile and murky. But that doesn't stop western politicians jumping in feet first. We don't know exactly what forces are at play, but we still desperately want to pin our naive "goodies" and "baddies" labels on to somebody.

What will happen next? I predict that nothing will happen. There will be a tremendous amount of huffing and puffing of hot air; well-oiled muscles will be flexed and machinery moved about. Some kleptocratic Russian and Ukrainian ladies will have to put on hold their next shopping trip to Harrods or Gucci. But for the bankers, oligarchs and oilmen, it will be business as usual. They will still own big chunks of London. And, fortunately, their offspring will still be able to enjoy their elite education in some of the world's finest private schools cut-price, thanks to the generosity of the British taxpayers who have deemed those institutions to be charities.

Let us hope I am right, because the alternative is civil war: people slaughtering each other in the streets over some fabricated notion of ethnicity. And even a bit of hot air and hypocrisy is preferable to that.




Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 12:25:34 AM EST
Good article with which I mostly agree.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 03:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia's 25,000-troop allowance & other facts you may not know about Crimea -- RT News

2) In 1997, amid the wreckage of the USSR, Russia & Ukraine signed a Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea. The deal sparked widespread officer `defections' to Russia and was ratified by the Russian & Ukrainian parliaments in 1999. Russia received 81.7 percent of the fleet's ships after paying the Ukrainian government US$526.5 million.

3) The deal allowed the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stay in Crimea until 2017. This was extended by another 25 years to 2042 with a 5-year extension option in 2010.

4) Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev's debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet's environmental impact.

5) The Russian navy is allowed up to

- 25,000 troops,

- 24 artillery systems with a caliber smaller than 100 mm,

- 132 armored vehicles, and

- 22 military planes, on Crimean territory.

Reportedly, there are 30,000 Russians troops in Crimea now. Didn't Putin want to "occupy" within the quota? Or is Russia still within the allowance?

Why is this agreement not explored in the media? It is also the reason why the Russian troops do not wear distinguishing marks, I was told.

by das monde on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 07:32:44 AM EST
That must be a strangely worded treaty if it allows Russian soldiers to not identify their nationality on their uniform. I find that difficult to believe.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 11:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The unidentified soldiers are a classic Ruse of War. Especially, not having fired a shot.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 11:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's also a founding charter member of the list of war crimes.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 12:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, no. Perfidy:
1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
(b) The feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
(c) The feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
(d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
2. Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation.
By not wearing a recognizable insignia, the Russian soldiers are putting themselves outside the protection of the Geneva conventions, so this evidently does not constitute perfidy. If anything it's the complete reverse of inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 12:34:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel: Russia has stolen Crimea.

No. Putin has outfoxed, outstrategised and outstatecrafted everyone.

Pathetic

Angela Merkel may just have been reelected as German chancellor, but she is already thinking about how she will be viewed by future historians. She dreams of emulating her role model, Catherine the Great, but her contemparies prefer to nickname her "Mom."


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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:32:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has he? In the end what did he gain? Looking back, the EU/US tried to pull the Ukraine into its sphere of interest(association agreement) and Putin tried to fix it in his with the custom union and the like. And when he finally outbid the West for Yanukovich everything blew up and there is an actively hostile government in Kiev. I wouldn't count that as a win. More a draw with  collateral damage.
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 11:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just referring to the limited Crimea operation, not the larger Ukraine conflict.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 11:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To me it seems he is executing a well-prepared contingency plan there. And now I got to think: what if American strategists weren't as dumb about contingency planning as it appears on the surface, and all we hearing is noise while losing Crimea was seen as acceptable price?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:35:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's always seemed obvious to me that Crimea was a red-line case for Russia, and I didn't expect Putin to hesitate. I have a job believing that no Western™ analysts foresaw the move. Neocons might be that dumb, but the neocons aren't in the driving seat in Washington any more. Maybe you don't need to be a neocon to make the wrong calls. Either that, or it's as you suggest.

In any case, no one will do anything about Crimea. Just release some hot air.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:48:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a job believing that no WesternTM analysts foresaw the move. Neocons might be that dumb, but the neocons aren't in the driving seat in Washington any more.
I, however, would find it completely in character for European/EU/German "strategists" to have been caught flat-footed.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the depth of the arrogance and sense of exceptionalism of the Washington foreign policy elite is pretty much limitless. It may not have occurred to them what was going to happen either.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The mood in the Western™ capitals right now is basically how dare he?, and a lot of frustrated foot-stomping.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:35:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the question is, is this impotent rage, or one that serves a purpose? By grabbing the Crimea, Russia only salvaged the Black Sea military status quo while gaining a new region in need of subsidies, but the USA gained the rest of Ukraine and potential NATO expansion along Russia1s western border, and a reason to impose sanctions on Russia (though if that was in a contingency plan, then European reluctance to go along wasn't properly gauged).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the USA came out ahead, but the EU now owns a failed state, politically and economically.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:38:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that US -> Europe position is a constant, has been since WWII.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin is just doing what he has to do. Did the West expect him to give up all in Ukraine and Crimea, gas lines? It is up to the West to decide what's next.
by das monde on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I can't really wrap my head around the policy of the US and EU with regards to Ukraine. There doesn't seem to be any clear understanding of the forces in play there, which is reflected in the wishful thinking that pumping in billions of dollars and euros into its crumbling economy under corrupt to the core political structure, will somehow create a prosperous and democratic society, making Russia feel ashamed of its inferiority and beg for our guidance? A variant of this approach was once implemented in Yugoslavia, where things were not as bad as they are in Ukraine, and as far as I recall, it still didn't quite work as intended.

I guess it's time for those in charge in Brussels and Washington to get real. Russia's standing in this crisis may not look and sound completely impeccable under the international law, but Putin's concerns have their merits. For the sake of Ukraine, recognition of this fact needs to be instilled in the heads of those currently in power in Kiev.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 05:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... "Actually fix the Ukraine" would be a unspeakably huge PR victory for the EU/west, and isn't actually impossible. Focus reforms on strengthening law/justice on a very basic "Get the police back to catching criminals rather than bashing political opposition heads in" level, fight corruption, build some infrastructure.. none of this would be actually difficult or expensive and all of it would help a lot. It just requires not actively fucking this up.
by Thomas on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 01:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, like Greece.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 02:36:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU eastwards enlargement to date has fucked up on these imperatives in a number of countries.

Actually, "fucked up" isn't the term. "Has made no attempt" is more like it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The market was supposed to provide. What can possibly have gone wrong?

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly that markets don't provide the rule of law?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Western assistance, rule of law come at the market price.

Big Oil's "Sore Losers" Lead the Drive to War » CounterPunch

The western oil giants have been playing "catch up" for more than a decade with Putin checkmating them at every turn. As it happens, the wily KGB alum has turned out to be a better businessman than any of his competitors, essentially whooping them at their own game, using the free market to extend his network of pipelines across Central Asia and into Europe. That's what the current crisis is all about. Big Oil came up "losers" in the resource war so now they want Uncle Sam to apply some muscle to put them back in the game. It's called "sour grapes", which refers to the whining that people do when they got beat fair and square [...]

In other words, Yanukovych rejected an offer from Chevron that the EU and Washington were pushing, and went with the sweeter deal from Russia. According to Ahmed, that pissed off the bigwigs who decided to incite the rioting. ("Putin's sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests...")

by das monde on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 05:29:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The usual Western arrogance, that assumes no agency for the locals. Poor hapless puppets jerked around by American money eh? Not that simple.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did Western energy companies concoct the current crisis?

Seems a bit of a stretch.

Have US energy firms with interests in fracking been opportunistic about this crisis?

Umm..... yes.  Without doubt.

Republicans in the US Congress are trying to fast track approval for a LNG export facilities that would be able to move enough LNG to replace Russian gas exports to Europe.  Even with massive investment, this is several years off.  But this would jack up the North American price of gas tremendously. Right now, in order to export gas a special permit is required if the receiving country doesn't have a free trade agreement with the US.  The bill in Congress would essentially remove this.

Again, look at the price differential between North America, Japan, and the EU here:

I think it's stretch to not see a massive increase in North American gas prices, and company profits, as not being a motivation behind Washington's actions.

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 Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, I'm confused. I thought that cheap energy prices currently gave the USA a huge economic advantage. Historically, US foreign interventions have been intended to keep US energy prices low...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Mar 15th, 2014 at 03:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Historically, US foreign interventions have been intended to keep US energy prices low.

Bullocks.  Historically US foreign interventions have been intended to keep corporate profits high.  That can be done equally well by gaining a massive price markup via exports as shorting producers in cowed countries royalties due. Natural gas is not oil.  The US lacks the infrastructure to export right now, and that means that domestic gas producers are taking a huge price hit because they can only sell in North America.

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 Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 02:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By having commitments and capability to EXPORT natural gas, given demand, they will be in all the better position to screw over the US domestic market, especially if their efforts to prevent the development of alternative energy sources and deployment of energy saving measures succeed. Their goal is to sell the last 100 cubic feet of natural gas at the highest possible price and get tax subsidies for doing so, even if they export that gas.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 10:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The impact will be most severe in terms of fertilizer production.  Right now the US imports quite a bit of anhydrous ammonia from Eastern Ukraine/Russia, and that tends to increase as natural gas prices do. Get ready for another food price shock when American corn prices shoot up based on increasing fertilizer costs.

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 Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 08:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A sane reaction to increased fertilizer prices would be a reduction or elimination of requirements for ethanol additives to gasoline. This would at least match drops in feed in tariffs for wind and solar electricity and give the appearance of balance and a coherent 'no subsidies' approach, which, in itself, would be a novelty.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 11:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eek! But then how do you expect the corn-planting industry to get its subsidies?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 12:36:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are hard limits to how high ammonia can go - It is the most widely synthesized chemical on earth, and natural gas is most emphatically not a necessary ingredient. There are producers right now making money producing it via the electrolysis pathway in places with cheap electricity. I think this is due to a cartel in ammonia production, because the level of profit that implies for people producing it the lazy way is hard to explain without a cartel limiting production - but it does mean that if ammonia goes much higher a lot of people are going to start turning electricity water and atmospheric nitrogen into fertilizer.
by Thomas on Wed Mar 19th, 2014 at 04:47:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a past series of diaries on ET about this, by SacredCowTipper, see this one for example.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2014 at 03:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It provided perfectly, to those that needed it least.

Economics wags politics.

'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 Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that's a stretch. There have been continuous Commission requests to reform laws and law enforcement and implement anti-corruption measures, and structural funds have been available and used for infrastructure projects (mostly highways, though), from Poland to Bulgaria. But the level was woefully inadequate, the timing of the first (after accession rather than during accession negotiations) guaranteed that legal intervention was toothless, especially in the face of the simultaneous neo-liberal economic reforms which were the focus of accession negotiations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reforms on strengthening law/justice on a very basic "Get the police back to catching criminals rather than bashing political opposition heads in" level, fight corruption, build some infrastructure..

Oh please...not this fairytale again. Show us ONE single (just one single) state where they managed to even touch the surface on these reforms...including some of their own states (USA and EU). They even managed to destroy Slovenia that even during communism was a pretty decent state in any way shape and form.
Honestly...  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 08:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excuse me? Slovenia has been destroyed? I didn't notice that the last time I was there.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 12:17:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You must be there last time long time ago.
And you are not reading news for a long time...go and check.They are on a brink of bankruptcy
As for what eyes can see as a tourist Greece is still great place...but ....

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 07:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for what eyes can see as a tourist Greece is still great place...but ....
Macropolis: The Greek crisis we don't see (12 March 2014, by Nick Malkoutzis)

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 08:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American policy is concerned with retaining the single world power status gained with the demise of the Soviet Union. To that end, Russia must be contained. The American aim is to push the NATO sphere of influence right up to Russia's borders (remember Georgia).

The EU doesn't have a foreign policy. When it comes down to it, EU member states are American vassals and the EU as an institution reflects that. EU enlargement is a tool for US policy (further supported by neoliberals who want the EU watered down to a big free-trade area with no political or institutional capacity).

The US-NATO thrust doesn't worry about busting countries up. The EU is supposed to be the helping hand for those countries. But the EU has long since discarded any ideals in that respect. So helping Ukraine will be the EU's responsibility, but nothing at the appropriate scale will happen.

Russia's concerns do have their merits, but Russia has been keeping Ukraine in a state of corrupt dependence for decades. The notion that there is any real help there for Ukrainians is illusory.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:22:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree that Putin is far from being altruistic towards Ukraine. By the same token, he would rather prefer dealing with a Lukashenko-style regime there, which is much more predictable, stable and cheap per capita to control...
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 12:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aquilon:
wishful thinking that pumping in billions of dollars and euros into its crumbling economy under corrupt to the core political structure, will somehow create a prosperous and democratic society

Well it sure worked in Italy and Greece, didn't it?

(snark)

'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 Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuland for one.  The realists are still in the US State Department, but they have been sidelined.  I think they were too pessimistic--sorry--lacked a fitting can-do spirit.  Obama didn't like what they were telling him so he went with the crazies.  No lack of can-do talk with the neo-cons!  True, they never deliver.  But Obama is desperate.  

--Gaianne

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 03:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I am impressionable, but I think the execution is masterful, and if the plan involved taking control of all Crimea overnight with unidentified troops to confuse everyone, then the planning itself is genius.

Maybe everyone was expecting Russia to roll into Crimea shooting and waving the Russian flag. They didn't expect them to sneak in and disable the Ukrainian troops stationed there in their sleep, so to speak.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Russia had de facto control of Crimea.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 04:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest the only thing I want from our glorious leaders dick waving contests is that they don't kill the rest of us, so Putin gets a passing grade at least. Plus some extra points for technical competence. Having good plans for when things go pear shaped is worth something at least.
Overall I'm quite unsure who achieved his objectives here. Most of the demonstrators probably didn't want to be governed by one of those shape shifting lizard central bankers. Putin didn't want a western stooge in Kiev. Yanukovich fucked up beyond anyone's expectation. I doubt the EU actually had any plan worth mentioning. Maybe "fuck the EU" Nuland is happy.
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the demonstrators probably didn't want to be governed by one of those shape shifting lizard central bankers.
They must not have been very well informed, or else the idea that the Maidan protesters were in favour of an EU association agreement (which, by the way, will be signed very shortly) was a complete fabrication on the part of the EU officialdom.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my first reaction to hearing about protests in favour of an EU association agreement was along the line of "this is the most preposterous lie I've heard all year". But on second thought, ten years ago I wouldn't have said the EU is about spreading poverty and setting fire to the social economy. I don't think I'd have scoffed at the notion of protests in favour of joining it. Maybe they didn't pay attention?
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 07:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the EU. Or whether it was ever so and I was just fooled as a child.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 07:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So many parameters changed while blinkered elites went on labouring under the mantra pool economic interests and the politics, law, culture will end up by following.

Finally they pooled incompatible economic interests.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 02:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that "incompatible economic interests" is exactly true. Incompatible economic aims, whether or not they're in anyone's (except for a few bankers) interest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic superstitions incompatible with reality, actually.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but nothing stopping you having aims incompatible with reality.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's certainly part of the problem, but I fear that the original mantra considered that even that would eventually come out in the wash.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
nothing stopping you having aims incompatible with reality.

They make reality, remember!

Wishful thinking'Confidence in the market' hushes all opposition.

Because growth.

'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 Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:29:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we catalogued it fairly comprehensively. The death of solidarity, at every level, the triumph of national/personal interest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 05:45:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the institutional booby traps were laid down by idealists in 1992.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there had been idealists running it now we might have found different escapes from the traps.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember Straight Talk from Juncker (February 12th, 2010)

He was the last surviving signatory of the Maastricht Treaty, and the last member of the European Council who was genuinely in favour of the "community method". And yet...

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:18:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Kiev, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced that the Berkut police units had been disbanded. All police officers would be investigated and those responsible for the deaths of anti-government protesters "would be punished". The Berkut units reportedly had 4,000-5,000 members stationed across Ukraine.

The Berkut in Crimea, have found employ with the new authority. Berkut [disbanded riot police] headquarters in Simferopol are protected by local self-defense militia.

Even our agent in Kyiv, Hennadii Morkal, complained again about the Berkut in Crimea. Calls the group "well trained insurgents."   :-)

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 05:18:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding is that the Ukrainian political system was reasonably closely balanced between west leaning and east leaning factions, so much so that west leaning figures like Tymoshenko could achieve power on occasion.

I know the Crimea is relatively small, but could its defection be enough to tilt the balance of power in the remaining Ukraine marginally but decisively in the west leaning factions favour?

If so Russia could have gained Crimea at the cost of a near controlling influence in Ukraine. The fundamental economics of pipelines and interdependency don't change, but the EU's influence in Ukraine will grow - for good or ill.

The danger is that Russia will be provoked into further annexations in eastern Ukraine "in order to protect ethnic Russians..."  This could provoke a military response by Ukraine in a bid to protect its territorial integrity and all hell could break loose, include pogroms, ethnic cleansing, mass migrations of civilians, and a hot or cold war around some de facto border in Ukraine.

Will the west really come to Ukraine's aid in this scenario, beyond the usual guff about sanctions etc.? Where will the new Russia/West border really lie before the west intervenes militarily?

Both Russia and "the West" have a vested interest in avoiding such an outcome. The question is whether cool heads will ultimately prevail and further provocations are avoided.

My best guess is that Ukraine will lose Crimea but ultimately Russia will lose a controlling influence in Ukraine. Both sides had better get used to that new reality if disaster is to be avoided.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 09:13:43 AM EST
My understanding is that the Ukrainian political system was reasonably closely balanced between west leaning and east leaning factions

No, that's the picture Western media is painting, but the various factions were always capable of changing their ad-hoc alliances and changing their relationship to Western powers and Russia. Back when she was PM, Tymoshenko allied with Yanukovych against President Yushchenko, and the latter two finally allied against her, and Tymoshenko made deals with Putin when she saw fit (as Putin recently recalled in his failed attempt to use her to split the current regime), and Yanukovych as President also had gas troubles with Putin and IMF cooperation and attempts to woo the West. At the socio-cultural level, the centre around Kiev is the balance between the Western Ukrainian nationalists and the Eastern pro-Russians.

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

by DoDo on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 12:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but below the level of shifting political alliances, what is the demographic balance between Russian speaking, Russian orthodox and the rest, and would the defection of Crimea significantly effect that balance? I suspect the annexation of Crimea could have the effect of uniting most of the rest of Ukraine, at least at a political level, against Russia, in an attempt to protect the territorial integrity of the remains of Ukraine Otherwise the future of Ukraine, as an independent state, is at issue.

I'm not sure that the shifting alliances of the past necessarily invalidates my thesis that Russia will gain Crimea at the cost of its dominant influence in rump Ukraine..

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 01:15:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what is the demographic balance between Russian speaking, Russian orthodox and the rest

I tried to indicate that there is no such clear distinction. Whether you use religion or language, both the Western Ukrainian nationalists and the Eastern Russians are a minority, while the centre around Kiev (which is much bigger than the Crimea) is Orthodox and mostly bilingual, and its vote can change between parties. In other words, the key to majority is winning majority in the centre, and losing Crimea would not change that.

I'm not sure that the shifting alliances of the past necessarily invalidates my thesis that Russia will gain Crimea at the cost of its dominant influence in rump Ukraine..

You are assuming that the situation today or tomorrow will stay permanent. But there are several possible scenarios, and IMHO two of the most likely ones are:

  • the Maidan revolution parties might lose popularity due to economic reform and the rush to NATO and then a new force on the ashes of the Party of the Regions could take over in the next elections; or
  • most ethnic Russians in the East come to resent Russia's grab of the Crimea and decide to stick it out as part of Ukraine now but change their views after seeing how the new government fails to rein in nationalists, leading to a federal semi-break-up or a real break-up in a civil war before the next elections.

In short, I don't see how the loss of Crimea could lead to a significant permanent shift in the power balance.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 02:45:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The numbers from 2010 presidential election in Ukraine show that Yanukovich won by about 500,000 votes, and it almost exactly matches his margin of victory in Crimea. So, yes, if we extrapolate them into future polls, you may be correct. But 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. At the end of the day, their current economic conditions and expectations affect their choice, as well as some intangibles, like sense of security, protection of civil rights, etc. Today, though, emotions fly high in Ukraine, and it has a profound effect on the parliaments in Kiev, Simferopol and Moscow.

Militarily, Ukraine stands no chance to defend itself against Russia, should the latter decide to attack. The question is if Putin really wants to go all-in. I'm sure his administration is very busy now weighing pros and contras. Among other parameters, they need to be clear as to how much Russia will have to spend to "bribe" eastern Ukraine into obedience in the long term.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2014 at 01:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
i wonder sometimes if revenge for snowden's 'choice' of russia as new domain may be partly behind this...

'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 12:58:32 PM EST
aquilon:
I strongly believe that giving Ukraine this either/or choice was a huge blunder by the EU (and the US, for that matter).

I could not agree more. But in the USA there is a long tradition of Republican sabotage of the foreign policy of Democrat Administrations: Nixon sabotaged LBJ's attempts to make peace in Vietnam in 1968, Reagan's team sabotaged Carter's attempts to end the Iranian hostage situation in 1980, and this evolved into the Iran-Contra debacle in the mid '80s. One pole of this dynamic has been the Republican alliance with the Israelis, and the current situation in the Ukraine is destroying Obama's attempts to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.

The point is that on matters of national security and foreign affairs the US only has a unified policy during Republican administrations. LBJ, IMO, made a massive strategic mistake in deciding, 'for the good of the country', not to call Nixon on the sabotage of the Vietnamese peace talks as that seems to have set a precedent. I have watched this unfold over my adult life and had assumed that this was what was happening, but have recently had it massively confirmed by reading Robert Parry's

    America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama
which I got in Kindle form for $5. Parry's work is very well sourced.


"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 09:50:00 PM EST
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/03/march-11-update-on-ukraine-.html#comments

Violent fascist radicals from the Right Sector are arriving in Ukranian areas with Russian affiliated populations likely to enforce their point of view. The sympathetic to them NYT account:

    With the city in play, street fighters from Independence Square in Kiev have arrived by bus in Odessa. Their eyes deep from the violence they had just seen, attired in body armor, they draw apprehensive stares, but their presence has also allowed supporters of the interim government to feel safe enough to stage several large rallies.

...A few days ago the coup government in Kiev had called for a mobilization of the military reserve. That failed. Obviously no one showed up. The coup government has now called to form a "National Guard" of volunteers. With all security and defense related top-jobs now in the hand of the fascists one can easily imagine who will be allowed to join. All Right Sector members have already gone through some (para-)military training as it is a condition for membership. They will revive memories about the 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galician" which often used in anti-partisan action, i.e. to suppress local dissent:
...The U.S. puppets in Kiev called for military intervention by the "west":

    Parliament passed a resolution calling on the United States and Britain, co-signatories with Russia of that treaty to "fulfill their obligations ... and take all possible diplomatic, political, economic and military measures urgently to end the aggression and preserve the independence, sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine".

I do not yet believe that anyone is the "west" is willing to follow up on such an invitation.



Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:57:17 AM EST
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/03/march-11-update-on-ukraine-.html#comments

"Just an idea.... Is there no way for Russia to train and arm paramilitary and local self-defense units in at least eastern Ukraine?"

Not without being "exposed" by the international media. They will be "Shocked!!! Shocked!!!" at the mere idea of such a thing.

The rules of this game are the US can do what it wants, and the media will cover it up, ignore it, call those who call it "conspiracy theorists" (we just saw this over the Ashton-Estonian guy conversation) and deny the most obvious evidence. But anything done against the interests of the 1% which owns the media will be denounced..

And half of the "left", with Pussy Riot ringing in their ears, will demonstrate against Russian "aggression" and bathe in the crocodile tears the media (which detests them) pump out.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 11, 2014 3:29:16 PM | 7



Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 07:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
_ Their eyes deep from the violence they had just seen,_ it was a dark and stormy night....

'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 Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 09:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From DEBKAfile (an Israeli military intelligence website based in Jerusalem, providing commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, national security, military and international relations, with a particular focus on the Middle East):

Moscow will halt military steps in Ukraine - only after a US guarantee not to post missile shield there

... according to our US and Russian sources, Putin is after hard, practical strategic gains, principally, a demilitarized Crimea that would not threaten Russia from its western doorstep.
In fact, the Russian president has couched his demands for further negotiations under four headings:

1.  The Kiev government whichever form it takes must sign an obligation to abstain from any ties with NATO.
2.  Neither the US, NATO or any other power will deploy X-Band or BX-1 radar stations on Ukraine territory whether on land, sea or air. This guarantee would additionally cover elements of an anti-missile missile shield and ballistic missiles placing Russia in their sights.
3.  Restrictions will govern the types of weapons allowed the Ukrainian army.
4.  Local military bodies will be established to protect the Russian-speaking and ethnic Russian regions of Ukraine.

Putin emphasized in his conversation with Merkel that, until those four conditions are met, Russian forces would remain where they are in Crimea and if this was deemed necesssary, advance into other parts of Ukraine.


AND here are four points from Kissinger:
1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.

  1. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.

  2. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

  3. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea's relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea's autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.
by das monde on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:45:30 PM EST
Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people.

Kissinger really said this?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming compatible People™, of course.
by das monde on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:45:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
even Kissinger is unhappy with a neo-nazi coup!  

--Gaianne  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 03:34:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X3Khut1O0Kc
He is so right...USA/EU have to decide either referendum and right of people to decide where they want to live is legal or it's not.It doesn't look serious to simply cherry pick who have right and who doesn't depending on their interest.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 11:13:21 AM EST
We are lucky to have his voice in Europe today.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 03:25:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forbes
"Yatsenyuk was saying that what the Greeks did to themselves we are going to do ourselves," said Signorelli. "He wants to follow the Greek economic model. Who the hell wants to follow that?"

Also today, Yatsenyuk promised to implement "very unpopular measures" to stabilize the country's finances. The government said it needs $35 billion to support the country over the next two years. His language in a news report broadcast by Bloomberg today indicates he is heading toward a potentially destabilizing austerity campaign.

Does he already have an escape plan?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Mar 15th, 2014 at 12:28:06 PM EST
Maybe he'll manage to unbolt his golden toilet in time.
by generic on Sat Mar 15th, 2014 at 03:27:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Democracy in work...of course USA/EU style democracy...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/15/kiev-s-protestors-put-on-uniforms.html

Kiev's Independence Square is becoming a military recruitment center, with activists eagerly enlisting as volunteer soldiers. Anna Nemtsova reports from the scene.

Kiev's Independence Square - the Maidan so immensely important to the new government here -- is changing all the time. And while most of the world's attention has been focused on Crimea, some of the developments among the crowd in Kiev are decidedly ominous.
...But there are also men in black - precisely the kind of people Moscow gleefully brands as fascists to terrify the ethnic Russian populations of Crimea and in the east of the country. Members of the Right Sector nationalist paramilitary group  have occupied three buildings around the Maidan square over the last few days. New recruits for their forces lined up outside the former office of Kiev Star, a cell phone company and militia activists carried bags full of weapons into the guarded door. The Dnipro Hotel is with the Right Sector's men dressed like down-market storm troopers.


Giving wepons around like if they give lollies is going to backfire on what ever so called "government" is or will be in power.
And with Right sector everywhere very visible with wepons good luck to Ukraine fair and free election on 25th of May.
As much of Ukraine that Putin can get out of the reach of these lunatics the better for people there...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 08:50:52 AM EST
more...

Violence has not left the Maidan altogether. On several occasions drunk or frustrated campers loosed a few rounds from their guns and blew up fireworks in the middle of the night. "Once, they wounded a suspicious character and another time there was a conflict between Right Sector and self-defense forces that led to shootings," Pavlenko said.


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 08:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, weapons in the hands of militias, loyal primarily to their immediate leaders, usually spells trouble. But did the government start arming volunteers before or after Putin made his move in Crimea and ordered military exercises just east of Ukraine? It looks like both sides are scrambling to put the blame entirely on each other, and taking a course of action, which only drives them further apart and escalates the crisis even more. I don't think that anybody in their right mind truly believes that Yanukovich can return to Kiev, assume his presidential powers back, and start implementing the deal signed on February 21. Putin may keep insisting that the new Ukrainian government is illegitimate, but Russia doesn't seem to be able to do much to about it, beyond brute force.  If a military solution doesn't top the list of choices for Putin, his administration has to engage with the authorities in Kiev. Yatsenyuk looks like a "less bad" option, compared to the alternatives. Pushing too hard only increases risk of radicals gaining the upper hand in the government and on the streets.
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 04:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
West Ukraine has a pro-Austerity government. All Putin really has to do is stand back, pop some popcorn and watch it come apart.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 06:02:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great conclusion...
He just need to sit and wait for apple to fall.
But I assume they (west or better said Americans ...remember "fuck the EU") will not leave him alone and they will do everything to provoke military intervention so that they can point to Russia as an assessor.Same old story ...there will be staged massacres and killings as we all witnessed in ex YU and elsewhere...They know Putin's blood will boil and expect him to make a mistake.We'll see if he can avoid it. They say " do not play chess with Russians" but it's hard when other side is cheating.
Americans/west hoped for quick resolution of this situation in Ukraine but...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 08:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aggressor of course...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 11:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And watch everybody blame Russia for this.....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 02:08:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everybody who speaks English, yes.

If I were Putin, I would happily make the bet that the locals are sufficiently aware of who is causing them pain to take rational countermeasures.

Of course, the locals may decide that "rational countermeasures" means an overtly Nazi government. But I'm not convinced that that would be actively detrimental to Russia's interests.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 03:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, the locals may decide that "rational countermeasures" means an overtly Nazi government. But I'm not convinced that that would be actively detrimental to Russia's interests.

To the extent that they emphasize the 'National' in National-Socialist' they might be less harmful to the interests of average Ukrainian citizens than the pro-EU/pro-western 'leaders' prepared to enter into agreements with the EU. And, to the extent that they acted on the interests of the average citizen Putin may well find them easier to deal with. He could then play the 'Fellow Slav' card.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 09:55:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People said similar things about Hitler before 1939.

Of course, presently the problem is that both sides teem with fascists and the annexation of Crimea resembles the Anschluss of Austria.

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

by DoDo on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 05:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the 90s, people regularly had a choice of "bad versus worse" in elections. Now we have to choose between fascisms. Ingenious.
by das monde on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 05:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The corollary is that a substantial fraction of swing voters thinks "it can't get worse than this", but will choose with great certainty guys who are certain to make it worse.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 05:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Less thoughtful voters often chose the party whose emotional response to issues most resonates with their own, regardless of the logic of where that response might lead. And in above comments I am hardly endorsing fascist parties, but rather am agreeing with Jake that some might be easier for Putin to deal with than others that might be on offer. Nor am I calling Putin a great hero, though he does seem to be the smartest guy in the room at present. And how often has the smartest guy in the room prevailed -- to the detriment of all?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 12:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, to the extent that they acted on the interests of the average citizen Putin may well find them easier to deal with. He could then play the 'Fellow Slav' card.

I was thinking more along the line that an overtly Nazi government in Ukraine is eventually going to fuck up and create a casus belli for Russia. And then Putin can get to be the national hero who liberates Kiev from the Nazis for the second time in less than one century.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 02:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That too, though many in Western Ukraine might not wish to be rescued.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 02:32:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of them may not have wanted to be rescued the first time either.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 02:35:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that they are feeling 'liberated' for the first time since WW II?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 19th, 2014 at 09:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the governments militia is the same groups that formed a militia on Maidan, so in a sense it started forming before the revolution.

My main question is where the Ukrainian military stands. Seems unclear.

What Putin has said is that the Ukrainian parliament is legitimate, but that Yanukovich remains the legitimate president. Which means that his ministers has contact with Ukrainian ministers, while Putin has no direct contact as there is no elected president in Kiev.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 08:05:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Putin has said is that the Ukrainian parliament is legitimate, but that Yanukovich remains the legitimate president. Which means that his ministers has contact with Ukrainian ministers, while Putin has no direct contact as there is no elected president in Kiev.
Puting is a first-rate troll.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 08:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does this mean that Yanukovich is also the legitimate president of Crimea? Will Putin act accordingly?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 08:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Specialists had to deal with a new wave of psychological traumas linked to the Crimea referendum and Russian threats: the conflict has came to almost every family in Ukraine, splitting relatives into pro-Russian and anti-Russian camps.

Bosnia all over again...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 09:05:39 AM EST
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/02/fzgps.01.html

...Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state; Brzezinski Zbigniew, the former national security adviser on what the United States can and should do.

Old team has been pulled back from comfortable "pension"...they make me sick.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 09:33:47 AM EST
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1403/02/fzgps.01.html

Steve, you say that this -- this guy is not the rank imperialist and rank dictator we see him as. Explain why he isn't those things.

STEPHEN F. COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Nor is he, as Secretary Albright and Professor Brzezinski suggested, Hitler with their references to Munich.

Putin is not a thug. He's not a neo-Soviet imperialist who's trying to create -- recreate the Soviet Union. He's not even anti- American.

What he is is intensely historically pro-Russian. He's been in power nearly 14 years. And his mission, as he sees it and many Russians see it, is to restore Russia from the disaster of 1991, the collapse of the Russian state.

Remember that was the second time in the 20th century that the Russian state had collapsed, the first time in 1917. So to recreate stability, prosperity, greatness, whatever that means in Russia at home and, in the process, restore Russia's traditional zones of national security on its borders, that means Ukraine as well.

He did not create this Ukrainian crisis. It was imposed on him and he had no choice to react. That's where we stand today.



Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 09:40:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Antiwar.com
The other targets include two advisors to President Putin, Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev, Russian Upper Parliament head Valentina Matviyenko, MP Leonid Slutsky, who chairs the committee on Russian relations with ethnic Russians overseas, constitutional law professor Andrey Klishas, and MP Yelina Mizulina.

Mizulina is perhaps the craziest inclusion, as she not only had nothing to do with the Ukraine situation but isn't even a member of the ruling party. Her sole claim to fame is backing the anti-gay legislation in Russia ahead of the Winter Olympics and her inclusion was seemingly just the first chance the administration had to stick it to her for that.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 10:04:45 AM EST
She's certainly a piece of work, but seems that's it:

FACT SHEET: Ukraine-Related Sanctions | The White House

Yelena Mizulina:  Mizulina is being sanctioned for her status as a State Duma Deputy.

So why not sanction the 615 other deputies?...

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

by DoDo on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 10:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having got Crimea under his belt, Putin confirmed his indisputable domination in Russian politics. Now, he is likely to kick off a new PR campaign by toning down the rhetoric towards the new Ukrainian government, and offering the West cooperation in providing financial aid to the country. Next week, the G7 leaders are going to meet during the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. There will almost certainly be plenty of hot air, but little meaningful action. The EU doesn't seem to have much appetite for economic sanctions, and the US administration still needs Russia when it goes about Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. The dispute over Crimea will remain a point of contention for a while, but is going to leave front pages rather sooner than later.
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Tue Mar 18th, 2014 at 11:37:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After petro-dollars, gas-a-rubles, will there be aqua-energy-units?

Crimea needs water from Ukraine.

Badly.


'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 Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 09:05:40 AM EST


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