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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Russia Is Invading Ukraine and Nobody Seems Able or Willing to Do Anything About It

Posted by on Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 11:59 AM

The live updates on the Kiev Post are looking dire for everyone except Vladimir Putin and his henchmen: Russian soldiers traveling with pro-Russian paramilitary groups are laying siege to Ukrainian military bases (and smashing up border patrol stations), at least one Ukrainian regional council has refused to recognize the new Ukrainian central government, the murderous Berkut riot police who killed demonstrators in Kiev seem to be manning checkpoints blocking journalists and others from traveling into Crimea, and the chief commander of the Ukrainian navy has ordered soldiers to surrender.

Yesterday, I wondered when Putin would manufacture his Gulf-of-Tonkin moment to justify a full-scale invasion and land grab, but now it seems that he doesn't need to—the Ukrainians can't fight back.

If they do, he'll have his justification. If they don't, he can take whatever he wants and nobody, it seems, is in a position to stop him.

Meanwhile, acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov says he can't even get president Putin or prime minister Medvedev on the phone. From a speech he gave earlier today:

The situation is very serious. The Russian army is blocking military bases of Ukraine in Crimea. They put an ultimatum demanding that our soldiers disarm themselves or the bases will be stormed. The deadline time was 5 a.m. today. They didn't start storming the bases on 5 a.m., but the situation is still tense there. I couldn't reach (Russian President Vladimr) Putin or (Russian Prime Minister Dmytry Medvedev), but I talked (on the phone) to Russian parliament speaker Sergey Naryshkin. I told him that the Ukrainian army is protecting its bases and acts under the laws of Ukraine. Their aim is to stop Ukraine's economy and to start chaos. That is why they try to start panic.

And what's Obama going to do in response? Wag his finger and not show up to a summit meeting? Putin is clearly willing to pay whatever vague "costs" Obama threatened a few days ago.

But Timothy Snyder, writing in the New Republic, says the EU has more power than it realizes, and perhaps more power than the US. It has direct access to the vanity and the pocketbooks of rich Russians—the real housewives of Moscow:

Tourism in the European Union is a safety valve for a large Russian middle class that takes its cues in fashion and pretty much everything else from European culture. Much of the Russian elite has sent its children to private schools in the European Union or Switzerland. Beyond that, since no Russian of any serious means trusts the Russian financial system, wealthy Russians park their wealth in European banks. In other words, the Russian social order depends upon the Europe that Russian propaganda mocks. And beneath hypocrisy, as usual, lies vulnerability.

Soft power can hurt. General restrictions on tourist visas, a few thousand travel bans, and a few dozen frozen accounts might make a real difference.

And if you're curious to see how the Kremlin would like you to think about the current situation, check out the homepage of which announces that Russia is heading into Ukraine to save it from "revolutionary chaos" and "humanitarian crisis."


If you take their word for it, Russia is there to soothe the chaos, not aggravate it.

As Chris Collison, our man in Kiev, reported a few days ago, one of the first things the interim government did was try to bring Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers closer together—speak-a-different-language day and all that.

Within 24 hours, Russian troops had barged into the country, waving guns around in the name of peace and security.


Comments (93) RSS

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Lurleen 1
Has Putin blamed it all on Pussy Riot yet?
Posted by Lurleen on March 2, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 2
the Olympics are over, so back to the real business of exercising power.

the EU could refuse to use Russian natural gas. but that would mean getting it from somewhere else, or doing without. neither of which are easy.
Posted by Max Solomon on March 2, 2014 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 3
Some days you get the bear or the bear gets you. Pretty clear which way this scenario has fallen.

BTW, fuck the Republicans who are calling Obama weak on this one. What would have they done? Lobed a nuke at Moscow? Oh wait...never mind.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 2, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Report this
theophrastus 4
if only folks would apply the rules of strict libertarianism to nations then all this would be commonplace and we wouldn't have to worry "what to do?". perhaps Russia has somehow 'earned' the possibility to take over any lesser nation and we shouldn't regulate their superiority? what does Ayn Rand Paul tell us about this?
Posted by theophrastus on March 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
Nieuw Hollander 5
We've just about wrapped up the second warmest winter in history here in Western Europe. Russia turning off the gas pipe is not going to scare anyone west of Poland at the moment.

The country with room and reason to move here is the UK. Disturbingly large swaths of London have become ghost towns, essentially investment vehicles for dirty Russian and Arab money - too expensive for mortals to live in, but not occupied by the owners. This is justifiably pissing off the proles, so anything that freezes out the Russians is going to be popular politically.

The UK is not in the Schengen zone and set their own visa policies, so EU politics don't come into play. What makes UK intervention unlikely, unfortunately, is the present Conservative government of upper-class twits.
Posted by Nieuw Hollander on March 2, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Rujax! 6
Somebody could tell Lindsay Graham (R-Asshole) to shut the fuck up.
Posted by Rujax! on March 2, 2014 at 12:47 PM · Report this
raindrop 7
@2: The point is to avoid these situations in the first place. That's what a president does. If Obama had not nixed the plans to base interceptor missiles in Poland in 2009, things might have turned out differently. Obama's problem is that he views the world with excessive confidence in the world's security - it would been better to be apprehensive in 2009.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
raindrop 8
Correction: @7 refers to @3.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Speaking of Russian bears . . .…
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 10
The Ukraine has oil?
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 2, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
@7 How would missiles in Poland have deterred an invasion of the Crimea?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Report this
I don't see you faggots/anarchists forming a liberation army yet...
Posted by KeepWhiningFags... on March 2, 2014 at 1:11 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 13
Putin should be more creative for his justification. "Weapons of Mass Destruction" worked well for the U.S
Posted by CC-Rob on March 2, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Apocynum 14
@11 They wouldn't have, of course, but that's the closest thing Obama's done that he can find.
Posted by Apocynum on March 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
@7 What the fuck does an anti-ballistic missile system based in another country over a thousand miles away have to do with deterring Russian tanks rolling accross the border in Crimea?

We're used to you saying stupid shit, but really?

You know why nobody gives a shit what Obama says about Putin invading the Ukraine? Go on. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with My Sack.

Maybe, juuuust maybe, if Bush hadn't flouted 50 year old alliances and lied his ass off to invade Iraq - costing us trillions of dollars and slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent people - the EU and our strategic partners might care what WE have say about Putin invading Ukraine. But since we're giant fucking hypocrites, nobody cares what we say.
Posted by tkc on March 2, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
blame Bush. pussies.

you've got the president you deserve.

suck it.
Posted by this is how a collapsing civilization looks on March 2, 2014 at 1:36 PM · Report this
From the attempts at knowledgable reading I have done, the invasion of Crimea is not a big surprise, since it has a significant majority of people who identify as ethnic/national Russian, a huge number of Russian soldiers, and an ongoing free flow of military to and from Russia. If the Russians wanted to do a big gesture, this is a fairly safe way to do it.

When the Russians invade a region with a majority of people who identify as ethnically/nationally Ukrainian (regardless of what is their primary language), anyplace in the whole rest of Ukraine, that will be a different event altogether. I expect it would get pretty bloody on both sides.
Posted by cracked on March 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 18
Wow, it's almost as if fomenting a coup against an elected government with close ties to Russia, in a country on Russia's border, was a bad idea?

I'm not ready to call the Obama/Kerry State Department dumber than the Cheney/Rice one yet, but they're certainly making a decent run at it here.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 2, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 19
Oh, fuck you people. We couldn't do a fucking thing no matter who was in the White House. It's Russia! Only fools would start military action against Russia, especially in their back yard. If they want Ukraine, they can take Ukraine.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 2, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 20
@raindrop, once again you prove you're the load your mamma should have swallowed.

The historical reality is even if we hadn't invaded Iraq, Ukraine is in what Russia, since the days of the Muscovy era, feels is rightfully there's. Russia is steeped in centuries of amazing insecurity about their borders and that region is one that they think they need to have for their protection. It's not rational but that's part of what we are seeing.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 2, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
Furthermore, after the Iraq in invasion by the U.S., it is hard for the U.S. to point the finger at anybody. However illegal, and I believe it is very illegal, Russia's invasion of the Crimea has more historical, legal, and moral basis to it than the U.S. invasion of Iraq ever had. What legal and moral podium can Kerry stand on to criticize them? He voted for the Iraq invasion, for God's sake!
Posted by cracked on March 2, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Does Ukraine have something akin to the "Platt Amendment" in it's laws allowing Russia some leeway here?
Posted by Julian in Seattle on March 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 23

From what I can tell, the Ukrainians have laid a bed of roses on their streets to welcome Russian troops to come in and maintain order. The majority of them had no idea who or what the rioters were or what they stood for. Dying in the street just to join the EU? Right...that doesn't happen.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on March 2, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
@18 Is there any evidence that the US government had a hand in overthrowing Yanukovych? Being glad something happened isn't the same as causing it.

@19 Your screen name is well chosen my boy.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 25
@24 I'm not your boy, shithead.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 2, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Asked about his manifest violation of international law, Putin reportedly replied "Crimea river"
Posted by Reader01 on March 2, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
@21 The Iraq invasion was a bad idea but I don't think it was illegal. Saddam had broken enough treaties and defied enough UN resolutions to give George W plenty of justification to to kick his ass.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
raindrop 28
I am not saying that by doing x would have prevented y. History does not allow us to do that. But we can say that if the NATO and former Soviet republics had in place a stronger stance (the strategic/symbolic benefit of missile defense) that would have been one more calculation Putin would have to deal with. Of course, its effect is arguable.

Again, the point is to present our adversaries formidable if not intimidating considerations before they take action.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 29
@27 You can't justify G.W. Bush. Not only did he invade under false pretense, he didn't even give the troops enough weapons or protection. Thousands died for no good reason. Only an idiot like you would even say something so fucking stupid.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 2, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
rob! 30
Was just listening to the BBC World Service, which interviewed some people celebrating the Russian spring festival Maslenitsa in Trafalgar Square (!) today. Russians generally explained the current situation as "some people" trying to take Crimea away from Ukraine, and Putin moving to help them hang onto it. A few Ukrainians in attendance were having civil discussions with Russians, but the Ukrainians had to hide their Ukrainian flags to get them in past security, which wanted to confiscate them. Russian flags aplenty, so it's not as if they wanted to maintain a purely cultural celebration.

One note of interest: the Beeb has created a Twitter feed of all its reporters working on stories of the Ukraine; you can follow here (goes back to 2/25).

An aside: all of this should pretty effectively strangle any discussion of reining in the U.S. defense budget, which (not counting "black" budgets) is still more than 2.5X that of China and Russia combined, 7.5X that of Russia alone, and more than a third of the world total. That should make the American oligarchs very happy.
Posted by rob! on March 2, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
rob! 31
Re: 30, third link re: defense budgets got buggered; correct link is here.
Posted by rob! on March 2, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
@29 Like said, the Iraq invasion was unwise. That doesn't make it immoral or illegal.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
@23 You don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

The people welcoming the Russian troops taking over in Crimea are ethnic Russians who are a majority because Stalin ethnically cleansed the entire population of Crimean Tatars from the region in 1944 and replaced them with Russians. The Crimean Tatars were shipped to other areas of the Soviet Union and over 40% of them died in the process.

Shit, what a screwed up a-historical citizenry the U.S. has. You'd think the wide range of internet news and easily viewed sources like wikipedia would effect the profound generalized ignorance, but it doesn't seem to. The population is becoming stupider everyday.
Posted by cracked on March 2, 2014 at 2:39 PM · Report this
@30 Do you really want the defense budget to shrink, Rob? Wars kind of suck for the people who get killed in them, but is there any better spectator sport?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 35
@32 It gave dictators the right to do the same thing. It was both immoral and unjustified. Legal technicalities are for crooks, liars and George Bush.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 2, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
WFM 36
Who can recall the last time a major power set out to invade, overthrow, and occupy another country based on a fabricated pretext? Why, it's unprecede-- What? Oh.

John Kerry actually said this: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text."
Posted by WFM on March 2, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 37

This was a foreign policy fiasco on Kerry's part.

He could have embraced Putin and backed up his effort to restore order and made an alliance with a prime business partner and stabilizing economy in that part of the world.

Instead he antagonized one of the world's most powerful and popular leaders.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on March 2, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Report this
raindrop 38
Let's give @35 a chance to take this back. We can all empathize with Pope Peabrain being rattled and edgy, so let's assume this was said under duress:
Legal technicalities are for crooks, liars and George Bush.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
WFM 39
Don't get me wrong-- I'm not supportive of Putin or his actions. But for the US "top diplomat" to be so un-ironically oblivious to how people in other countries view our foreign policy is stunning. Russians must have doubled over with laughter when they heard the translation.
Posted by WFM on March 2, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
sirkowski 40
I'm pretty sure that Putin guy is legit. I don't think Edward Snowden would have fled to Russia if he was a tyrant.
Posted by sirkowski on March 2, 2014 at 3:08 PM · Report this
Posted by SLL on March 2, 2014 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 42
@38 Please. We use "national security" to trump every law on the books and march around the world spying and dropping bombs where ever the fuck we please.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 2, 2014 at 3:19 PM · Report this
@Ken Mehlman mmm seems you actually have taken off your "troll hat" for this issue. Good. I could quibble about a few of your points but Pope Peabrain appears to be on that.

@ Raindrop I see you took at least half of my suggestion hopefully evidence of you taking the other half may show itself in time. (you do realize you have to read the books right? and actual primary sources i.e Burke's actual writing. Oh and a serious biography of Burke not something written by a partisan hack.)

As for your comments on this topic in this thread, get your tongue out of Dick Chaney's ass. This isn't Nixon or Reagan era cold war gamesmanship. Besides George W. Bush burned our sole superpower card. Bismark would be a better conservative political player for you to look to for guidance in this game.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
raindrop 44
@42: Why does everything have to circle back to GWB and Iraq? This is about current events. Curios, at this point in time, who do you hate more? George W. Bush or Vladimir Putin?
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
None of this is any of our business. Are people really serious about going to war and risking a nuclear exchange over which flag is flying in Crimea?

If Putin has calculated that he's be better off isolating Russia from the rest of the world and re-creating a situation like the Cold War but this time with Russia in a much weaker position, then nothing we do will prevent him from accomplishing that goal.

And if he hasn't made that calculation then this will all blow over in time. So long as we don't go off half-cocked by trying to 'do something' about it.
Posted by Alden on March 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
raindrop 46
@43: Your suggestion was yesterday and all I've had time for is to work on the avatar, give me a break. In fact, by the end of the month you're be regretting your suggestion as I'm already seeing you slip into panicked hyperbole and you'll be beaten down with Burke's own words. Already, you must admit that the last sentence in @7 is Burkeian (if that's a word).
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Ukraine could turn off the water and electricity to Crimea to fuck with Putin. Sure Putin could shut off the gas to the Ukraine but that would also mean shutting off the gas to the EU. Plus the opposition in the Ukraine has already shown they aren't afraid of the cold and spring is coming.

The next week will be telling, Putin got his surprise attack but there is only so far he can push it. History is a bitch in that region, the Tartars (Muslims) have serious issues with the Russians and Turkey has as much historical claim to Crimea as the Russians do, just older. Putin has slapped his dick on the table to be sure, but Slapping Your Dick on the Table means its out there. This is not Georgia.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 3:51 PM · Report this
If t his was Putins first act of aggression, it would be one thing. But he did it in Moldova, And Georgia. He brought down the Estonians in a cyber attack for tearing down a soviet statue.

If we keep turning a blind eye, why would Putin's think he has to stop with Crimea.
Did ANYONE think Crimea would be invaded on Friday?
Posted by Daniel Francis on March 2, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Like Tibet, not really our problem.
Posted by Joel_are on March 2, 2014 at 3:54 PM · Report this
@46 sorry not meant as a scold more of a prod, I know you haven't had time enough yet. as for @7 mmmm prior to the dash, I'll give you a C.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
sperifera 51
@43 - I've come to the conclusion that Gay Dude for Raindrop is in fact just a complicated performance art piece. The whole "Be A Democrat For A Month" thing yesterday was a big clue, but now his delusional "Obama took away Poland's interceptor missiles" angle on the Crimean invasion ices that belief.
Posted by sperifera on March 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM · Report this
sperifera 52
@7 - I'm sure your boy Mitt would have done a MUCH better job in this situation. He was after all very cozy with Vlad as memory serves me. They get all famously, I'm sure. Hahahahahahaha...
Posted by sperifera on March 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
raindrop 53
@43: Mea culpa, I overlooked your phrase "show itself in time" in writing @46.

Still, I don't think anyone was thinking about Dick Cheney's ass until you brought it up.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 4:07 PM · Report this
@37: Once more proving JBITDMFOTP.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on March 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Teslick 55
Sorry, but even if we hadn't invaded Iraq, it still wouldn't made a whit of difference for Ukraine. Granted, we would have moral authority, but a guy like Vladimir "Stalin wasn't THAT bad" Putin doesn't really care about moral authority.
Posted by Teslick on March 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Perhaps the Stranger should organize another vodka boycott. The last one certainly caused Putin to think twice.
Posted by Toe Tag on March 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Porcupine 57
Russia is taking back his gift from Ukraine and that’s that (Crimea belonging to Russia until 1954.) The US should not meddle in this any more than Russia should have meddled in the US invasion of Panama in 1989. The West will make noise for a while but will soon enough revert to the business as usual. It’s actually surprising that it took so long for Crimea to go back to Russian control; Ukraine should have negotiated for this to happen and get compensation after the Soviet Union collapsed.

What’s interesting and potentially more dangerous is what happens in eastern Ukraine. Hopefully the new government and Russia will be able to reach an understanding and have some stability in their relationship going forward; otherwise there’s potential for a civil war that NATO may be dragged into.
Posted by Porcupine on March 2, 2014 at 4:16 PM · Report this
Clara T 58
Meanwhile Putin is working at establishing new military bases in the Western hemisphere (and the Stranger shits on the Venezuelan protesters whose political power might be the only thing potentially getting in the way).

Here's the deal Putin will offer: butt the fuck out of Ukraine and I won't put a Russian base in Cuba - for a little while anyway.
Posted by Clara T on March 2, 2014 at 4:23 PM · Report this
venomlash 59
@26: You're a dickhead, but that was a damned good pun.
Posted by venomlash on March 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
After our invasions of Iraq and Afghansitan, the US has no leg to stand on to deny any other country's invasion of another.
Posted by sanotehu on March 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
raindrop 61
@50: A "C" is always a good beginning.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Clara T 62
Really @59? Crimea river? I assumed everyone thought of that pun days ago but it was too hacky to say out loud ...
Posted by Clara T on March 2, 2014 at 4:40 PM · Report this
raindrop 63
@52: Sweetness, take a lesson from me. If I make an inference as to something that everyone might not be familiar with I provide a link or further explanation. Your "fart-and-post" Vlad/Mitt thing needs a little more than just "as memory serves" me.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 4:46 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 64
@62: I hadn't heard it. I enjoyed it so your assumption was wrong. No pun is to hacky or corny to say out loud, so enjoy the eye roll.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 2, 2014 at 4:51 PM · Report this
sperifera 65
@63 - First of all, I don't take "lessons" from those who have shown themselves to be incapable of adding real substance to the conversation. Second, I wasn't looking to explain the Putin/RMoney situation to anyone but you. And I knew you'd understand exactly what I was referring to. Fondly, sperifera.
Posted by sperifera on March 2, 2014 at 4:58 PM · Report this
raindrop 66
@60: That's as logical as saying "because I was once foolish, got drunk, and caused a car accident, that I have no right to prevent warn drivers of a drunk wrong-way driver."
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 5:04 PM · Report this
cressona 67
In a crisis like this, what I care about is the conflict between democracy vs. authoritarianism, about preserving the Ukrainian union, about whether Ukraine is going to move closer to the EU or to Russia and its bogus "Eurasian Union." The situation in Ukraine is of extra interest to me because my father's family is from the heart of western Ukraine. I'll tell you what I really don't care about right now--Republican vs. Democrat.

I tuned in to "Meet the Press" this morning, and I started hearing all this talk about the Ukraine crisis being a test of Obama's leadership, and I got so angry hearing this, I couldn't watch anymore. I wish these Beltway talking heads cared 1/10th as much about the Ukrainian people and actually checking Putin as they do about trying to make our own president look bad.

This is what's so remarkably out-of-touch about the kind of juvenile, brain-dead partisanship of someone like raindrop @7. How narrow your mind must be, how puny your imagination must be, how stultified your emotional development must be, that, when you see what's going on in Ukraine, instead of having some kind of empathetic human reaction--your first thought is, "How can I blame Obama?"

I feel weird even dignifying such a pathetic comment with a response, but I have to ask myself, are the political types in Washington, DC really all that much more evolved than this dim-witted loser commenting on a blog?
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 5:06 PM · Report this
cressona 68
Now, about the real topic at hand, while I'm obviously totally on the side of those Ukrainians who want the rule of law and closer ties with Europe, I can only hope that Ukraine's leaders, the EU's leaders, and the Obama administration don't blind themselves to Russian interests, some of which are legitimate. I thought the bill the Ukrainian parliament passed dropping Russian as an official language was remarkably stupid and mean-spirited, and I'm glad the acting president vetoed it. I appreciate that Russia has a certain right to feel paranoid about Ukraine, considering a few little historical facts like (A) Kiev was the original capital of Russia and (B) World War II. And I can see how Russia has a certain claim on Crimea, even if "Hey, we're now going to take back the territory we gave you" is a blatant violation of international law and norms.

Putin is counting on some of his adversaries being impetuous and overstepping their limits. He wants us to bait the Russian bear. But other than Crimea, Russia has no claim whatsoever on the majority-Russian-speaking portions of another sovereign nation. If you think Russia seizing Odessa and Kharkiv and installing a puppet regime has anything to do with self-determination--well, you really don't want to go there. There's a difference between standing firm against Russia in a measured way and escalating tensions in a way that gives the Russians the excuse to invade "Ukraine proper."
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 5:08 PM · Report this
raindrop 69
@65: Oh, now I get it. That's disgusting. Only you would entertain such a depraved thought. I need to shower.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
@43 This comment For The Win:

"George W. Bush burned our sole superpower card. "
Posted by cracked on March 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
come on guys, relax.

it is just a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.....
Posted by What. Us Worry?! on March 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM · Report this
raindrop 72
@67: Every president is criticized, second-guessed, as to his stewardship of the office. This extends to critical foreign events. You wanting to put the president above reproach is, quite undemocratic and sophomoric.
Posted by raindrop on March 2, 2014 at 5:18 PM · Report this

and we have to admit, you girls never cease to amaze.
with your feckless stupidity.
even The Troll didn't think you would REALLY blame Bush....
Posted by never underestimate the depths of HomoLiberalFecklessStupity on March 2, 2014 at 5:24 PM · Report this
cressona 74
To add to my comment @67, not only is "blame Obama" a trivial and irrelevant point right now, so is "blame Bush." As much as the Iraq invasion was a travesty, it has nothing to do now with this nation's moral authority to question Russia's actions or our material ability to constrain Russia's actions.

So someone wrote here: "George W. Bush burned our sole superpower card." There's a little thing called "manifest destiny" that shredded our moral authority card long ago; Iraq was just the latest episode. And about the USA somehow no longer being a superpower, while I'm sick of us trying to be the world's policeman, the reality is we still are. And we better continue to be, because if we aren't, what's the alternative? China?
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 5:24 PM · Report this
cressona 75
Correction to my comment @74. I wrote: "And about the USA somehow no longer being a superpower, while I'm sick of us trying to be the world's policeman, the reality is we still are."

I meant: "And about the USA somehow no longer being a superpower, while I'm sick of us trying to be the world's policeman, the reality is we still are a superpower."
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
cressona 76
Oh, and +1 to Porcupine @57. You are the voice of reason.
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 5:50 PM · Report this
@51 Raindrops I'll be a Democrat for a month taunt was just that a play ground taunt, childish. So I tried to turn it.

@53 No worries I am an assman.

@57 mmmm Panama .... yeah to an extent.

@75 Nope G.W. Bush burned that card. Oh we still have the biggest military by far but what G.W.B did was add a "So What" to the end of that statement. Yeah our military is big, super even, but a sledge hammer has a limited utility. GWB showed the world that limit. Hence that bluff is gone.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 78
@76: I do pray that it is as Porcupine writes, but I fear that Putin has very sinister motives.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 2, 2014 at 6:06 PM · Report this
Shit kids, this aint got nothing to do with America.
Posted by Foonken2 on March 2, 2014 at 6:49 PM · Report this
@79 (pet peeve time) Yeah it does. America is a nation of immigrants. We have concerns in every corner, nick and cranny of the world whether we want too or not. We do because our families come from every corner, nick and cranny of the world.

Those ties are still there even if they are 10 generations old. Most are around 3 or 4 (ok thats a bit of a guess) and increasingly stronger now that we can communicate with "family back home" in real time. We as Americans forget this all the time. Yet it moves our foreign politics all the time.

Yeah its a subtle wave in the larger stream of things but it is always there. No matter where it is in the world some group of Americans has family history there and that matters to them. So they call and lobby their Reps. It is both our blessing and our curse as a nation.

A sad proof of this is how little internal pressure the US government gets with regards to Africa. The dislocation was soooo violent.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
@80. Sorry I was just too blunt and you make a good point. America's people certainly have skin in every game worldwide, not least the Eastern Europe from which so many of us come from (not me, but huge swathes of our societies).

What I mean is that Russia is not invading Ukraine because it want's to prove some point to America, or because of something related to the cold war. International news seems always to relate back to how it relates to America's geopolitical actions. We're a very insular nation.
Posted by Foonken2 on March 2, 2014 at 7:46 PM · Report this
@81 Also, the prevalence of international trade means we can't ignore stuff that happens in other countries.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
@81 I'm inclined to think Russia is invading the Ukraine because the Ukraine bucked against Putin's Eurasia economic union idea and without the Ukraine it fails. Heavy handed yeah but its not like we haven't been heavy handed. The trick is what measure of response.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
@83 What do you think we should do?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 8:16 PM · Report this
cressona 85
Phoebe @78: I do pray that it is as Porcupine writes, but I fear that Putin has very sinister motives.

Not really disagreeing here. I have no doubt Putin has sinister motives; I also have no doubt Putin is entirely rational, albeit without being immune to miscalculation. So while it would be a horrible thing for Ukraine and, less so, for Europe if Russian troops were to invade the Russian portions of Ukraine proper, it would be a potentially horrible thing for Russia too. Putin's evil, but he's not crazy. I recall some interesting comments delirian made in an earlier thread about the downsides for Russia of a split of Ukraine. For one thing, Ukrainian-speaking Ukraine comes running into the arms of the EU and--worse than that--NATO.

It's so hard to imagine how this plays out, but I think Machiavelli makes a great point @83. Suppose Russia annexes Crimea but leaves the remainder of Ukraine alone; somebody like Klitschko gets elected president; and a unified Ukraine minus Crimea starts gradually shifting toward the European model and orbit. This will be an absolutely unacceptable outcome for Russia. But Russia doesn't necessarily have any good options itself.

I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln's line, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The Civil War happened because the United States couldn't remain part slave and part free indefinitely. It eventually had to go one way or another. A unified Ukraine can't go on forever sitting on the fence between Europe and Russia--between liberal democracy and authoritarianism--it's got to go one way or another. (I stand in awe of the ordinary Ukrainians who gave their lives in the name of liberal democracy.)
Posted by cressona on March 2, 2014 at 8:32 PM · Report this
Purocuyu 86
This is what the U.S. looks like to the rest of the world whenever we do one of our little military adventures. In Geopolitics, might makes right, it's just as simple as that. I don't like it, but the stronger countries can make laws to justify anything they want.
What if Russia said, " we had our top lawyers check to make sure this was legal, and they said it was, so that is the end of that".
America, meet mirror.
Posted by Purocuyu on March 2, 2014 at 8:39 PM · Report this
@86 Anyone who thinks that there's no difference between America conquering a country and a country being conquered by Russians should look at the difference between East Germany and West Germany or North Korea and South Korea. If you compare the United States to some abstract ideal of how a great power should behave we look pretty bad. If you compare what the US does to the way actual great powers usually treat weaker nations we look pretty good.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on March 2, 2014 at 9:13 PM · Report this
@84 fair question I'll try and answer.

First off lots of soft power stuff, bureaucratic, banking, boarder crossing, stuff that will never hit the news media but will slow things down and cause discontent. I don't think Americans fully appreciate the role the elite and aristocracy play in Europe and Russian and how incestuous they are. Slowing down Russia's ability to trade in those markets, threatening it, will send a message and is easily done. We can hit your wallet.

This includes making moves to yank the G8 summit. Putin needs that to feed the Russian need for stature.

Second Religion, remember there are some 300,000 Tartars in Crimea and Turkey has a claim to it at least as valid as Russia's. Add that to the fact that Russia has it's own Muslim issues. That is a wild card we have little influence over but will play. Although I suspect in a minor way.

Staying with Religion, Pope Francis isn't without influence here. Yeah I know Eastern Orthodox not Catholic whatever... All of Christendom still moves as Rome moves. Again those talks will never see the light of day but they are happening (JP II, had a lot more to do with the fall of the Iron Curtain then Reagan ever did).

3rd, harder power, push the EU and NATO out in front. Germany has the real leverage. The UK has some game too as do the French so encourage them to have at it.

4. lay the ground work to move a carrier group into the black sea.

5. Wait.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 9:53 PM · Report this
@87 mmmm not so much. Our shit stinks too.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on March 2, 2014 at 9:59 PM · Report this
GhostDog 90
And it looks like Russia is saying "give us the Crimea or else"
Posted by GhostDog on March 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
88 all your solutions won't work. religion won't work, tatars won't work, and we're not going to put a carrier group into the black sea. aint' gonna happen. and what do you mean push nato out front? how? by putting a million troops into the Ukraine????what the fuck???? and Germany? like I said, you want to balance the power of Russia you need a hugeass Germany uniting with Poland and Ukraine and bumping up against russie. nein danke!!!!

Russia will split the Ukraine and there is jack shit we can or will do about it. it's not a 19th century action. it's a classic action from the 1st 2d 3d through 21st centuries, including oh wait, Georgia! you want a fucking battle between our carrier and the Russian ships in the black sea, what the fuck!!!!!!! we are going to let Russia take half of Ukraine. Russia in Ukraine is a story of conquest, domination, exploitation, rapine, genocide, annexation for CENTURIES. Russians are taking their Crimean base now, then will expand spots of control to take all eastern Ukraine. why wouldn't they? world popular opinion?
Posted by it's simple power politics on March 3, 2014 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 92
The Ukrainians should just sink their two warships in the Crimean Port and block it for the next year.

Ask the Japanese.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM · Report this
As Chris Collison, our man in Kiev, reported a few days ago, one of the first things the interim government did was try to bring Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers closer together—speak-a-different-language day and all that

Yet, the new parliament banned the use of Russian as a 2nd official language the day after they booted Yanukovich. Jonathan Steele makes few good point in his column including: "Since independence, every poll in Ukraine has shown a majority against Nato membership, yet one after another the elites who ran the country until 2010 and who are now back in charge ignored the popular will. Seduced by Nato's largesse and the feeling of being part of a hi-tech global club, they took part in joint military exercises and even sent Ukrainian troops to Iraq and Afghanistan."…
Posted by anon1256 on March 3, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this

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