Aggression in Crimea is a sign of Russian weakness

In The Australian today:
“Far from being an emerging superpower, Russia is a weak state, wracked by cronyism and corruption, and overly reliant on exports of oil and gas. That hardly means Russian aggression in Ukraine can be ignored or condoned. But detestable as he may be, Vladimir Putin is no Hitler and the Crimean peninsula is not the Sudetenland.”

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas is a columnist for The Australian newspaper and the inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong. The SMART Infrastructure Facility is a $61.8 million world-class research and training centre concerned with integrated infrastructure solutions for the future. Henry is also Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia. Prior to these concurrent roles Henry worked as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Henry's previous career was as an economist at the OECD in Paris, where amongst other roles he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment and was Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department.
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137 Responses to Aggression in Crimea is a sign of Russian weakness

  1. boy on a bike

    Is there a 2nd Crimea I don’t know about?

  2. nerblnob

    Cripes, give it break Henry. I’m stuck deep inside The Motherland at the moment and the only English language TV is RT banging on endlessly about … well, you know what. Nice Russia, naughty West, plucky Crimean anti-fascists. And I come on here for some light relief and what do I see not once but twice?

  3. Blogstrop

    When I get my thermomix I’m going to make a dessert which is rich, creamy, and has passionfruit in it.
    It’ll be called Cream Passionelle.

  4. Blogstrop

    Uh, oh. Wrong fred again!

  5. Blogstrop

    Make that Crimea Passionelle.

  6. Tel

    The real question is whether the referendum is going to be rigged. There’s a story going around that they are taking away the NO option, which would be very disappointing.

  7. Andrew of Randwick

    Henry says “Russia is a weak state” – economically true, but irrelevant.
    .
    On a Presidential Level. Cage Fighter vs. Pajama Boy; Putin Confronts the West

    On paper, Russia is not strong compared to the West. The West should be able to handle Russia relatively easily. Russia, however, has one big advantage. Russia has leadership, a determined leadership not afraid to make decisions and act. That compensates for several orders of economic and technological inferiority. The West has, well, you know what the West has, and it ain’t good.
    Pajama Boy will not do well in the Cage.

    On a Foreign Minister Level: And Now We Dither

    John “Botox” Kerry had flown to Geneva to meet Putin’s Foreign Minister, Sergei “No Laugh” Lavrov…. Kerry, a supercilious dope, who wanted the Sec State job as confirmation of his status as a celebrity deep thinker, will find Lavrov a humorless, extremely intelligent, worldly, intensely patriotic Russian nationalist with a deep envy of and resentment for the United States and the West. He holds the classic Russian view that the world, lead by the insufferably arrogant Americans, conspires against Russia to deny it the respect and status it deserves. Lavrov, a professional who speaks several languages, and works non-stop, sees his life’s mission as restoring Russia’s rightful place in the upper echelons of the world’s hierarchy. And Kerry? As a callow youth he engaged in treason against the United States. Over time, he became a classic airhead liberal blow-hard, who used his “charms” to marry into money… Kerry has no discernible view on the world, and certainly has none of the drive to see his country come out ahead that we see in Lavrov. Foreign Minister Lavrov has laser-like concentration, does not speak carelessly–measuring his statements very carefully–and, therefore, is the “reverse opposite” of the goofy, gaffe-prone, lazy, unfocused, and shallow Kerry….
    We dither as Russia, a country several orders of magnitude weaker than the United States, reestablishes its influence in the region….

    .
    See older post on Ukranian Reader List for more links and reports from weekend – a two country solution “East Ukraine” (satisfies Putin) and “East Poland” (satisfies young unemployed Ukrainians).

  8. steve

    I tend to be on Putin’s side here. Why are we supporting a coup and not the democratically elected leader? Even if he was an arsehole, he was elected and the people have a right, some would say deserve, the leader that they voted for.

  9. Paul

    I’m with Steve on this. This whole thing is a coup, not a revolution and it is supported by Western money and power, as evidenced by the Nuland speech from December that has been so carefully avoided by the Western “media”. Putin has so far been very measured in his response. Like Syria, Libya, in fact the whole bullshit “Arab Spring” there seems to be a large element of foreign mercenary/operative going on behind the scenes, complete with the obligatory mysterious “rooftop snipers” firing on both sides.

  10. Grigory M

    FFS – what’s Henry been smoking?

  11. rickw

    Steve / Paul, so you accept the theory that the coupe was Western sponsered, but the theory that the Russians have fixed elections several times is baseless?

  12. “and the Crimean peninsula is not the Sudetenland.”

    Oh, thank goodness for that. For a minute there I was getting worried. Can I go back to sleep now?

    Who is this labotomised moron?!?!?!?

    Oh my gggaaawwwwddd, I just read the “About Henry”. Hey Henry. Better not get out into the real world, Mate. It’l devour you! Judging from your CV and what’s going through your mind after this load technicalised claptrap. Do the people you hang around with know you tie your shoe laces in 100 easy to remeber steps, and are dangerous to be aroung should thought be required?

  13. Andrew of Randwick

    Speaking of Sergei Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister), I was reminded of this classic interview with Emma Alberici on Lateline in January 2012.

    Watch as Emma comes face-to-face with someone who does not share her progressive views. Her reactions are precious.
    She just didn’t get it that she was speaking to a man who thinks he can reorganise bits of the world – and can.

  14. Tel

    On paper, Russia is not strong compared to the West. The West should be able to handle Russia relatively easily.

    Not so sure about that, India and China have both come out on the side of Russia, which is half the world’s population. The Indians got their hypersonic cruise missile operational, which is more than the USA has been able to achieve, so the technology gap is smaller than you think.

    Dunno if India and China would actually commit blood to the Ukraine, but then I doubt the French would either.

  15. Splatacrobat

    On paper, Russia is not strong compared to the West.

    Unfortunately wars are only fought on paper before they are declared. Many a battle has been lost underestimating the other side’s strength and resolve.

  16. steve

    @rickw Firstly, I did not say that the coup was western sponsored, nor do I deny that there are fixed elections in some countries. Tell me, are there any other countries that you think should not have the result of an election recognised? Surely the answer to your little problem is to fix the democratic process in these countries and not to stage coups.

  17. wazsah

    Is it not true that since the implosion of the USSR – Russia has seen defeat after defeat as various of the ex satellites east of the old “Iron Curtain” – deserted the workers paradise to snuggle up to Europe.
    I think the Crimea is just an easy opportunity for Vlad to do a little strike back?
    A bigger issue for the west is will Vlad get his hooks into eastern Ukraine.
    A bigger issue for Vlad is what will happen to Belarus. Will people there remain happy with their old command economy – will there be squadrons of girls with flowers to welcome the new Russian airbase next year – or will Belarus people want the option to join Europe that they probably see on TV most nights.
    Belarus must be a big issue for Vlad.

  18. Fred Lenin

    The lefty Eurocrats ,the unelected”public servants ” who rule Europe,and stuff everything they interfere in,like a former guvmint we had recently,have underestimated Russia and Russians .The Crimea has been part of Russia since the Crimean Tatars ,were defeated many years ago ending the Empire of the Golden Horde ,which had dominated Russia for generations.It was made part of the Ukraine by Kruschov fir administrative reasons .Also Ukrainians invited the Russian Tsars to occupy Ukraine hundreds of years ago to Save them from the depredations and exploitation of the Polish aristocrats and their Jewish lackeys,who were grinding the Ukrainian People into the ground.This whole thing is engineered by the World Domination loving untidy nayshunist communist elite!

  19. Token

    The real question is whether the referendum is going to be rigged. There’s a story going around that they are taking away the NO option, which would be very disappointing.

    IF? Once again that sweet naivity is on show again.

    Remember how men with guns took over the parliament & government buildings a few days ago?

    Masked and helmeted pro-Russia militia patrolled outside Simferopol’s regional parliament building and flexed their muscle nearby on the streets of the city. Some wore uniform and wielded assault rifles but none sported any insignia.

    Groups of pro-Russian militants, apparently unarmed but displaying a distinctively military sense of discipline, supported the militia in their deployment.

    The Russian-speaking southern Crimea peninsula has been in flux since a bloody three-month uprising in Ukraine swept Moscow’s allies from power and brought in a pro-West leadership, angering giant neighbour Russia whose parliament has approved the deployment of troops in the ex-Soviet country.

    Gun-toting militia believed to be under the control of Moscow seized government buildings in Crimea and took control of key airports in the region, prompting Kiev to denounce a Russian “armed invasion” — a dramatic statement that did nothing to ease tensions.

    “Russia! Russia!” and “fascism will be defeated!” were some of the slogans in the daylong rallies Saturday.

    This is going to be “free & fair” in the same way as North Korea’s parliamentary elections were.

  20. Tom

    Nick
    #1218605, posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Having a brainless fucktard tagging along for the ride seems to be compulsory for every thread at the Cat these days. Hurry back to Gaia’s arms, junior.

  21. Token

    The Crimea has been part of Russia since the Crimean Tatars ,were defeated many years ago ending the Empire of the Golden Horde…

    Wow, is that the point in time that borders get to be frozen globally? Sounds like the Russians have to pull out of Central Asia & allow the republics in the Caucauses to go their own way.

    As I’ve noted before, I’ll agree to the premise on the Crimea when Putin starts talking with Merkel about handing back Kaliningrad.

    Until that time, we know that this is standard excuses for overt expansion which belongs to the 19th century.

  22. Token

    Dunno if India and China would actually commit blood to the Ukraine, but then I doubt the French would either.

    Wow, nobody seems to have read Henry’s article. Russia is weaker than it appears.

    This will not turn into a “world war” as the world knows Obama has no ticker.

  23. Andrew of Randwick

    Some background on the Ukraine from the Cat files last week
    .
    God forbid, that with Romney, Gates and other Republicans saying he is weak, that Obama does not do something stupid to prove his “manhood”. Let’s hope that Germany can be the middle-woman and muddle through to something liveable.

  24. braddles

    If Russia was strong, it would still be doing exactly what it is doing now in Crimea. It’s economic weakness is irrelevant.

  25. Token

    God forbid, that with Romney, Gates and other Republicans saying he is weak, that Obama does not do something stupid to prove his “manhood”.

    Civilian leaders who have communicated regularly to the outside world that they are weak are a real threat when they over compensate and try to prove themselves.

    Reagan was never a threat to the world as he communicated strength through his words over a long period of time, the peace processes that initiated in the early 80s are proof of this. By being a cream-puff for 6 years, the only way Obama can go is towards knee jerk, chicken with its head cut off, over reaction.

  26. Token

    If Russia was strong, it would still be doing exactly what it is doing now in Crimea.

    If Russia was strong it would have kept the Ukraine by a mix of incentives, persuasion & threats via the energy supplies in the middle of winter.

    The only war that is likely in Crimea is a guerilla war which will make Russia weaker. Russian may be the majority in key areas of the south, but they have not ethnically cleansed the rest of the peninsula, especially the coastal areas adjacent the Ukraine.

  27. Token

    Ed Morrissey notes how under Condy Rice’s leadership the US was able to blunt Russian agression in Georgia through effective use of its strength, which the Sun King & Hillary screwed up upon gaining office:

    After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, the United States sent ships into the Black Sea, airlifted Georgian military forces from Iraq back to their home bases and sent humanitarian aid. Russia was denied its ultimate goal of overthrowing the democratically elected government, an admission made to me by the Russian foreign minister. The United States and Europe could agree on only a few actions to isolate Russia politically.

    But even those modest steps did not hold. Despite Russia’s continued occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the diplomatic isolation waned and then the Obama administration’s “reset” led to an abrupt revision of plans to deploy missile defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland. Talk of Ukraine and Georgia’s future in NATO ceased. Moscow cheered.

    It is hard to see Obama using the wonderful hand of cards previous administrations provided him as well.

  28. Combine Dave

    @rickw Firstly, I did not say that the coup was western sponsored, nor do I deny that there are fixed elections in some countries. Tell me, are there any other countries that you think should not have the result of an election recognised? Surely the answer to your little problem is to fix the democratic process in these countries and not to stage coups.

    How could this be fixed without a coup first?

  29. feelthebern

    Crimea breaking away causes even more issues.

    From the Financial Times.

    By John Thornhill

    Look at Ukraine’s polling data and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even if Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘wins’ Crimea he runs a far bigger risk of ‘losing’ Ukraine.

    Since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, political power in Kiev has oscillated between its pro-European western half and its pro-Russian east. Both presidential and parliamentary elections have been keenly contested affairs (especially when honest).

    In 2010 Viktor Yanukovich won the second round of the presidential election with 12.48m votes against Yulia Tymoshenko with 11.59m votes.

    But suppose, for a minute, that Crimea secedes from Ukraine – as Mr Putin appears to be encouraging – when it holds a referendum on its future on March 16, a vote which is being hotly contested by the interim government in Kiev. An independent Crimea would be strongly aligned with Russia even if it did not want to be subsumed within it. But as a separate country (or a Russian republic) Crimea would surely lose its say in determining power in Kiev.

    In previous elections, Crimea has voted overwhelmingly in favour of pro-Russian candidates. In 2010 Mr Yanukovich won close to 1m votes in Crimea and Sevastopol compared with 203,655 for Ms Tymoshenko.

    Stripped of the Crimean vote, Ukrainian politics would tilt significantly in favour of the west, even if it would not have changed the outcome of the 2010 vote.

    In spite of recent events, it is far from certain that the pro-independence movement in Crimea will win the referendum. But it is clear that a lot more is at stake than just the political orientation of the turbulent peninsula.

  30. .

    Paul
    #1218590, posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:14 am
    I’m with Steve on this. This whole thing is a coup, not a revolution and it is supported by Western money and power, as evidenced by the Nuland speech from December that has been so carefully avoided by the Western “media”. Putin has so far been very measured in his response. Like Syria, Libya, in fact the whole bullshit “Arab Spring” there seems to be a large element of foreign mercenary/operative going on behind the scenes, complete with the obligatory mysterious “rooftop snipers” firing on both sides.

    The foreigners were Russians, old mate. Invited in by Yanukovich.

    Russia should get Crimea if Russia pulls out of all Russian territory there is a Russian ethnic minority in (and stop meddling in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan etc).

    Is this going to happen?

    No.

    Putin is full of shit.

    He is “ex” KGB.

  31. james

    Can’t help but sympathize with Putin here.

    The EU has been expanding westward at quite a clip into the old soviet sphere of influence since the wall came down. NATO has been busy as well.

    From a Russian perspective it is not Russia that has been ruthlessly expansionist recently. Too many forget that it was Georgia that initiated the 2008 spat after (wrongly) assuming that the western encircling of the bear had advanced further than it already had.

    Those with a knowledge of history know just how important Ukraine in general and the peninsula in particular are in the Russian mindset both strategically and emotionally.

    The EU just couldn’t resist interfering however, and to Russian eyes a never ending expansion by a German dominated political and trade union relentlessly moving east has certain historical resonance going back centuries.

    Most westerners and particularly those like Kerry who somehow seem to think sphere of influence politics and brinkmanship belong in the “19th century” are living in a dream world.

  32. Zaphod

    “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke”.
    -Sarah Palin

    Poe’s Law ?

  33. Robert O.

    If the West wanted to bring some real pressure on Russia, how about ask its NATO ally, Turkey, to block access to the Dardenelles for the Russian military, can’t get out or in any other way. It is not a cut and dry issue because of Crimea’s history but Putin is the better chess player by far.

  34. .

    Can’t help but sympathize with Putin here.

    The EU has been expanding westward at quite a clip into the old soviet sphere of influence since the wall came down. NATO has been busy as well.

    No. The Soviet Union was evil.

    The less influence these KGB bumpkins have the better off we are.

    Zaphod – Sarah Palin is right. Just get over it.

  35. srr

    The conversations about ‘the Ukrainian situation’, have been very revealing of the actual (as opposed to the claimed), religiously held beliefs of social/political commentators.

    Ultimately, this is a good thing.

  36. .

    Yes it is.

    You support the dregs of the Communist regime.

  37. Chris M

    Yeah well North Korea is also a pathetically weak state. What difference, at this point, does it make?

    nerb – RT is a propaganda outlet like a Russian version of ABC I think – except pro-Russian while ABC is rabidly anti-australian. I’ve read a few Pravda articles online, not nearly as left-kooky as ABC.

  38. Chris M

    Wow, nobody seems to have read Henry’s article.

    Would that be because it involves first paying Ruphitler? ;)

  39. .

    Yeah well North Korea is also a pathetically weak state. What difference, at this point, does it make?

    Sarah Palin was right.

    nerb – RT is a propaganda outlet like a Russian version of ABC I think – except pro-Russian while ABC is rabidly anti-australian. I’ve read a few Pravda articles online, not nearly as left-kooky as ABC.

    Correct. It is a credible source as itself and Izvestia were during the Cold War.

  40. Boambee John

    If possessing several thousand thermonuclear weapons makes a state weak, what makes one strong?

  41. Boambee John

    “The EU has been expanding westward”

    James, check your compass.

  42. Combine Dave

    The conversations about ‘the Ukrainian situation’, have been very revealing of the actual (as opposed to the claimed), religiously held beliefs of social/political commentators.

    Hollande, Cameron and Merkel are secretly Mullahs?

    Good to know.

  43. JB5

    Can the economists among us confirm (as I’ve been told) that Nazi Germany was also an economically weak state and that was one of the major factors in its swallowing up surrounding nations? Lebensraum being but a side excuse/benefit for them?

  44. Andrew

    Yes, I’ve watched a lot of RT. It’s propaganda, approx -700 milliABCs (where an ABC is the metric unit of propaganda).

  45. Ivan Denisovich

    Eastern Ukraine may be largely Russian-speaking, but it voted by a substantial margin to join Ukraine and not Russia in 1991. There has since been no significant separatist movement. The arrangements to concede naval bases to Russia in Crimea, and turn over all the old Soviet nuclear armoury on Ukrainian soil to Russia, were negotiated in the years following, culminating in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. By this the Russian state gave solemn assurances that it would not in future challenge Ukrainian sovereignty within the recognized frontiers. Putin is in violation of those agreements; again, an unambiguous act of war.

    Russian citizens within Ukraine are free to leave. They were not being threatened, and they do not require armed Russian protection. Any Russian evacuation of them would require the permission and cooperation of Ukrainian authorities. If there is an anti-American demonstration in Canada, the United States Army does not reserve the right to invade to protect U.S. citizens. The absurdity of this and similar arguments emanating from Putin and his captive Upper House should be evident to persons of reasonable intelligence.

    http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2014/03/03/act-of-war/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_independence_referendum,_1991

  46. .

    JB5
    #1218728, posted on March 10, 2014 at 10:44 am
    Can the economists among us confirm (as I’ve been told) that Nazi Germany was also an economically weak state and that was one of the major factors in its swallowing up surrounding nations? Lebensraum being but a side excuse/benefit for them?

    This is why Tooze says they invaded Czechoslovakia – to get gold reserves.

  47. Token

    Can’t help but sympathize with Putin here.

    The EU has been expanding westward at quite a clip into the old soviet sphere of influence since the wall came down. NATO has been busy as well.

    Gotcha you James. You believe that the nations of Eastern Europe should not be allowed to choose according to the will of their people.

    Rather the will of the Russian state is superior to the desires of the people of the independent nation (i.e. they actually should live in perpertuity as clients of Russia).

    When with the Cognative Disonance end and people recognise it is the Totalitarians attitude people like James states on behalf of Russia leads to the non-Russian people of Eastern Europe to run to NATO & the EU in a desperate measure to keep their independence from the corrupt & incompetiently run giant to their east, looking to distract its people?

  48. manalive

    A lively article from Henry Ergas as usual.
    There is a discussion now on The Telegram podcast about Russia and Putin in which the point was made that the West tacitly have been quite comfortable with a strongman in charge.

  49. Token

    Stripped of the Crimean vote, Ukrainian politics would tilt significantly in favour of the west, even if it would not have changed the outcome of the 2010 vote.

    Keep in mind the people demanding Crimea’s succession is demanding the world to listen to a simple 50%+ majority.

    Next, watch for the Totalitarian lovers to then justify Russian occupation of more of the Ukraine to “defend” Russian speaking Ukrainians from the “oppression” when 50%+ of the remaining portion of the population.

    Then we’ll hear the whines as the Totalitarian lovers demand Russia protect the minority…

  50. Oh come on

    Russia needs to be provided with three options, assuming they wish to retain Crimea:

    1) cough up and cough up big for Crimea to compensate fUkraine for them reneging on the 1994 treaty in which Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity (including Crimea)
    2) hand back to Ukraine the nuclear weapons and delivery systems ceded to Russia in the 1994 treaty
    3) be informed that Ukraine will be re-establishing a nuclear deterrent in light of Russia’s recent aggression. Poland should follow suit. The West will provide assistance as required to accelerate the development of their nuclear deterrents.

  51. Oh come on

    Crimea to compensate fUkraine

    oops…unfortunate editing balls-up there.

  52. Token

    Was that your autocorrect at work? I think you’ve turned on a very blue option ;)

  53. james

    Yes token that’s EXACTLY what I said.. . . .

    I find the attitude of Russia in this situation entirely understandable for the reasons I stated above.

    I also find the attitudes of western Ukrainians understandable in light of their historical perspective, particularly the holodomor.

    The peoples of eastern Europe have been the playthings of various germanic and Russian empires for a long time, and before that also being battered by various Scandinavian kingdoms and even the polish-Lithuanians.

    Nearly everyone has understandable historic and modern reasons for the positions they have taken, which is why getting hysterical about Russia’s current moves in the peninsula and calling Putin “totalitarian” (seriously) smacks more of derangement than of dispassionate and reasoned analysis.

    Americans might be able to live in a geopolitical fantasy world at times but the rest of us should at least attempt to live in geopolitical reality.

  54. james

    B John.

    Correct, I meant eastwards.

  55. Token

    The peoples of eastern Europe have been the playthings of various germanic and Russian empires for a long time, and before that also being battered by various Scandinavian kingdoms and even the polish-Lithuanians.

    If that is your intent and I mistook it, my apologies.

    Americans might be able to live in a geopolitical fantasy world at times but the rest of us should at least attempt to live in geopolitical reality.

    As I noted above, Condy Rice & the Bush II presidency seemed to find the right balance. It is a pity that too many people look at states and people of Eastern Europe as Russia’s to toy & oppress at will.

  56. Michel Lasouris

    Putin seems put out

  57. james

    I was interested in some of the analysis of the Georgia spat in 2008.

    It seems some in the Georgian government seriously believed that the U.S had given them the green light to poke the bear.

    Russia sees all its old satraps inching away from it despite their dependency on Russian energy and despite the other option being the none too stable EU.

    Ukraine in Russian eyes is one of the candidates for the birthplace of the Russian people and Putin was willing to bribe them with 15 billion in oil cash just to stay out of the orbit of the German dominated EU.

    To western eyes moving troops into a country under the guise of protecting ethnic comrades looks a lot like Germans shouting about Danzig and the Sudeten.

    To Russian eyes western Ukrainians standing with Germans against the motherland looks a hell of a lot like WW2 as well.

    If you are in the Kremlin the maidan protests look like nothing more than an unconstitutional coup financed and encouraged by western governments to expand the western sphere of influence directly to Russian borders.

    Which is understandable because in part that is exactly what it is.

    Doesn’t change the fact that many Ukrainians came out on the streets and were willing to fight and die for that unconstitutional coup to give them greater independence from their big bad neighbour, get rid of yet another corrupt politician, and hopefully get them some jobs.

    Everyone has an angle here, my favourite is the polish since they have been so quiet while stirring the pot in the background.

    Whoever said pollacks were dumb was kidding themselves.

  58. Rob MW

    I really don’t give a shit one way or the other however; it seems to me that the Ukrainian Constitution became inoperable the minute that the mob in Kiev chucked out their elected Government.

    That said, Crimea is a semi-autonomous (satellite state) adjunct to the Ukrainian nation, with its own Parliament and Constitution, which was completely operational despite the Ukrainian Constitution becoming inoperable due to the actions of the mob.

    The mob, now in power in Kiev and still with an inoperable Constitution, miscalculated or perhaps it didn’t cross their collective minds that this action would then, of its self, open the door for the people of the semi-autonomous (satellite state) Crimea, with their fully functioning Government and Constitution, to declare whatever it is that they want to declare, which at this point is to reunite with Russia.

    The bleating’s of the ‘West’ seems to find that somehow that unelected ‘Mobs’ are the new form of Western Civilisation and should be not only supported but encouraged, bless their little cotton socks.

  59. Token

    With regard to the Russian control of the energy of the EU. It has been noted that if this field is a game changers and if it is ever exploited the power of Russia to direct Europe will be reduced.

    Keep this in mind when you see any discussions about Russian influence in Cyprus, Syria and other neighbours of Isreal.

  60. .

    Token – it is like the Cold War never ended.

    Yet people want to snuggle with the “ex” KGB dictator, Putin.

  61. Token

    The mob, now in power in Kiev and still with an inoperable Constitution, miscalculated or perhaps it didn’t cross their collective minds that this action would then…

    The imperative was to get rid of a man who is directly implicated in the deaths protestors. Also please note that the constitutionality is in question considering the party & most of the cabinet of the ruling party backs fresh elections and the ejection of the former president.

    As the quorum of the parliament is not in question, it has constitutional ability to impeach & dismess a president in certain circumstances.

  62. .

    Yes, but also cheating on votes in Parliament, as Yanukovich did with his Russian apologetic Communist allies…from the 2012 election which was proven to be crooked.

  63. Token

    Token – it is like the Cold War never ended.

    Yet people want to snuggle with the “ex” KGB dictator, Putin.

    Eastern Europeans are no more anti-Russian as they are anti-German. They want the big gorillas to get the f**k out of their space and to allow the people of the non-Russian/non-German nations to let them detirming their own future.

    As Russia continues to believe it has to have 18th century spheres, the whole region gets dragged into these stupid conflicts.

    I will continue to note this, this will only end the Russian people ignore the distractions of their ruling elites and demand a lifestyle like the rest of the world.

    If you look at the dilemma facing the CCCP, they know the Chinese people have a desire of the lifestyle of the first world than a need for more teritory. THIS keeps China in check more than the US or any other agent. It is also leading to the Chinese people to be on a trajectory of wealth the average Russian on the border with China can not dream about.

  64. Rob MW

    “As the quorum of the parliament is not in question, it has constitutional ability to impeach & dismess a president in certain circumstances.”

    Bullshit, complete bullshit. There was no ‘Impeachment’ and the dickhead was not “Dismissed”. He was runoff by the mob.

    The only “Imperative” was the imperative of the fucking mob because the “Opposition” was still negotiating with the fuck-wit for new elections or some sort of power sharing arrangement that would have been consistent with the constitution.

    But like I said, I really don’t give a shit one way or the other.

  65. james

    Dot if there has been a 100% above board election in modern Ukraine it would astound me.

    Also Putin is not technically a dictator in the modern sense (although you could make the argument in a republican Roman sense).

    Those still trapped in a cold war mentality seem to be the commentators like yourself with a knee jerk reaction to any mention of Russia. I was about 2 when the wall came down so perhaps you are of a more advanced age and have different perceptions based on different experiences.

    The Ukraine situation right now is one where everyone seems to have a point, so those points need to be measured with an eye to pragmatism and our own self interest. Getting ranty about how evil Putin is doesn’t really help anyone to draw solid strategic conclusions about what should be done.

  66. Token

    The peoples of eastern Europe have been the playthings of various germanic and Russian empires for a long time, and before that also being battered by various Scandinavian kingdoms and even the polish-Lithuanians.

    I was thinking in the weekend on how the destruction of the Swedish army under Charles XII during the Great Northern War locked the region into Russian hegemony and how Putin is acting to avoid being the Russian ruler that saw the end of that period.

  67. Token

    I was about 2 when the wall came down so perhaps you are of a more advanced age and have different perceptions based on different experiences.

    When I visit my relatives in Eastern Europe the dividing line seems to be those who were 18 before 1989 and those who were 18 after. The attitudes to the world and what hope they have for the future is dictated by whether they were an adult or child at that critical point in time.

    If you did not live in a time to remember when the Soviet Union & its allies in the west was using its power to abuse, you don’t understand the natural suspicion people have to the institutions of the Russian empire (in whatever political flavour it is currently in).

  68. james

    Yes token the GNW is an incredible period of history.

    Tell people today that the Swedes were once the terrifying technological and strategic superpower of northern and eastern Europe and that they stomped all over everyone between Germany and Ukraine and most wouldn’t believe you.

  69. Token

    Also James, I was not trying to be patronising about the age thing, rather acknowledging & highlighting to you that you were correct to pick up on how the Cold War shaped attitudes. I also wanted to underline that my suspicion of Russia comes from seeing the people effected, not just the attitudes of the West.

    As I note, I look at the way the resource poor Chinese people demand their rulers provide a better future and compare to how the resource rich Russian people do not.

  70. james

    As a libertarianish minded fellow born later I tend to associate to evils of Russian expansionism during the soviet period with communism rather than modern Russia.

    Seeing the EU do its best to screw up the economies of western and southern Europe while exercising ever greater and ever more unaccountable political control over its member states has also lent me an even handed view of the strategic conflict between the two over eastern Europe.

    Russia is worse, but Russia is losing the long war as the borders of the EU swallow one former dominated state after another. That’s why I believe some see this as an act of desperation to try and maintain what they can while losing their “little brothers” down south to the new hegemony approaching ever closer.

    To someone living in Poland, Hungary, the Baltics or Ukraine the perspective would be very, very different.

  71. james

    Dot, speaking from a pragmatic viewpoint does it really matter to those of us on the other side of the world?

    The EU deposes elected governments, takes judicial powers away from its member states, makes itself the highest court of appeal and robs national governments of billions. They also impose “hate crimes” laws of the type I find so distasteful.

    They are undemocratic, statist, practically unaccountable and deeply antithetical to the concept of personal liberty.

    If they murdered journalists they practically would be Putin. But fortunately for them they don’t need to, outside the UK practically all journalists seem to pray towards Brussels.

    The EU is winning the race for eastern Europe against the Russians because they are richer and more developed and for very little other reason.

    It’s a fight between bad bastards and not so bad bastards and we should cheer on the not so bad bastards? Unless we have family from the region why should we give a Damn?

  72. Oh come on

    Complaints of Yanukovych being the democratically elected leader and his removal being unconstitutional would only bother me if I thought the manner in which he came to power was free and fair (not many are game enough to claim this), and that the constitution which gave the president so much power was not the worthless rag it became in 2010 when a stacked constitutional court overturned amendments because they declared these unconstitutional (a constitutional court deciding that the text that’s supposed to inform their judgements is unconstitutional – go figure). So no, as far as I’m concerned Yanukovych was an illegitimate president and the 2010 amendments that gave him the powers he had were also illegitimately inserted into the constitution by a body that was inferior to the text itself.

    The false president Yanukovych can go to blazes, and he deserves whatever shit comes his way.

    Ukraine is undoubtedly better off in the European Union than in the Russian orbit. That being said, there are lots of people currently living in Ukraine who disagree. I noted some time ago that, with the loss of Crimea, the hand of the Ukrainian nationalists is strengthened considerably when it comes to the ballot box. The Ukrainians who lean towards Russia are going to be in a perpetual minority, particularly so because they birthrate in the west is higher than in the east. These Russian nationalists should be allowed to choose between Ukraine and Russia in an orderly fashion.

    Russia needs to pay dearly for reneging on its 1994 treaty with Ukraine. If it refuses, Ukraine should acquire a nuclear deterrent as quickly as possible – and invite the Americans to install an extensive ABM network on its territory – so Russia will never again threaten its borders.

  73. Token

    Russia needs to pay dearly for reneging on its 1994 treaty with Ukraine. If it refuses, Ukraine should acquire a nuclear deterrent as quickly as possible – and invite the Americans to install an extensive ABM network on its territory – so Russia will never again threaten its borders.

    I am sad to say that the Russians and their overt treaty breaking in Georgia & the Crimea have virtially assured this future.

  74. Oh come on

    These Russian nationalists should be allowed to choose Ukraine and Russia and repatriate freely and in an orderly fashion. I suggest this could take place during a migration window that would last for a fixed period of time, say 3-5 years.

  75. J.H.

    Said James….”I was about 2 when the wall came down so perhaps you are of a more advanced age and have different perceptions based on different experiences. “

    The pertinent point to understand with that statement James……. Is that Putin was born into that earlier era. He is not a leader from your generation……

    What you see of Putin is a carefully constructed fabrication. Believe us when we say that Putin was forged upon the anvil of his formative Communist past. Putin believes only in the power held by the state to advance civilization…. he views the people as nothing but slaves to HIS ambition and his vision of the State.

    His concern for Russian speaking Ukrainians is a sham.

    The ideology of liberal freedoms does not reside within Putin. Indeed they are the antithesis of everything Putin stands for……. and never forget that James.

  76. Oh come on

    I am sad to say that the Russians and their overt treaty breaking in Georgia & the Crimea have virtially assured this future.

    That would be a strategic disaster for Russia. If they were smart, they’d get their chequebook out now and not complain if Ukraine adds a few zeroes to whatever number they’re willing to give.

  77. Viva

    Obama obviously has never heard of the admonition:

    “If you want peace prepare for war.”

  78. Oh come on

    In fact, if Russia’s near abroad acquired a nuclear deterrent and allowed the US to establish a comprehensive ABM shield designed specifically to counter Russia’s nuclear deterrent, that would be a greater strategic disaster for Russia than the loss of the Black Sea Fleet’s bases in Crimea, which can always be relocated further south.

  79. John Comnenus

    It really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. What matters is who will win and lose. Putin will almost certainly win and probably annex Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine. The reality is that there is little anyone can do about it. Putin does not want to recreate the Soviet Union or even the Russian Empire, despite the nostalgia he has for these.

    Putin is fighting to save Russia from being overwhelmed by Islam. That is why Putin is fighting back against the Jihadists by trying to leverage the Church.

    Putin realises the idiocy of going into a religious war armed with no faith. Putin is trying to concurrently rebuild his Christian birth rate, get more Russians into Russia to decrease the percentage of the population that is Islamic, reenergise Russians by being engaged in traditional Russian values and keeping the Islamic world split by supporting Shia Iran against all the Sunnis.

    Putin knows that he can’t go on the offensive against his domestic Islamic enemies until he has got a firm cultural and population base to launch from. Putin is working to consolidate the firm base.

    Putin has the first principle of war burned in his brain – the selection and maintenance of the aim. He also knows that one of the key considerations for going on offense is to operate from a firm base. Putin is predictable, and will win. He won’t be giving anyone any concessions to idiots who merely think they are morally superior to the Kremlin thug. After all Putin thinks his mission is morally superior to the decadent fools in Washington who have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the fore in the Arab world.

    It is too soon to know whether Russia stays the inter generational course Putin is following. What we know is that Putin won’t deviate and hence will probably win.

    Packer famously said you only ever get one Bond in a lifetime. Putin knows he will only get one Obama. Putin has three years left to make the most of the Obama Presidency. I expect Putin to take maximum advantage of the idiot in the White House.

  80. james

    J.H you are correct when you say Putin could never be considered a champion of liberty even in his own most deluded fever dream.

    But he is a nationalist who seems to want the best for his country (even if only because his own survival depends on success).

    While there is much to deplore about a man who “influences” elections, has opposition locked up and journalists killed I can’t help but favourably compare his love of country and the obvious humiliation at what he sees as its downfall with the spineless, smug, self righteous, self hating leftist intelligentsia that infest the cultural elites and academic institutions of the west.

    Maybe it is because I am still a relatively young man that such an attitude has a resonance. He may be backed into a geopolitical corner but when compared with his western counterparts Putin does look a touch of the magnificent b*stard.

  81. Token

    It really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. What matters is who will win and lose. Putin will almost certainly win and probably annex Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine

    The Crimea certainly looks lost. It will take longer to seize Eastern Ukraine and the open land border will be hard to hold.

    Packer famously said you only ever get one Bond in a lifetime. Putin knows he will only get one Obama. Putin has three years left to make the most of the Obama Presidency. I expect Putin to take maximum advantage of the idiot in the White House.

    Too true

  82. Speaking of Condy Rice, my wife was watching an Oprah bio on her last night. I was left lamenting that the Yanks were left with John Kerry woefully inadequately not filling Condaleeza’s substantial foreign policy shoes, while my wife lamented her not ever having children. Still, I suppose the world is potentially worse off without her and her non-children, a far better black authority figure than Obozo, and a real intellect.

  83. jupes

    Good post John Comnenus. It makes sense to me.

  84. John, I don’t see anyone anywhere stopping Russians from returning to the motherland.

    Oh, what Russia really needs is more territory? The largest country on earth clearly needs more land. How. Convenient.

  85. jupes

    John, I don’t see anyone anywhere stopping Russians from returning to the motherland.

    Isn’t the Crimea a case of returning the motherland to Russia?

  86. .

    Putin is fighting to save Russia from being overwhelmed by Islam. That is why Putin is fighting back against the Jihadists by trying to leverage the Church.

    Then why is he allying himself with the same States the USSR was allied with? Does he support Israel or not?

  87. Then why is he allying himself with the same States the USSR was allied with? Does he support Israel or not?

    And that’s the point, Dot. This is merely a narrative. It needs to be tested and demonstrated before the west can accept it as fact. I need some convincing that Putin’s not playing chess.

  88. John of Perth

    The economic aspects seemed to be very underplayed here with regards to the crisis as it play also across generation age and generation.

    Many Ukrainians who are not self identified as ethic Russians would love to be part of Russia (my in-laws included). This is because the aged pensions is nearly 3 times larger in Russia and they have a number concessions and benefits that ordinary Ukrainians would love to have, as their current basic pension would be lucky to pay for their subsidised gas bill in winter. Many family’s support their aged through work in Russia, where the wages higher or live with family as its too expensive to live outside the family home, with limited job prospects. The combined family unit due to economic constraints is still a problem in Russia, but in the Ukraine it is more so, given that the endemic corruption has breed resentment and continued poverty. This has led many Ukrainian speaking youth, when combined with an explosive form of “western indoctrination” that blames Russia and not communism for their hardship and look at Russia as the enemy that has caused this poverty than their own institutions that have not not eliminated a deep level of corruption inherited from the break up of the Soviet Union. The fact you have competing generations that had a better life under the former USSR to now is forgotten.

    Ukraine is an economic basket-case regardless of which way they swing and has a strong wealthfare dependant mindset to keep the cash arriving to stay afloat without making any real meaningful structural change, as one thief takes over a change in government occurs. There is no way Yanukovych would have been able to handle an EU or IMF package as this would result in further social problems with the austerity measures attached and its effect on his aged and regional voter base and alliances. The likely cuts to services, jobs and pensions would be political suicide, with the possibility of this urgently needed aid not fully handed over or delayed. The Russian aid package would have less strings attached and a further 20% gas subsidy would make good business sense.

    I have family in the Ukraine, who basically say the aged and middle class support Russia or understand Russian involvement. In their city they talk about gangs of armed and masked youths intimidating harassing Russian speakers and are scared out of their minds where these people came from. They live near the Russian boarder and can no longer receive Russian news and only a state owned TV station that speaks out many half truths, which they claim likens it to a military dictatorship as no one knows who really controls this unelected and self appointed “government” (their words). This is in the Ukrainian north east where they predominately speak Ukrainian, so I would hate to believe what is occurring in the South east, where the Russian speakers predominate. What you must understood in the dying days of President Yanukovych’s government that he tried to form a national unity Government with his hated rivals to avoid further violence. This new government has made no attempt to reconcile the other 50% of the population, which is a very important point. Infact they have inflamed the situation by promoting two corrupt Oligarchs to these regions to act as their personal fiefdoms and removing the right of Russian as a recognised language, which under the terms of the Ukrainian law gives Russia a right to intervene if these this language right is removed (which they have eagerly used as a reason to involve themselves directly).

    The point is this information and the way people network outside of the mainstream media does not give a clear understanding of what is taking place on the ground, as English readers predominately get their information from primary US and Ukrainian speaking sources (which have their own agenda), while dismissing the other side as mere propaganda.

    Any fair vote in the Crimea and other Russian speaking regions would see a strong desire to be part of Russia not just the protection of their language and identity, but will offer higher wages, pensions, job opportunities, which they would not get under the existing arrangement.

  89. james

    John I doubt Putin is on an anti Islamic crusade.

    He has given considerable aid to the anti Sunni bloc (Syria, Iran) and as Russia loses ground in Europe it seems they are consolidating in central asia.

    Russia is going to piss off a lot of people in Turkey with the Crimea stuff, but Moscow and Ankara are traditionally rivals who hate each other anyway.

    The reaching out to Egypt to support the anti Muslim Brotherhood forces in the military is just traditional Russian balance of power game playing rather than any concrete strategy against islamism.

    It would be nice if Russia became a stalwart bastion against the spread of Islam, but considering traditional Russian strategic priorities the only cultural war Putin will be fighting in the near future is against western left liberalism.

  90. james

    Good points John of Perth, it is not just a matter of Ukrainian speakers v Russian speakers, like most conflicts there are numerous economic angles.

    I would assume that just like in Croatia recently many central and western Ukrainians are under the impression that if they can just get under that blue flag with the yellow stars instant wealth will fall from the sky.

  91. Token

    Isn’t the Crimea a case of returning the motherland to Russia?

    Crimea will be absorbed, that is the realpolitik.

    The statement is a carefully constructed myth which it seems will not go away. Even the real traditional owners of the Crimea, the Greeks & the fellow Orthodox Bulgars were ethnically cleansed to achieve this result:

    The upheavals and ethnic cleansing of the 20th century vastly changed Crimea’s ethnic situation. In 1944, 70,000 Greeks and 14,000 Bulgarians from Crimea were deported to Central Asia and Siberia, along with 200,000 Crimean Tatars and other nationalities.[why?][1][2] By the latter 20th century, Russians and Ukrainians made up almost the entire population. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, exiled Crimean Tatars began returning to their homeland and would become 10% of the population by the beginning of the 21st century

    Clearing the Tatars out was an act of unspeakable evil, but will continue to be ignored by the world:

    The Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group residing in present day Ukraine. They have a tragic history: after being falsely accused of collaborating with Nazi Germany, the entire Crimean Tatar population (200,000 men women and children) was forcibly deported en masse to Central Asia by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin within a few days in 1944.

    They were finally allowed to return during the twilight years of the Soviet Union, and now make up around 12% of Crimea’s population – massively outnumbered by the ethnic Russians who dominate the peninsula.

    The main problem for many Crimean Tatars is that they have not been able to reclaim the lands, which their families possessed before the deportation. They accuse the authorities of doing little to help them reintegrate into Ukrainian society.

    If their applications to build houses are refused, some Tatars seize plots of land, put up small stone huts to indicate possession, and then gradually construct larger homes on the self-appropriated sites.

  92. Token

    Any fair vote in the Crimea and other Russian speaking regions would see a strong desire to be part of Russia not just the protection of their language and identity, but will offer higher wages, pensions, job opportunities, which they would not get under the existing arrangement.

    Any fair vote should be conditional on a “fair vote” in Russia for all people who wish to sucede.

    Of course Russia is not going to allow other peoples in regions like the Caucasus to do what it demands for ethnic Russians as so many people seem to take the attitude that the earth belongs to Russia and that preditor state may absorb any location it gets a plurity in.

  93. John Comnenus

    The reason Putin is going to the external Russians in the immediate border areas is because they have made their homes there and do not necessarily want to leave. Why would Putin worry about a tiny area like South Ossetia or Abkhazia? These are tiny areas, but they include strong but small enclaves of Christian Russians. Putin doesn’t need the territories – he needs the people. Putin supports the anti Sunni candidates everywhere because his Islamic problem is Sunni. A strong Shia keeps the Sunni distracted and stops the Islamic world from uniting. That is why the Russians are supporting the Assad regime and Iran but do not seem to keen on the Muslim Brotherhood.

  94. james

    Token I hold no flame for Stalin, but I consider the true act of unspeakable evil to be the “harvest of the steppe”.

    Ethnic cleansing ain’t fun, but we are talking about three million slaves and an entire society based almost solely on trafficking them in a fashion that would make the trans Atlantic slavers throw up.

    Read up on it and then tell me if you still hold sympathy for the descendants of that monstrous khanate.

  95. Oh come on

    Is snatching Crimea while giving nothing in return really worth an arms race on Russia’s border? Russia needs to buy its way out of this mess.

  96. John Comnenus

    There is little doubt that the influence of the Khanate and depredations they inflicted on the Russians was seminal to Russia arising as a modern state. Russia shored up the south with the Don Cossacks founded who were soldier settlers tasked with providing early warning against the Khanates great slave drives that took hundreds of thousands to Crimea at a time. She then ventured West over the Urals to smash the Sibir and expunge their periodic raids East. Russia didn’t stop until they hit the Pacific.

    Russia was a mass victim of Islam before the Czars struck back. This is important in the Russian psyche. Furthermore Russia had been unable to protect its Orthodox allies, mainly the Serbs, against Western backed Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. Vladimir isn’t about to let the West back a separatist Islamic Khanate in the middle of Russia.

  97. John of Perth

    Of course Russia is not going to allow other peoples in regions like the Caucasus to do what it demands for ethnic Russians as so many people seem to take the attitude that the earth belongs to Russia and that preditor state may absorb any location it gets a plurity in.

    I don’t deny that Token.

    It comes to a point where you stop and what you allow. Why allow Kosovo and not the Basque region, why not all other ethic minorities in the Ukraine, Hungarian speaking regions of Europe not incorporated, the Kurds etc

    I personally think Putin did not initially want to break parts off the Ukraine but this “revolution” has forced contingency plans to be executed, as the delicate balance would have shifted Ukraine from the Russian orbit as the other side never showed a desire to compromise with the Russian population or attempt unity.

    The problem of any new nation state (Ukraine or any former Soviet countries) all have poorly defined national and cultural boundaries care of Soviet and Russian policy to make any future entity weak (I could dictate pages on central Asia and its mess). Western Europe has a more stable boundaries and less frozen state conflicts Spain and the artificial construct Belgium to name a few, but they have a long history to where they got there. Regardless minorities need to have their right protected and the Russian federation systems still offers equal rights for all citizens, autonomy and a degree of cultural and religious protection (I am not claiming its perfect or gives ground not to split). This is not what is happening in the Ukraine at present, no accommodation is being reached but a hardening of sides are occurring.

    The regional strong players will determine any shift as real politick, you could argue we did this with East Timor as the driving force and NATO did this to dismember Serbia.

  98. Combine Dave

    I would assume that just like in Croatia recently many central and western Ukrainians are under the impression that if they can just get under that blue flag with the yellow stars instant wealth will fall from the sky.

    If they become eligible for EU subsidies (mandated by the French but paid for by the long suffering German taxpayer) than this will actually be the case :)

  99. John Comnenus

    OCO,

    Putin is running a budget and trade surplus through resource exports that are funding his rearmament program. All his neighbours, except Kazakhstan, are broke. He doesn’t have to buy his way out of anything.

    Now why would China and especially India both abandon the West to support Russia? Could it be that they both are responding to Putins leadership? They certainly aren’t responding to Obama, just like the Arabs didn’t.

  100. Token

    Read up on it and then tell me if you still hold sympathy for the descendants of that monstrous khanate.

    Strange, I am not asking for a return to the Crimean Horde or a recognition of the territorial claims of the Tatars, Turks or Greeks. Not the topic I am discussing. The discussions on other nations though interesting are not relevant.

    I am saying that the demographics which is being spouted is a manufactured stat based upon a terrible practice.

    The reality of the world since the Treaty of Westphalia was signed is to honour the territory integrity of a nation. Ther is a Treaty Russia signed with the Ukraine which gave that land (no matter how they wish to revise the history) and the territorial rights of that nation should be honoured by Russia and people in the west.

    Any person who wants to parcel up another nation has just become like the dopes Chamberlain and Daladier.

  101. Token

    Putin is running a budget and trade surplus through resource exports that are funding his rearmament program. All his neighbours, except Kazakhstan, are broke. He doesn’t have to buy his way out of anything.

    Read the article by Ergas to see how this is an illusion which will come to an end.

    Anyone who thinks they will get 3 x the pension believes in a myth. That said, I understand that desperate and foolish people believe that governments can give money in perpetuity and will surrender their most important freedoms to gain it.

  102. .

    Russia or the Caliphate!

    You guys can’t be serious. America chooses neither.

  103. Piett

    This will not turn into a “world war” as the world knows Obama has no ticker.

    If that’s the case, I’m glad he has no ticker. But I don’t think Bush, Romney, or even McCain — the most pugnacious of the lot — would have done any more than Obama over this.

    In the 1980s there were invasions of Grenada and Panama by the US (good operations which removed despots). The Soviets could have huffed and puffed about it all they wanted, but the US would have entirely ignored them, because obviously Russia would never go to war for the sake of tinpot regimes on America’s doorstep.

    Same thing now, in reverse. There is no threat the West could credibly make, no matter who was in the White House, to prevent the Crimea being broken off.

  104. John of Perth

    What freedoms are they surrendering Token

    As Russian citizens they will get a bigger pension. Fact not myth. If I was of old age pension age struggling to live day by day in extreme conditions unlike our pensioners who we know are not exactly looked after well would be a welcome help. No one saying its goes on for perpetuity but it would be more stable historically that what is occurring in Ukraine without the potential further erosion any austerity measures would bring.

    Your last comment regrettably has no content and is dismissive.

  105. Token

    Russia or the Caliphate!

    You guys can’t be serious. America chooses neither

    It is crazy thinking. If they gave the Russian people real economic development they would have an incentive to reproduce, rather than drink themselves into a stupour and count the weeks and months until they can get their hands on that pittance of a pension taken out royalties for oil, gas & other raw materials.

    Russia is still the world’s biggest overall energy exporter: It’s the No. 1 oil producer and No. 2 in gas after the U.S. However, the country’s known oil reserves—primarily between the Ural Mountains and the Central Siberian Plateau—are enough to sustain current production levels for just 20 years, according to a study in December by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), vs. 70 years for Saudi Arabia and 90 years for the United Arab Emirates. Untapped oil and gas reserves in eastern Siberia and the Arctic will take massive investments to explore.

    …Taxes on the energy industry are vital to the Kremlin patronage system. They give Putin the means to woo key constituencies such as the military, security, and political elites; to improve government pensions; and to spend in poorer regions in the Muslim North Caucasus and other rural areas. During his 2012 campaign, he promised to improve wages for doctors and teachers, increase retirement checks, and invest in Russia’s military arsenal. The former KGB career officer is unlikely to loosen his grip on the state-owned energy sector, because that would endanger his grip on power, says one economic

    At the same time they are being crowded out of the markets by lower cost suppliers (not just lower price):

    Russia’s worry is twofold: An expanding supply of affordable LNG, which is transported by ship, is forcing Gazprom to either cut prices or lose share. (Weird and surprising fact: As American utilities shift to gas, displaced U.S. coal is flooding into European markets. The U.S. may supplant Russia as the world’s No. 3 coal exporter by yearend, according to Goldman Sachs (GS).) Second, the Russian gas giant is under pressure to adopt spot-market pricing instead of tying its prices to oil. In June, Gazprom agreed to revise its gas contracts with German utility RWE after losing an arbitration case; it’s renegotiating supply contracts with other utilities, including Eni (ENI:IM) and EconGas. The European Union is also drafting an antitrust complaint against Gazprom for abusing its dominant position, say three people familiar with the probe who asked not to be named. The company declined to comment. Longer term, the Russians may even have to contend with shale energy assets being developed by Western oil majors in Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania, all Gazprom profit sanctuaries.

    With the LNG trade expected to almost double to 450 million tonnes a year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the Russian government is expected to take up legislation that would for the first time allow companies other than Gazprom, which has been slow to respond to big industry changes over the last decade, to export LNG. Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in June the country is also committed to building out its LNG capacity—Russia has just one plant up and running in Sakhalin—and more than doubling Russia’s share of the LNG trade from 4 percent to about 10 percent by 2020. With Gazprom’s traditional gas business facing pricing and demand pressure in Europe, Russian companies need to be bigger players in faster-growing Asian markets. “We are really behind the curve and need to accelerate,” says Ildar Davletshin, an oil and gas analyst with Renaissance Capital.

    Putin may have a state behind him, but he is make promises as big as Bernie Madoff.

  106. Token

    As Russian citizens they will get a bigger pension. Fact not myth.

    What is it Thatcher said about Socialists running out of other people’s money? Fact not myth.

    With all the election commitments Putin regularly makes, the supply tapering off and heavy competition in its markets by low cost suppliers, the pensions really are an illusion. See my link to Business Week above.

  107. Token

    Your last comment regrettably has no content and is dismissive.

    About the Treaty of Westphalia? About the manufactured demographics through ethnic cleansing?

  108. Token

    The regional strong players will determine any shift as real politick, you could argue we did this with East Timor as the driving force and NATO did this to dismember Serbia.

    I agree / don’t argue with your points about the fragility of Federations and the ability of nations to fracture. I had a post about why I believe the Ukraine, Russia and other successor states of the Soviet Union which are based upon manufactured borders are likely to splinter in time, but that post was lost.

    The actions in East Timor & the fracturing of the manufactured state of Yugoslavia were great powers enabling non-homogenous peoples to pull from the treaty created artificial states.

    What do they say about warning about nations with borders that are straight lines rather than based upon terrain?

  109. Piett

    In fact, if Russia’s near abroad acquired a nuclear deterrent and allowed the US to establish a comprehensive ABM shield designed specifically to counter Russia’s nuclear deterrent, that would be a greater strategic disaster for Russia than the loss of the Black Sea Fleet’s bases in Crimea, which can always be relocated further south.

    Neither will happen. Russia (with China’s backing) would raise merry hell about the violation of the NPT. They wouldn’t accept that America gets to choose who can and who can’t get nukes. The sanction regime on Iran collapses at that point.

    As for an ABM shield in Ukraine, who exactly would pay for the multi-billion cost of this?

    You realise that the small ABM shield in Eastern Europe was never intended to stop, and never could have stopped, the vast Russian missile arsenal? It was supposed to be a shield against a hypothetical threat from Iran. All it did in practice was pointlessly irritate Russia. I never really understood the rationale for it — particularly as the West ultimately needs Russia to supply intel on militant Islam and help contain it.

  110. Token

    If that’s the case, I’m glad he has no ticker. But I don’t think Bush, Romney, or even McCain — the most pugnacious of the lot — would have done any more than Obama over this.

    Read what Condi & Bush II did for Georgia above to see how power can be used. McCain understood this and Romney seemed to project the idea he understood too.

  111. Piett

    Read what Condi & Bush II did for Georgia above to see how power can be used.

    I did. But Russian troops never left Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They didn’t manage to undermine the Georgian government, but they got the bits of the country they particularly wanted. And Bush II and Condi couldn’t do a thing about it.

    Russia maintains 3,700 soldiers in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and opened military bases in Java, Tskhinvali, and Gudauta in 2010. Russia spent $400 million on the bases. In August 2010, Russia deployed S-300 long-range air defense missiles in Abkhazia, and other air defense systems in South Ossetia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_South_Ossetia_war

  112. Piett

    There is one thing that could plausibly be done by the West, and it certainly isn’t military in nature. It is a set of economic sanctions against Russia. It might have to be maintained for years. It would have a variety of awful consequences:

    (a) It would strengthen the hand of Putin and Russian nationalists in general.
    (b) Ordinary Russian citizens would be driven to hate and resent the West.
    (c) Russia moves in more closely with a West-hating group of nations. (Mmm, yes, let’s have a new Cold War.) And they become more aggressive.
    (d) No more cooperation with Russia on Sunni Islamists.

    Any of you guys want that, seriously?

  113. John Comnenus

    Dot,

    explaining the motivation of others does not connote agreement or otherwise. But it is worth knowing that Russia does feel threatened by its restive and fecund Islamic minorities. It is not Russia or the Caliphate at all, and I don’t think anyone is arguing it is. Putin and many others see it as Russia as ethno-culturally Slavic Orthodox dominated or a Turkic – Tatar Sunni Islam dominated Russia.

  114. .

    (c) Russia moves in more closely with a West-hating group of nations. (Mmm, yes, let’s have a new Cold War.) And they become more aggressive.

    Who says they don’t want this?

  115. rickw

    “If that’s the case, I’m glad he has no ticker. But I don’t think Bush, Romney, or even McCain — the most pugnacious of the lot — would have done any more than Obama over this.”

    None of them would have to deal with this situation, Putin wouldn’t have been game to try it with anyone other than Obama.

  116. Token

    They didn’t manage to undermine the Georgian government, but they got the bits of the country they particularly wanted. And Bush II and Condi couldn’t do a thing about it.

    The Bush admin never thought in the context of war or removing the Russians, that was a strategic impossibility. They did the best with the cards they were dealt.

    Putin attacked at the end of the Bush admin knowing the D’rat surrender monkeys would appease him and was proven correct.

  117. Token

    Turkic – Tatar Sunni Islam dominated Russia

    No Russian wants to return to the days when Russians paid annual tribute to the Golden Horde. They absorbed the steppe empires and like the Mongols are looking to be consumed from within by the muslims.

  118. Piett

    Putin attacked at the end of the Bush admin knowing the D’rat surrender monkeys would appease him and was proven correct.

    So you want a full-scale sanction regime on Russia then, Token? That’s all the ‘D’rat surrender monkeys’ could have done.

  119. james

    Token, not taking the piss honest, I just don’t see the well justified and long delayed revenge on the tatar scum on the peninsular who inflicted so much pain on Poles, Lithuanians, Russians and Ruthenians over the course of centuries as the “unspeakable evil” you describe.

    It is like the well justified distrust of whites that blacks have in the U.S, the abject hatred of Chinese for Japanese and the incredible dislike that almost everyone in indochina has for the Chinese.

    Some historical hatreds are justified, they might be utterly unproductive, but you can understand why they continue.

  120. Alfonso

    Crimea’s lesson…don’t get outnumbered by other cultures or races in your own country or pretty soon they’ll want daddy to come and protect them from pretend threats.

    Perhaps Lebanon’s desire to occupy Australia to protect its culturally loyal historic abusers of “skippy” women on Cronulla beach from those Anglo racists is a case in point.

  121. james

    Alfonso, thank god most of Lebanons wealth and power seems to have emigrated to Latin America.

  122. Token

    Some historical hatreds are justified, they might be utterly unproductive, but you can understand why they continue.

    Most of those are redundant in the context of the 21st century. Japan of today is insular. The heirs of the Anglo world are conducting a process of reconciliation with the peoples they displaced and historically enslaved.

    There are others that should remain suspicious of nations and peoples that refuse to address the fundamental reason for their own society’s poverty and act as predators on their neighbours.

    Yes, the blacks in the US should fear other blacks as like the days when the slave trade existed, when their own sell them into slavery to obtain ethnic dominance. The Indo Chinese & Indians experience naked aggression from the PRC in the name of a land grab, and the neighbours of Russia have seen in the last 10 years the Russian state attempted to steal the prime cuts of its neighbours lands to feed its crony capitalist system.

  123. Token

    So you want a full-scale sanction regime on Russia then, Token? That’s all the ‘D’rat surrender monkeys’ could have done.

    Sanctions make the poorest in the nation poor while enriching the elites, that is why the D’rats love that solution.

    No McCain would acted effectively to attack the bank accounts and transactions of the elites.

  124. Token

    Alfonso, thank god most of Lebanons wealth and power seems to have emigrated to Latin America.

    I grew up with Christian Lenanese in country Australia. They are as canny traders as the Russians and Armenians. They are great at making a dollar when it is not handed to them in return for nothing.

  125. james

    Token i grew up with Christian Lebanese as well. Pretty sure they rival the Israelis as the most canny businessmen of the levant. Travelling through Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil I was amazed at the amount of incredibly successful marionites you find behind every second business.

    I almost believe the story every Christian leb spouts about being descended from the ancient traders who first colonized the Mediterranean and founded Carthage.

  126. John of Perth

    Hi Token

    What do they say about warning about nations with borders that are straight lines rather than based upon terrain?

    I did not assume disagreement with you on this and I did miss you earlier post.I don’t claim to have the answers to some of the above point raised about boarders you mentioned, however as you are know many of the straight line boarders are artificial colonial constructs that has resulted in conflict slippage (Africa being the best example).

    About the Treaty of Westphalia? About the manufactured demographics through ethnic cleansing?

    I don’t know what you mean by the first bit, can you elaborate or is this to do with an earlier comment? Yes you can argue the Crimea in the last 60 years (what if it was just Ukrainians than Russians should the Tartars just get the land instead?) but what about the rest of the regions Russian historically have dominated in the Ukraine.

    Do you believe the Ukraine is an artificial state if we were to use Yugoslavia/Indonesia or Czech examples?

    Russia is not a true socialist country and yes it is dependant on Energy for its money, but so is Australia on gas and mineral resources, so should we now cut pensions of everyone here because the good times are over or will be over. I am not trying to be snarky here just pointing out dependence economically on a few areas for growth is always an illusion regardless of political structure. There always needs to be a welfare net to support those that are vulnerable and elderly or do you think this is not needed (survival of the fittest)

    I would point out that pensions have increased in Russia since the GFC as they see this as necessary to protect that who are most vulnerable in society. It maybe cynical for votes and has a socialist flavour but the reason was based on the strong family emphasis that dominates domestic policy Putin has in place to strengthen traditional family values through protecting those vulnerable, gifts for those who give birth to 3 or more children, re-establishing its traditional orthodox values to name a few. Strong family values and population = strong cultural identity and ability to respond in crisis and grow economically.

    PS: working in finance and the energy sector is still attractive despite your alternative analysis on gas prices so I would disagree on the short-medium term. Russia still has a lot of money to earn.

  127. Token

    I did not assume disagreement with you on this and I did miss you earlier post.I don’t claim to have the answers to some of the above point raised about boarders you mentioned, however as you are know many of the straight line boarders are artificial colonial constructs that has resulted in conflict slippage (Africa being the best example).

    I am agreeing with you about the weakness of the Ukraine due to the fact it was built in an-inorganic way. That said, as a segment of the Soviet Union it was granted the land it was by an internal agreement to keep peace and that agreement remained law when the Soviet Union dissolved.

    Do you believe the Ukraine is an artificial state if we were to use Yugoslavia/Indonesia or Czech examples?

    Not exactly, it is an amalgamation of a number of groups and may turn out to be dangerously fractious. It is not as strong as the Spanish Federation you quoted earlier as there is no constitutional framework tying to people together.

    I don’t know what you mean by the first bit, can you elaborate or is this to do with an earlier comment? Yes you can argue the Crimea in the last 60 years (what if it was just Ukrainians than Russians should the Tartars just get the land instead?) but what about the rest of the regions Russian historically have dominated in the Ukraine.

    The fact is that Russia signed a treaty with the Ukraine when the Soviet Union dissolved agreeing to the borders as they existed at the end of time of the Soviet empire. This included all lands including the Crimea. This thereby became the property of the new nation state and in no way does this stealing of territory by force nullify the principles of Westphalian sovereignty.

    Russia is not a true socialist country and yes it is dependant on Energy for its money, but so is Australia on gas and mineral resources, so should we now cut pensions of everyone here because the good times are over or will be over. I am not trying to be snarky here just pointing out dependence economically on a few areas for growth is always an illusion regardless of political structure.

    Australia has a vastly broad economic base to use for its welfare state. Russia is dependent on commodities in a way Australia is not, and with the shocks I noted above one can question what is sustainable. Further, by bringing in more and more citizens (especially the pensioners you note above) it is increasing its base of dependants in a way that does increase its wealth base.

    Australia has a longer distance to go to hit the point due to the debt pay down by the Howard / Costello governments (though with the way the Labor / Green squander monkeys work all they need is another 6 years term in power and we’ll have hit the critical point).

    Strong family values and population = strong cultural identity and ability to respond in crisis and grow economically.

    Thanks for the comments on the social Russian fabric. I am suspicious due to the high rates of alcoholism and high rates of abandonment of children (as noted in the OT today) that the fabric of Russian society is more vulnerable than you suggest.

    Thanks for the responses John. Once again I do thank you for undertaking a dialogue. Time for me to build my own social fabric and to take the kids to bed (with a good dose of reading).

  128. Oh come on

    Putin is running a budget and trade surplus through resource exports that are funding his rearmament program. All his neighbours, except Kazakhstan, are broke. He doesn’t have to buy his way out of anything.

    Nonsense. Kazakhstan is strategically less important from a geographic point of view. It’s the near the western near abroad that are in play. Poland (while not a neighbour of Russia) isn’t broke, for starters. As for Ukraine and the Baltic states, the west should and probably will bankroll their rearmament as a longer-term response to check Russian expansionism westward. Poland will no doubt receive substantial military aid, too, as Belarus will probably stick with Russia and Poland may find itself sharing a de facto border with Russia in the not so distant future anyway. I doubt Finland will have anything to do with any of this, but an open offer should be made. They might accept it if Russia starts to throw its weight around a bit more.

    No one is suggesting that the nations of the near abroad are ever going to be able to go toe-to-toe with Russia either alone or in coalition. However, they can make the cost of another Russian invasion unacceptably high.

    Ukraine was, let’s not forget, a nuclear-armed state. It has a number of functioning reactors. It may have handed over the weapons to Russia, but I bet they still have the know-how to construct a warhead and a delivery system. I see no reason why it won’t start working towards re-establishing a nuclear deterrent. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they found someone to bankroll them in this effort. Will the Balts go down the same route? Will Poland?

  129. John Comnenus

    OCO,

    Why is the Western near abroad in play? A few years ago it was the Caucus south, now it is the West. Kazakhstan has approx 3.8 mil Russians primarily clustered near the Russian border. The Kazakhs are aware of this which is why they moved their Capital from Almaty, in the South, to Astana much further North. Russia will be able to provoke a dispute in Kazakhstan, annex the North gaining a couple more million Russians and China will be right on board because any dispute with Russia will distract the Kazakhs from supporting the Uighurs which will free up China to go hard in their Western Provinces. With Putin it’s just not about economics or territory – it is about people.

  130. Big Jim

    Putin is guilty of less than six sigma governance. Shock horror. He presides over alcoholics and dissolute old Commies. Oh dear. But wait… He’s a macho teetotal role model. Homophobe. Look how he rides horses without a shirt. Misogynist bastard. He’s ex-KGB. Hah.

    ‘There must be consequences’ say the liberals and neo-cons alike. We now know what that means. But we’re a year or two away from firing up the drones and briefing the Seals. The role of the useful idiots is to nuance the demonisation. (Noticed how every MSN commentator mentions ‘no insignias’ like it’s deeply sinister, ooga-booga without precedent? Noticed how Putin has a ‘strategy’, moving big pieces around the board, while the innocents are ‘responding?)

    These days you can take someone like Putin out in the town square and shove sticks up his dead arse, as long as you’ve ‘socialised’ the idea that he has it coming with the punters. No other due process matters.

  131. Putin is guilty of less than six sigma governance

    Really? Fuck me, even i’m guilty of more than that. You know, you really fuck up any attempt at nuanced argument when you come out with shit like that. He ain’t no Hitler, but he ain’t no saint either, unless of course polonium in your morning weet-bix is now a valid response to criticism.

  132. John of Perth

    Thanks for your comments Token

    Actually I agree that the Russian social fabric is very vulnerable, that’s why they have made these radical changes to stop is downward spiral and statistical changes have occurred through increasing the birth rate, male life expectancy and lower emigration of skilled talent. Drugs and alcohol remain a huge problem but the fruits of this intervention long term is unknown as what has been lost from the communist void is really a re-establishment of the past. The media fail by enlarge to understand the reinvigoration of the orthodox faith/character that has occurred and its anti individual and pro family aspects. Why ban south park, protest over Madonna’s visit oppose Gay values etc, this has become more stronger as time has progressed, unlike the opposite that is in Australia with the disintegration of family values.

    Not exactly, it is an amalgamation of a number of groups and may turn out to be dangerously fractious. It is not as strong as the Spanish Federation you quoted earlier as there is no constitutional framework tying to people together.

    I would agree in general as the constitutional framework is weak (especially a corrupt judiciary) fluctuating from Government to Government and I think this is the real area of contention. Historically Russian and Ukrainians are not fractious and the question is if this rapid disintegration in relationships can be reversed. There is an old Uzbek saying that translates roughly to if Russians and Ukrainians fight those who caused this fight need to be opposed. As I mentioned my Ukrainian family doesn’t understand where this irrational hatred comes from given the strong Slavic, cultural and Orthodox ties in general, but seeing Ukrainian news their education system and elites are the mouthpieces of this anti Russian feeling. Unfortunately Ukrainians have a strong welfare mindset and I wonder if it is from the fact they are self sufficient from the land that doesn’t allow for serious innovation or economic reform to their Slavic peers.

    I do agree economic dependency on energy is not sustainable that’s why like the smart Arab states that have focused on large sovereign fund to deliver these welfare promises, which is how it’s paid. I would argue that Russia is slowly developing revenue streams outside of this dependency through massive public works programs designed to achieve an environment for future growth. Sochi has been created overnight from a small tourist centre to a large holiday destination. Vladivostok, which I have had the pleasure of visiting every couple of years has been radically changed with massive new infrastructure, buildings and suburbs completed in a few years (see their massive suspension bridges completed) to provide for its ASEAN growth strategy. I would argue alot of ground work is being completed and time will tell how successful this has become.

    Like under Howard, Putin used the energy money to pay down Russia’s massive foreign debt.

    Yes the treaty is there with Russia regarding Nukes, but the military agreement with the Ukraine also includes the right for Russia to have upto 25k troops stationed in Crimea (you don’t see any Russian troops outside of the Ukraine (unless on joint military exercise) and there is an agreement/framework between both nations to protect the Russian language of its Russian regions/people (something that is recently longer the case, thereby creating an arguable legitimate Casus belli for intervention).

    Westphalian sovereignty is an interesting question given the right Russia has under the terms with the Ukraine and its ironic that parts of the Ukraine want to become members of the EU where this notion is also eroded.

    Well that’s the fun of reading to kid’s in developing their minds (two languages for mine which makes for interesting bed times). Critical thinking starts by reading broadly and questioning parents and you know this is very fruitful in developing a strong character and values.

  133. Paridell

    Token,

    CCCP is the Cyrillic acronym for “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”.

    CCP stands for “Chinese Communist Party”.

    Not to be confused!

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