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03 March 2014


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Kerry loves photo ops and hearing his own voice,

Duncan Kinder

The important factor - beyond our, and perhaps anybody's control - will be the spillover from a destabilized Ukraine.

The Balkans are a mess and the "Balkan Route" has long been used to smuggle opiates from Afghanistan as well as other illicit commerce into Western Europe. Greece, once a bedrock of stability for the Balkans, is suffering an economic meltdown. Kosovo is essentially a narco-state. Bosnia is experiencing unrest. Corruption is rampant throughout the region.

The Ukraine's turmoil will agrravate all of this.


This is wreaking havoc with the Russian currency and stock markets. Forbes reports that foreign capital reserves for Russia are at a multi-year low. That may have some effect down the road.

For Crimea, think Transistria, the 'breakaway' section of Moldova. Much the same scenario, where a section of a former Soviet Socialist Republic becomes a de-facto independent state.

For the life of me, I don't know why the media go to Sen McCain for comment on the Ukraine crisis. He was the one who stood in Maidan square with one of the leaders of the neo-nazi opposition. And he is one of those fulminating for 'action' - although he doesn't really make any realistic sense. But he is one who has poured oil on the fire.


You don't think Putin will move into the Russian majority areas outside of the Crimea. On the face of it, that would be pretty smart as it will leave a well organized opposition in Ukraine to put pressure on any government in Kiev in its relationship with Russia. Removing the Russian minority in Ukraine would give Kiev greater freedom of action.


From the NYT yesteday:

"Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said."

Curiously phrased, and not politic of Merkel, if accurate.




Looks like some kind of build-up along the Russian/Ukrainian border in the northeast.

According to the State Border Service of Ukraine, there is build-up of military equipment in Russia near the state border within Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Opposite the site of the Kharkov border detachment:
- At railway station “Lesniki”, Voronezh region. Russian Federation, 9 echelons of military equipment (APC, IFV) arrived, which were unloaded in the territory, including artillery teams, which are located near the village of Liski);
- At the junction of the departments "Pletenevka" - "October" in the direction of Bochkovo-Leninskoe at a distance of 1.5 - 2 km inland from the Russian border is 5 APCs, 2 car Ural and outdoor kitchen. Russian border outfits restrict the movement of the locals in this direction.
Opposite the site of the Donetsk border detachment:
- Department of Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation "Veselovo-Voznesenovka" have been placed on alert.
- At the checkpoint "Veselevo-Voznesenovka - Novoazovsk", entrance into the Ukraine of vehicles bearing Russian registration has been stopped.
Opposite the site of Lugansk border detachment:
- Locals for direction Millerovo - Dyakovo 3-4 km from the border there is accumulation of military equipment;
- Near the junction of Lugansk and Donetsk regions 2 km from the border there is accumulation of military equipment.
At the same time, according to the Consulate General of Ukraine in Rostov-on-Don, the Rostov Regional Governor of Russia ordered the deployment in the Kuibyshev region camps (people) to receive refugees from Ukraine. These actions of state authorities of the Russian Federation may be indicative of the Russian side preparing for a possible invasion of the territory of Ukraine through a land border.



"the chances will rise to well above 50% that Russia will invade the rest of Ukraine to restore what they see as the legitimate and constitutional government"

I still do not concur with that. Russia will first try all other means to reinstall the Jan21 deal that three EU ministers co-signed. Economic pressure, unrest in eastern Ukraine etc.

Today the (artificially) blond gas-princess is in Moscow and Putin will tell her her choices. The two made profitable deals before. They can make another one.

Putin does not car so much what the "west" thinks. But he surely knows that going to Kiev means a guerrilla war in which the opposite site would likely get silent "western" help. He does not need another Syria right at his doorstep.

Reinstate Yanukovich and a unity government, federalize the country and the constitution, new elections in December. If Russia can get that without a war there will be no war.

dilbert dogbert

Very off topic but I thought Col. Lang would like to see this photo essay about the Everglades Challenge:


At least it is something to enjoy rather than worry about.
Best to all at SST.



"Reinstate Yanukovich and a unity government, federalize the country and the constitution, new elections in December. If Russia can get that without a war there will be no war." IMO to get that he will have to neutralize Russia's political enemies. the only way to do that will be to temporarily occupy the country. pl



Very helpful. Pls keep it up. pl



You misunderstood me. Whether or not it is clever in the context of Statethink, IMO they will go into the rest of Ukraine as well as annex Crimea. pl


"She was not sure he was in touch with reality." Perhaps she was referring to Kerry? That would certainly be more consistent with Kerry's record than with Putin's.


Katty Kay- u could not make up a name like that.

David Habakkuk


Is there any confirmation of this from independent sources?

You do realise, I hope, that everyone involved in this shambles is engaged in 'information operations'. Those of the new government in Kiev are liable to be particularly unscrupulous, because they have got themselves into a whole, and desperately need to inveigle the West into giving them concrete support.


I heard Kerry Three days ago threatening trade sanctions, he used the word "trade" Three times.

Has anybody pointed out to the Secretary the futility and studied insult inherent in asking a national leader to put "trade" ahead of what it sees as its security interests, not to mention its mythos?

I have a mental picture of Kerry lecturing the Serbs on this subject in 1913 and Hitler in 1938.

Also, from the Website Burton50 pointed out, our Julia thinks NATO is going to come and "save" Ukraine. Someone should give her a history lesson too.

Google translate: "

Tymoshenko: U.S. and Britain will protect the peace in Ukraine
3 March at 08:18

Yulia Tymoshenko

The former prime minister and leader of the "Fatherland " Yulia Tymoshenko calls Ukrainian to rest and says that in the confrontation with Russia, " we are not alone ."

" In this confrontation with Russia , we are not alone. In 1994, Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum from the U.S., UK and Russia to grant us full security guarantees in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons. Russia is grossly violated its obligations and has invaded our territory . But I 'm sure that the U.S. and Britain will never break this memorandum and all possible forces firmly protect peace in Ukraine , "- said in a statement said.

" Putin understands that declaring war on us, he declares it including security guarantees - namely, the U.S. and Britain. Firm I want to say I do not believe that Russia has crossed that line , if crossed , it definitely loses. that this should be the basis for our national peace " - said the former prime minister.

"But today it is clear that if Ukraine joined NATO before , such aggression would in principle"


David Habakkuk


I suppose I am too much of an old-fashioned cynical Brit.

In my view, the most spectacular 'own goal' of the amateur putschists -- Vicky Nudelman/Nuland, Pyatt and their like -- was to allow the Maidan people to depose Yanukovich.

It seems that one of the few things in which practically everyone is united is in having complete loathing and contempt for Yanukovich.

By reneging on the February 21 deal, the Maidan people branded their government as illegitimate, and by refusing to object, the U.S. and E.U. left their high-minded moral pretentions looking slightly hollow (irony alert.)

From the Russian point of view, I suggest, the situation can now be played both ways. It could be that a reversion to the February 21 might seem their least worst option. However, it is not clear that they will expect that this likely to happen, at this late date.

And, if the Maidan people and the West won't play, then they are collaborating in the marginalisation of Yanukovich, which will suit the Russians just fine.

As for a military campaign to restore Yanukovich. It could be that as Merkel is reported as suggesting, Putin is not in touch with reality.

But unless that is the case, the last thing he is going to do is to send the tanks into Kiev to restore Yanukovich.

Time will tell.


Im assuming you are refering to Katty Kay. I remember her when she briefly worked for the Bank of England.

I also noticed that b put out a story suggesting a reason for the Russian urgency to secure Crimea. White ribbons on their arms eh?

Seems that someone in the west has a lot of what the French call l'audace!


The Russian response to this is going to be amusing I particularly liked this quote from Kerry apropos Iraq and Afghanistan:

"you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests."

I am also wondering if Cuba might entertain the basing of Russian missiles once again, probably not.

From the Daily Beast: "Inside Obama’s Plans to Squeeze Russia

The Obama administration is working around the clock to come up with ways to punish Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine. But will any of them work?

UPDATE: The Associated Press reported Monday that Russia is already suffering some economic consequences of its aggression in Ukraine. The Russian stock market is down 12 percent, the ruble is falling, and the Russian central bank has hiked interest rates in an attempt to shore up the value of its currency.

Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials are preparing a series of possible battle plans for a potential economic assault on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, an administration source close to the issue told The Daily Beast. Among the possible targets for these financial attacks: everyone from high-ranking Russian military officials to government leaders to top businessmen to Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine. It’s all part of the work to prepare an executive order now under consideration at the Obama administration’s highest levels.

The Obama administration came under sharp criticism over the weekend for not responding quickly or strongly enough to the takeover of the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Meanwhile, a team of State Department, White House, and Treasury Department officials worked to provide the president a menu of sanctions and other economic pressure levers that Obama might add to that executive order..

Secretary of State John Kerry, who will travel to Kiev Tuesday, promised harsh consequences for the Russian government if it continued its aggression in Ukraine—and hinted at the economic retalation to come.

“There could even be, ultimately, asset freezes, visa bans. There could be certainly disruption of any of the normal trade routine. There could be business drawback on investment in the country. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this,” Kerry said Sunday on Meet the Press. “And the reason for this is because you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests.”

“In the long term, this will have a cost on the Russian economy. Some of those costs will be imposed by the United States, some of those Russian has already invited upon itself, and some of them will be international.”

Several administration officials said Sunday that the process of sanctioning Russian would take time to implement and could take even more time to garner a reaction from Russian president Vladimir Putin. The U.S. also wants to work with European Union countries to make sure the sanctions are coordinated for maximum effectiveness, while also preparing a multi-billion dollar economic aid package for the new leaders in Kiev.

The drive to find ways to tighten the economic noose around Putin’s neck is at the center of the administration’s strategy to not only punish Russian leaders but also to change their calculus about pushing forward with their occupation of Ukraine.

“We’re beginning to review all of our trade and economic cooperation with the Russian Federation,” a senior administration official told reporters on Sunday. “What we see here are distinctly 19th and 20th century decisions made by President Putin to address problems… but what he needs to understand that when it comes to the economy, he lives in a 21st century world, an interdependent world.”

The administration is already doing what it can do now to show Putin that the U.S. government is serious about its outrage over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. In addition to Kerry’s Sunday announcement that the U.S. has suspended preparations for the June G8 meeting in Sochi and might seek to expel Russia from the G8 altogether, officials said the U.S. has cancelled several planned bilateral events and is expected to cancel several more.

A trip by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to Moscow has been scuttled. A Russian delegation to Washington for talks on energy cooperation has been disinvited. Planned Naval cooperation talks are now indefinitely postponed. Effectively, the U.S. has decided to put the brakes on all aspects of bilateral relations until the crisis in Crimea is further resolved.

Administration sources cautioned that no decision has been made by President Obama regarding the path ahead for sanctions. But that the targets under consideration include not only the Russian government and military, but also organizations and individuals who can be shown to have helped or are helping foment unrest in Ukraine, both inside and outside Crimea.

Even Russian business leaders could be targets for asset freezes and visa bans. Administration officials added that Russian companies were fair game for sanctions if they can be shown to have been involved in either the invasion of Ukraine, or the effort to destabilizing the interim government that replaced ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled to Russia last week.

The administration is also considering whether or not to go after the Crimean separatists themselves, or just the Russians who are aiding the separatists. The sanctions could focus mainly on the situation in Crimea or it could cast a wider net, covering those responsible for unrest in other parts of Ukraine. The administration also predicts damage to Russia’s economic reputation, the investment climate in Russia, and further sliding of the ruble.

“We’ll be taking a look at all these different elements, because in the long term this will have a cost on the Russian economy. The president was very clear in his word choice of ‘costs,’” a second senior administration official told reporters. “Some of those costs will be imposed by the United States, some of those Russian has already invited upon itself, and some of them will be international. So there are many vulnerabilities that will only grow if Russia does not take the right choice.”

Part of the delay in devising the list of sanctions and making a decision is due to the fact that the Obama administration was caught by surprise last Friday when Russian paramilitary forces entered Crimea and began taking control of airports and other key infrastructure. The administration had prepared sanctions against Yanokovich and his allies, but those plans were quickly taken over by events on the ground when Yanukovich was deposed. Further changes on the ground could change the sanctions plan again.

The other reason the sanctions are taking some time is because the administration is required to build an evidentiary basis for each sanction it wishes to impose. For an executive order, for example, the president must make a finding that the crisis constitutes a grave threat to American national security. Administration sources said that shouldn’t be a problem and past findings have been made following lesser provocations.

“The expectation that this is going to change in 24 hours, that’s not real world,” a third senior administration official said. “This is a serious situation that the Russians have created, it’s going to take serious efforts to unwind it, and we are absolutely seriously engaged in the effort to do that.”

Congress is also set to propose sanctions legislation this week. Sen. John McCain has proposed expanding the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act to punish senior Russian officials involved in the Ukraine invasion. The law is meant to hold Russian human rights violators accountable.

“We must consider legislation to respond to this… The Magnitsky bill can be expanded for holding people responsible for these acts of aggression,” he told The Daily Beast in an interview Saturday.

The view inside the Obama administration is that the White House can do a lot of the sanctions work on its own, without legislation from Congress, but that new Congressional legislation could be helpful, so long as it doesn’t contain a lot of items the administration is opposed to. For example, McCain also wants Obama to restore plans to build missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, which is not actually under consideration.

One administration source noted that even during the Bush administration’s response to the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, such an expansive list of punitive measures weren’t considered. “We’re considering going farther in Ukraine than we ever did in Georgia,” the administration source said."



I think Kerry, his ilk, and the people running the show in DC now think, in fact, there IS NOTHING more important than 'trade'.

Unless it be appearances on Fallon et al.

Col, leaving aside for the moment the fact that they don't have the brains, the vision, or the guts, this would take...do think if DC and the EU drew a firm line, at a place the Russians could live with, and say to them, 'beyond this point NATO will never go. Period.' we could start, at least start, to stand down in this crisis?


"DH said...

From the NYT yesteday:

"Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said."

Curiously phrased, and not politic of Merkel, if accurate."

Same "citation" in the main news here in Norway. This should probably make us wander if not Putin is crazy, because Merkel is obviously a very sane person. But:

According to Die Welt, this is not what Merkel said, but rather that "Merkel habe mitnichten ausdrücken wollen, Putin verhalte sich irrational. Sie habe Obama vielmehr gesagt, Putin habe eine andere Wahrnehmung der Lage auf der Krim." Which is something to the effect that she in now way wanted to say that Putin acts irrational, but that he sees the situation in Krim in a different way.




"A scrap of paper..." The point of my aphorism from Joe Bob was that there can be several realities and some may have more that is real about them than others. It is not at all sure that Putin's reality is less real than that of the amateur fantasy putschists. Perhaps those who speak of evolution in human affairs are about to learn something about reality. as for the efficacy of economic sanctions we applied them savagely to Cuba, China, Iraq, and Iran. We inflicted great suffering but none of these states bowed to our will. To re-install what they might find acceptable in Kiev it would not be necessary to re-install Yanuchenko. As for having NATO draw a "red line," this an invitation to crisis. pl


walrus: Given that Putin allowed Obama to save face with Syria, I believe that in this case, Russia was likely to not allow any face saving way out of Ukraine. If the daily beast is accurate, well, the US financial system is more shaky now than before the 2008 crash, and a commodity run-up, which Russia could do would push the US into default/massive QE again. The question then comes would china support russia or the US, and I imagine China will not support the idea that the US can veto chinese action in countries on its borders to preserve its own security interests.

Of course daily beast could be all talk for domestic consumption, but given the lack of adults in the Obama Administration, I presume more equally well thought out planning from the administration that when it could not install Al Q in Syria it tried to install Nazi's at the edge of Europe. So why is US foreign policy following a bad Hollywood script...

Charles I

Wow, detailed stuff. Was there any independent confirmation of the 150,00 man Russian maneuvers, did they happen either, isn't this what has been reported as going on as exercises for more than a week now?

Charles I

Beggars the imagination - your top diplo being surprised after months of unrest that Russia had people on the ground in Crimea.


Walrus: Why would this make Russia back down? Essentially, the USG is saying, "We took a strategic asset from Russia. Russia must accept that. Once we pull the Ukraine into the EU and NATO, Russia will have more NATO bases on their borders."

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