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Let's be clear: Russia is invading Ukraine right now
August 28, 2014 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Russia has invaded Ukraine opening a second front to the south to open a land-bridge between Russia and Crimea. The Southern Front Catastrophe – August 27, 2014 translated from Ukraine has military details. Map of Operations Aug 10-27 (detail Mariupol and detail Lugansk pink/red is separatists). So far it's been a stealth invasion and slow escalation, today Russian troops, armor columns and artillery have openly crossed the border (video). Thousands more Russian troops are amassed. Ukraine has announced a reinstatement of the draft to commence in the Fall, and is demanding EU military assistance. An emergency UN meeting is currently in session (the 24th). Russia claims "No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine."
posted by stbalbach (359 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
And if somewhat recent Russian polls are any indication, the Russian people are all for it.
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:14 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Ukraine has also petitioned NATO for major non-NATO ally status. Will be interesting to see what NATO does next week at the summit in Wales.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:25 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Fortunately, NATO, the EU and the US have gone from frowning in Moscow's direction and are now scowling irritably.
posted by chavenet at 12:27 PM on August 28 [37 favorites]


And if somewhat recent Russian polls are any indication, the Russian people are all for it.

A not totally unexpected reaction to have.
posted by Nevin at 12:28 PM on August 28


Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, is generally scowling irritably.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:29 PM on August 28


"Paging doctor Palin... Doctor Sarah Palin, please pick up the red courtesy phone."
posted by jsavimbi at 12:34 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


.

I can't think of anything else - but . for all of the people in Ukraine.
posted by jb at 12:34 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


"No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine."

"Wait, lemme check something first... They're all parked for the night, right? Okay, thanks. Yes, that is correct. No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine."
posted by Etrigan at 12:35 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: "Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, is generally scowling irritably."

Well, he can see Russia from his house.
posted by chavenet at 12:36 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Does Russia want to be the nation with no friends? Does even the Ukraine, cousins and neighbours, automatically get the fist in the face?
posted by Segundus at 12:36 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


When is a Russian invasion of a neighboring country an incursion and an escalation, but not actually an invasion? When acknowledging that is in [sic] an invasion would complicate diplomacy to the point that ending the invasion could become much harder.

OK, so the US won't acknowledge this as an invasion because diplomacy, and Russia won't acknowledge it as such either because...it's not interested in diplomacy...or being stopped by coercion either. So where does that leave us?
posted by kitcat at 12:37 PM on August 28


I think the Russians think this means they're still strong, but it's more like a drunk punching his wife.
posted by Segundus at 12:38 PM on August 28 [38 favorites]


If only there was a countervailing nation that wasn't obviously overextended and war weary to give Russia pause. The opportunity is there from Putin's perspective. Strike while the iron is hot.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:40 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Does even the Ukraine, cousins and neighbours, automatically get the fist in the face?

Ukraine always gets a fist in the face, and it's always somehow their fault.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:41 PM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Good thing the US has the moral authority to complain when seeing another country invading another country that it has no business invading.......
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:41 PM on August 28 [55 favorites]


People are going to die and as usual for no good reason. Humans suck.
posted by tommasz at 12:43 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


And meanwhile, we're too busy planning airstrikes against the same forces we just armed a few months ago in Syria to get involved even if we wanted to. It's getting harder and harder to carry on pretending there's any respectable rhyme or reason to the farce that is world affairs.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:44 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]




So where does that leave us?

Down a couple of bishops, a rook pinned, the queen threatened.
posted by notyou at 12:44 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


Does Russia want to be the nation with no friends?
posted by Segundus at 12:36 PM on August 28 [+] [!]


hey now, there's plenty of room at the cool kids' table!!

(alternative image and article if that one above is paywalled for you)
posted by Bwithh at 12:51 PM on August 28


garry kasparov is on point: "Putin is in Ukraine because he needs war & propaganda machine to rally support at home, to distract from bad economy & dead civil society."

simon ostrovsky is on the ground: "how the tide in the battle for east #Ukraine could change dramatically"

/r/UkrainianConflict Live Thread (previously: 1,2): "At 4pm ET, President Obama will deliver a statement from the Briefing Room. Watch here..."

also btw...
-Endgame for Putin in Ukraine?
-NATO Isn't Arming Ukraine, Just Like Russia Isn't Fighting There
-Poland and Denmark in two-horse race for EU council presidency: "Mr Tusk's appointment would send a strong signal to Moscow as Poland has been one of the strongest advocates of sanctions against Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. A Polish president of the council would also act as a counterweight to Ms Mogherini, who is seen as softer on Russia."
posted by kliuless at 12:56 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Don't worry NATO will soon also not have any military involvement in this conflict. Mutually assured denial.
posted by humanfont at 12:56 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


U.S. Officials Won’t Call Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine An “Invasion”

They've been using euphemisms like "incursion" and "aggression".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:58 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Russia needs the Lebensraum, clearly.
posted by Mr. Six at 12:58 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Putin wants to recreate the USSR. If I were the head of state of Lithuania or Poland, I'd be scared shitless right now.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:06 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Canadian delegation for NATO tweeting a geography lesson - Russia - Not Russia
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:07 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Motherfucking Russia invading a motherfucking country. What is this, a bad '80s apocalyptic novel?
" ... the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis."
That makes about as much goddamned sense as blaming the US invasion of Iraq on Saddam Hussein.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:11 PM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Time to stock up on ammo, canned food and KI pills
posted by mrbigmuscles at 1:12 PM on August 28


I hope everyone actually reads that Mearsheimer piece. Thanks, the man of twists and turns, for posting that link. Here is a key passage:
The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine -- beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 -- were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president -- which he rightly labeled a “coup” -- was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.
So, yes, "the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis."
posted by No Robots at 1:14 PM on August 28 [16 favorites]


From the Mearsheimer piece:

No Russian leader would tolerate a military alliance that was Moscow’s mortal enemy until recently moving into Ukraine. Nor would any Russian leader stand idly by while the West helped install a government there that was determined to integrate Ukraine into the West.

Washington may not like Moscow’s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory. After all, the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less on its borders. Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it.


The U.S. almost went to war over missles in Cuba. Putin's really going to stand by while all this goes on?
posted by kgasmart at 1:15 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Didn't the Ukrainian president just dissolve the Ukranian parliament because he said that they (the Ukrainian ministers) were on the side of the Russians?
posted by I-baLL at 1:16 PM on August 28


I am rather concerned about this. Not just the fact that Russia is invading Ukraine, but also the way things are being reported in the mainstream media. I get the feeling we are being propagandized.

1- It's pretty obvious this all kicked off when Yanukovych was deposed. Whatever else he might have been, he was the democratically elected leader, and he was clearly deposed. Despite the obvious significance of this event to the current situation (the guy obviously had supporters in some parts of the country), it seems to be completely forgotten in current reporting.

2- Looking at the images coming out of Ukraine, it looks to me (with no particular knowledge of the situation) like a civil war. But the term "civil war" is never used in the reporting. Instead we hear about "pro-Russian rebels".

3- There is absolutely no attempt to explain or understand the situation. Why are the "pro-Russian rebels" pro-Russian and rebelling?

I don't know what's going on here, but I do remember the "WMD" propaganda before the 2nd Iraq war. The current news reporting doesn't seem as extreme as that, but it does still smell very strongly of propaganda.

If we are being propaganized, then it is presumably to enable military action.

I'm worried that we may be being shepherded into nuclear war.
posted by swr at 1:18 PM on August 28 [27 favorites]


So, yes, "the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis."

Like how women's shelters share most of the responsibility for domestic violence.
posted by Etrigan at 1:23 PM on August 28 [36 favorites]


Even a civil war does not entitle one sovereign state to invade another one. Russia has no right to send soldiers into Ukraine no matter what is going on in Ukraine without a United Nations Security Council resolution. Full stop. There is no "but." Of course, Russia is still illegally occupying Ukraine's Crimea, and no one is doing or saying a damned word about that either.

No one is going to rescue Ukraine. It will have to fight for itself. It's been a very, very long time since Russian soldiers fought a conventional army capable of fighting back. I don't think Ukraine is up to the job, and I don't think they can mobilize and re-equip faster than Russia can steal their territory.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:24 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


1- It's pretty obvious this all kicked off when Yanukovych was deposed. Whatever else he might have been, he was the democratically elected leader, and he was clearly deposed. Despite the obvious significance of this event to the current situation (the guy obviously had supporters in some parts of the country), it seems to be completely forgotten in current reporting.

Here's a map of where his support was.

Last year's revolution wasn't universally supported by the Ukrainian people. There is a strong east/west rift and I'm also very bewildered by US and Canadian reporting bias.
posted by rocket88 at 1:25 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


If we are being propaganized, then it is presumably to enable military action.

May not go that far, but the goal is to isolate Russia, to get you to think Russia is acting crazily when the U.S. in fact would do the exact same thing were we in that situation.
posted by kgasmart at 1:26 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Kgasmart: Which explains how Cuba became our 51st state.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:36 PM on August 28 [9 favorites]


" ... in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion.
And the impossibility of co-existing with a dangerous and unfriendly Iraq was Bush's casus beli as well. Mearsheimer's arguing that Russia has a right to a pro-Putin Ukraine to a degree that justifies war. It's going to be remarkable to watch people who rightly condemned Bush fall over themselves to excuse Putin.

Not that there seems to be any good option here. The idea of starting a(nother) land war in Asia to keep Ukraine out of the hands of Putin seems almost as crazy as the idea of blaming the West for Putin's tanks.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:37 PM on August 28 [18 favorites]


Two things:

1) It's simplistic to say Putin wants to reconstitute the USSR (also, Poland was never a member of the USSR; it was part of the Soviet Bloc). What he wants is to have a sphere of influence; possibly vassal states. Russia doesn't need to be liked by other countries if it can get what it needs from within its sphere. Also, Russia has a shitload of oil. So honestly, the West (Europe in particular) needs Russia far more than the other way around right now.

2) Whatever the US calls Russia's advance of troops into Ukraine, I have yet to see a compelling argument for how the US or NATO engaging militarily with Russian forces would be in any way a good thing for the broader world.
posted by dry white toast at 1:37 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


May not go that far, but the goal is to isolate Russia, to get you to think Russia is acting crazily when the U.S. in fact would do the exact same thing were we in that situation.

I'd say 'reprehensibly' rather than 'crazily,' but people would be justified in criticizing the U.S. in that hypothetical, just as there are legitimate criticisms to be made of U.S. foreign policy historically, and just as there are legitimate criticisms to be made of Russia's current policy concerning Ukraine.
posted by cjelli at 1:38 PM on August 28


Russia has no right to send soldiers into Ukraine no matter what is going on in Ukraine without a United Nations Security Council resolution. Full stop.

Whatever authority the UN ever had in sanctioning the use of force fizzled out under the boots of Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush after they invaded Iraq, and has been stomped on repeatedly every time a drone flies into another country's sovereign territory and kills civilians. It's gone, and it isn't coming back until members of the security council start taking it seriously. Which is to say, likely never. It's a dead end and it's frankly kind of quaint to bring up at this point.
posted by Hoopo at 1:41 PM on August 28 [13 favorites]


The geopolitical argument of Mearsheimer's piece in Foreign Affairs would be legitimate if there was a genuine threat that NATO would use a Westernized Ukraine as the launching point of a military attack on Russia. But despite NATOs very hot-war engagements in the Middle East, the idea that there is any conceivable configuration of the world in the near future that would cause Europe or the United States to engage in a war of any kind with Russia for purely 'geo-political' reasons (i.e., for access to resources) is just insane. The analogy with missles in Cuba is a false one. The geopolitical order really has changed. Nobody wants to conquer Russia. It just makes no sense. This makes the Russian response insane. Irrational. Old-fashioned. And makes it Russia's fault. If they are unhappy with covert dirty tricks in Ukraine, they are perfectly entitled to either bring these issues up with the UN and the ICC or to try and respond in kind, by trying to re-install a puppet of Moscow in place of a puppet of Brussels/DC. They are not entitled to launch a land war in Europe, which is fucking terrifying. Perhaps the West should've really realized just how unhinged Putin was, but that doesn't make it the West's fault.
posted by dis_integration at 1:41 PM on August 28 [42 favorites]


If we are being propaganized, then it is presumably to enable military action.
May not go that far, but the goal is to isolate Russia, to get you to think Russia is acting crazily when the U.S. in fact would do the exact same thing were we in that situation.
I suspect "isolate Russia" may be the thinking. Unfortunately that too is very one-sided.

What if Russia isn't content to just sit back and be isolated?

I'm not suggesting that their response would be to start a shooting war with NATO, but tit-for-tat can turn into brinkmanship very quickly. I think that is especially true when there is an active disregard for the other side's position, which appears to be the case here.
posted by swr at 1:41 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]




Don't forget to watch the arbitration complaint about the gas pipelines. If that doesn't get resolved AND the Iceland volcanoes add to the upper atmosphere it will be colder than "normal" in Europe and quite a squeeze on gas supplies to heat Europe.

And as pointed out in WWII much of warfare is "public relations" and this link has one side claiming the other is buying junk tanks to use as props.

If one thinks a whole bunch of what happens in the world is defensive or attacks on the pertrodollar then this Gasprom story matters.

The Prize/The Great Game continues....and there are other forces in play here beyond movement of military forces.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:45 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Judging by the tone of some of my libertarian/conspiracy theorist/liberal-hating friends on Facebook and their Russia-related status updates, they support Putin and Russia because an enemy of my enemy (Obama/librulls) is an ally.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:46 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


> Does Russia want to be the nation with no friends?

There is no "Russia" as a unified geopolitical actor. It is childish to identify the inhabitants of a country collectively with their government (even though it's hard for us lizard-brain humans to keep from doing). There is Putin, who doesn't give a shit about friends abroad, any more than any other national leader with an ounce of realism (Lord Palmerston: "Nations have no permanent friends or allies, only permanent interests"); there are his rich and powerful pals, who will support him just as long as he keeps their goodies coming; there are the pathetic stooges in the "parliament" and media, who applaud like trained seals; and there are the poor bastards at the bottom of the pecking order, most of whom applaud because at least it's not them getting kicked and maybe they'll get some goodies out of it.

> the idea that there is any conceivable configuration of the world in the near future that would cause Europe or the United States to engage in a war of any kind with Russia for purely 'geo-political' reasons (i.e., for access to resources) is just insane

Easy to say if you're not Russian. When I visited the Soviet Union, people told me just as confidently that the idea of the USSR attacking America was insane, and they were right, of course, but try telling that to the people in the White House and Pentagon at the time.

This whole situation is miserable and maddening. I was just telling my wife the other day that I didn't think Putin would go so far as to actually invade, that he just wanted to cow the rulers of Ukraine and get them back under his control, and I am more depressed than I can say to be proven wrong. I just hope it somehow ends without mass bloodshed. My thoughts go out to all the young men dragooned or propagandized into wearing uniforms and carrying lethal weapons on both sides.
posted by languagehat at 1:46 PM on August 28 [46 favorites]


Yeah, there's not much that can be done if Putin wants to invade Ukraine. As the US in Iraq demonstrated; if you're got the might, you've got the right to do whatever you want.
posted by dazed_one at 1:47 PM on August 28


This isn't even the first time Russia's done this in the past decade. The only difference is that now it's on Europe's doorstep, rather in an obscure Caucasus range.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:48 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Yes, the Americans have also invaded countries without provocation, but at least they went all in and declared war in a standard way. (Because Americans always think they're on the side of right, which can be one of their best or worst qualities depending on the situation). There was none of this sneaking tanks across the border shit. The Vox article is right that Moscow has learned how to deal with the West: just do things in small increments and deny, deny, deny when you're called on it. If something is happening really slowly we don't seem to know how to respond.

From a Western perspective there's two ways to look at Ukraine.

1. Ukraine (or maybe just the eastern parts) is a part of Russia's zone of influence, and we should leave them alone, because any help we give to Ukraine is going to make Russia mad, and that will end in radioactive tears.

2. It's a nation like any other that deserves the right to determine its own destiny. Recent events there have been pretty shifty, yes. From the election of Yanukovych to the Maidan revolution, it's been clear the Ukraine was not being run by the free and impartial rule of law. But Maidan was a real expression of popular will (in the western parts, anyway) and they've since had a legit presidential election and now have a leader who has a better claim to a democratic mandate than anyone since 2004. Shouldn't they have the right to work out their problems between west and east without military intervention from other nations? Or does geography trump their own needs?

I don't know what we in the West should do about this. The sanctions aren't working yet, but that doesn't mean they should be abandoned. Meanwhile, there must be something we can do to send Putin a message that this war by degrees thing is not acceptable in the 21st century.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:49 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


So Mearsheimer's argument is "A lot of countries that used to be kicked around by Russia decided to join NATO in order to keep Russia from continuing to kick them. Therefore Russia was forced into kicking the last country they could kick." Yeah, Etrigan's comparison seems apt.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:53 PM on August 28 [13 favorites]


You know, if you're Putin, and you don't want Ukraine to join NATO, you could always, for instance: make Ukraine a better offer; cut them some kind of sweetheart side-deal for saying "no" to joining NATO; or try various other ways of diplomatically pressuring Ukraine to not join NATO, none of which involve sneaking tanks across the border of a sovereign nation. Declaring that it is the western powers fault that Russia just had to invade Ukraine is ridiculous. That kind of "either sit around or watch the enemy triumph, or go to war!" binary is always false and always used in service of propaganda to support war.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:56 PM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Russia has stated that they do not recognize the Ukraine government installed by the 2013 revolutionsand consider Viktor Yanukovych as the legitimate leader of The Ukraine. If Yanukovych asked for Russia's military help to counter the coup d'etat that deposed him, then there's a strong argument that their actions are legal.

I think the only way this ends relatively nicely is with Ukraine divided into EU-friendly and Russia-friendly halves. Forcing the citizens of Eastern Ukraine to live under a regime they clearly don't want doesn't make sense.
posted by rocket88 at 1:57 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


at least they went all in and declared war in a standard way.....There was none of this sneaking tanks across the border shit.

I fail to see the point. Ukraine knows Russia has breached their borders. They're not scratching their heads wondering if they are at war with Russia or not. The US and UK literally see this happening from the sky. There is no "sneaking" or "denying" except to the press. They all know what is happening.
posted by Hoopo at 1:59 PM on August 28


You know, if you're Putin, and you don't want Ukraine to join NATO, you could always, for instance: make Ukraine a better offer

Actually, this is pretty much exactly what Putin was doing through Yanukovych, offering loans with better terms than the EU/IMF was willing to offer. This act was the major catalyst for his pro-Western ouster.
posted by dis_integration at 1:59 PM on August 28 [11 favorites]


In retrospect, the Cold War should have been about the U.S. and the USSR doing just that- trying to cut better deals with states, instead of trying to overthrow them. Flooding Indochina with consumer goods, instead of bombs.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:03 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Here's a map of where his support was.

Last year's revolution wasn't universally supported by the Ukrainian people. There is a strong east/west rift and I'm also very bewildered by US and Canadian reporting bias.


In contrast, here is a map of where President Poroshenko's support came from in 2014 (everything that's light gray). Obviously voting was impossible in Crimea and very prohibited in Donetsk and Luhansk. But in the rest of Ukraine, Mykhailo Dobkin (the candidate from Yanukovich's Party of Regions) garnered only 3% of the vote and won in only 1 of 225 electoral districts. Poroshenko won an overwhelming 55% percent of the popular vote, spread across the whole country. Ukraine is not nearly as neatly divided between Eastern/Western and Russian-/Ukrainian-speaking as both Western and Russian media have portrayed. The country united in the face of outside aggression and proved that the citizens have more in common than differences.
posted by Kabanos at 2:04 PM on August 28 [11 favorites]


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28931054

"Ukraine's president has dissolved parliament and called snap elections, as government forces continue to fight pro-Russian rebel forces in the east.

Petro Poroshenko said many current MPs were backers of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and that the majority of Ukrainians wanted a new parliament.

Elections would be held on 26 October, he said in a TV address
"

"In the address late on Monday, Mr Poroshenko said he acted fully in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution, which states that new elections must be held if a ruling coalition in parliament is not formed within 30 days."

"The previous coalition collapsed on 24 July.

The president stressed that the "current composition of the parliament has been the mainstay of (President) Yanukovych", who was forced to flee Ukraine amid mass street protests in February.

"Elections is the best way of cleaning things up," he said.
"
posted by I-baLL at 2:04 PM on August 28


declared war in a standard way.

Yes, all the times the US of A has used its military power in other lands after the Congress drafted Declarations of War after WWII, right?

Or is that when Naval power is used to enforce sanctions? Or air planes/drones overfly other nations borders and use air to ground missiles?

(or is this like the War on Poverty, the War on Cancer and the War on Drugs - someone has to be winning battles in those "wars" given how much has been spent.)

I don't know what we in the West should do about this.

Given the moral high ground of "the West" - is there anything to do beyond breaking out the game "World of Peacecraft" as featured on Mr. Oliver's TV show?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:05 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I'm also very bewildered by US and Canadian reporting bias.

Maybe this is naive or confirmation bias, but didn't the Canadian media really start to cultivate an anti-Russia position after Harper - who just finished his annual tour of the north - started pushing arctic sovereignty?

The prospect of Russia rolling in and claiming territory largely unopposed makes Harper & Baird shit their pants. The fact Canada has no military or diplomatic juice to counter it with any effectiveness means they can talk tough without any expectation that they'll back it up. I assume that shrill, hollow stridency trickles down into the Canadaian media as well.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:06 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


I think the only way this ends relatively nicely is with Ukraine divided into EU-friendly and Russia-friendly halves.

That works sometimes, but break ups aren't exactly perfect either.
posted by FJT at 2:10 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


There is no "sneaking" or "denying" except to the press. They all know what is happening.

Putin is still saying that there are no Russian forces in Ukraine.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:10 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


So Mearsheimer says The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West

A good rule of thumb for political pundits is that the moment they say something is a "taproot" or a "root cause," theyv'e run out of evidence and are just asserting what you knew all along they're going to assert. And it's bullshit.

Before the Maidan confrontation began, Ukrainians were about to get the opportunity for expanded trade links to Europe.

That meant a young Ukie could hop on a train/bus/hitchike to Paris, sleep on a park bench, wait on tables, and come back with some lovely euros in his pocket. Shitty deal, actually, but better than the status quo ante.

Then Yanukovich yanked that opportunity away, and the western Ukrainians got pissed off. Note, this is the EU we're talking about, not NATO.

There could have been a compromise all along: the Ukies get some EU links, in exchange for givign up on NATO. That compromise is still a possibility. It's Russian delusional intransigence that is preventing this sensible solution.
posted by ocschwar at 2:11 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Yes, all the times the US of A has used its military power in other lands after the Congress drafted Declarations of War after WWII, right?

Okay, there are lots of times Americans have done warlike actions without actually declaring war, I don't want to get into an argument defending one foreign country so I can frown at another. Whether it's American "advisers" helping the Contras in Nicaragua or Russians arming rebels in Ukraine, it's all wrong.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:16 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


That makes about as much goddamned sense as blaming the US invasion of Iraq on Saddam Hussein.

There is the sense in Russia that the West took advantage of Russia after the collapse of communism to expand eastwards; Ukraine is within Russia's "traditional sphere of influence."

I guess you could say, "what about self-determination?" but from a Russian perspective this just pure cynicism since a democratically-elected government was overthrown in the Ukraine, and the people of eastern Ukraine voted to leave the Ukraine.

Short of war, the only way for the situation to be defused would be for Ukraine to withdraw and let the separatists take over. That's unlikely to happen, and so Ukraine will be the scene of a low-level proxy war between the West and Russia for some time.

We can only hope conflict does not spread to the Baltic republics.
posted by Nevin at 2:19 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


It's kinda like the Monroe Doctrine.
posted by Nevin at 2:23 PM on August 28


So is the invasion of Ukraine wholly justified by the criminal acts of the Kiev junta, or not actually occurring at all? Get your stories straight, people in the online comments sections of newspapers- I want to know the truth!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:29 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Putin is still saying that there are no Russian forces in Ukraine.

Indeed. And no one believes him.
posted by Hoopo at 2:38 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Putin is still saying that there are no Russian forces in Ukraine.

I'm still more irritated by the morons who post links to RT in Facebook.
posted by Nevin at 2:44 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


It's kinda like the Monroe Doctrine.

As Ukranians watch tanks roll into their country, it'll be a comfort to know they can blame James Monroe.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:46 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: Kgasmart: Which explains how Cuba became our 51st state.

Well, it explains how Cuba has a permanent U.S. military installation, at least.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:46 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


This is in support of the constitutional government. The US invaded with 5 billion dollars a couple of years ago to fund a revolution against the constitutionally elected, though corrupt government. The US lit the fire in a dry forest and bears responsibility for all the resulting bodies. It could be argued that the Russians are simply protecting their border and the central interests. Perhaps the US should invade Ferguson to protect its citizens of African descent.
posted by SteveLaudig at 2:49 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


So why isn't partition the solution? Western Ukraine could strengthen ties to the EU, and eastern Ukraine could be the Russian satellite state that its residents seem to want. Problem solved, everyone gets to go home.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:50 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


>It's kinda like the Monroe Doctrine.

As Ukranians watch tanks roll into their country, it'll be a comfort to know they can blame James Monroe.


Well Cuba feels the same way, I would guess. And Nicaragua. And El Salvador. And Panama. And Colombia.

For some reason Reagan dithered about the junta in Argentina, though.
posted by Nevin at 2:51 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Since NATO has expanded its borders against explicit agreements with the USSR/Russia and since the US has rejected all offers for cooperation regarding missile defense on Polish territory and since the EU trade agreement with Ukraine was rejected by Yanukovitch and since the CIA director visited Kiev during the Maidan protests and since lethal sniper fire during those protests was connected to associates of the illegal putsch government of Yatsenyuk and since Biden's son became head of finance of a Ukraine energy company and since the EU and the US have rejected to consider a federative structure for Ukraine and similar urgings for a referendum as well as a cease-fire have been ignored, the situation in that area of the world has become quite tumultuous, yes. It would be most welcome if the sources of instability were to desist.
posted by dmh at 2:54 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


In what I think would be one of the worst ideas EVAR, I fear that either the NATO coalition or the USA on its own will arm Ukraine rather than watch that poor country be violently overrun by the Russians. It might have a noble basis, Robin Hooding through the Crimea, but the minute an F15E with the Ukrainian colors hastily painted on its tail does a ground strike on a Russian armored column, you can set the Doomsday clock to about fifteen seconds before midnight. And I'm already seeing online reports of repug hawks calling for just that. Very scary time to be drawing oxygen on the face of this planet.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:56 PM on August 28


For some reason Reagan dithered about the junta in Argentina

As we all know the US President is The Leader and there are no other power structures that The President may be answerable to.

Hasn't 6 years of Fox News on Obama taught us that?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:58 PM on August 28


kliuless's Vice article link is very interesting. It seems a couple of former communist nations have decided that now is a good time to get new tanks and helicopters. Which means their old tanks and helicopters are on the market, and are being bought by disinterested third parties, with no connection to Ukraine... Kind of like how Russian billionaires were shipping guns to the Middle East and they just happened to end up in Syria. Everybody is learning new tricks, but it may amount to no more than a drop in the bucket if the war continues to intensify.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:06 PM on August 28


Christ, this is a terrible thing to be happening. I didn't think Putin would actually be this brazen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:06 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


As we all know the US President is The Leader and there are no other power structures that The President may be answerable to.

I disagree with your sarcasm. The American president has considerable tools at his/her disposal for instigating military action. This predates Reagan of course (see: Vietnam).
posted by Nevin at 3:07 PM on August 28


I can totally understand this. I cut off my brother's arm because it was between me and the bathtub, which is pretty much the same thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:11 PM on August 28


Ex-colleague in Russia thinks Putin et al won't stop until they "retake", whatever that means, Odessa and has a land corridor to the nearby enclave of Transnistria in Moldova. That was before the 2nd May fire there which has probably hardened resolve.

One effect of a land corridor to Transnistria would be Ukraine no longer having a Black Sea coast, with all the attendant problems of movement, trade, and fuel supply.
posted by Wordshore at 3:12 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


No analogies involving dead puppies? C'mon, guys, get in the game!
posted by No Robots at 3:12 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Very scary time to be drawing oxygen on the face of this planet.

But the anerobic bacteria is cheering*!

If the economic/energy/environmental system is as bad off as some claim, what better way to avoid accountability than to crash it into a wall and then point at the wall as the fault?

You'll have people who ask about the choice of roadway used to get to the wall impact, others will question the driver and the transport that hit the wall but the after accident scene is the time to move forward and not talk about the past. Plus, it won't be patriotic at the accident scene to question how the wall impact happened. If the passengers are hurt, who'll have the luxury of asking the "how DID we get here in this handbasket and why is it so warm" questions?

(*or is it the sea vent worms who will be the last "standing" on iceball earth after the nuclear winter? So hard to keep the fears and tears straight.)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:13 PM on August 28


There is definitely a "Guns of August" feel going on in the world at the moment. You have conflict and instability stretching from Libya to the Levant, this European stuff, the usual stuff in Afghanistan and Pakistan...

And in a couple of weeks it will be time for China to start its annual fall custom of burning down Japanese factories and inciting riots against Japanese consular offices.
posted by Nevin at 3:17 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Well Cuba feels the same way

I don't doubt they do. I don't even disagree with them. But once that's adduced, what's the point? The argument that it's wrong for the US to disrespect Cuba's sovereignty doesn't suggest that Putin should have a free hand in the Ukraine. If Putin's justified based on the US's actions, then, well, the US is justified based on the actions of Great Britain or France or Imperial Russia. The US didn't invent client states, you know.

No, if you want to excuse Putin you need to go whole hog like Steveo above. Make the argument that Ukranians will welcome Putin with open arms and try to ignore how much it sounds the apologies for so many invasions in the past.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:19 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


It was just a comparison. Russia's attitude towards "traditional spheres of influence" is the same as the American attitude toward the Monroe Doctrine. Making a comparison is a validation of neither.
posted by Nevin at 3:21 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


You know, if you're Putin, and you don't want Ukraine to join NATO, you could always, for instance: make Ukraine a better offer

Yanukovich rejected the EU association agreement in November 2013 in favor of a $15 billion investment deal and cut on gas prices by Russia in December 2013. Yanukovich was ousted in February 2014.
posted by dmh at 3:21 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


F15E with the Ukrainian colors hastily painted on its tail does a ground strike on a Russian armored column

Uh, there are already a few Abe Lincoln Brigade types in Ukraine. One of them even got KIA.
posted by FJT at 3:25 PM on August 28


Make the argument that Ukranians will welcome Putin with open arms

I thought the standard was "welcomed as liberators".

make Ukraine a better offer

Didn't a 'convoy of aid*' come across the border 1-2 weeks ago? Carrot in one hand, stick in the other......

*who does one opt to believe in these messes as telling one the truth anyway? The UN?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:27 PM on August 28




Yanukovich rejected the EU association agreement in November 2013 in favor of a $15 billion investment deal and cut on gas prices by Russia in December 2013. Yanukovich was ousted in February 2014.

At this point in time, looking at Greece, Portugal, Ireland and other impoverished peripheral states that have been forced to implement deep austerity budgets, it's hard to see what the benefits would be of joining the EU... unless it was for military protection, which the EU doesn't seem to be too interested in providing Ukraine.
posted by Nevin at 3:34 PM on August 28


I don't think there was any pretense that the aid was meant for anyone but the rebels, or at most the blockaded population of the areas in rebellion, and it was said that the rebels were distributing it. So not much of a carrot for Ukraine, really.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:37 PM on August 28


So, if this is Russia months after hosting the Olympics, god knows what Putin has planned for after the World Cup.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:39 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Lilia Shevtsova: Putin Ends the Interregnum
"Vladimir Putin’s increasingly reckless interventions in Ukraine should force the West to reevaluate everything it thought it knew about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the past two decades of Western policy on Russia."
posted by Kabanos at 3:39 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering what the reaction is in other former Soviet Republics. At least some of them have got to be thinking "Russia's got this idea they can carve off chunks whenever they like", and maybe giving the stinkeye to their own Russian-majority regions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:41 PM on August 28


I'm already seeing online reports of repug hawks calling for just that.

C'mon FOX, square the circle: Putin is a glorious ally in the struggle with NOBAMA and we must go to war with him!
posted by octobersurprise at 3:43 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


and maybe giving the stinkeye to their own Russian-majority regions.

"Legacy" Russian ethnic populations are a major social problem. In the Baltic states, they comprise the majority of the unemployed and NEETS.
posted by Nevin at 3:50 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I don't think there was any pretense that the aid was meant for anyone but the rebels

The white trucks were also used to "evacuate" factories to Russia. The Russian Forces are dependent on Ukrainian industry for many components of their armor and weaponry. Any end to cooperation with Ukraine would seriously jeopardize the Russian army's ambitious modernization program, and would have far more impact than Western military sanctions. Oh, but also humanitarian stuff.
posted by Kabanos at 3:51 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


"Legacy" Russian ethnic populations are a major social problem. In the Baltic states, they comprise the majority of the unemployed and NEETS.

In fairness they are often discriminated against. For a long time Latvia made it hard for Russians to get citizenship. That can impact integration and economic standing.
posted by Thing at 3:59 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I believe in Estonia (I qualify for Estonian citizenship, btw) all public services including schooling must be in Estonian. So if you do not want to learn Estonian.

Given the postwar history and the efforts to wipe out Baltic languages and culture, it's very understandable.
posted by Nevin at 4:05 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


these are my thoughts -

the west may sanction but it cannot intervene, as that is just plain too risky

ukraine is going to experience a terrible time - again

putin is taking a first step towards the reestablishment of the russian empire and guaranteeing its demise and possibly the demise of russia itself, if not politically, than economically and spiritually

it's quite simple - russia can't afford this war, it can't afford to occupy ukraine and after the russian people figure out how they've been misled, it's not going to be able to afford putting down the backlash - even if the west were not to impose sanctions, this strategy is going to bankrupt russia

some people have argued - "well, what if the russians tried to undermine mexico and/or canada? how would we react to that?"

the question should be, "what kind of shape would the u s wind up in if we invaded canada and/or mexico to stop it?" - answer - awful shape - and we're in a much better position than the russians are

they're slitting their own throats and don't realize it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:05 PM on August 28


they're slitting their own throats and don't realize it

The problem is all the other throats they're slitting along with theirs.
posted by immlass at 4:12 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Seems like they don't so much want Ukraine as an end to any inconvenience that an uncooperative Ukraine can cause them. With the Black Sea coast and a land route to Southern Europe, any future intransigence would be a lot less relevant.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:15 PM on August 28


As long as the spice oil and gas flows, Putin figures he can pay for anything Russia needs.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:17 PM on August 28


The American president has considerable tools at his/her disposal for instigating military action. This predates Reagan of course (see: Vietnam).

And then see the War Powers Resolution, which was passed precisely to end such Presidential abuse.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:21 PM on August 28


When did we start granting people the right to choose what country their land is in?


Imagine if a bunch of Spanish speaking residents in southern Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California decided they wanted to break away from the US and form a new country with strong ties to Mexico.
posted by Megafly at 4:24 PM on August 28


C'mon FOX, square the circle: Putin is a glorious ally in the struggle with NOBAMA and we must go to war with him!

You're behind the times, man, they actually did one better: Fox News Demands Putin Replace Pansy Dictator Obama, But Just For A Sexy Hot Minute
[Greg] Gutfeld turns to [Kimberly] Guilfoyle, an actual lawyer, for an opinion on the legal niceties of Johnson’s idea, asking if we “can we actually do this without violating their so-called civil liberties?” Guilfoyle responds:
Guess what? I don’t care, and in fact I hope we violate a lot of their civil liberties. This is war, this is terror, there should be no mercy involved because they have shown none. That is the only language they should understand.
Ho ho, apparently Kimberly Guilfoyle was sick the day they taught law in her law school at (checks Wikipedia) the University of San Francisco? Wow, we were expecting Regents or Ave Maria or something. Maybe she was busy admiring the beautiful Bay Area views, or classes interfered with her daily Botox injections or something.

Guilfoyle goes on to hope that the people around President Obama are pushing him to make the “right” decision to bomb the shit out of ISIS, and more. Hey, we’ve already got troops on the ground! She must be talking about the hundred or so advisers Obama sent over to Iraq a few weeks ago. How much trouble could it be to add another 500,000 to pacify Iraq and Syria? She finishes up this smart take on international politics by wishing that Vladimir Putin or Benjamin Netanyahu could be our president, just for like 48 hours:
[J]ust to get in here and get it done right, so that Americans don’t have to worry and wake up in the morning fearful of a group that’s murderous and horrific like ISIS.
Great idea, it’s not as if Putin and Netanyahu have become international pariahs for their recent actions in Ukraine and Gaza or anything. Obama acting like one of those two shitwits will certainly not upset the international community that the United States is still nominally a part of. Why not reanimate the corpse of Saddam Hussein and stick him in the Oval Office for a couple of days? We bet Zombie Saddam could git ‘er done, and we’re already familiar with his track record.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:25 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


The Russian Forces are dependent on Ukrainian industry for many components of their armor and weaponry

Mind. Blown.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:36 PM on August 28


And then see the War Powers Resolution, which was passed precisely to end such Presidential abuse.

There was Kosovo and Libya.
posted by Nevin at 4:36 PM on August 28


I must say that I had preferred a contiguous and sovereign Ukraine. I also was never a fan of NATO expansion eastward to former Warsaw Pact states. Nor was I keen on Russia being plundered by their oligarchs as it has emboldened the oligarchs around the globe. There are a lot of things that I would have preferred to have happen in lieu of what has come to pass.

Ukraine will be reunited only through a concerted effort. Such an effort is beyond the capacity of the Ukranian armed forces, even with a re-invigorated draft of the young into the maws of what is coming.

Russia can take what it wants... even if it can't afford to keep it.

We here in the West have only a thirst for sand, it seems... That and we are broke and weary. Putin knows this. NATO, our allies, and our enemies know this.

The world seems like it's on fire... because it has been set ablaze by those who stand to profit from such chaos.

From the shores of Tripoli... to the heart of the fertile crescent... to the mountain passes in Kashmir to the South China Sea.

Russia can take what it wants because there are too few with the strength to stand against it... and let's face it...

No one is keen on 800 kilotons of Topol-M... and those shiny new Borei class boats... a cold North wind, indeed.

Who would have thought that the real first case of nuclear terrorism would come from a major nuclear power?

So it would seem that, quite easily, all of our throats could be slit.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 4:39 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Everybody stay calm, nobody shoot any Archdukes, and hopefully we can get through this.
posted by quillbreaker at 4:44 PM on August 28 [19 favorites]


You know, if you're Putin, and you don't want Ukraine to join NATO, you could always, for instance: make Ukraine a better offer; cut them some kind of sweetheart side-deal for saying "no" to joining NATO

Maybe I'm misremembering, but isn't that exactly what they did? Offered a bunch of loans and other support to the pro-Russian Yanukovych government, which decided to stay unaligned with NATO?
posted by faux ami at 4:56 PM on August 28


I don't know what's going on here, but I do remember the "WMD" propaganda before the 2nd Iraq war. The current news reporting doesn't seem as extreme as that, but it does still smell very strongly of propaganda.

Well there's all kinds of reporting out there, but to me more often the press looks surprisingly susceptible to Russian propaganda. They sometimes carelessly attribute to "pro-Russian rebels" things more likely the responsibility of the actual Russians. They wrote about that line of trucks as the "humanitarian convoy", even after it ditched the Red Cross rather than allow border guards to inspect it, as if there were no doubt it contained anything but humanitarian aid. When Crimea had its referendum they reported on that as if it were an actual referendum. They generally do the usual thing of trying to report the point of view of both sides even when it's clear which side is lying.

Also, I don't remember the former U.S. President being quite so diplomatic before deciding to invade Iraq. Whatever happens it's not much like that.
posted by sfenders at 5:02 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Putin wants to recreate the USSR. If I were the head of state of Lithuania or Poland, I'd be scared shitless right now.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Lithuania and Poland on the other hand are, and as such, an invasion of either of them would be considered an attack on all NATO member states. I kind of doubt Russia would be up for testing that line.
posted by Flunkie at 5:12 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


On the bright side China will get a discount on Russian natural gas. This will reduce China's use of coal. A wad in Ukraine also boosts american weapon exports to Europe just as sequestration was cutting back the Pentagon's spending. Also ultimately the war costs will empty Russia's treasury like Afghanistan did in the 1980s. Of course LNG exports or US shale gas to Europe will be accelerated boosting the US economy further. Finally as in all crisises US Treasury Bonds are worth more so US borrowing costs go down.
posted by humanfont at 5:30 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Yup; a list of who is in NATO and for more clarity, a map. It's a good reminder that the EU is not quite NATO, and vice versa.

And Article 5 of NATO, which is basically "Attack one of us and you attack us all".
posted by Wordshore at 5:40 PM on August 28


The U.S. almost went to war over missles in Cuba. Putin's really going to stand by while all this goes on?
Chocolate Pickle: Kgasmart: Which explains how Cuba became our 51st state.
Well, it explains how Cuba has a permanent U.S. military installation, at least.
What? How does it explain that? The US got Guantanamo as a permanent base (de facto at least, and de jure in their opinion/claim) before Castro was even born.
posted by Flunkie at 6:11 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


swr: I am rather concerned about this. Not just the fact that Russia is invading Ukraine, but also the way things are being reported in the mainstream media. I get the feeling we are being propagandized.

Agreed. Sending in an army and shelling a neighbour without admitting to it is heinous, but I'm disappointed that North American news sources seem to be just repeating the NATO line. One narrative is that a corrupt president, having authorized the police to "attack his own citizens", was thrown out by popular revolt. Now a pro-Russian insurgency, backed by Russian arms, soldiers and money, threatens the integrity of a free Ukraine, and must be stopped.

Another narrative is that a democratically elected president was overthrown by a western-supported insurgency. As a result, a vast disenfranchised region of Ukraine started their own demonstrations, held elections, and supported armed rebellions in favour of secession. In response, the Ukraine started "attacking its own citizens", shelling whole cities, giving ample cause for Russia to intervene.

Both narratives are truthy, and *way* too convenient for their respective sides. The first is the only thing we hear in North America, and the second is the only thing they hear in Russia. I wish I had a better sense of the intersection of each with the truth :(
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:29 PM on August 28 [12 favorites]


Kevin Street: Yes, the Americans have also invaded countries without provocation, but at least they went all in and declared war in a standard way.

Laos, Cambodia and most of Central America would, I think, disagree with you.
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:53 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Lithuania and Poland on the other hand are, and as such, an invasion of either of them would be considered an attack on all NATO member states. I kind of doubt Russia would be up for testing that line.

On the contrary. The history of the last twelve years should make clear that NATO is no longer a source of security. The original purpose of NATO was, in the traditional joke, "To keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down."

But if Poland or Lithuania (or the other Baltics) were attacked now, could they really rely on Obama? If I were them I sure wouldn't believe it. Obama's foreign policy has been to suck up to enemies and to fuck over allies.

And no one else in NATO has a credible force that could aid Poland or the Baltics in a crisis.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:02 PM on August 28


The history of the last twelve years should make clear that NATO is no longer a source of security.
Please remind me how many NATO member states have been invaded in the last twelve years.
posted by Flunkie at 7:03 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


Laos, Cambodia and most of Central America would, I think, disagree with you.

Well we haven't had any covert wars in the last decade, I mean as long as you exclude Yemen and Pakistan and sorta Syria.

Although let's be fair, when a country appears be actually starting to slow-motion annex one of its neighbors with overt and covert military force & soft power, things have taken a bit of a step up in seriousness from US-style imperialism. Obviously NATO is going to hold tight at the moment, but if Russian troops advanced to say, Kiev, I could imagine things getting out of control rather quickly.
posted by crayz at 7:09 PM on August 28


Popular Ethics does a really good job above of summarizing the narratives, though I'd add that the Russians have been very big in playing up the present Ukrainian government as "fascist," adding another dimension to the whole thing. And there are real, serious, problematic links between the Ukrainian government and fascist groups in the western side of the country. That doesn't mean Putin is being sociologically accurate instead of a demagogue.

Direct clashes between nuclear powers simply can't happen (or are quickly papered over to prevent nuclear war), and the insane logic of the whole thing sort of privileges the first power with boots on the ground. As Putin's invading, he's essentially claiming the prerogative that Bush carved out in Iraq. It was a dangerous precedent, because it's not like you can say Putin is committing a crime against peace without saying that Bush did it 11 years ago.

Both narratives are in service to big powers who have definite agendas. ("Color revolutions" have tended to have US funding and install US-friendly governments by some odd coincidence; you can't do statecraft like that and pretend it's just organic.) There are power plays on both sides, as the US wants to discredit and isolate a Russia that has proven unwilling to be a vassal state, and Russia wants to re-establish its power base regionally.

I think regionalism is hard for Americans to grasp, because it's such a huge country and most people live very far from neighboring countries. But it's important here, and I think Mearsheimer is right in pointing out that NATO was essentially bearing down on Russia in a way that would have fundamentally cut off its ability to act in its surroundings. Not that this justifies what Russia is doing, but it does go a way toward explaining it.
posted by graymouser at 7:18 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Another narrative is that a democratically elected president was overthrown by a western-supported insurgency. As a result, a vast disenfranchised region of Ukraine started their own demonstrations
Yanukovych was impeached by 328 of the 447 deputies in the Ukrainian parliament, which included representatives from eastern regions of Ukraine. "Insurgency" seems an odd description of a democratically elected legislature doing something within its constitutional power and not getting what you want is not the same as "disenfranchised".
posted by Ktm1 at 7:23 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


Yanukovych was impeached by 328 of the 447 deputies in the Ukrainian parliament

Indeed. The rhetoric about the "coup" is nonsense. Were US and other western intelligence organizations involved in stirring up dissent in Ukraine? Probably. And that is illegal and should be condemned. But Yanukovych was not removed by a coup d'état any more than Richard Nixon was. And anyway, even if he had been dragged into the street and shot, instead of ousted by his own parliament, it wouldn't legitimate Russian military intervention.

I suppose, on thinking about this, that the US really is to blame. If Bush had not unilaterally destroyed Iraq and radically destabilized the Middle East, the precedent wouldn't have been set and Putin wouldn't able to place himself in such "good" company. Just another reminder that Bush fucked everything up hardcore.
posted by dis_integration at 7:51 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


Why is it Obama's job to do anything about this?

Obama's foreign policy has been to suck up to enemies

Seriously?
posted by bgal81 at 8:00 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


The idea that President Obama would ignore a Russian invasion of a NATO ally is an absurd notion. There is no chance. Maybe in some right wing fantasy novel where Obama is a secret gay communist who was born in Kenya, but not in the real world.
posted by humanfont at 8:02 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


Yanukovych wasn't legally impeached according to the Ukrainian constitutional procedure, explained here. I'm not saying this because I feel it somehow vindicates Putin; clearly it doesn't. But it's one of those indicators that neither of the narratives is exactly crystal clear in what it is presenting. The "coup" is as inaccurate a reflection of the truth as is the "impeachment." Both are justifying an agenda.
posted by graymouser at 8:04 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Yanukovych's removal was not an impeachment procedure on the Ukrainian constitution, but it wasn't illegal either. The situation is a bit more complicated than the stackexchange answers make it seem. This article explains a bit more about it. It isn't as though they failed a vote for impeachment but impeached anyway, instead they legally called elections early. The Ukrainian constitution seems to have some kinks in it. Unless you think the relevant members of the Rada are all Western puppets or were acting under the threat of force from the CIA or something, this hardly sounds like a coup.
posted by dis_integration at 8:17 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


this hardly sounds like a coup.

Except for the part where they only voted to impeach Yanukovych after he had fled and it was clear the "protesters" were going to take Kiev.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:21 PM on August 28


Basically it feels like the west accidentally forced Russia into an existential crisis by encouraging pro western protests. It was probably some half-forgotten back room project somewhere in the bowels of the CIA that nobody thought would work and now all hell is breaking loose.
posted by empath at 8:40 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Imagine if a bunch of Spanish speaking residents in southern Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California decided they wanted to break away from the US and form a new country with strong ties to Mexico.

Mm. I would wholly support that movement though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:51 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Basically it feels like the west accidentally forced Russia into an existential crisis

There have a lot of these accidents and mishaps resulting in existential crises over the past few years, notably the Arab Spring and the fiasco of the chemical weapons and the "red line."
posted by Nevin at 8:52 PM on August 28


There are power plays on both sides, as the US wants to discredit and isolate a Russia that has proven unwilling to be a vassal state, and Russia wants to re-establish its power base regionally.

Which is great in a nicely theoretical "Great Game" sense. But on a regional level? If I were the leadership of the Baltic states, I'd be having some quiet, urgent talks with Iran and North Korea.

With Russia showing a willingness to invade to gain territory and "protect" Russian speakers (and their local heavy industry), local nations are going to take as extreme measures to protect their territory as they feel necessary.
posted by happyroach at 9:16 PM on August 28


I'm wondering what all the people on Metafilter who were cheerleading the Euromaidan unrest thought was going to happen? Overthrowing someone who to all appearances was democratically elected because you don't like his policies isn't generally a good thing even if it has a cool name and there are neat photographs on Instagram.
posted by Justinian at 10:59 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


...who to all appearances was democratically elected...

I am painfully underinformed about this, but, having just been through a charade of general elections here in Hungary which may well appear to have been democractic (from a certain distance, anyway), I would treat that appearance with caution.
posted by holist at 11:36 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


I understand what you're saying but if we just decide we can't actually consider anyone honestly elected anymore so we might as well throw 'em out anyway... well... we're going to be in for a rough few decades.
posted by Justinian at 11:38 PM on August 28


And lo!, you have had a few rough decades. Remember, remember the chads of November.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


leotrotsky: "So why isn't partition the solution? Western Ukraine could strengthen ties to the EU, and eastern Ukraine could be the Russian satellite state that its residents seem to want. Problem solved, everyone gets to go home."

Sure if you are a Western or Eastern Ukrainian it's easy peasy. If you are just a Ukrainian though things are messy. Maybe your wife is from the east and you are from the west. Maybe even you have kids born both in the east and in the west. Dividing a fairly integrated country like this would be a fucking mess at the best of times let alone during a civil war or invasion.

Megafly: "When did we start granting people the right to choose what country their land is in?"

It's always been there see Yugoslavia and Canada for examples.
posted by Mitheral at 11:57 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Justinian, I'm not criticizing the democratic process as it occurs in countries with elections as such (not that I wouldn't, but this was not my point)... I think national elections are scattered on a scale from fairly honest to downright dishonest, and I am just wondering, having recently witnessed one from close up that is at the downright dishonest end (party obtains supermajority through pandering to the law-and-order and chauvinistic fantasies of an apathetic population, fixes the constitution by itself, fixes electoral law by itself - redrawing the electoral map, allowing their supporters in neighbouring countries to vote while making every effort to make it difficult for those who emigrated because of them - gets a supermajority again with something like 28% of the vote), where the 2010 Ukrainian elections fell on that state. Also, there's more to democracy than winning the elections, particularly when the ruling majority is opposed to a minority that is not much smaller...
On another note: I may have missed it, but has the trade war that Russia started against Ukraine in August 2013, when Ukraine was on the verge of signing a trade agreement with the EU, been mentioned? I'm sure it had a great deal to do with the revolution.
posted by holist at 12:28 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I've seen reports of Russian violations of European airspace - twice in Holland in the last few months, now reports of multiple incursions over Finnish airspace last week. Does anyone have a good round up of these? I know everyone's probing everyone all the time, shut up you know what I mean but is this more than the standard alertness testing or increased saber rattling?
posted by digitalprimate at 1:42 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Putin is expanding Russian territory because he can, and because he wouldn't so easily be able to later if Ukraine ever joined Nato. The Crimea was a sure thing (and the most important thing to Russia), and now he's seeing how far he can push things. Probably it will end with Russia incorporating the Russian-speaking provinces in the east into Russia or into a new Russian protectorate. Putin has no reason to give a rat's ass what everyone else on Earth says about it or him as long as Russia today and in the future is happy with these moves. The rest of the world, as always, will forget or at least learn to ignore it.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I've seen reports of Russian violations of European airspace [...] Does anyone have a good round up of these?

De Volkskrant wrote about this last week, providing a bit of context from the Dutch side. Translation mine:
Nowadays these airspace violations have become all but ritual, with the Tupolevs showing up several times a year. This is different from five years ago: before 2009 Russian planes did not penetrate other countries' airspace unannounced. [...] Publicly available sources show sixteen instances of unannounced Russian visits by air from 2009 onward. On average there are two incidents a year, peaking in 2011 with six Russian flights through Dutch airspace in that year.
I'm not entirely convinced it didn't happen at all anywhere before '09, but the article is unambiguous in the Dutch as well. I suppose it's possible "NATO members (in Europe)" was intended, I don't know.

Also, I can't divide 16 by the number of years since '09 any which way to get 2 either, I suppose it could be the "typical" or "modal" number although they did write "average". Either way this is the only article I've seen that mentions any numbers. No citation is given for the public sources.

The article also has this wry tidbit:
Aviators on both sides respond amicably [to the incidents], according to a source with relevant knowledge.
The gist of the article then seems to be that the violations are not seen as a credible military threat to NATO or Dutch national security but are good PR for Russia:
Considering the advantages to Russia we can expect continued Tupolev visits in the coming years. As long as the Russian displays of power continue to be reported by Western media it will remain appealing to Putin for propaganda reasons.
If that's the game we're playing, I guess if we finally get fed up with our uninvited guests we could call up Matthias Rust to see if he's up for another adventure.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:05 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I suppose, on thinking about this, that the US really is to blame. If Bush had not unilaterally destroyed Iraq and radically destabilized the Middle East, the precedent wouldn't have been set and Putin wouldn't able to place himself in such "good" company.

Bush & Co. didn't do the world system any favors, but his actions were hardly historically unprecedented. Russian tanks were rolling over neighboring borders when Junior was still a Dennis-the-Menace-style menace.

Imagine if a bunch of Spanish speaking residents in southern Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California decided they wanted to break away from the US and form a new country with strong ties to Mexico.

Imagine if a bunch of rednecks in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi wanted to break away from the US and form a new country ... Oh snap no need to imagine ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:20 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering what all the people on Metafilter who were cheerleading the Euromaidan unrest thought was going to happen? Overthrowing someone who to all appearances was democratically elected because you don't like his policies isn't generally a good thing even if it has a cool name and there are neat photographs on Instagram.

I think the problem actually isn't that he was democratically elected. Assad wasn't, Qadaffi wasn't, Mubarak wasn't. I think the problem is that 'non-violent' revolutions aren't actually non-violent. At some point, government control needs to be established, and it's rare that the transition is handled so smoothly that there's no space for violent resistance movements to grow up.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


It's a little weird to see people talking about NATO expansion as a Western plot, when it was largely a matter of Eastern European countries enthusiastically petitioning to join NATO. Russia protested, yes, but that's because all those countries wanted to join NATO specifically so that Russia wouldn't do to them what it's doing to Ukraine. The West was not undermining and humiliating Russia, that was being done by all the countries that Russia had invaded.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:13 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


I certainly don't agree with Russia's actions, but I have to admire their strategy which strongly utilizes misdirection and confusion. The aiding of the rebels, the "un-affiliated" special-force soldiers, and just the general slow-motion of their action seems to have confounded Europe/NATO/US. And, my personal favorite, the "aide convoy" - I hope whichever FSB or Kremlin strategist/group that came-up with that gets one hell of a dacha.

Of course holding and pacifying territory is harder than invading (just ask the US), and I have no expertise in military strategy, but I have a feeling people will be studying this for years to come.
posted by rosswald at 7:22 AM on August 29


all those countries wanted to join NATO specifically so that Russia wouldn't do to them what it's doing to Ukraine.

I'm sure there are still many in those countries who envision a pan-European political/economic/military bloc under the leadership of a strong Western nation that would protect them from Russia. Once more unto the breach?
posted by No Robots at 7:39 AM on August 29


I certainly don't agree with Russia's actions, but I have to admire their strategy which strongly utilizes misdirection and confusion. The aiding of the rebels, the "un-affiliated" special-force soldiers, and just the general slow-motion of their action seems to have confounded Europe/NATO/US. And, my personal favorite, the "aide convoy" - I hope whichever FSB or Kremlin strategist/group that came-up with that gets one hell of a dacha.

If you think any of that has been confounding, you may need to re-examine your estimation of the intelligence of about everyone. It's definitely been very ballsy, but at no one point has anyone ever said, "Well obviously, it's not Russia behind this!" For the sake of politics and foreign policy, the governments have pretty much remained quiet trying to work things out out of the spotlight. It's a lot easier to let Putin visibly off the hook, if he backs down, by the draw down not being photographs and statements of Russian soldiers in Russian uniforms with Russian flag patches hanging their heads and going home without their prize.

If anything, Russia's actions have been the most transparent of any aggressive force outside of the American military literally landing in someone's backyard guns a blazing.
posted by Atreides at 7:43 AM on August 29


It's a little weird to see people talking about NATO expansion as a Western plot, when it was largely a matter of Eastern European countries enthusiastically petitioning to join NATO.

The commentary you are referencing isn't about Poland or the Baltics joining NATO. Both Georgia and Ukraine both had "revolutions" (the Rose Revolution in Georgia, and both the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan in Ukraine) in which foreign-funded NGOs played a very critical part, and which tended to create pro-NATO governments where previous governments had been aligned toward Russia. Again, this is all big-power statecraft. You're never going to get anywhere if you take either side without an awfully large grain of salt.
posted by graymouser at 7:48 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Ukraine to seek Nato membership, says PM Yatsenyuk

Ukraine: Russia's new art of war - "In Ukraine, Russia has again taken up a club. But Moscow's intervention in recent months is more than just an opportunistic ploy. In its scale, the covert war in Crimea and the Lugansk and Donetsk regions has set a high watermark in the art. It has laid bare the weakness of Nato's ossified military deterrent – the centrepiece of international security order that was supposed to be hardening, not weakening. And it has become a lightning rod for a debate about the future of conflict. Nato refers to this form of conflict as 'hybrid war'. The phrase refers to a broad range of hostile actions, of which military force is only a small part, that are invariably executed in concert as part of a flexible strategy with long-term objectives."

time for China to start its annual fall custom of burning down Japanese factories and inciting riots

also btw, re: getting ready for the great game...
China's territorial disputes: "From the Himalayas to the Pacific, China's territorial claims worry its neighbours."

posted by kliuless at 7:49 AM on August 29


Putin is expanding Russian territory because he can, and because he wouldn't so easily be able to later if Ukraine ever joined Nato. The Crimea was a sure thing (and the most important thing to Russia), and now he's seeing how far he can push things.

Putin needs a land bridge to Crimea. Supplying the entire peninsula by water is a nightmare. Crimea gets all of its water and probably gas piped through Ukraine. I expect this is why he has attacked southward. Poroshenko and Putin met just a few days ago and I've seen odd tweets indicating that Poroshenko wants to continue talks and that the "situation" in the east is being managed. Not quite the Russia-Ukraine War as the biggest confrontation in Europe since WWII rhetoric we're seeing from outside. Maybe it will remain as a frozen conflict, unless Poroshenko gives up "Novorossya."

Here Are Putin's Five Most Likely Battlefield Objectives In Ukraine

Russia Checking Its Bomb Shelters

By the way, does anyone know any good resources on bomb shelters and what to do in the case of a nuclear strike?
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:25 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


"Bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye."

cannot remember who said that
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:33 AM on August 29




Ukraine: Russia's new art of war

Predictably, the most lucid exposition of the concept is Russian. In February 2013, Valery Gerasimov, the newly appointed chief of Russia’s general staff, penned an article in the Russian defence journal VPK.

War and peace, Mr Gerasimov wrote, in remarks that now seem prophetic, are becoming more blurred.

“Methods of conflict,” he wrote, have changed, and now involve “the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military measures”. All of this, he said, could be supplemented by firing up the local populace as a fifth column and by “concealed” armed forces.


Link
posted by Nevin at 8:37 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Here Are Putin's Five Most Likely Battlefield Objectives In Ukraine

That's another good link.
posted by Nevin at 8:49 AM on August 29




It's important to note that Putin's quality of life will be in no way affected, and that's the only thing that matters. For the rest of still digging out from six years of economic clusterfuck... JPMorgan Sees ‘Lehman Moment’ If Ukraine Deteriorates
posted by Nevin at 10:22 AM on August 29


I'm wondering what all the people on Metafilter who were cheerleading the Euromaidan unrest thought was going to happen?

Okay, against Western military intervention is one thing, but now protests are bad too? So everyone should just sit at home and do nothing?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:49 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


An Op-Ed. sure to be a hit here on Mefi:

WSJ - The Assembly of a New World Order: The concept that has underpinned the modern geopolitical era is in crisis - by Henry Kissinger
posted by rosswald at 11:14 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


From the Kissinger piece:
For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security.
Precisely.
posted by No Robots at 11:32 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I thought realpolitik was supposed to ignore both universal principles and regional specifics.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:39 AM on August 29


Via rosswald's link:

The penalty for failing will be not so much a major war between states (though in some regions this remains possible) as an evolution into spheres of influence identified with particular domestic structures and forms of governance. At its edges, each sphere would be tempted to test its strength against other entities deemed illegitimate. A struggle between regions could be even more debilitating than the struggle between nations has been.

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

It's an interesting piece, albeit one written by someone who has some shared responsibility for the current state of affairs. Kissinger's career in both the public and private sector has been defined by using whatever means available to spread "free markets" to countries with natural resources to exploit. Putin wants to run an authoritarian state independent from multinational corporate interests that want unfettered access to energy resources he controls. Western influence and control over Ukraine and Ukrainian energy routes further weaken his position.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:41 AM on August 29


I think the problem is that 'non-violent' revolutions aren't actually non-violent.

Especially when GRU and SBU snipers are murdering protesters. In Ukraine Yanuchovic decided to reject the EU and join the "Eurasian Union," which was looking more and more like the new USSR, against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the country. The protesters did not demand Yanuchovic's ouster until after he started killing people. And the primary demands of the protesters were noble: more rule of law and less corruption, though this was mixed with right wing nationalism. Of course a large portion of the country was not in favor of confronting Russia too forcefully because they thought it would just end up getting a lot of people tortured and killed. And they were right. Putin will probably end up massacring tens of thousands, and the Ukrainian "ATO" forces are not innocent either.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:10 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


The Kissinger article is great, but it would have been nice of him to provide his own opinions on these questions:
To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:07 PM on August 29


Kissinger does not dare give his opinion on the answer to those questions because when he says "we" what he means is him and Obama and Bush and their 2000 closest friends.
posted by bukvich at 1:09 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Here Are Putin's Five Most Likely Battlefield Objectives In Ukraine
With maybe two more to consider?

Putin needs a land bridge to Crimea.
That'll take a LOT of fighting and holding on the part of Mother Russia, especially with Ukraine considering offering "Partisan 101" training to residents.
posted by MILNEWSca at 1:20 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Ukraine to seek Nato membership, says PM Yatsenyuk

Your insurance claim has been denied on the basis of pre-existing condition.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


Anne Applebaum wrote about this in Slate. Because she is married to the Polish Foreign Minister I'm going to assume that this is part of a push for more aggressive NATO action.
posted by humanfont at 2:26 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


The XX committee: The Russo-Ukrainian War.
John Schindler says "Putin is playing va banque now, his two options are a quick win in the southeast of Ukraine or a protracted conflict: backing down is not an option in the Kremlin anymore, and only naive Westerners think it is."
posted by Kabanos at 7:48 PM on August 29


Your insurance claim has been denied on the basis of pre-existing condition.

Seriously though, while NATO applicant nations (or whatever theyre called) are strongly encouraged to settle any territorial disputes before joining, it is not an automatically disqualifying factor. Regardless, Ukraine will not become a NATO member any time very soon, if ever. But it is clearly indicating that it intends to become strongly NATO-oriented, and not a neutral, non-aligned state as Russia (and seemingly Germany) would prefer.
posted by Kabanos at 8:01 PM on August 29


Praising Rebels, Putin Toughens Tone on Ukraine
The military commandant of the town, who offered only his nickname, Svet, said the soldiers there were with the Army of Novorossiya, rather than either of the main separatist groups, the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.

The militiamen flew the flag of “Novorossiya” or New Russia, a reference to Russia’s historical claims over the area in southeast Ukraine that encompasses the rebellious Donetsk and Luhansk regions along with much of southern Ukraine.

In his statement on the Kremlin website, Mr. Putin referred to the “Novorossiya Militia,” pointedly using the reference to the broader area.

“Now we are fighting for all of southeastern Ukraine, for Novorossiya, which was historically a Russian province,” said Svet, interviewed outside an auto repair shop he had set up as a command post. “We plan to take Mariupol.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:45 PM on August 29


The fact Canada has no military or diplomatic juice to counter it with any effectiveness means they can talk tough without any expectation that they'll back it up.

Well, yeah. PM Harper represents the Alberta Oil-businesses more than he actually represents the nation of Canada as an entity. It's his job to just yell at Putin, without actually, um, trying to invade Russia or something. So more strife in Ukraine drives up global oil prices, and he'll just cash in.
posted by ovvl at 10:40 PM on August 29


Putin and the ‘Good Hitler’
Andranik Migranyan is a seasoned Kremlin hand. A former member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, a cavalier of the presidentially bestowed Order of Honor, he currently heads the New York office of the so-called Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a Russian GONGO created on the initiative of Vladimir Putin in 2007 (it also has an office in Paris).

Rather than attempting to refute the parallel between Putin and Hitler, Migranyan actually embraces it—with an added twist. "We should distinguish between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939, and separate chaff from grain,” he writes. “The fact is that while Hitler was gathering German lands; if he… were known only for uniting, without a single drop of blood, Germany with Austria, Sudetenland with Germany, Memel [the German name for Klaipeda] with Germany, in effect achieving what Bismarck could not; and if Hitler stopped at that, he would be remembered in his country’s history as a politician of the highest order.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:46 PM on August 29


Inside Putinworld
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:57 PM on August 29


Some of my Finnish friends have been linking to this comedy sketch from the 80s about Russian incursions into Finnish airspace (you'll need to turn captions on unless you understand Finnish).
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on August 30


I'm thunderstruck by the "both sides are wrong; the truth is somewhere in the middle" talk that has been bouncing around lately. Ukraine has been invaded by a great power with intent not just to grow influence but to either create a client state or annex outright. While talk of "spheres of influence" and historic precedent can be used descriptively, I've also seen them used as a way for us validate the Russian actions (if not outright apologize for them).

The Ukrainian government is flawed, no doubt about that, with systemic corruption and ethnic suppression. However, Russia is far more guilty of the same crimes, and no one proposes to invade Russia or to chop it up into puppet states for others to absorb, against the wishes of the Russians.

I would say Russia's actions are unprecedented, but one hundred years ago, they'd fit right in. It's okay to be cautious of news without outright disbelieving it because it tells you something that doesn't fit into the paradigm that you're used to. Refusing to give Ukraine, Europe, or the US any benefit of the doubt is giving Russia carte blanche with an overt invasion.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:05 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Well ...I didn't realise so many Americans fall for propaganda so easily !
The situation is far more complex

No talk of the Right Sector, Slovoboda neo-nazi militias ?
These people are not only fighting civilians in the Donbass they are in the Ukranian government
The massacre in Odessa anyone ?
Fracking in the Donbass, VP Biden's son on the board of a major oil company in the Ukraine ?

Not surprisingly the people in the Donbass held a referendum because they didn't want to be part of a country where neo-nazis fascists are in power, the Russian language was to be prohibited, the communist party has been forbidden
they were openly treated by the new govt as "low life etc, they didn't want their land exploited by Monsanto, Big Oil etc

So they were called terrorists and Kiev has spent the last few months bombing people and civilian infrastructure

Luckily their Russian brothers helped them
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 9:56 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]




let's not forget CIA involvement in the Ukraine for the last 30 years
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 10:11 AM on August 30


Right Sector is dangerous and ultra-right. But (a) does that give Moscow the right to conquer Eastern Ukraine and (b) does conquering Novorussiya have anything to do with countering Right Sector's influence in Kiev?

Fracking is (probably) bad. But does that give Putin the right to conquer east Ukraine? Like Gazprom won't be fracking? As far as I can tell, Putin is just mad because the fracking might upset Russia's dominance of the european energy markets. He wants the natural gas all for his own oligarchs and not the West's oligarchs.

Is any of that a reason to launch a bonafide, tanks and guns shooting war in Europe? That's really the issue here.
posted by dis_integration at 10:17 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


It's just like in 2003 when people were like: but Saddam Hussein and the Baathists are so terrible! Let's murder them all and destroy the stability of the middle east! The right wingers in Ukraine are so terrible, let's murder them all and upset the balance of Europe!
posted by dis_integration at 10:19 AM on August 30


For the time being the "New World Order" of the last 25 years is over. One wonders why Barrosso is making bellicose statements when, for the longest time, Angela Merkel has been the lead on trying to negotiate with Putin.

The stakes are pretty high. I haven't felt like this since the 80's.
posted by Nevin at 10:22 AM on August 30




In early August, the UNHCR reported some 730,000 Ukrainian citizens fled to Russia since the overthrow of the Ukrainian government earlier this year. Today the number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia is estimated at around 820,000. According to the latest report by the FMS (Russian INS equivalent), more than 130,000 Ukrainians have applied for official refugee status. Some 78,000 Ukrainian refugees applied for temporary visas. An additional 33,000 Ukrainians have submitted Russian citizenship applications and more than 22,000 Ukrainians are seeking a permanent resident status. So much for Russian "invasion."
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 10:29 AM on August 30


What, like if the number of Russian soldiers who have gone to Ukraine minus the number of Ukranian civilians who have gone to Russia is less than zero, then Russia is not invading Ukraine?
posted by Flunkie at 10:33 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Another hoax currently making the rounds on Ukrainian TV is a video of what is claimed to be Russian BMDs (Armored Assault Vehicles). Of course they are neither BMDs nor Russian. These are three MT-LBs (an old Soviet general-purpose tracked vehicle usually used as a tractor to pull various heavy things through mud). One of these vehicles is a unique MT-LB6MA with a turret from a BTR-80 APC. Only a few such vehicles have been assembled in the early 1990s by Russia's "Muromteplovoz" jointly with Ukraine's Kharkov Tractor Works.

Pressured by ultra-nationalists in Kiev, Poroshenko made an impossible promise to end the eastern uprising exclusively by military means. Predictably, things did not go his way. After a few days of retreat, the separatists forces regrouped around Mariupol in the south-east and launched a well-coordinated counter-attack, taking back several key towns from the government forces.

And something funny. The BBC has revealed the only visual piece of evidence of purported Russian tanks in Ukraine. Just one suspected Russian tank. Someone named Joseph Dempsey from something called IISS (not ISIS) claims to have positively identified a tank on a video (taken by someone somewhere in Ukraine at some time) as a T-72BM that supposedly cannot exist in Ukraine (which manufactures and exports T-72s of many models in large numbers).
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 10:34 AM on August 30


Most of the sanctions imposed by the US will have the greatest negative effect on the trade balances and economies of the Euro region. The US achieves two parallel aims: constricting the economic freedom of the RF and undermining the economic strength of the euro states.
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 10:38 AM on August 30


It's obvious that most here are pretty cynical of the US, EU, and NATO, but if you want it to look like you're not taking the Russian nationalist stance, it might help if you're not directly quoting Russian nationalist sources as you are here. We went through this in a previous thread, so if you've got anything more reliable than RT-type news and random bloggers it might help your case, but otherwise your accusations of propaganda are pretty hypocritical.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:51 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Also, it might help not to outline reasons why it's in Russia's interest to invade Ukraine, and then deny the possibility that Russia might be interested in invading Ukraine.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:00 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Moscow has repeatedly called for an end to the violence and a resumption of negotiations, but each request has been rebuffed by Obama's puppet in Kiev leading to another round of hostilities.

Anyone who has been following the conflict knows that the Washington-backed junta in Kiev has waged a war against its own people in the East, and that they've been bombing hospitals, schools, libraries, apartments, public buildings, residential areas, etc., all in an effort to drag Putin into a war that will sabotage EU-Moscow economic integration and further US interests in the area. It's all geopolitics, every bit of it. Remember the pivot to Asia? This is what it looks like in real time.
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 11:00 AM on August 30


So it is okay for scotland to have a referendum on having it's own country, but it is not okay for the people of eastern ukraine, and nor was it for crimea ?

this must be based on the idea of ukraine nationalism defined as intolerance of all things russian and encouraged by the western media and leadership.

how could large chunks of russian speaking ukraine ever agree to this sort of nationalism ?
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 11:03 AM on August 30


hopefulmidlifer: I presume you read Russian—otherwise why would you be parroting the Kremlin line so faithfully?—so here are some links for you from Anatoly Vorobey, who's been doing yeoman work at counteracting disingenuous Kremlin/apologist bullshit: 1, 2, 3. I doubt it will do any good, since you're pretty clearly impervious to input that doesn't fit your beliefs, but just for the record.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on August 30 [12 favorites]






We've had this for weeks, Poroshenkos 'ghost' column of annihilated APCs .. no pics, no video .. its the same thing over and over again .. completely unsubstantiated claims .. its the 21st century everybody has phone cams and we haven't seen ANY troops, any Russian APCs, any Russian tanks

There ARE Russian volunteers, absolutely, as there are French, Spanish volunteers with the russian speakers
as there are US 'special advisers' in Kiev ..
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 11:55 AM on August 30


its the 21st century everybody has phone cams and we haven't seen ANY troops, any Russian APCs, any Russian tanks

Funny that you mention that: Russia's army is so brazen they painted this tank with the name of its Ukrainian target
The latest neon-lit "we are invading Ukraine and not even trying to hide it" moment came on Friday, when someone in the Russian border region of Rostov took a video of a Russian T-72 tank being trucked through town. That in itself might not be so damning — Russian tanks have been massing at the Ukrainian border for months — were it not for the fact that Russian troops had painted "For Donbass" on the side of the tank.

Donbass is the region of eastern Ukraine where Russian troops are invading to bolster Russia-backed separatist rebels.

It's difficult to overemphasize just how brazen that is. It would be as if the US invaded Mexico, insisted that it was definitely not invading Mexico, and then 10 days into the invasion someone photographed an M-1 Abrams tank in San Diego with the words "For Tijuana" written in giant letters on the side.

The discovery was made by Russian-language Twitter use Timur Khorev, who even identified a distinctive Rostov restaurant in the background of the video to verify the location.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:17 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Russians start asking: are we at war?
A Nato official said on 28 August that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were serving with separatists in Ukraine. The head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Valentina Melnikova, said the number was as high as 15,000. And Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, admitted that there were members of the Russian military serving with the rebels, though he said they had come during their “vacations.”
...

Families of soldiers still unaccounted for fear the worst. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Ella Polyakova, a member of Putin’s advisory council on human rights, who so far has been unsuccessful in using official channels to gather information. “People are demanding answers – where are their sons?”
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:29 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]






HopefulMidlifer, I just want to understand your position on this. Are there actual Russian army units under Russian command in Ukraine?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:38 PM on August 30


I love how easy it is to identify the Russian propagandist. So easy that it's just silly.

I wish it were easier to identify the West's propagandists.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]




Luckily their Russian brothers helped them

This is the stuff! Haven't heard anything like this since the glory days of Beloved and Respected Comrade Premier Khrushchev.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:11 PM on August 30 [8 favorites]


FWIW - Couple of former Oil Drummers chiming in on the energy dynamic of the Ukraine/Russia conflict (and more): posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:31 PM on August 30


@DarthPutinKGB: I'm not in this vodka bar. That's not your vodka bottle i stole. I didn't just break an empty bottle over your head. That's not you bleeding.

That's the right idea. There is only one way to deal with this ego maniacal Supreme Leader. Do not show fear, laugh in his face. Release a Presidential Statement that subtly references his height and start referring to his incursion in inches. Then, get Pussy Riot to NY for an International Music Festival of some sort and help them defect. Those females can taunt him to distraction like no other. Merkel is obviously impressed with his acts of machismo.
posted by Emor at 3:58 PM on August 30


I love how easy it is to identify the Russian propagandist. So easy that it's just silly.

In this thread? I don't read any propaganda here. It's just a point of view that happens to be orthogonal to typical MetaFilter sensibilities.

As the Kissinger quote above says, we're in a new era:

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security.
posted by Nevin at 4:27 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


So, if this is Russia months after hosting the Olympics, god knows what Putin has planned for after the World Cup.

This is my theory exactly. His old school mentality was fed back to the time of the Greeks. Give the guy a stage and he thinks he rules the world. On March 2nd (all pre-Crimea) of this year this succession of events caught my eye:

I heard terms like extricate and evacuate Americans, if necessary. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill language in the run-up to an Olympics.

And this: Hopefully a cloaked maneuver to be well positioned in the Black Sea.

And Putin deciding it is time to make a surprise visit to Cuba.

And then of course, the passing of the torch once again at the FIFA (can't forget them) World Cup closing ceremonies Merkel and Putin flanking the FIFA and Brazilian Presidents.
posted by Emor at 4:51 PM on August 30


Media = Propaganda, period; always has and always will on some level. To view ANY type of media differently is naive. The best we can hope for is that Free Speech gives us a modicum of room to view it as such.
posted by Emor at 5:08 PM on August 30


I think there is a growing sentiment in the US foreign policy establishment that soft power will not work in this circumstance. The view is that Putin is a bully and he will only back down if his nose is bloodied. Obama and NATO will have a very big decision to make. Does he follow the lead of thd establishment or does he block it and try to use soft power for longer. Does he have John Kerrry create an out with an ill timed remark like he did with Syria last year?

There might be no right answer, the outcomes are uncertain and each option could lead to wwiii. Show force now and Russia might back off, or it might escallate. Use soft power measures and Russia might decide that the west won't ever respond militarily. This could make Russia more agressive. Back down and partition Ukraine and then prepare for the next crisis, hope Putin is satisfied.
posted by humanfont at 5:54 PM on August 30


The EU has set a firm deadline: If Russia does not withdraw within the week the EU will make more disgruntled noises!

Surely this will stop the Russian Bear.
posted by Justinian at 6:20 PM on August 30


Also an important detail in the background to Maidan is how Yanukovych greatly expanded his power, at the parliament's expense, beyond the conditions in which he was elected. Several judges in Ukraine's constitutional court resigned under pressure from Yanukovych's executive, including timely lawsuits against one judge's family members, after which the remaining court repealed amendments that had limited the president's power.

It was under such conditions that Yanukovych made his u-turn on the EU deal. I don't recall the news from that period mentioning him having to consult the parliament on his decision.
posted by Anything at 6:28 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Appeal of Polish intellectuals to the citizens and governments of Europe
For the first time in history, the citizens of a country were dying under bullets with the European flag in their hands. If Europe does not show any solidarity with them now, it will mean that the ideals of liberty and fraternity inherited from the French Revolution no longer mean anything to it.
posted by Anything at 6:39 PM on August 30




It would be insane for NATO to respond militarily against Russia unless Russia directly attacks a NATO country. It could provide weapons and support to Ukraine to defend itself, but only if things got much worse, imo. The primary focus should be on some sort of arrangement with Putin that prevents violence. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems Putin is demanding nuclear brinksmanship as the only legitimate method of negotiation, but there are few encouraging things happening:

Poroshenko and Putin made a deal today where Poroshenko released Russian paratroopers in exchange for letting Ukrainian forces, possibly the "Donbas battalion," escape encirclement. However, Putin betrayed Poroshenko and shelled them in the supposedly safe corridor, killing hundreds. Still it is interesting that these lines of communication remain open.

There seems to be a possibility that Poroshenko and Putin allow each other to go after the volunteer battalions because neither trust them.

Akhmetov is probably the key to finding a peaceful solution. Both sides need to be able to declare victory if there's to be a peaceful solution. Putin wants a Novorossiya connecting Russia to Crimea and to buffer it from Europe, that he could possibly annex eventually. There are cities in this "Novorossiya" - Odessa, Kharkiv, Mariupol - that Ukraine will probably not let go of without war and that probably prefer to be in Ukraine not "Novorossiya." Maybe Akhmetov could arrange for a "federalization" of the region with an eventual vote to secede - many years in the future - provided Russia withdraws back to its border.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:27 PM on August 30


And, my view of the current situation: Russia's invasion, and its months-long cultivation of utter barbarism in Eastern Ukraine are disgusting, and if Ukrainians are courageous enough to resist it -- they are -- the rest of us have the obligation to supply them with replacements for spent ammunition and destroyed equipment.
posted by Anything at 7:31 PM on August 30


Replacing lost equipment perhaps. The problem is going to far with that could provoke a bigger response from Putin and a proxy war that "we" do not want. By not doing to much in Ukraine, NATO forces Putin to use salami slicing tactics to prevent a response which is probably a good thing.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:39 PM on August 30


I've gotten the impression that Putin would actually have serious difficulty selling a protracted full-scale war to his public -- against Ukraine, of all countries. The Kremlin propaganda machine has had no trouble maintaining a story about a 'Kiev junta', up to this point, but in a major war the public would have to face the reality of the remarkable unity that has emerged among the Ukrainian public against Putin's invasion. So many Russians and Ukrainians are, literally, family. I don't see how the propaganda can hold in such a situation.
posted by Anything at 7:57 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


As the Kissinger quote above says, we're in a new era

I didn't read Kissinger as saying we are in a new era, but that the current era is in crisis, and we need to define what we're willing to do to try to preserve it at least for most of the planet.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:59 PM on August 30


So let's play with that. We know Putin doesn't have to sell ANYTHING to his public. Thank god for family ties and human to human relationships; it gives us some hope. But, what is driving Putin as a human? We are playing directly into his hand to want to "pick his brain". He believes his intellect is so much more developed and advanced than the rest of ours that he can stay 40 moves ahead. What moves and motivates this person as a human? Is he an insanely alcoholic sadistic masochist who is unknowable, randomly acting with his ego as his ONLY guide? Is he following the history of his ancestors? Both? As individuals we, you and me, cannot send arms to anyone. (And, btw, the Right Sector seems to me to be the only ones with enough cajones to lay down their lives, pick up arms and fight for their country...I am sure their women and children appreciate this.) But what can we do, here, collectively? Because on a macro scale we know and feel something is not right here. Let's use our collective micro experiences to get to the heart of what that something is. We aren't policy or decision makers on a world scale, but we are PEOPLE all the same.
posted by Emor at 8:16 PM on August 30


There are tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers laying their lives on the line not just "Right Sector."

Garry Kasparov: It’s a War, Stupid!
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:28 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Well, it would seem that Putin wants to devastate and humiliate the Ukrainian nation for attempting to secure rule of law, freedom of speech and honest elections -- so as to not let his own public get any ideas.
posted by Anything at 8:31 PM on August 30


Right, so as Gary Kasparov touted from the beginning "Banks not Tanks". Except Merkel and London wouldn't go for it; not in the least. Why not? Money and self-righteous privilege...you know, ego. So, tell me Gary, what sanctions would speak to the Russian "people" NOW...you know those "people" whom you now say hold so much sway over Putin? I would really like to know. Because six months ago it was the Oligarchs who owned him and now it is, as a last resort, it's his "people"? Give me a break. The last time these world policy makers, or people with "privilege" (including Kasparov at this point?) thought about "people", could even relate to people, was....never. I appreciate Kasparov's attempts, but the right people aren't listening to him...so how much does his opinion really matter? About as much as mine.
posted by Emor at 8:57 PM on August 30


Same old story. EU set to tighten Russia sanctions 'within a week'...

Angel Merkel says EU leaders are united in avoiding a military solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Russia was "practically in a war against Europe".
She said: "We need to support Ukraine, and send military materials to help Ukraine defend itself. Today Ukraine is fighting a war on behalf of all Europe."

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the EU faced "a completely unacceptable situation of having Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. Consequences must follow if that situation continues".

...But Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said the "jury is still out" on whether sanctions had worked...
posted by Emor at 9:25 PM on August 30


Markets hate uncertanty. In terms of maximizing short term impacts it is better to say that a number of unspecified sanctions will be enacted next week instead of announcing sanctions immediately. The market usially over-reacts to a rumor and then adjusts the other way when facts are known.
posted by humanfont at 9:35 PM on August 30


But, the Slovakian PM threatens to veto new sanctions.

The Minsk summit was a disastrous farce, and new sanctions are to get blocked? Where does that leave Merkel's path of no military support -- from here on, we do exactly nothing at all?
posted by Anything at 9:35 PM on August 30


Can even Merkel live with that?
posted by Anything at 9:36 PM on August 30


Everything I've read suggests strongly that Ukrainians are not going to give up. Poroshenko will face hell if he tries. The war is there whether we want it to or not -- but Europe can decide whether we plan to leave Ukrainians with a bitter sense of betrayal, or not.
posted by Anything at 9:40 PM on August 30


Is he an insanely alcoholic sadistic masochist who is unknowable, randomly acting with his ego as his ONLY guide?

From his behaviour, that sounds like a relatively accurate analysis, yes. Or perhaps to shave it a little finer: someone who is unable or unwilling to honestly and objectively evaluate the long-term ramifications of their decisions.

I am sure their women and children appreciate this

This statement buys into the patriarchalist bullshit. Women and children are not people to be owned or to automatically weep and cover themselves with ashes when the strong menfolk go off to war. 'Loved ones' is perhaps a more appropriate way to frame the same sentiment without buying into what should be outmoded views of gender essentialism. I'm not attacking you here; I'm quite certain it was an unconscious language choice. We all internalize a hell of a lot more oppressive ugliness than we are ever comfortable at really examining. Self included; not throwing stones from a glass house.

All that being said, I don't believe anything will actually be done 'on the ground' in a tanks-and-bullets sense to prevent Russia from pulling this bullshit. Because to do so would be to potentially assassinate Archduke Ferdinand all over again. And the only way I can stay (relatively) sane is to believe that the few people in the world with their fingers on big red buttons are smarter than I am and fundamentally do not want to push each other to that level of conflict.

So I think the endgame here is a bunch of diplomatic posturing about how "this is unacceptable" and similar tripe, because actual--what do they call it now?--kinetic action could set off an enormous powderkeg that could fuck us all.

tldr: Russia is going to get away with this. The only thing we can truly hope for is a latter-day Gorbechev to buck the system and introduce some global reality.

I'm fucking terrified, dunno about the rest of you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 PM on August 30


Everything I've read suggests strongly that Ukrainians are not going to give up.

It depends on what city. Donetsk, Luhansk, and maybe Kharkiv are probably not too hot on Kiev, and might not mind going with Russia. Mariupol is the big question, but there are rumors that Akhmetov has actually supported the DPR at times. He has provided tens of millions of dollars of actual aid to Donbas, and many people there would likely get behind him if he made an arrangement with Putin to end the conflict.

Odessa would fight, but maybe Putin would be willing to stop short of Odessa for the time being. I think the problem with Minsk is it is Putin and Poroshenko are too far apart and Putin is impossible to trust so how do they make an agreement? Maybe they could give Donbas autonomy from Kiev with Akhmetov basically in charge rather than Moscow.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:24 PM on August 30


No, I hear you re: woman and children. February 18, 2014 Kyiv

But, the people with their fingers on the red button are not smarter than us.

Putin has not taken the same course as some other (more) crazy leaders. Why does his line stop a little less crazy than theirs? Nuclear Weapons? Total world destruction? More land? Money and clout? Strong alliances? Do we not have defensive capabilities to combat a nuclear attack? Would it really be a free for all if that first red button got pushed? I have no idea. But Putin wants to have us all living in fear. That is his M.O. and he is succeeding, more and more each day. The more people in the world he can have scared of him, in his mind the better. What do Merkel, Cameron, and Obama know about Putin's motives/capabalities/alliances that we don't? Is it that the EU and US can't come to an agreement on how to deal with him?
posted by Emor at 10:30 PM on August 30


Quit beating around the bush and tell us already!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on August 30


I know, I wish.
posted by Emor at 11:12 PM on August 30




Do we not have defensive capabilities to combat a nuclear attack?

Uh, no? We don't?
posted by Justinian at 11:25 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I don't quite buy the idea that Putin *must* win in Ukraine or face political suicide at home. He just needs to be able to claim victory and people will forget and move on. He already gained Crimea after all. Christ, in the West we've already forgotten about MH17.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:29 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I thought this Washington Post op-ed by Anne Applebaum was arresting and well worth your time to read, especially for the quote from Alexander Dugin and discussion of maps of Novorossiya.

Unfortunately Anne doesn't translate the whole quote from Dugin, but my wife, who speaks Russian, did translate it for me. She confirmed the bit that was in the Post, and that it was in context, that the rest of Dugin's words were similar. My wife said it was "not very polite".
posted by newdaddy at 2:52 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]




But, the people with their fingers on the red button are not smarter than us.

I understand what you're saying, but I cannot accept this statement without inevitably ending up in a corner covered with a blanket, gibbering. Not even joking.

Why does his line stop a little less crazy than theirs?

The only person I can think of who is less rational than Putin (let's not throw around the word 'crazy' please; it's stigmatizing for those of us who live with mental illnesses) is Kim in DPRK. Which is rather a stark example of damning with faint praise.

Putin is an out of control bully. Unfortunately, he's an out of control bully with the ability to annihilate the planet, which insulates him from consequences. The only thing that gives me (scant) comfort is the hope that if push comes to shove, the generals won't obey such orders. It happened during the Cold War when there was a computer malfunction, I can only believe that it would happen today too. (Also in the USA. I really do believe if any US President gave that order, someone would simply refuse to carry it out.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:26 AM on August 31


Наши солдаты: a site gathering information about the Russian soldiers in Ukraine. (In Russian.)
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Well it's thoroughly depressing to see that my own analysis isn't an outlier. Now, as if we needed a third group trying to start World War III, the eschatostat takes another click to the right…

“Pakistan protesters clash with Islamabad police”, BBC News, 30 August 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:48 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Well, if we're keeping track of the eschatostat, China has also clicked it up a notch with its announcement that there will not be open nominations for the election of Hong Kong's new leader.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:55 AM on August 31


Arm Ukraine or Surrender - Ben Judah

Russian jets hit Ukraine artillery positions, media reports
There are also reports on twitter of one or two Ukrainian coast guard vessels sunk by Russian aircraft in the Sea of Asov.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:14 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Depending on nationalism and altruism is one way to go. Hillary was the first to say months ago that Putin was behaving like Hitler, and she said it with a smirk. This region has operated the same way for thousands of years. And yes, they are clinging to an all pervasive Patriarchal Form of society. And almost all of the guns and ammunition in that region are pushed and fired through the lens of ethnic cleansing. That is why Merkel started framing the crisis more vehemently in the last couple of weeks away from - Ukraine wants to be part of the EU not Russia - towards getting one word thru the trillions of bits of media/propaganda for the people of Russia to hear...PROGRESS. Ukraine wants progress. And after Georgia, Serbia, Croatia...and nearly all of history in that region, they will fight for it.

Believing one person is in charge of pushing a button is another. Pushing a button is one thing. Developing protocols in code behind the pushing of said button is a different framework. And those developers ARE smarter than us. Progress has given us a quantum leap in technological advances over the last several decades. So fast that holes in security are created: world leaders get intimately spied on and planes go missing. I believe the true war is a code war. The most impenetrable code that adapts the quickest and finds/exploits the holes of its enemies' code wins. Snowden is in Moscow. And he "arrived" well before the Olympics. To me, at this point an interesting question might be: Is Snowden a traitor or did Mr. KGB himself get p0wnd at his own game?
posted by Emor at 11:01 AM on August 31


I think NATO will be under pressure to fire some kind of warning shot in response. Perhaps send a few warships into Mariupol as part of a humanitarian mission. Or do a limited a covert set of airstrikes. Small enough that it can be denied, large enough to get the message across.
posted by humanfont at 11:44 AM on August 31


If they respond with anything it will be more sanctions. Maybe they could think about providing Ukraine with advanced weapons including AA systems.

Russian Neo-Nazis Fighting for Moscow in Ukraine, Ukrainian Jewish Leader Says
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:59 AM on August 31


Perhaps send a few warships into Mariupol as part of a humanitarian mission. Or do a limited a covert set of airstrikes.

Given Putin's belligerence, this would be a fantastically reckless and dangerous thing to do. I can only hope that the people in charge of deciding what to do recognize that. Putin's not going to back down if a bomb or two takes out a ship, and anyone who thinks so hasn't been paying attention, I think. I mean, near-universal condemnation from the world's media for providing the equipment that blew nearly 300 civilians out of the sky didn't, apparently, even faze him the tiniest bit.

He might pay attention if more or less the entire world starts treating Russia the way North Korea is treated, economically. Because that would actually threaten his power. Giving him the chance to flex his military muscles does the exact opposite.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:11 PM on August 31




Given Putin's belligerence, this would be a fantastically reckless and dangerous thing to do

Putin has demonstrated time and again that the only power he respects is the barrel of a gun. If we don't show him that we are willing to shoot back he is going to keep shooting. Doing nothing is also reckless.
posted by humanfont at 1:30 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]




Okay, so 'we' (NATO, I guess?) shoot back.

Do you honestly believe Putin will go "Oh, they lobbed a few plausibly deniable bombs at us, i guess I better stop"? Or is it more likely that he'll throw bigger bombs?

Come on.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:32 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Putin has demonstrated time and again that the only power he respects is the barrel of a gun. If we don't show him that we are willing to shoot back he is going to keep shooting. Doing nothing is also reckless.

This doesn't seem like something I would gladly send my two young sons off to die for. Also, this is an illustration of the West's profoundly weak position: a military "solution" will plunge Europe into a war. Putin has the advantage at the moment.
posted by Nevin at 1:34 PM on August 31


Putin will always have the advantage, because the rest of the world cannot afford (nor wants) another land war in Europe--especially with nukes on the table and someone apparently unstable enough to use them, AND because Europe needs Russian petro products.

The only way to make an effective stand is to bite a whole bunch of bullets and just cut Russia off economically. Given how poorly that will play with most of Europe (and, maybe, North America), no matter how much I think it should happen it won't.

End result: Putin gets away with whatever he wants, and the people of Ukraine suffer the brunt, because retaliation on a global scale could so easily lead to unthinkable consequences.

In more or less the exact same way nobody would do anything if the USA decided to annex some part of Mexico or Canada.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]




That article is fascinating to me on so many levels, Golden Eternity.
posted by Emor at 2:03 PM on August 31


My very real concern is that NATO will be forced to either act or admit that the Atlantic Charter isn't worth the paper it's printed on. At which point…
posted by ob1quixote at 2:07 PM on August 31


As are Facebook posts from the region, such as this public profile...

Oleksandr Danylyuk
August 29

Повідомлення у фейсбуці про пересування підрозділів, м'яко кажучи, не сприяє їхній безпеці.
Facebook messages about movement of units, to put it mildly, is not conducive to their security. (Translated by Bing)
posted by Emor at 2:21 PM on August 31


Russia can't afford a big European land war either. They are going to kerp pushing until they decide that it is a possibility. Then they will negotiate. It is the Nixonian madmab strategy all over again. This time Putin is playing Nixon. You'd think Kissinger would recognise it.
posted by humanfont at 3:34 PM on August 31


So... yeah. A possible NATO response...

That got me thinking...

Worldwide Deployments of Nuclear Weapons as of 2014 from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

About 1,800 warheads are on a high alert status.

Take it with a grain of salt... but here is the current break down for the Russian arsenal :
1. Land based Strategic Rocket Forces: 489 missiles carrying up to 1,788 warheads; they employ immobile (silos), like SS-18 Satan, and mobile delivery systems, like SS-27 Topol M.

2. Sea based Strategic Fleet: 12 submarines carrying up to 609 warheads; they should be able to employ, in a near future, delivery systems like SS-N-30 Bulava.

3. Strategic Aviation: 79 bombers carrying up to 884 cruise missiles.
The backbone of the American arsenal is the Minuteman III ICBM, and the Trident II D-5 SLBM. Numbers in a handy table can be found here. I have provided a break down from said table below :
1. Land based ICBM Force : 450 Minutemen III missiles equipped with 550 warheads. Various yields.

2. 12 Ohio class SSBN's deployed with Trident II D-5 SLBM : 288 missiles equipped with 1,152 warheads. Various yields.

3. Manned Strategic Bomber Force : 20 B-2 Spirit airframes, 93 B-52H Stratofortress airframes. 150 B61 variable yield bombs. 350 AGM-86 ALCM's.
The United Kingdom has 4 Vanguard class SSBN's... conveniently equipped with more Trident II D-5 SLBM's, 16 each. The U.K. uses an indigenous warhead design that's believed to be yield tunable. 160 warheads are confirmed to be deployed.

The French have 4 Triomphant class SSBN's the first three deployed with the M45 SLBM, the last with the more advanced M51 SLBM. 280 TN-75 warheads deployed. Maximum yield of 110 KT. France has also retained 20 TN 81 warheads for deployment via ALCM.

So...

Make no mistake... to be meaningful, a NATO response will need to be highly visible to ensure all member nations that it is a defensive pact of discernible merit and effective at neutralizing the threat potential of the Russian Federation towards member nations and eastern Europe at large.

In the past that was mostly in regards to halting the westward charge of Soviet tanks at the Fulda Gap... which would have meant a thermonuclear response, of an overwhelming degree.

I do not know what will stop the current westward push of Russian forces.

I wish the men, women, and children of Ukraine the best of luck. I know that they will fight to the best of their ability and will be brave in the face of what is coming.

I hope that public opinion of the people of the Russian Federation begins to shift now that open hostilities are clearly apparent in what we may now call the Russo-Ukranian War.

In the vein of and to honor Edward R. Murrow...

Good night and good luck.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 3:36 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


The US+EU have a combined GDP of something like 32 trillion dollars per year vs Russia's 2 trillion. Now add in Japan, South Korea, Ausrralia and Canada and it is close to 45 trillion. That is a tremendous advantage for the allies.
posted by humanfont at 4:30 PM on August 31


Sure, it's an advantage if you ignore much of Europe's dependency on Russian petro products and you've been smart enough to rule out military reaction.

Which is why I said bullets will have to be bitten if the rest of the world is actually serious about economic sanctions, and that such sanctions will not play well with the electorate, which means that they will never happen. (Part of me really wants to make the world adopt the jury pool model of politics; you get a notice in the mail telling you it's time to represent your ward/city/count/province/country.)

Prediction: the rest of the world will say some Very Stern Things. At the UN, Resolutions Will Be Drafted (and vetoed b/c Russia's permanent status on the Security Council). The odd sabre might be rattled.

But nobody, as in nobody, will react to this militarily other than Ukraine. Will. Not. Happen. The consequences of Russian retaliation against such action are too large.

Putin's going to get away with this. Which is a tragedy for Ukraine.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:45 PM on August 31


@NeinQuarterly:
Thank you for calling Russia.
To join, press 1.
To refuse, press 1.
To negotiate a cease-fire, please drop your weapons. Then press 1.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:16 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Putin has demonstrated time and again that the only power he respects is the barrel of a gun. If we don't show him that we are willing to shoot back he is going to keep shooting.

Except we aren't *and shouldn't be* willing to shoot back for a non-NATO member. Americans aren't gonna die for Ukraine.
posted by Justinian at 5:18 PM on August 31


If Ukraine is fighting for all of Europe, then Europe needs to pitch in with the most serious sanctions it can think of, or a NATO country will be the next one that Putin decides to take salami slices from. Enduring the collateral costs of sanctions is a lot cheaper than fighting a bear.
posted by newdaddy at 5:24 PM on August 31


There are no Salami slices with NATO countries. There's nothing and there's world war III.
posted by Justinian at 5:25 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Is anybody talking of NATO strikes? Ukrainians fight for themselves; what they need is equipment.
posted by Anything at 5:40 PM on August 31


Sending equipment to kill Russians is a little too Cold War.
posted by Justinian at 5:43 PM on August 31


I urge you not to base opinions on what sounds like an extremely vague historical analogy.
posted by Anything at 5:51 PM on August 31




Ukraine factories equip Russian military despite support for rebels

Why Some Ukrainian Defense Contractors Are Still Doing Business With Russia

Maybe Ukraine can buy a lot of what they need on the "open market," and possibly repurpose some of these factories. Is it not legal for US arms manufacturers to sell to Ukraine?
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:02 PM on August 31


There are no Salami slices with NATO countries. There's nothing and there's world war III.

And here we see why NATO's expansion was necessary, not as a provocation but as the only way to protect Eastern Europe from Russian invasion (once Putin or other hardliners gain power).

Maybe Kiev should preemptively secede from Donbas to allow the western portion of the country to join NATO. They probably lose a ton of their economy, but it's not realistic that they will wrest back Donbas and Crimea.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:16 PM on August 31


PLAN FOR ATTACKS OF THE RUSSIANS LEAKED TO OPEN ZELLO CHANNELS
On August 31, 2014 at 23:32 in “***Mariupol***” Zello channel we heard a very strange message. The message was voiced by a robot from GruBat1 account. The message sounds like an action plan of the Russian troops for the next few days. Some of the actions announced in the plan are already being implemented. The similar messages were announced on several other Zello channels. We cannot rule out a possibility that this could be an element of psychological warfare by the Russians but this could be a warning about their plans as well.
...
Transcription of the message:

Synchronization. Group A is to take Mariupol with the forces of two brigades not later than 03.09, the next target is Mangush, [take] not later than 04.09. [Launch] a secondary attack with the forces of two battalions supported by artillery is towards Volnovakha. Supporting landing supported by gunboats [goes] to the area of Illichivske. Synchronization.
...
No idea how real this might be. Probably not very.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:55 PM on August 31


Maybe Kiev should preemptively secede from Donbas to allow the western portion of the country to join NATO.

Others have said it but I agree with them: I don't think Russia could any more allow Ukraine (in whole or in part) to join NATO than the United States could have allowed Mexico to join the Warsaw Pact.
posted by Justinian at 12:37 AM on September 1


Several of Russia's neighbors already joined NATO and that was no disaster to Russia.
posted by Anything at 8:00 AM on September 1


Crimean Tatars' Headquarters Vandalized in Simferopol
"The night caretaker saw an unknown person kick in the front door of the building around 2 a.m. Monday and then flee. When the caretaker walked out of the building, she then saw that obscene signs had been drawn on the building, as well as something resembling a target," Akiyev was reported as saying.
posted by Anything at 9:52 AM on September 1




Putin Ends the Interregnum
Meanwhile, Russia itself faces a conundrum of its own. By attempting to shift Russia backward to an older civilizational model, Putin has already inflicted a deep strategic defeat on his country. His efforts to turn Russia back to the “Besieged Fortress” model will only rob Russia of its chance to become a modern society. Moreover, Putin has also unleashed forces he can’t hope to contain, thus accelerating the agonizing decay of his own regime. Nevertheless, though he has lost the battle with history, Putin has been moving from one tactical victory to the next by forcing the West to constantly react and try to accommodate his reckless behavior.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:29 AM on September 1


Thank you for the links, Golden Eternity.
posted by Emor at 12:06 PM on September 1




Several of Russia's neighbors already joined NATO and that was no disaster to Russia.

I think it's likely that after Ukraine is conquered, the rest of the Baltic states will also be targeted. After all, many of them have Russian minorities that need to be "protected (along with associated heavy industry).

I wonder, when the Russian military starts massing on the borders of Lithuania and Estonia, will the argument still be "Well, the US wouldn't accept blahblahblah.."? How about when Russia starts making demands of Poland? Will that tired false comparison still be made?
posted by happyroach at 1:24 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


The Baltics are part of both the EU and NATO. Putin would have to be either crazy or stupid to attack any of them. I'm not saying its impossible that he is crazy or stupid but there doesn't seem to be a lot of evidence for it.
posted by Justinian at 1:35 PM on September 1


(My previous link was a duplicate from Kabanos. Sorry about that. It is a good companion article to Kissinger's.)

Well the Baltics are already in NATO, and perhaps that will deter Putin for the time being. I don't think he would invade there unless he felt NATO was too weak to respond, which isn't the case yet. Perhaps Ukraine or any portion of it wouldn't ever get accepted into NATO without Putin first fully invading the country and reinstalling Yanuchovic. This being the case, maybe the best thing the West can do is stand in full opposition to Putin, refusing to recognize Crimea or Novorossiya and placing ever larger sanctions on his regime if he extends the invasion. Maybe the West could also facilitate Ukraine's acquisition of weapons for defensive purposes. In the meantime they need to form a strategy to reinforce NATO and defend against further incursions against self-determination in Eastern Europe or elsewhere.

As far as Ben Judah's recommendation, Ukraine should be allowed to make its own decision on surrender. The West just needs to be clear on what it is willing to do in support.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:48 PM on September 1


I don't think Putin would try to challenge NATO directly by starting an undeclared war in one of our member nations. There's simply no need. He's already "won" the Crimea and created a conflict in Ukraine that will keep that nation crippled and unable to align itself more closely with the West. That seems to be pretty much all he wanted.

The challenge for Putin now is to make the conflict in Ukraine self-sustaining. Right now the rebels can only succeed when they receive a lot of direct support from Russia, and while that has worked out surprisingly well for Putin so far (with increased Western sanctions helping to sustain a fortress-like, "us against the world" mentality that increases his popularity) it can only go on for so long before too much money is lost. Hence the Russian desire to finalize some sort of cease fire or treaty that freezes the rebel's gains in place.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:03 PM on September 1


I don't think he would invade there unless he felt NATO was too weak to respond, which isn't the case yet.

Yet? Russia is a dying country. That may be why they are lashing out now. Death throes.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on September 1


Putin is ruthless and calculating. It is clear that he has some rather ambitious goals. However, that does not translate to one being a "rational actor". NATO knowingly expanded to the very borders of the Russian Federation... and professed to the deployment of a theater wide anti-ballistic missile defense system across eastern Europe, that to anyone with critical thinking skills was clearly "dual use". Those series of actions were often hailed as signs of openness and cooperation. However, few seemed interested in exercising measured restraint in the shift of global political balance.

Not a single one of you should be surprised at all about this.

Personally, I am more disappointed than afraid at this point in time.

This is the blowback of 49 years of staring each other down... and the lack of a realistic plan after the wall fell and the Soviet Union dissolved. Boris Yeltsin, with the right assistance, could have really built a far more sustainable Federation.

This is directly related to the failure of western nations to assist more proactively the former Soviet Bloc nations in a measured transition to market economies and representational political systems. Oligarchs carved up the spoils of the collapse, like eager diners at a feast. Because such vast disparities exist in income and wealth distribution, and social justice and social mobility; the Russian people are quite amenable to embracing, in part, bold ambitions from one who professes to provide answers. They will do so even when lip service is paid to such vital issues of society.

But hey, eyes were only on the prize... and never the horizon.

We have seen the same devolutionary forces at play in those nations whose oligarchs have asserted their own desires as of late. Social instability is on the rise in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States and other Western European nations. Additional harsh sanctions against Russia will affect economic recovery in those nations most recently battered by the recession of 2008-2009. People are damned tired of economic stagnation and slow if no recovery.

Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas. That doesn't change in the short term. If Putin is speaking truthfully about utilizing tactical thermonuclear weapons in the current crisis, we can expect quite a lot of anger and upheaval from the figurative fallout and wherever the literal winds will drift.

And if these are indeed death throes... it's best not to leave Putin feeling like there being nothing left to lose. We will have to leave him with a way out. Otherwise, there will not be one.

1,800 warheads, ladies and gentlemen.

That's a lot to think about.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:32 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Right now the West (by which I mean the nations of the West, not the NATO military alliance) have two possible responses to what's going on in Ukraine.

1. Help Ukraine by sending it military assistance. This is the option that many Ukrainian leaders and (oddly enough) Russian political activist Garry Kasparov seem to favor. The logic is simple: we counter what Russia is doing by sending guns and money to the Ukrainian government, so they can put down the rebellion on their own. But this would be difficult to actually implement - our guns and bombs are NATO standard, and since Ukrainian armed forces have only trained with Soviet derived Eastern weapons we'd have to send advisers to show them how to use the equipment. And that could easily put our soldiers in direct conflict with Russians on the battlefield. A dangerous escalation that could easily go out of control.

2. Continue to sanction Russia, in increasingly painful ways, for as long as the Ukrainian rebellion lasts. Make it clear that a negotiated settlement that violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine is not acceptable, and press for a settlement of the Crimean situation that involves reparations from Russia to Ukraine. (That is, make it clear that we will not recognize Crimea as a part of Russia until they pay a substantial price to the country that has been victimized.) This could go on a for a while, and it will be painful for Western countries that do business with Russia, but I think it's the best response we can make. The key to success though is being prepared to go all the way if necessary and cut off all business with Russia. Treat them like we treat North Korea, and see how long Putin lasts when China is his only customer.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:19 PM on September 1


Russia is now officially moving, at a rapid pace, from a corrupt quasi-dictatorship to a fascist state. That's a factual statement; Russian speakers can watch a program aired on the government-controlled NTV a few days ago 17 more friends of the Junta - Junta being the Ukrainian government.

In the program, the anchors highlight 17 Russian artists and intellectuals that dare to oppose Russian invasion of Ukraine. The anchors explain how these people are traitors to the motherland. This closely parallels Nazi treatment of those that opposed the Nazi regime in 1933-37 (those in NYC can still catch the Degenerate Art exhibit at the Neue Gallerie to see the mindblowing similarities). The program follows the 13 Friends of the Junta that aired earlier.

The vitriol toward anyone not supporting the Russian regime on Russian sites is unimaginable - Russian people, outside of 300-400k liberals in major cities, want and demand expansion and restoration of the empire. Anyone unlike them - be it blacks, Tajiks, Americans - are routinely compared to monkeys (if perceived as weak), CIA agents (if perceived to be ethnically Russian), or, often, banned.

Sadly, Obama carries a major portion of the blame for the way this is unfolding - his international policies have been interpreted as indecision and weakness across the Middle East, Russia, China, with the implications just beginning to show.

It's a faint hope that the American public opinion will wake up to this before this gets a lot worse. Sanctions alone are a joke (and are treated as such in Russian media).
posted by bokononito at 4:50 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


That's because they haven't felt real sanctions yet. Russia's prosperity (such as it is) is totally predicated upon the sale of oil and gas. If we're talking about weakness, that's an Achilles' Heel the size of Siberia.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:58 PM on September 1


@Kevin Street, I respectfully disagree. This would be true elsewhere. In Russia, the ethos is "suffer for the greatness of the state". This, coupled with the complete disregard for the needs of the people, and the large cash reserves of the political elite and the incredible weapons cache, means that in the very unlikely worst-case scenario for Putin & Co., they will push toward a Juche state. The foundations for such a development are already in place - the Russian Orthodox Church has been brainwashing the masses, especially in the last 7-8 years, with the likes of propaganda that would make KKK blush.
posted by bokononito at 5:24 PM on September 1


So what does Obama's "indecision" have to do with it then? Wouldn't Russia "suffer for the greatness of the state" regardless of what Obama does?

Despite US and EU Sanctions, Russia's Economy Is Still Growing

Russian Onshore Shows Resilience to Sanctions
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:38 PM on September 1




I don't think Obama has done anything to encourage Russia, nor have US policies made the situation worse than it would have already been. He's handled this about as well as any president could, since it's not really about him or the United States. There's this weird idea that floats around in discussions of foreign affairs, particularly (but not completely) in conservative circles, that world events are like the playground in elementary school. You have to constantly look "tough" or other nations will sense weakness and try to take your lunch money. But in the real world leaders act out of concern for their own interests, and aren't constantly evaluating other leaders to see if they can press an advantage. Putin took Crimea and is now trying to create a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine mostly because it made him popular at home. There may have been a strategic motive to begin with, but any geopolitical advantage to Russia has been lost at this point.

Therefore, the key to ending the conflict is to make Putin increasingly unpopular with the Russian people. Hence, sanctions. Maybe Russia's GDP will continue to grow by half a percentage point next year, but slightly higher profits for Gazprom do not translate into a better standard of living for ordinary citizens. When they can no longer import anything, there's no food on the shelves and inflation is 50% (or some ridiculous number) Russians won't be so keen on the idea of Novorossia or the guy who's trying to make it happen.

But of course, that presupposes that Western nations would impose significant sanctions in the first place that will also hurt their own economies. And that all of us can be united in purpose, and stay united when the pain starts to bite.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:08 PM on September 1


@Golden Eternity: Obama's indecision is interpreted as weakness, which allows aspirational imperial dreams to grow unchecked. During the time of Bush junior, Russian commentary was full of comments along the lines of "hate the bastard, respect the bastard".

@Kevin Street: perception matters / know who you are dealing with:
Comments on Obama on Pravda.ru (link), a government-run newspaper:
"does Obama avoid being photographed in the zoo because he doesn't want even his relatives to laugh at him or be seen with them in the same photo?"
"obama is supported by gays" [being gay is about as bad as being black]
"what do you care about this nigger, he doesn't decide anything"
"we don't need to change anything, Obama is turning on our end [dick]" --> this in response to a post that suggested "we might need another perestroika".

Once again, this is one of the top news sites in the country and a typical (mild, in fact) discourse in Russia.
posted by bokononito at 6:57 PM on September 1


If they respect wrong decisions more than perceived indecision and don't respect Obama because he's black and is support by gays, what is he supposed to do? It is interesting that during Maiden Russia was full of conspiracy theories about how the CIA was in charge and even shot down MH17 to blame it on Russia. Which is it? Is Obama indecisive and weak or is he planning all of this stuff? But this ridiculousness isn't limited to Russia. I work with a guy, actually great guy overall, who told me he'd rather have Putin as president than Obama. I guess because of his whiteness and perceived toughness. Obama hate is global.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:12 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Russia is in clear breach of terms of the Budapest Memorandum. My point above is that there really must be consequences if security guarantees from the U.S. and the U.K. — and thus to a great extent NATO itself — are to mean anything. To expel Russia from SWIFT and embargo all commerce with the Russian Federation is deemed the "nuclear option" but also seems to be the only option left short of war.

I think many criticisms of Obama fail to recognize the strategic reality. Much as I hate to admit it, given that the 41 extant U.S. brigades as of 01 Jan 2014 already don't meet strategic needs, deactivating five in 2014 and four more in 2015 seems like a terrible idea. We'll ride right past the decade of neglect in combined arms training in both the regular and guard forces. Thus the U.S. and NATO are in the worst strategic position in decades versus Russia.

If the U.S. sent ten brigades to Poland tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, Putin would realize that he doesn't have a free hand to use nuclear weapons in eastern Europe. On the other hand, it could serve as a further provocation.

All of which is to say, that's quite enough to keep this child of the Cold War awake at night. Added to everything else that's going on in the world, it's nearly enough to drive one to drink.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:57 PM on September 1


Yeah. If nuclear non-proliferation is indeed supposedly one of Obama's signature goals, treating the Budapest memo as just another piece of paper seems absolutely ludicrous.
posted by Anything at 8:02 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Iran, a country with far less resources and wealth than Russia, has been heavily sanctioned for years with no 'seismic' level changes.
posted by rosswald at 8:14 PM on September 1


The US have and would gladly attempt to keep the world leaders at bay who threaten global chaos. But at some point, other rational countries, unions of rational countries, alliances of rational countries have reached a point of stabilization in their own modern transitions that they must contribute more than they have in their recent past. Not an easy thing for any one country or any one individual human, for that matter, to do when they have, out of necessity for their own stabilization and growth, needed to exert so much concentrated effort on themselves to arrive on the other side of that modern transition. They want to believe all they need is just a little more time or a little more rest before they are ready to move on. The US have long been willing to attempt to calm areas of the world in regions of brewing fervor. The internal costs to the US of that willingness are growing larger. The US's current perceived indecision might be an attempt at letting other able but slightly reluctant nations join in good decision making, letting them save face as the true ramifications of their inaction sinks in. If the US comes out and tells everybody what to do and how to do it, how is that perceived?
posted by Emor at 8:53 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]




Russia is in clear breach of terms of the Budapest Memorandum. My point above is that there really must be consequences if security guarantees from the U.S. and the U.K. — and thus to a great extent NATO itself — are to mean anything.
I agree that Russia is violating the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, but nothing in the Budapest Memorandum requires anyone - not the US, not the UK, not NATO - to defend Ukraine in any way under any circumstances.

The closest it comes to saying that there's some circumstance in which some entity must defend Ukraine is that if nuclear weapons are used or threatened to be used against Ukraine, then the US, the UK, and Russia must bring the matter up before the UN Security Council. Here is the actual text of the Budapest Memorandum; take a look for yourself.

I am writing this because I've seen, from day one of this whole debacle, lots and lots of people vaguely say that the Budapest Memorandum gives "security guarantees" (those exact words, in your comment here and in many others elsewhere) from the US to Ukraine, and that therefore (depending on who's speaking) we are required to go to war with Russia, Obama's a treaty-breaking bastard, Obama's a wimp, or Obama's a space alien from Martian Outpost 3922 in Kenya. I have a theory as to how this came to be:

(1) The Budapest Memorandum does in fact make various things that could reasonably be called "security guarantees". For example, the United States guarantees, via the Budapest Memorandum, that it will not nuke Ukraine unless Ukraine attacks the United States. That's a "security guarantee".

(2) People who want to go to war, or who want to make Obama look bad, or both, latch onto that fact and vaguely shout "SECURITY GUARANTEE!" in order to make other people incorrectly think that the Budapest Memorandum says something about the United States being required to defend Ukraine.
posted by Flunkie at 6:10 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Has there even been a case where economic sanctions prevented a country from doing what it wanted?
posted by empath at 7:00 AM on September 2


Has there even been a case where economic sanctions prevented a country from doing what it wanted?

Saddam Hussein wanted WMDs.
posted by Etrigan at 7:01 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that once a country commits troops to a conflict, they've demonstrated sufficient commitment that sanctions would be brushed off. How much is Russia already spending on the conflict in terms of human lives and money? You'd have to inflict several orders more magnitude economic pain before they're going to just back off.
posted by empath at 7:02 AM on September 2


Saddam Hussein wanted WMDs

Sure, I think in the case that you're preventing them from buying particular goods for a particular purpose, it can help, but I was thinking more in terms of specific foreign policy goals.
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on September 2


One could claim the Iranian sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table while giving the 'sextet' (or however many) a favorable "hand"
posted by rosswald at 7:21 AM on September 2


...lots and lots of people vaguely say that the Budapest Memorandum gives "security guarantees" (those exact words, in your comment here and in many others elsewhere) from the US to Ukraine, and that therefore (depending on who's speaking) we are required to go to war with Russia, Obama's a treaty-breaking bastard, Obama's a wimp, or Obama's a space alien from Martian Outpost 3922 in Kenya.

George Woloshyn: An open letter to Obama on 1994 Budapest Memorandum
Although the Memorandum lacks enforcement mechanism, Ukraine was persuaded to abjure its nuclear weapons and super-power status because of U.S., Russian, and UK commitments. Of the signatories, only Russia could have been considered an existential threat to Ukraine at some time in the future, but the joint declaration made that appear very unlikely. The U.S. had “won” the Cold War, was the sole superpower, and its word was good as gold.  If its assurances were to have no underlying enforcement implications, then it was simply engaging in a cynical, diplomatic shell game.   

George Woloshyn worked in the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. He is a former naval intelligence commander and former director of U.S. National Security Preparedness and a former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Security Investigations.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:08 AM on September 2


So someone* wants to use the Budapest Memorandum to say that the US needs to go to war with Russia, despite the fact that the Budapest Memorandum says no such thing. That's... kind of what I was saying?

I can only presume that the Ukranian officials who approved the Budapest Memorandum were not stupid people. The language of it is concise and plain. When it makes guarantees that do not require any defense even if Ukraine is attacked with nuclear weapons, I have a hard time believing that they were under the impression that it required defense in lesser situations.

*: Someone who worked for Reagan.
posted by Flunkie at 8:19 AM on September 2


> Sadly, Obama carries a major portion of the blame for the way this is unfolding - his international policies have been interpreted as indecision and weakness across the Middle East, Russia, China, with the implications just beginning to show.

That's absurd, and a typical example of "the US is responsible for everything!" thinking. Putin would be doing this no matter who was in charge in the White House. Also, anyone who thinks Obama should be rattling missiles is an idiot (or stands to make money off military conflict).
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


That's absurd, and a typical example of "the US is responsible for everything!" thinking.

No, it's a typical example of "the US is responsible for everything bad!" thinking. There's a difference.
posted by Etrigan at 8:36 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Obama's indecision is interpreted as weakness, which allows aspirational imperial dreams to grow unchecked. During the time of Bush junior, Russian commentary was full of comments along the lines of "hate the bastard, respect the bastard".

The 2008 Russo-Georgian War (I'm just going to use Wikipedia's naming, but preferences vary) has some parallels to the current situation in Ukraine, and happened while Bush was in office. Russian opinions of Bush did not stop that conflict, and Georgian opinions of Bush may have helped start it, insofar as the Georgian leadership seemed to expect far more help from the U.S. than materialized.

By many accounts, Bush considered, but rejected, a military response against Russia. Which was the right thing to do at the time, just as Obama's generally hands-off approach to the Ukrainian conflict is also the right thing to do: no one benefits from escalating the conflict, least of all Ukraine.

If you want to blame a president, I'd point to Bush's tenure as being a thousand times more problematic than Obama's: the massive commitment of force to Iraq and Afghanistan made it hard to present a credible threat to aggression elsewhere, even if, rationally, he would and should have declined to use those forces elsewhere.

But blaming any of this on Obama or Bush is misguided. Blaming the President (any president) for failing to prevent a conflict, rather than someone else for starting it presumes too much of the Presidency. This is a conflict arising primarily out of local history and local politics, and driven partly by internal factors in both states that have nothing whatsoever to do with American geopolitics. Conflicts are complicated. If preventing them was as simple as 'be decisive and strong and make people respect us' we would have far fewer conflicts.
posted by cjelli at 9:19 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Talk about indecision. My understanding from reading people who have worked with Putin, is that he always leaves as many options open as possible and doesn't usually make up his mind on which one he will take until the last minute. Dmitry Tymchuck recently quipped in his blog about Russian soldiers having to wait for their next "schizophrenic orders." But no one interprets Putin's indecision as weakness; there seems to be the perception instead, from both the right and left, that he is some sort of grand master genius. Also, Putin is making a point to show that Russia will not honor any of its international agreements or contracts. Again, this is perceived as part of his greatness as a leader. I guess it really is just personality and race, etc,. that affects people. Putin doesn't try to be straight forward and look for common ground or say things like "we don't have a strategy actually," but instead projects a gangster image at all times. And everyone loves gangsters.

One thing that is really annoying is how the genocide in Syria gets blamed on Obama because he said the words "red line;" rather than Putin, who actually had forces in Syria and had all of the power in the world to help his client state find a way out of the situation without massacring its own population and destroying the country.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:30 AM on September 2


Sanctions were successful in Libya and South Africa. Sanctions against Iran have been successful at getting a short term agreement on nuclear enrichment and starting negotiations on the long term status of their nuclear program. Sanctions are difficult to maintain and enforce and are usually only effective as part of a long term strategy. Sanctions against Russia may be effective in terms of long term resolution of South Ossetia, and Crimea, but probably won't measurably impact the military situation in eastern Ukraine.
posted by humanfont at 9:37 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


So, basically, Putin is trying to be the Littlefinger of real-world politics.
posted by Green With You at 9:46 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]




Russian bank hires two former U.S. senators

Finally, some of that bipartisanship everyone's been looking for!
posted by tonycpsu at 11:28 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


If Putin goes nuclear
So what, exactly is Putin on about? Let’s look at this seriously for a moment, as if Putin isn’t a gangster or a lunatic. Is there actually a strategic logic to the use of a nuclear weapon anywhere in this current crisis?

Russian commentator Andrei Piontkovsky thinks that Putin, at least, believes there is. As Paul Goble reports:

Clearly, [says Piontkovsky], Putin does not seek “the destruction of the hated United States,” a goal that he could achieve “only at the price of mutual suicide.” Instead, his goals are “significantly more modest: the maximum extension of the Russian World, the destruction of NATO, and the discrediting and humiliation of the US as the guarantor of the security of the West.”

To put it in simplest terms, Piontkovsky continues, Putin’s actions would be “revenge for the defeat of the USSR in the third (cold) world war just as the second world war was for Germany an attempt at revenge for defeat in the first.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:50 AM on September 2


Sanctions are difficult to maintain and enforce and are usually only effective as part of a long term strategy. Sanctions against Russia may be effective in terms of long term resolution of South Ossetia, and Crimea, but probably won't measurably impact the military situation in eastern Ukraine.

You might be right, but I'm not sure what else the international community can do to show that Russia's actions in this war-by-degrees have been unacceptable. Other than arming Ukraine directly, that is. And it seems NATO is edging up to that line by pledging to provide logistic and financial support to the Ukrainian military.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:11 PM on September 2


LRB: Why not kill them all? Keith Gessen in Donetsk
The pro-Maidan protests, when they took place, were middle class and nationalistic; anti-Maidan was lower class and anti-oligarchic (and Russian nationalist). ‘I would see the people at Maidan and think: “What nice people, so well dressed, so educated.” Then they would open their mouths.’ The things that came out of their mouths included slogans taken from interwar Ukrainian fascism. They also expressed what Dergunov calls barely concealed ‘social racism’ towards the members of anti-Maidan. Perhaps nowhere else in Ukraine was the split between pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan so visible as it was in Donetsk.
...

Menendez knew several of the leaders of the pro-Russian movement in Donetsk. ‘This didn’t start yesterday,’ he told me. ‘If you look at photos of protests in Donetsk from 2003, you see the same Russian flags. The call for Donetsk to join Russia goes back a long way.’ Menendez was particularly friendly with Pavel Gubarev, initially the most visible of the separatist protesters. He liked Gubarev, whom he called Pasha, a lot. ‘He came from a poor family from outside Donetsk, as I did, and he rented his apartment in Donetsk, just like me, and was hoping to buy one.’ Gubarev sold advertising space on billboards in Donetsk and its environs; he had pioneered a system that allowed national chains to run advertising campaigns in the region without having to reach out to every individual billboard owner. ‘He was a great guy,’ Menendez said. ‘He worked hard and put a lot of money into his own education. He just happened to have always been a Russian fascist.’
...

No one was thinking that all this would lead to war. People were scared and unhappy and doing something about it. That the protest took on such a strong separatist colour was due less to the protesters’ basic demands (regional autonomy might have been enough for many) than to the recent Russian annexation of Crimea. ‘The contradictions didn’t necessarily lead to war,’ Dergunov said. ‘But when Crimea went with the option of total separation, it pushed the extremes, both pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian, to the fore. That was Putin’s real crime – this is what created the war.’
This is a great article.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:19 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


In today's weirdness Ukraine and Russia have decided on the terms of the agreement, but they can't agree what to call it because officially Russia isn't a party to the conflict. Anyway it looks like this sad chapter of history will close on Sept 5.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 AM on September 3


because officially Russia isn't a party to the conflict

This paper from the Polish Institute of International Affairs, Possibilities for Supporting Ukraine against Russian Aggression, points out that Russia's interest in consistently denying involvement in the war is in part due to the fact that if they become an "official" party to the conflict they could be procedurally excluded from UN Security Council resolutions dealing with Chapter IV of the Charter (Pacific Settlement of Disputes).

The more interesting thing in this paper to me though, is the proposal for a particular kind of International Stabilization Mission in Ukraine:
NATO and the EU countries may also seek unique avenues to support Ukraine that are aimed at stopping the separatists, who have been increasingly buttressed more explicitly by Russia. This could be achieved by establishing an international mission in Ukraine, deployed outside areas where the fighting is taking place. The mission would be of a stabilising and humanitarian nature and would not engage in combat on Ukraine’s part. The troops that would form the mission would come from a broad spectrum of countries and would have the ability to use force in response to a direct attack. Such a mission would deter further separatists advances, strongly indicating that any attack against Ukraine would be an attack against the entire international community. Such a mission would lend credibility to the international community’s determination to support Ukraine. It would also offer a compromise between a total lack of commitment to Ukraine and direct military support for it, the latter a solution so far rejected. [Emphasis mine]
This sounds like a novel approach to me.
posted by Kabanos at 8:53 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


This sounds like a novel approach to me.

Maybe, to demonstrate reciprocity, Russian troops should patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
posted by No Robots at 9:08 AM on September 3


Yes, if the U.S. annexed the Baja California peninsula and then commenced a land invasion of the Mexican mainland, it probably would be good if the international community (including Russia) did something to help Mexico strengthen its border.
posted by Kabanos at 9:30 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]




Today is the 75th anniversary of France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia declaring war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, thus beginning World War Two.
posted by Wordshore at 9:42 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]






Yes, if the U.S. annexed the Baja California peninsula and then commenced a land invasion of the Mexican mainland

I was thinking more of protecting the United States from stealth incursions by Mexicans trying to retake California and New Mexico.
posted by No Robots at 10:26 AM on September 3




Resolved: Putin has offered a "piece plan" not so much a "peace plan"
posted by humanfont at 1:27 PM on September 3


Seemed to me he offered a move your artillery out of the way so I can move my troops into position unfettered plan.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:32 PM on September 3


Far from keeping the peace, Nato is a threat to it
...it's the western powers that are resisting the negotiated settlement that is the only way out, for fear of appearing weak.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:42 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Golden Eternity's London Review of Books link is really good. It portrays the situation as an escalation of errors (with the worst coming from foreign intervention), exacerbated by deep cultural and economic divisions between western and eastern Ukraine.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:06 PM on September 3


Garry Kasparov's take on the situation, published in Time, makes good observations on the Western loss of momentum and sums up with a clear point: "If NATO nations refuse to send lethal aid to Ukraine now it will be yet another green light to Putin."
posted by bokononito at 2:36 PM on September 3


“Obama Just Made the Ultimate Commitment to Eastern Europe,” David Frum, The Atlantic, 03 September 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 3:51 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


"If NATO nations refuse to send lethal aid to Ukraine now it will be yet another green light to Putin."

The situation is that Putin already has the green light. For those who say that Putin wouldn't date to move against say, Lithuania or Estonia, my question is, who is going to stop him?

I'll make this prediction here: if Putin's operation against the Ukraine is successful, which it has every indication of being, his next move will be against the Baltic states. He will attempt to destabilize them, and bring them back toward the Russian fold.
posted by happyroach at 4:06 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


For those who say that Putin wouldn't date to move against say, Lithuania or Estonia, my question is, who is going to stop him?

The United States
Canada
Iceland
The United Kingdom
Portugal
Spain
France
The Federal Republic of Germany
Belgium
Italy
The Netherlands
Luxembourg
Denmark
Norway
Greece
Turkey
Poland
The Czech Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Bulgaria
Romania
Croatia
Albania
Slovenia
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:54 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]




Ian Bond, Director of foreign policy, Centre for European Reform: The challenge to the West: Restoring European deterrence
posted by Kabanos at 6:46 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


If we're talking about weakness, that's an Achilles' Heel the size of Siberia.

No shit. It is exactly what destroyed the Soviet Union and it can easily happen again.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:53 PM on September 3




Russian soldier: 'You're better clueless because the truth is horrible': Despite Moscow denials, Ukrainian troops give accounts of fighting Russian army in Ilovaysk outside Donetsk
posted by languagehat at 11:27 AM on September 4




I'm not convinced many of Russia's nukes have been maintained to the point where they can be relied upon. But I very much hope we never have to find out.
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on September 4


I can't help but wonder how many nukes are currently pointing at Ukraine that used to be in Ukraine before Russia promised they'd never need them.
posted by Etrigan at 1:53 PM on September 4


For nostalgia, the full movie version of Threads (1984) and the same for The Day After (1983), are on YouTube. I'm currently very close to this so tomorrow, purely for research purposes, will be seeing just how welded shut it is.
posted by Wordshore at 2:53 PM on September 4


How quickly could Ukraine build nucleae weapons? They have uranium mines, processing facilities and 15 power plants.
posted by humanfont at 4:35 PM on September 4


First off, the nuclear forces inherited by Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union were rather dangerous paper weights. Ukraine did not have access the to Permissive Action Links that would have activated the warhead, resulting in armed device. At the time, Russia made it very clear that any such action to compromise the PAL's would be construed as an aggressive act towards the nascent Federation. See this fine article by Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk.

Realistically, Ukraine does not have the years required to develop a reliable deterrent. Enrichment of uranium to weapons grade takes time. Designing a physics package takes time. Designing a capable and reliable delivery systems takes time. Then you have to test the all damn things... or simulate it all and hope for the best.

Stitching together a weapons program is a challenge under the best of circumstances. At this time, Ukraine is in a deteriorating state. From 0 to reliable deterrent will cost a fortune, and won't exactly be easy to hide.

The first scent of such activity by the Russian leadership and Kyiv is a smoldering, radioactive crater.

Followed by other cities and military installations of the most capable of NATO member nation states... and then Russian cities and facilities.

The only logical way forward, now that NATO has clearly stated the intent to maintain the security of the eastern European member states, is deescalation.

The illogical way forward is to continue to press harder until we cross a line that ends most mammalian life in the northern hemisphere, and will jeopardize the existence of our species.

Threads indeed...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 6:16 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


The United States
Canada
Iceland
The United Kingdom
Portugal
Spain
France
The Federal Republic of Germany
Belgium
Italy
The Netherlands
Luxembourg
Denmark
Norway
Greece
Turkey
Poland
The Czech Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Bulgaria
Romania
Croatia
Albania
Slovenia


And would they actually do anything if it was say, Lithuania or Estonia getting pieces carved off them? Or would we once gain hear the argument "It's only to be expected that Russia wouldn't stand for the expansion of NATO to it's traditional territory."?
posted by happyroach at 11:02 PM on September 4


happyroach: "And would they actually do anything if it was say, Lithuania or Estonia getting pieces carved off them? Or would we once gain hear the argument "It's only to be expected that Russia wouldn't stand for the expansion of NATO to it's traditional territory."?"

Well, they're bound by treaty to do something. That's the whole point of the 'attack on one is an attack on all' principle.

Ukraine is an applicant for NATO membership, but not actually a member. Estonia and Lithuania are.

Now, whether that would actually come to NATO member boots on the ground and conventional warfare with regular Russian forces (which is basically World War III with a pretty high chance of nuclear escalation) is another question. Because the answer to that question will determine whether millions will die or NATO will be shown to be a discredited, toothless alliance.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:19 AM on September 5




Welp, ignore everything I just said. All bets are off.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:23 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


The Estonians said that "The officer was fulfilling his duties in connection to preventing a cross-border crime in taking place. The use of smoke grenades and intense interference with operative radio connections preceded the incident."

Sounds like there are a lot of details missing from this story.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:30 AM on September 5


Ceasefire deal in Ukraine. WW3 on hold for now.
posted by humanfont at 8:30 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]


“FBI Probes Possible Russian Cyber Attack On Major US Banks,” Amanda Vicinanzo, Homeland Security Today, 03 September 2014

“NATO agrees cyber attack could trigger military response,” Adrian Croft, Reuters, 05 September 2014

“Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels reach ceasefire deal,” Andrei Makhovsky, Reuters, 05 September 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:37 PM on September 5


For what it's worth, I don't think that Russia will directly engage in military operations in the Baltic states. At least in the near future. What WILL likely happen though is that Russian activists in those regions (especially ones near industrial areas) will get very vocal and radicalized. Russia will express concern about the treatment of it's people, and the Baltic states will be in for a long period of destabilizing acts of violence. And in that case, the actions NATO will be able to take will be limited.
posted by happyroach at 10:40 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]


Seven Decades of Nazi collaboration: America's dirty little Ukraine secret.
Revisionism is rife.
Meanwhile Putin walks a tightrope as evidence mounts of Russians dying in Ukraine.
None of this excuses Putin of course, but it makes me wonder at the US meddling.
Wikileak.
posted by adamvasco at 6:30 PM on September 6


The Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine. Just a pause in the action...
posted by Kabanos at 7:53 AM on September 11


“Parallels to 1937,” Robert J. Shiller, Project Syndicate, 11 September 2014
For example, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the Ukrainian and Russian economies might ultimately be behind the recent war there. According to the International Monetary Fund, both Ukraine and Russia experienced spectacular growth from 2002 to 2007: over those five years, real per capita GDP rose 52% in Ukraine and 46% in Russia. That is history now: real per capita GDP growth was only 0.2% last year in Ukraine, and only 1.3% in Russia. The discontent generated by such disappointment may help to explain Ukrainian separatists’ anger, Russians’ discontent, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex Crimea and to support the separatists.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:18 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]


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