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27 February 2014

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eakens

NATO doesn't have any contingency plans for Ukraine. Do we want the Russians to act?

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/27/uk-ukraine-crisis-breedlove-idUKBREA1Q1EJ20140227

b

In Georgia Russian peacekeeper troops were attacked by a "western" supported force. They reacted properly.

Would Putin repeat such in the Ukraine. Sure. But only if Russian troops get attacked. They are currently securing the Krim where their fleet harbors. They will watch out for whatever comes their way.

One should also not that Russia is willing to use tactical nukes on a battlefield level. A NATO force preparing to cross a river towards Russia would be a juicy target.

William R. Cumming

IMO Russia has bigger fish to fry than seizing and holding the Ukraine all or part and risking some coalition intervention.or even civil disobedience and riots. What one may ask?

[1] protection of ill-gotten gains by the oligarchs, criminal elements, and Putin;

[2] de facto accession of the wealth of the Siberian Region to the Han Chinese and German financiers.

As always could be wrong and Putin does seem to be more cautious than American leaders in employment of his military [perhaps because they are decrepit except for strategic nuclear forces?]!

Putin and Obama will both attend a conference on NUCLEAR SECURITY at the Hague in Mid-March.

Again beware the Ides of March?

Charles I

Do we know what we want at all? Can we align our behaviour with our desires, let alone our interests? Likely not. Probably to meddle enough for domestic politics but to no appreciable effect in situ.

turcopolier

ALL

Russian forces are no longer "decrepit." I fail to see what penalty Russia would pay for intervention. pl

David Habakkuk

All,

The Crimean Parliament has called a referendum on the area’s future. The Acting President of Ukraine appears to be attempting to backtrack on the rescinding on the renewal of the attempt to enforce Ukrainian as the official language throughout the country. The economy is heading for free fall.

(See http://rt.com/news/ukraine-crimea-parliament-government-056/
http://rt.com/news/kiev-clashes-rioters-police-571/
http://rt.com/business/treasury-empty-yatsenyuk-parliament-038/ )

The U.S. and E.U. have got their fingers firmly stuck on the ‘tar baby’ which is the Ukraine. Although the Crimean situation may run out of control, it still seems to me that the Russian authorities can afford to ‘enjoy the benefits of time.’ Intervention in any immediate future would leave their fingers firmly stuck in the ‘tar baby’. What could they conceivably gain?

As to situations that might materialise later on – the prudent course for the Russian authorities would appear to be to ensure that nobody takes for granted that one will in no circumstances intervene, and that one is in a position to do so, if conditions warrant it. But I still think that conditions under which intervention would be sensible, if they are going to materialise, will only do so some time down the line – and are not actually all that likely.

That it was sensible to attempt to ‘enjoy the benefits of time’ was a common maxim of sixteenth-century statecraft, according to the classic history of ‘The Defeat of the Spanish Armada’ by Garrett Mattingly – sometime sergeant in the U.S. Army, and lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Basilisk

PL, et al,
It seems to me if hyperbole were a weapon we would have this situation well in hand. The fact is that in military operations as in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. US diplomat George Ball particularly liked Ian Fleming's aphorism "nothing propinks like propinquity." Spheres of influence are not imaginary, they are rather a practical recognition of who can get there firstest with the mostest.

It is something of a joke, IMO, to be talking of "drawing lines" in The Ukraine. Better to be looking to real world capabilities and the flack thereof.

It has become popular of late to assume that special operations can fulfill all military needs, but there are some cases where real power projection of the old style might be actually needed. In such situations it might be better to speak softly, especially when the only big stick we possess is the one that no sane planner ever wants to have to use.

Babak Makkinejad

None.

Babak Makkinejad

What huge army is there the defense against which would compel Russia to resort to use of nuclear weapons against tits massed troop formations?

Poland's?

Germany's?

Or Romania's?

I do not think so.

The statement "...that Russia is willing to use tactical nukes on a battlefield level.." is irrelevant to this situation.

On the other hand, may be if Yellow Hordes started invading Russia, perhaps then.

But not now.

John Minnerath

Good grief, does Kerry have any brain cells at all?

jonst

Leaving aside what one thinks of Alex Baldwin...he has won a warm spot in my heart by calling Mika B the "Margaret Dumont" of morning talk shows. Priceless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Dumont

Reference for those uninitiated as to who she was.

b

Russia does not have to do anything but wait. The economic situation of the Ukraine will make sure that Russia will always have the biggest say of any international actor in it.

The "west" is not willing/able to pay up fro the Ukraine. Putin is just waiting for that simple fact to sink in.

Therefore, unless there is a serious attack on Russians or their troops in the Ukraine Putin will do nothing.

Why risk "western" sanction or other nonsense when one can just sit back and wait?

David Habakkuk

All,

The latest 'take' on the situation by 'the Saker', which provides his reading of the likely response to re4cent developments by the Russian authorities, is worth reading.

(See http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-kremlins-response-to-events-in.html }

oofda

It should be understood that Crimea had been a part of Russia since the late 1700's when it was annexed by the Russian Empire. It was given to Ukraine(Ukrainian SSR) in 1954- purportedly signed over by Khrushchev while he was drunk. Another version holds that while an ethnic Russian born in Russia, his early Soviet career was in Ukraine and he had strong feelings towards the country. The real reasons for the move are stil obscure; Crimea is now an autonomous parliamentary republic within Ukraine. It is heavily ethnic Russian, with more than a 2-1 ratio over ethnic Ukrainians. Being the home of the Black Sea Fleet, it is of particular strategic importance to Russia.

While Ukraine proper is now an economic basket case, Russia may merely bide its time and not take overt military action. But with regard to Crimea, due to strategic, ethnic and emotional reasons, the Russians will do whatever they have to do to hold it. Many Russians see it as 'part' of Russia.

Funny that an insignificant, and mostly ignored, bureaucratic action of six decades ago can have such an impact today.

Thomas

Some people here in the West do fail to appreciate that others have their own Samson Option.

Today's Saker post says Russia won't intervene unless provoked and if they do: "we only help those who help themselves and deserve our help".

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.au/

Russia strategy seems sound, alert the military on the borders, consolidate the Crimea, and hand this new born 'democracy' baby to the west to provide their economic medicine.

Kunuri

William R. Cumming,

Reading your post, quoted below, unrelated the intent of your comment, compelled me to share about how I emphatize with the decent Russians who live in Putinland...

"[1] protection of ill-gotten gains by the oligarchs, criminal elements, and Putin;"

...before waiting for a new topic on Turkey and parallels between Russia and current Turkish politics, I would like to share an experience about how is it like to live in an authoritarian state.

I and my partners submitted a proposal for a TV series to the state owned and financed TV station TRT. Naturally we all had to include our CVs in the proposal file. I got a call from our producer, asking me if I had ever commented on social Media against the government, AKP, RTE and in support of Gezi Protests and against lately revealed corruption scandals and etc. He said if I had, we have zero chance of getting the financing we need. Luckily, I had not, except reporting and ranting and raving here, where the good Colonel had given me a full title page my of my reporting during Gezi. ...and I rarely use Facebook and twitter, which are both are safely under my American alias. I know not one in my circle who has not used the social media to criticize the current state of affairs here, so affectively no one can produce anything for state owned propaganda TV except diehard government supporters and sycophants of the oligarchs. And no one here who has any talent, education, or common sense support the current regime. So imagine the quality of any production that gets aired anywhere! So apply the same train of thought to anyone who steers the domestic or foreign policy in Turkey. I wonder if one can do the same to Russia, except their foreign minister, the chess master.

Sorry all for posting off topic, but when Russia is the focus of commentary here, Russian people and the oppression of the regime they live under seems to be not included sufficiently in the equation for geopolitical predictions and analysis.

harry

They dont need to seize it. They can take it any time they want.

This is a win zone for Russia. Its very hard for them not to come up with the whole pot in this game. I think the first objective is strategic. Protect the fleet. Then the next objective will be to allow the West to contribute as much money as they want so that russian creditors can take their cash out and on good terms.

Then they can turn their attention to buying all the cheap assets in the country they might want - with whichever corrupt Ukrainian partner politician as cover. Then they can think about how they want to run things. To be in charge or just to dominate from afar. I would assume the later is better.

I see no other end gamne. Can anyone else get cheap fuel to the Ukrainians? Interesting the timing in that respect. Spring just round the corner - so I guess that the guys responsible for sponsoring the trouble wanted to minimize russian leverage. Fine, you have a year to argue!

Good luck changing reality to your prefered perception on this one neocons.

Kunuri

Albayim, the Russian Army may have gotten it together equipment and organization wise, but do you think the Russian peasant soldier would be as willing to die for a Mother Russia where the oligarchs ride in gold Mercedeses and where no dissent or upward mobility is allowed except within the current apparatus? Could there not be a few anarchists and free souls within their ranks as they go charging a foreign land?

I think this factor may be the underlying factor beneath Putin's caution.

Thomas

WRC,

"Again beware the Ides of March?"

Why? Is someone going after our President? Con Coughlin was on FOX today saying Obama was cutting and running from Afghanistan, so maybe he should be careful.

What ill-gotten gains does the Petrograd Group have? They sell oil and gas from a resource rich country. An observation about them, they work together in a collegial manner and have Vladimir serve as the public frontman.

China and Russia have an amicable working relationship. China won't do unto others, so no one has reason to do unto them.

TWit

I think the 2008 Russian conflict with Georgia offers the following lessons relevant to the current situation in Ukraine:

1. Russia systematically and patiently, over a period of many months, dug-in / strengthened its military presence in a territory (South Ossetia) that was outside of Russian sovereign territory but wholly in the greater Russian orbit, just like Crimea today. This was done as a preventative measure to counter the potential of Georgia trying to forcibly reclaim control over the 'breakaway' regions of Georgia.

2. During a summer of tit-for-tat provocations, Russia invaded Georgian territory only in direct response to Georgian military action. The destruction wrought by the operation seems in retrospect to have been well calculated and proportional to Russia's political objectives - namely to regain decisive control over South Ossetia and deter Georgia from trying to retake it for the foreseeable future.

3. Saakashvili, megalomaniacal darling of the neocons, believed his own hype and ignored facts on the ground. He thought that because South Ossetia was legally part of Georgia, he had liberalized and democratized Georgia, stamped out corruption, and made various positive domestic reforms that this would somehow trump strategic reality, presumably by making it diplomatically impossible for Russia to defend South Ossetia. He also apparently believed that a few years of American training and equipping made Georgia's army capable of fighting and winning against the Russian army.

4. The neocons and their cheerleaders encouraged Saakashivili into believing that we "had his back," when we obviously did not, should not have, and indeed never did.

5. The Georgian people were led to believe that their salvation laid not in their own unity and strength as a country, but in the EU and NATO, when membership in both was always an impossibility. When I was there in 2006, they flew the EU flag next to the Georgian flag everywhere in the country, despite not having any official relationship with the EU.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the situation then in Georgia vs now in Ukraine is that Russia did all of the above even though South Ossetia was (and is) just a crappy little mafia province with only limited strategic value, whereas Crimea has huge strategic importance to Russia, plus major cultural and economic significance, as detailed here.

Applicable lessons? That Russia will be patient, systematic, and will take advantage of provocations to secure its interests in the Crimea.

Fred

WRC, protection of ilgotten gains? Are you referring to Obama's failure to prosecute a single banker after his bailout?

Rd.

“I fail to see what penalty Russia would pay for intervention. Pl “

On the other side of the coin, what would Russia gain by not intervening militarily?

US is in dire financial state and is no longer able to peruse hegemony via military option. The color revulsion, R2P, promoting democracy or what ever marketing logo the DC crowd comes up with will also fail in the pursuit of hegemony.

As currency fails and prices rise in Ukraine, who would feed the hungry people? US simply can not afford to hold on to Ukraine. This may prove to be the best way to expose the r2ps and their democracy nonsense.

William R. Cumming

PL! Perhaps you are correct but my info different!

This wiki extract may be of interest:

This is a list of the ten countries with the highest defence budgets for the year 2011, which is $1.29 trillion or 74% of total world expenditures. The information is from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.[11] Total world spending amounted to $1.74 trillion USD in 2011.
Rank Country Spending ($ b.) World Share (%) % of GDP, 2011
1 United States 711.0 41.0 4.7
2 China 143.0 8.2 2.0
3 Russia 71.9 4.1 3.9
4 United Kingdom 62.7 3.6 2.6
5 France 62.5 3.6 2.3
6 Japan 59.3 3.4 1.0
7 India 48.9 2.8 2.5
8 Saudi Arabia 48.5 2.8 8.7
9 Germanya 46.7 2.7 1.3
10 Brazil 35.4 2.0 1.5
World Total 1735 74.3 2.5

^a SIPRI estimates
^b SIPRI: "The figures for Saudi Arabia include expenditure on public order and safety and might be slight overestimates"

shepherd

Russians have historically been very good at dying for any cause whatsoever.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Kunuri!

It is also my understanding that many in the Russian intelligentsia are in fact Ukrainian but few Ukrainian oligarchs in Russia except for those Ukrainian ones remaining in the Ukraine where kleptocracy also a factor!

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