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30 August 2014

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Ishmael Zechariah

Walrus,

There is not much that can be accomplished by any one individual from the general public. There are a few in positions of power who can do plenty were they so inclined. However, IMHO Putin indicated in his last speech that he will not blink. It does not seem to be his style to make idle threats.

Interesting times...

Ishmael Zechariah

Patrick Bahzad

Walrus,

I wouldn't loose too much sleep over the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO. There are several member states in the Organisation that would definitely be in favour of such a membership, but there is also strong opposition to it.
Basically it's not going to happen, everybody knows it. The PR campaign that is going on, with Mr Rasmussen (and his Romanian spoke-person) as spearhead, is only a narrative intented at pushing the opponents of membership to concede as much ground as possible: harder economic sanctions from the EU, new rapid reaction force for the Baltic States, more help for Ukraine, etc.
In the long run, of course, this narrative is also part of a larger effort intended at turning Russia into a new adversary, the famous "Feindbild" as the Germans would say, that is deserately needed for NATO in Europe.
From the point of view of the US NeoCons, the plan is basically "Divide ut regnes" ... Nothing new Under the sun. Same product, new packaging ...

oofda

CyberBerkut, a Russian hacking group, released purported Ukrainian data to show that the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have captured a large amount of equipment from Ukrainian forces. Reported as "79 T-64 tanks, 94 infantry fighting vehicles, 57 armored personnel carriers and 24 Grad multiple launch rocket from June 20 to August 23. This gives support to the claim that the rebel forces are getting their equipment from Ukraine and not Russia.

They also have now trapped a significant force according to the article.

http://en.itar-tass.com/world/747032

johnf

In case no one has posted this, there are signs of Europeans volunteering to fight for and train the Eastern "rebels." Apparently they include French, Spanish, Brits, Serbs and Israelis. They say they are going to fight for democracy and defend civilians. They say they are not mercenaries.

This is a Russia Today report so usual health warnings:

http://rt.com/news/183864-ukraine-european-volunteers-fighting/

William Herschel

"Is America so sure that Putin won't respond to such provocation militarily or is that what they wish for?"

Putin has already and is responding militarily.

In my humble opinion, Ukraine should join NATO today. I believe that Russian intelligence has already penetrated NATO completely and that the introduction of Ukraine would only perfect this penetration, making any sort of actual NATO military action known to Russian long before it was known to its participants.

There will thus never be a military confrontation between NATO and Russia. Putin's military strategy, and unfortunately for the residents of Eastern Ukraine this has all along been a military action, has been first surprise and then exhausting the military resources of Ukraine until they can no longer function effectively. It appears the latter, in addition to the former, may have been accomplished. Now Ukraine screams they want to join NATO. Some portion of Ukraine may well join NATO, but not the East.

What has happened is that Russia has taken advantage of an exceedingly poorly thought out CIA operation on Russia's borders to expand its territory. The CIA has gifted Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to Russia.

For a citizen of the United States the problem is to decide whether the President actually, knowingly approved this disaster or whether it was undertaken outside his executive power, in other words do we live in a representative democracy or not?

bth

http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKKBN0GT1TF20140829?irpc=932
Access to weapons and supplies is the realistic goal. One I think we should now quietly accommodate. It is unlikely to stop the Russian stealth invasion but it may increase the cost and buy time purchased for an unprepared nato by ukrainian conscripts.

Fred

William,

The NATO treaty obligates the US to defend member states. Just why is defending Ukraine, something we have never done in our entire existence as an independent country, now an essential obligation? Crimea was part of Russia until Khruschev's decision in the mid 1950's to make it part of Ukraine. We really need to hold as sacrosanct the border adjustment made by the General Secretary of the USSR? Please explain why?

toto

No, Ukraine won't join NATO. Officially. Nobody is going to send men to fight the Russians in Ukraine.

What may happen is that some NATO member states may decide to "sell" arms to Ukraine under extremely "flexible" payment terms. And offer to share intelligence. How could the Russian object to this, since they themselves are currently buying billions worth of military equipment from NATO states?

Of course if this happens Ukraine will basically be a NATO member in all but name.

I believe the optimistic interpretation of Putin's actions is becoming untenable. He's not just trying to prevent a NATO member on his doorstep. Preventing this was precisely part of the Euro/German peace plan that he just rejected spectacular fashion, while pushing Ukraine firmly into the NATO orbit is a predictable result of his own actions.

He's in it for the land grab.

georgeg

Land grabbing is not a subtle game. What Euro/German peace plan are you talking about?

cville reader

I think the ultimate goal is to have Novorussia encompass the Eastern part of Ukraine, as well as the Black Sea coast, thereby making the Western portion of Ukraine landlocked.

I also have little doubt that Russia is providing the same kind of support to the rebels that the US has been covertly supplying in Syria. I cringe when I hear our UN Ambassador complain of Russia telling lies-- I am surprised she can make such arguments with a straight face.

D

William Herschel,
I think those are two separate questions. It is clear that average citizens of the US no longer live in a representative democracy in any but the most formal sense. If the evidence of our eyes over the last thirty years or so does not suffice, we have the recent study by Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern to demonstrate that the wishes and interests of the wealthy and a few other organized groups are the only ones represented other than by coincidence.

To me it is quite unclear that "the President actually, knowingly approved this disaster." When Democrats were in love with Obama, they used to compare his management style to Lincoln's "team of rivals." I think as time has gone on and the graduate seminar colloquy has continued it has become clear that no one person is actually in charge of American foreign policy, especially now that Hillary Clinton has been replaced by John Kerry. The actor in charge at any given time is the actor who can get away with whatever their initiative might be. Take, for example, the White House discovery that someone in the Pentagon was sending weapons to Israel without regard to White House approval during the recent Gaza incursion.

The largest entity that Obama ever managed before becoming President was a Senate office, and it is most likely that his Chief of Staff actually did that. If Obama knows how to set up and use administrative systems - or knows he needs to hire people who know how to do that - it is well hidden from view. So, while actions have been undertaken in the name of Obama's executive power - whether they fell properly within that power is a third issue unadressed here - it seems to me unlikely that Obama has approved all of them, and almost certain that all of them do not fit under some overarching strategy the President is pursuing.

I think "don't do stupid shit" is actually not a bad organizing principle, especially when compared to the results of Clintonite foreign policy - say, for example, breaking Bush Sr.'s promise to Gorbachev not to bring former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO. But it is definitely not a strategy, and in any event, I am fairly certain Obama is too disengaged - "fails to exercise management span of control" is a more technical way to put it - to put any strategy into effect with any consistency. My current conception is a bunch of cowboys running around seeing what they can get away with while implementing personal interest (e.g. young Biden) or interest group (e.g. neo-Con) initiatives. The result is doing stupid shit without necessarily meaning to.

JohnH

Land grab? Why? Isn't Russia big enough already? What's Ukrainian land worth anyway?

1) Strategic depth against Europe/NATO threats is one answer.
2) Shale gas for fracking is the other answer.

What's in the land grab resulting from last winter's coup for NATO?

1) Denying Russia strategic depth (and ominously putting Russian nukes on a hair trigger).
2) Creating an enemy and giving NATO a reason to exist.
3) Driving a wedge between Europe and Russia to make sure that Europe needs the US for protection and stays in Washington's sphere of influence.
2) Grabbing the shale for Western companies to frack and share a bit of the profits with Ukrainian oligarchs.

I'd say that Russia's land grab of Novorossiya is less significant than the one Washington accomplished via the coup: the coup directly threatens Russian interests, while Russian seizure of Novorossiya threatens no one but the Ukrainian oligarchs.

VietnamVet

Walrus

Another morning, I’ve had a month full of tomorrows since the siege of Donetsk started and proclamation of the Islamic State without WWIII starting and vaporization of the National Capitol Area. President Obama does sort of agree with me that the world is falling apart; but he blames the media which in truth is omitting a lot of the distressing details.

There is a bunch of Russian phobia in the world. It is a little less severe if there is an Ocean between you and them. The closer to Russia’s border the worse it gets.

The Media never reports that the West is now run by a very select unelected few. Since the 2008 crash the economy has been run to preserve the fictitious wealth of the banks and investors by transferring their private debt onto sovereign nations. Western governments are no longer run by or for the people. The real winners, so far, are the war profiteers; their money keeps rolling in.

An accommodation with Russia could be reached which would insure world peace. The problem is the Russophobes, War Mongers, and the Rich Psychopaths who want to grab Russia’s resources for themselves.

The 21st Century gang of Overlords can’t shoot straight and by forcing Russia’s hand over Ukraine and supporting moderate jihadists they have lost sight of their primary directive which is to preserve, by any means necessary, the petrodollar hegemony.

Bobo

All

We screwed up in the Ukraine letting Nuland et al play their games and pissed off Putin rightfully. Let him have all of Ukraine, step back and let him play the big boy as there are more fish to fry in the ME and we will need Russian support for what it's coming. disagree, well winter Is coming and everyone knows where the gas is coming from and Putin knows how to turn the spigot.

King of Saudi Arabia ( yes the King) is in the papers this morning screaming that IS is coming to the West shortly, though he forgot to mention that they will run through SA first on there way to Mecca.

Dismayed

@ D
"The actor in charge at any given time is the actor who can get away with whatever their initiative might be."

We have no grand strategy and no institutional mechanism for ensuring obedience to a central vision from the various recalcitrant bureaucracies. We need a thorough update of our national security architecture akin to the National Security Act of 1947. Unfortunately, the 'defense' contractor grifters and Israel-firsters like not having adult supervision, and most members of Congress are whores who aren't cognitively capable of the task even if they did have the interest and will.

Tyler

"What can we do? What can anyone do?"

Get in shape. Tighten up your shot group. Hoard ammo. Learn to apply a tourniquet on yourself and others.

Its going to get froggy on the homefront sooner rather than later. Best prepare now.

Fred

Bobo,

Some ISIS like folks are already here:
http://tinyurl.com/n9hoe9a

Stephanie

NATO can't accept any country with disputed borders, no? I doubt this was a move prompted or welcomed by the US. It seems to have been a kneejerk response from Ms. Nuland's friend Yats.

Nightsticker

Tyler

Like.

Nightsticker
USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972-1996

The Twisted Genius

Tyler,

I still think it's going to take a longer than what you imagine, but your advice is good. Embrace the suck.

Tyler

TTG,

Some clarification on my part.

I don't think the United States will be dust in the wind within an election cycle, no matter how much Glenn Beck tells us to buy food security or whatever he's hawking on his news show disguised as an MRE commercial. So barring any Mad Max incidents, my hockey mask and leather chaps will remain in the back of my closet.

I think what you're going to see more is the inability of DC and its mandarins to project power and control. People will ignore the dictats, the law will be sent in, and people will resist. In some cases I think the law will be on the side of the people - we saw it in Murrieta, where Thursday they were about to unleash goon squads on the protestors not wanting illegal aliens unleashed on their community. What happened? The PAIC of the Murrieta BP Station told the Feds he couldn't gurrantee what his men would do when they saw their neighbors, friends, and family getting gassed and clubbed.

In other words, don't look at it as an all or nothing event where everything is hunky dory OR everything is Fallout: New Vegas (as much as I'd want to be a "hard hearted empath" of the Brotherhood of Steel). If it gets to the point where you've got armed patrols of citizens in neighborhoods stopping strangers and people don't leave the house without an assault rifle and several magazines regularly because the shit does go down, that's a fundamental way in how America works.

Something has changed in the air - can you feel it? I know I can. I've been told several times by my neighbors out here in my charming rural community some variant of "We know you're one of the good ones". They mean that I'm one of the "good" law enforcement. These are PTA members, church goers, soccer coaches, and middle to upper middle class people telling me this. When the backbone of society is looking at the police as an occupying army, there is something seriously hinky in our society.

Best be prepared. Embrace the suck indeed, my friend.

bth

Budapest Memorandum

On December 5, 1994 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to remove nuclear weapons in Ukraine [third largest nuclear arsenal in the world at the time] . They all signed six agreements for Ukraine, the agreements are:[2]

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;
The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;
The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;
The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of[2] an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;
The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclearweapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;
Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.[2]

Aka

bth,
this was in 1994. A very different world from now. That was a non-expanding NATO world where the (some. May be quite a number in the top) Russians were expecting to join the NATO, EU and the rest and live happily ever after with the US.

And clearly Russians have withdrawn from that Memorandum.

kao_hsien_chih

Bth,

That was in a world where US had guaranteed that NATO would not expand, certainly not into old USSR itself, and was a party to ABM ban. I doubt any Russian citizen today has any reason to trust us to hokd our end of the bargains either.

I am not making a moral argument, that Russians are somehow "right" to abrogate agreements. I am saying that these agreements are only as good as the leaders of the countries party to them are trustworthy to the other side. Once the trust is broken, you can't "reset" the relationship, beyond the glib sophistry of Barak Husseinovich.

DH

JohnH:
"...while Russian seizure of Novorossiya threatens no one but the Ukrainian oligarchs."

As confusedponderer says in the post linked below, it threatens the fragile interdependence forming between Europe and Russia:

"...Industrial[ist] interests or not, Merkel's problem is not if one conglomerate sees their dividends go down and the CEO bgimns to cry. The real problem for Germany will be the regional economic devastation when 100k+ jobs are lost because of this thoroughly avoidable crisis.

You need to keep in mind that it was in part the Poles who pushed the EU association agrement in order to poison Russia's offer for Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union, without thinking beyond the immediate result of how nice it would be to spoil Russia's long term economic development.

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

This was a deliberate hostile act, and they didn't expect a response? There is a lot of merit for adults to ask the famous question five year olds are so happy to ask: "And then ...?"

Now they have a crisis on their hand they didn't even see coming and to which they now don't have an answer but the one provided by DC - escalating sanctions to nowhere.

The essential folly here was to make a country as divided as Ukraine and with such strong historical and ethnic ties to Russia to choose between East and West, and insist it choose West.

What else was the pep talk by especially US politicos about, who egged the demonstrators on to not back down and to not compromise? Nuland wasn't at the Maidan to just hand out cookies in her spare time..."

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/08/is-this-any-way-to-conduct-an-insurrection-margaret-steinfels.html#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef01b8d05dd9f5970c

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