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Friday, May 2, 2014

"Since this isn't a war involving Russian and Ukrainian tanks and soldiers shooting at each other, Putin can't lose."

Posted by on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Another dispatch from Chris Collison, the former Stranger intern who's been living and working for a TV news station in Ukraine, where he's had front-row seats to a popular revolution followed by a Russian invasion:

Sounds like a nice weekend there. It will be nice to get back to the Puget Sound. The Dnipro beaches are okay, but nothing beats PNW summers. Looks like May Day in Seattle was quite an event again this year.

I haven't been to eastern Ukraine since I was in Crimea, so I don't know exactly what it's like on the ground right now. A colleague of mine went to Slovyansk [where the helicopters were shot down] for a day last weekend. He said he was surrounded and photographed by the rebels when he passed the checkpoints, and again while he was in the center of the city.

It looks like Putin will continue to push. There are few reasons for him to stop. Provocations in Odessa are happening as I write this. We are at the office watching a live feed, and we have already seen provocateurs marching through the streets and starting fights at a pro-Ukrainian protest. One person is reported dead so far. The Ukraine rally was a lot bigger, but Russia doesn't need widespread support in the east or anywhere—just a few guys causing chaos will do, as we are seeing in Odessa today.

Since this isn't a war involving Russian and Ukrainian tanks and soldiers shooting at each other yet, Putin can't lose. Whatever happens, Russia can continue to deny involvement since tanks with Russian flags aren't rolling across the border and blowing up Ukrainian military bases. Sanctions aren't doing much to discourage him, either. Russian media is already working hard to convince the public that the US started the whole mess in Ukraine and is now out to get Russia.

In the last few weeks, Putin's popularity at home has risen to its highest level since the 2008 war with Georgia, and with media beating the war drums and singing the Kremlin's praises night and day, there doesn't seem to be any end in sight.

It makes sense strategically. If Russia can manage to disrupt the presidential election in Ukraine with its meddling in the east and south, it can continue to dismiss the government in Kyiv as a junta and refuse to recognize it. But if Ukraine manages to hold a fair election, Moscow's cries that the Ukrainian government is illegitimate will look even more ridiculous.

It looks like the Kremlin expected a warmer welcome in eastern Ukraine than what we are seeing. Polls show that most residents don't like the new authorities in Kyiv, but they are also pretty strongly opposed to breaking up the country—much more so than in Crimea. Last weekend's rallies were considerably smaller than ones in previous weeks. We are now in the midst of the May holidays, so this Sunday could be big if rebels can manage to mobilize, but they will have to work hard to get locals out. But like I said, Russia doesn't need half the country on its side. It just needs to keep the chaos level high, which is what we are likely to see in the next few days. Ukraine has tightened its border with Russia, so fewer "tourists" are coming in to wave flags and march through the streets. Still, "volunteer" militias are outmaneuvering military forces in parts of the southeast. They shot down two Ukrainian helicopters using anti-aircraft missiles today, so it seems they are well armed with Russian hardware.

The situation for journalists and activists in Donbas is certainly worrying. Kidnappings are becoming commonplace. Simon Ostrovsky from Vice was the most prominent, but rebels have abducted reporters from France, Italy, and Belarus as well. International observers from the OSCE are also still being held as bargaining chips. I'm checking live feeds of the security operation now and more reporters are being reported missing.

The May holidays are a big deal in the former Soviet Union, especially Russia, and there have been reports that major provocations have been planned ahead of Victory Day next Friday.

Thanks, Chris, and stay safe.

 

Comments (12) RSS

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1
OK, but after that Victoria Nuland call to the American ambassador in Ukraine, how the bloody hell can anyone deny American complicity?

After the convenient prepositioning of fighter aircraft in the Baltic States, how the bloody hell can anyone deny American complicity?

Posted by sgt_doom on May 2, 2014 at 11:12 AM · Report this
2
CNN's Talking Twats and the American-financed Coup d'Twat


It is Friday, 05/02/14, and CNN's Carol Costello (self-described journalist) is still running with the missing flight MH370-GeoResonance-Bay of Bengal story!

W T F ? ? ? ? ?

It takes all of five minutes or less to go online and find out the GeoResonance story is a complete sham and scam, yet no one, least of all talking twat Carol Costello, is capable of this? (Evidently the only thing they can verify over at CNN is whether Costello is wearing panties or not?)

CNN did once actually employ at least one professional journalist, a young lady reporter (Amber Lyon) who attempted to report the real story on what was taking place in Bahrain awhile back, so CNN fired her!

Just like Fox News, CNN will immediately fire anyone who actually reports the news!

Several weeks back, the Russians intercepted --- and made public --- a telephone call between Hillary Clinton-appointed State Department neocon, Victoria Nuland, talking to the American ambassador to the Ukraine. This was the call where Nuland exclaims:

"Fuck the E.U (European Union)!"

Nuland publicly apologized for uttering this phrase, thereby substantiating this telephone call. The important content of the rest of that call --- Nuland selecting the American-supported neo-Nazi replacements in the American-financed coup d'twat, appears to have completely slipped the memories or attention spans of 99% of American newsies --- or should I say newsy whorescum --- who continue to blame Russia's Putin for everything!

I wouldn't be surprised if Russia ends up nuking Wall Street (many would welcome its destruction) although I wish they would nuke Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS and MSNBC.

(Victoria Nuland's husband, Robert Kagan, was a founding member of that former neocon group, PNAC, or Project for a New American Century.)

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?co…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sILrmJc1q…

More...
Posted by sgt_doom on May 2, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
AFinch 3
Nuland and Kagan are really scary folks and one of my greater disappointments with Obama is the fact that he not only hasn't rooted out all of these types, but he actually appointed a few.

However, as bad as they are, the problem isn't of their making...this is mostly domestic for Putin and keeping NATO and the EU on the other side of a buffer. There really is no downside for him, except perhaps solidifying Ukrainian nationalism.

Posted by AFinch on May 2, 2014 at 11:44 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 4
*The* Puget Sound? Don't let Fnarf see this.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 2, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this
5
It's so foolish to engage you, Sgt. Doom. I'm making such a big mistake, but...

If possible, can you explain how your math works out here?

The narrative surrounding the "coup" in Ukraine was that the protesters wanted to be part of the EU and not beholden to Russia.

In your narrative, the US sponsored these protests but also say "fuck the EU" for some reason.

How do these things go together, and what benefit is there to the US for having Ukraine in crisis or giving Russia an "excuse" to invade Ukraine?

Are you suggesting this is all an attempt to get the US to squeeze Russia out of the lucrative natural gas market, (an economic reason), or are you just shouting talking points for the sake of being outraged, or... what?

What, specifically is behind what you are claiming? And what part does an American saying "fuck the EU" have to do with it?
Posted by Sevenwithoneblow on May 2, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
I fail to see what this has to do with Benghazi
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on May 2, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Mike Force 7
I hope he writes a feature, especially if he goes to eastern Ukraine
Posted by Mike Force http://www.autotone.net on May 2, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Report this
8
So, an unelected government installed by force is signing deals with the IMF and the EU even though the previously government was elected on a neutral platform, but there is nothing to see there? Don't drink the Kool-aid, folks.
Posted by anon1256 on May 2, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 9
@8: don't eat the RT propaganda, either.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 2, 2014 at 1:28 PM · Report this
10
@9 Which part of what I said isn't fact?

For the record, I hold Russia responsible for annexing Crimea and I hold the unelected government in Kiev responsible for shoving its will down the throat of eastern Ukrainians.
Posted by anon1256 on May 2, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
cressona 11
A. Russia sends its special forces into Eastern Ukraine to wreak havoc.
B. The Ukrainian government tries to put down the violence.
C. Russia uses the violence of its own making as the basis for saying Ukraine can't protect its own citizens.
D. Russia invades??? We'll see.

I'm reminded of the joke about the definition of chutzpah. A guy murders his parents and then pleads with the judge for mercy because he's an orphan.

Of course, Putin apologists like anon1256 here (who's repeatedly shown up on these Chris Collison threads to push the Putin party line)--these Putin apologists conveniently forget the original act of chutzpah by the Russian Federation: the economic blackmail and sabotage that Russia has perpetrated against Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova to pressure them to back out of closer ties with the EU and enter into his imperial "Eurasian Union."
Posted by cressona on May 3, 2014 at 8:43 AM · Report this
12
@11 - Collison himself acknowledges that Eastern Ukrainians do not want the government in Kiev but somehow has nothing to say about putchists making fundamental decisions for all Ukrainians before national elections take place and anybody who'll mention it will be called a Putin apologist. My, what a liberal you are... shame on you.
Posted by anon1256 on May 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM · Report this

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