In a recent discussion with a retired four star admiral, I was taken somewhat aback by his assertive response to a query about the unfolding events in Ukraine. Asked about the issue of Russia's longterm leasing treaty with Ukraine for the naval base at Savastopol on the Black Sea, my friend noted that "Anyone with serious military experience knows that, for the Russians, the Black Sea port issue is an absolute red line. No one in their right mind should be stirring up this issue, because it can be a war trigger." I was not surprised to find out that for Russia, the existence of their key naval base on the Black Sea is of supreme importance. I was, however, taken by the intensity of my friend's alarm at the unfolding events in Ukraine. In hindsight, I am sure that he is correct.
If anything, the recent events in Syria, which throw into question Russia's only port-of-call on the Mediterranean Sea, have made the Black Sea access issue all the more important for Moscow. Russia, for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union, has reconstituted a permanent Mediterranean naval presence. The Black Sea port of Sevastopol is a hub for this access.
While there is no immediate indication of any Russian plans to replay the events of 2008 in Georgia, where Russian forces moved sharply to curtail Georgian efforts to assert sovereign control over South Ossetia, it should be noted that the Ukraine crisis has greatly exacerbated tensions between Russia and the European Union–and some American diplomats, including neocon princess Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert Kagan) have been fueling the crisis further by demonstrably siding with the opposition. This American involvement was further exacerbated when a leaked conversation between Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt revealed Washington cherry picking the members of a future cabinet–with no consultation with Ukraine's legitimately elected government.
For Russia, the opposition is more than a collection of pro-European Union forces. Among the most violent and active groupings in the Maidan Square in Kiev are groups with overt histories dating back to the pro-Nazi Bandera Movement of Ukrainian Nationalists who slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles, Jews and Russians during Operation Barbarosa. Those networks of largely Gallician ultra-nationalists were subsequently recruited to work for MI6, the CIA and German intelligence during the early decades of the Cold War. The fault lines in Ukraine run deep and only a patient, sophisticated diplomatic approach will lead to a non-violent ending to the current crisis.
It is in this context that the "heat of the moment" can dangerously impact the strategic red lines of Moscow. The issue in warfare or potential warfare is to always understand the factors motivating the adversary. The usual Obama Administration rhetoric about "democracy" and "Western values" doesn't cut it when such issues as the Russian Black Sea strategy are on the line.
In the view of Putin and some of his inner circle Kremlin aides, the Ukraine situation is nothing short of an attempt to stage a "regime change" in Kiev, leading to future efforts targeting Moscow itself. They do not differentiate between the Kiev events unfolding by the day with the continuing U.S. committment to European missile defense–which the Russians also see, eventually, as targeted against their second strike systems, and not against Iran's as-yet non-existent nuclear weapons arsenal.
At a time when U.S. and Russian cooperation is vital to war avoidance in the volatile Syrian and Iranian situations in the Middle East, and where a similar danger lurks in North Asia with North Korea's threats to declare itself a nuclear-armed state, triggering an arms race in that part of the world, Washington should seek a pathway for solving the Ukrainian situation where the outcome is not a zero-sum-game in which one side wins and the other loses. This current Ukraine crisis was triggered when President Yanukovych decided not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, on the grounds that it would have wrecked the Ukrainian economy, which, whether you like it or not, is very much strategically tied to Russia's economy and Russia's supply of cheap natural gas. When Yanukovych broke off the negotiations with the EU, the Soros foundation and European Union-funded gangs took to the streets. Ultimately those protests turned violent and now, the ultras, including throwbacks to pro-Nazi wartime and Cold War groupings, have come to the fore.
It's a dangerous situation and one which deserves thoughtful input.
Cleary from the hacked cell phone call the U.S. diplomatic corps is going have a very difficult time getting their minds around the issue. Not only talking on an open network, but the rush to fund nasty folks to do your dirty work. I hope some historians and realistic thinking military strategist figure out the whole picture, and educate the State Department.
During 1972 a friend of mine was deployed on a U.S. Navy frigate that entered the Black Sea. The Russian Navy responded very aggressively and made it clear this is their back yard. The Frigate crew was on a modified General Quarters for the whole week they were stationed in the Black Sea. Modified general quarters in this case meant, you stayed on your weapons and you might get some hot food from the galley. It was very frightening to have Russian ships on either side, so close you could clearly see the faces of the Russian sailors. I don’t know if there were more than on U.S. Naval vessel in on this exercise.
ALL! Agree with Harper!
This is a very big flash point – and Nuland and the rest are playing not just with dynamite but IMO blasting caps. I would hope should Mrs Clinton decide to run we get a full throated vetting of her foreign policy views regarding not only the Syrian cluster f–ck , but how do we not beard Leader Putin in the Near Abroad . You are exactly right we need Russian leadership in North Asia & elsewhere. Perhaps General Dempsey & Sec of Defense Hagel can talk some sense to BHO . Our President needs to stop listening to the delusionnal neocons .
I agree. This is extremely dangerous for the Europeans and I do not understand why they let the U.S. manipulate this issue. Germany, Poland and the Baltic tinys would like a Ukraine bound to Europe. But the rest of Europe is not interested. The Ukraine, without Russian support, is simply broke and no one in the EU would want another bankrupt country. The Association Agreement would be deadly for what is left of the Ukrainian industry.
Europe should stay away from Kiev and press the U.S. to take its hands off the case. A civil war in the Ukraine, certainly possible now, is in no ones (but the U.S.?) interest.
The Russians could fracture Ukraine; the Western Catholic rump state could then join EU – that is if EU wants it.
Russia has many more hard options available to herself in Ukraine – the border country – that US or EU or both.
Worse, where the Russians do not differentiate w/r/t their near abroad, we do not associate disparate entities and issues when blundering about in one particular one.
That any policy maker is unaware of or disregards the cold hard realities of the Russian warm ports issue – Remember they were going to drive south through Iran to get one, weren’t they? – is, well, well now its snafu.
Even in the face of vocifierous expat interests long pandered to, one could hope that whatever was to be learned from Nato expansion could be at least adverted to. Didn’t we save Georgia? Or maybe we just threatened to. Not to mention b’s point about finances.
Even if you educate them, there’s no retention, no institutional memory bank, make it anew on the fly up every time.
Please highlight any reports/articles you have…explaining how the “Association Agreement with the EU” would have “wrecked the Ukrainian economy”.
Up here in Canada, the original position of the party I am involved with was one of neutrality & negotiation. Unfortunately, those of us who encouraged this position at the outset…underestimated the significance & stakes (outlined by HARPER in the above article).
Over time, we watched the powerful & monolithic domestic Ukrainian opposition lobby: manipulate, bully, and buy our typically ill-informed foreign-affairs chiefs.
The horror that came over us non-interventionists…when the Conservative foreign-affairs chief proudly paraded around Ukraine – protesting & squatting as if he were a 17 year old anarchist.
I thank you ahead of time for any resources shared. You can be sure that they will be put towards more than mere parlour chatter.
I can’t see what actual interest the US has in a Ukrainian Civil War either. Or a bankrupted Ukraine needing so much support as to semi-impoverish our European allies and flood them with millions of newly jobless Ukrainians looking for work.
This feels like pure emotional sentiment to me. We must support Ukraine-joins-EU because . . . Rwanda!
Hopefully the push does not come to a shove in Kiev. The consequences would by most disastrous.
On the other hand any noise by subservient MSM helps distract from the horrendous issues concerning labour participation of working age population, real unemployment rate , and forced part time employment.
To see this three issues in graphic form please visit:
@ Paul Escobar said…
“Please highlight any reports/articles you have…explaining how the “Association Agreement with the EU” would have “wrecked the Ukrainian economy”.”
The Association Agreement would have opened the Ukrainian economy to EU products (with little or no tariffs). It would also have required the Ukrainian companies to produce to/by EU standards. The second part alone would ruin most Ukrainian companies. At the same time their markets would be swamped with “western” products.
At the same time an EU Association Agreement would automatically put up new export troubles for exports from the Ukraine to Russia. Those are currently preferential but should the Ukraine be swamped by EU products Russia would have to put up barriers to not be swamped itself.
BTW – at no time was there (or will there be) an offer for the Ukraine to actually join the EU and to be thereby able to draw money from Brussels. The U.S. is pressing for that but no EU country wants to pay for that.
‘b’, different clue:
As with U.S. policy towards Israel and the ME, U.S. policy towards the former Soviet space quite patently cannot be explained simply in terms of ‘realist’ conceptions of national interest. Nor is this simply a matter of ‘R2P’ rhetoric spinning out of control.
Look for example at the biography of Brzezinski.
‘Zbigniew Brzezinski was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1928. His family, members of the nobility (or “szlachta” in Polish), bore the Trąby coat of arms and hailed from Brzeżany in Galicia. This town is thought to be the source of the family name. Brzezinski’s father was Tadeusz Brzeziński, a Polish diplomat who was posted to Germany from 1931 to 1935; Zbigniew Brzezinski thus spent some of his earliest years witnessing the rise of the Nazis. From 1936 to 1938, Tadeusz Brzeziński was posted to the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge.’
(See http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=196064.0;wap2 )
Brzezany is south-east of Lviv, in what is now the West Ukraine. When the Soviets moved into the area, then part of Poland, in the wake of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, they ‘purged’ the Polish elite – there was the small matter of the Katyn massacre, as well as mass deportations.
When the Germans moved in, following their repudiation of the Pact, they did their best to liquidate what remained of the elite, as well as the Jewish population.
It is hardly surprising that people with Brzezinski’s background, or indeed descendants of Jews who came to the United States to escape pogroms in Tsarist times – of whom I think Victoria Nuland may be one – are Russophobic. Whether this makes them a constructive influence on policymaking is another matter.
As to the Russian drive for warm water ports, a good deal of that has turned out to be BS. Historically, it was aimed at the Black Sea, not the Gulf, and does not explain the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. From an interview with the former British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Rodric Braithwaite, about his book ‘Afghantsy’:
‘I think that I had not realized until I read the documents how reluctant the Russians had been in, how long the Politburo had struggled to avoid going in, it was about 7 or 8 months that they tried not to go in and in the end they were driven by circumstances. I hadn’t expected that. Apart from that I think that thing that did surprise me, which the soldiers told me and then I tested it, was the extent to which the soldiers would retain rather warm feelings for Afghanistan and the Afghans.’
(See http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_02_14/USSR-struggled-to-avoid-entering-Afghanistan-Rodric-Braithwaite-author-of-Afgantsy-1186/ )
Reply to Paul Escobar: The Associate Agreement would have bound Ukraine to free trade agreements with the EU and obliged them to cancel some special trade arrangements with Russia. Under such an arrangement, Ukraine’s manufactured goods would have still been barred from the EU until they meet “EU standards.” Yanukovych at the end told the EU that Ukraine would need $40 billion a year for an undefined but long period of time to retool industry to meet those bizarre EU standards. EU said flat “no.” In the meantime, the only Ukraine goods that would have been eligible for export to EU would have been agricultural products (Ukraine as the second best agricultural climate, black soil, etc. to the US midwest grain belt). Under the free trade arrangements at the heart of the Association Agreement, EU goods would have been freely dumped on Ukraine market, further weakening their industrial base–and those good would have also seeped into Russia via Ukraine-Russia bilateral agreements. While there was no “formal” clause providing for EU access to Ukraine bases, siding with the EU over Russia would have opened the door for NATO as well.
This is an excellent and timely piece.
The one qualification I would want to add is that the Black Sea is not just a place from which the Russians can get out to the Mediterranean. Historically, it has been a place from which enemy power could effectively be deployed against Russia. This was the case in the Crimean War, and in the Allied intervention after the Revolution. It was widely believed that the primary purpose of the vast submarine fleet which Stalin began constructing in 1950 was to attack NATO’s sea lines of communication. In fact, the preponderant part of it turned out to be intended to counter possible Allied D-Day type operations, in which the Black Sea as well as the Baltic were seen as prime targets.
I agree Clue….100%………….20th century, and further back, thinking.
It is worth reflecting on Ambassador Jack Matlock’s suggestion that Ukraine may be the ultimate booby prize: that if it were to opt decisively for Russia, the end result would be more and more Ukrainians blaming that country for their misery, and if it were to opt decisively for the EU, the end result would be the EU getting blamed.
(See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/02/ukraine-and-the-us-implications-of-victoria-nulands-candid-remark.html#more )
Russia began from Kiev.
To expect a 20-year long weakness of the Russian state to be made permanent in Ukraine is, in my opinion, unrealistic.
If EU were smart, they would leave that border country alone or try to make it neutral.
Will any one in EU want to fight Russia over Ukraine and die on that steppe?
I think not.
We simply do not know whether, in the future, Russia will be strong or weak. What happens is likely to depend less on what happens in Russia than on what happens in the rest of the world.
A remarkable feature of Western policy, however, appears to be an inability to realise that in today’s world, there are dangers from a Russia which is too weak – while the dangers from a Russia which is too strong quite clearly are unlikely to reappear for the foreseeable future.
In his famous ‘X-article’, commonly regarded as a classic statement of the ‘containment’ strategy, George Kennan laid out what he expected to result from the destabilisation of Soviet power he quite patently hoped to achieve.
If, he wrote, ‘anything were ever to occur to disrupt the unity and efficacy of the Party as a political instrument, Soviet Russia might be changed overnight from one of the strongest to one of the weakest and most pitiable of national societies.’ Furthermore, he suggested that, if ‘disunity were ever to seize and paralyze the Party, the chaos and weakness of Russian society would be revealed in forms beyond description.’
On the whole it seems to me that ‘chaos’ in a country with a large nuclear arsenal is best avoided. But then, unlike Brzezinski and his like, I have no great belief in ‘real democracy’ – it sounds to me rather like that old slogan ‘people’s democracy’.
This is all quite fascinating even if it does point at a decline and fall of the US. I doubt Vicki Nuland, any of the Kaganistas, or any of the other R2Pers are going to be on the firing line.
I wonder that triggering a civil war in Ukraine looks like a bug for you when I thought it was the aim of the US neocons stirring up the pot in Ukraine.
Isn’t the dependence of the Russian mediterranean fleet on the Krim port a perfect reason for Israel and it’s dear friends to try to wage a proxy war on Russia in Ukraine? From what I see Israel dislikes a Russian mediterranean fleet as it sets limits to Israeli dominance over the region.
Here in Germany it looks like that many German politicians try their best to avoid uploading Germany the burden of financing yet another troubled southern European country, so the interest of most powerful Germans in binding Ukraine to the EU is very limited. Stirring up the pot in Ukraine is even more troublesome to Germans as it would likely hamper exports of the crucial German automotive industry to Ukraine. The only guys I see really pressing “to do more” here regarding to Ukraine are politicians who are very close to the US and Israel.
I also think that may explain the infamous Nuland remark, Germany is on the breaks regarding stirring up trouble in Ukraine, but Nuland, who is, for sure, a good friend of Israel, wants to push Ukraine in direction of a civil war anyway.
As I see it, the strategic goal for the US in inciting a civil war in Ukraine would be to weaken Russia in this way, because Russia couldn’t sit idle in such a case.
At best the USA and the EU have about 3-4 years to do the heavy lifting necessary to transform themselves into green energy units, for by then the availability of fossil fuels will be too highly prized for economic growth, or they will step over the cliff of climate change.
For the USA and China major effort to do thorium reactor research [China is doing it, while the US is renewing far too many nuclear bombs instead of the requisite research].
Ukraine is a side show, makes lots of noise and has no short or long term economic/green energy advantage for any party involved, US, EU and Russia.
Iran can not be attacked, it is another side show for political noise for the neither the US nor Israel can endanger the energy production capabilities of Iran [and surrounding Persia Gulf producers] when the greatest oil fields are depleting at 5-7% annually. At present Saudi Arabia uses more than one barrel of cleaned seawater for every two barrels of oil production.
The shale oil and gas plays are too expensive and have too high depletion rates [approx. 20%+ per annum] to create the wealth necessary to act as economic wealth producing sources. The need of constant new drilling at approx. $ 10 million per fractured well indicates that with the exploitation of the so called “sweet spots” the return on investment will turn negative.
While it is true that the Russian Federation is not as strong economically, nor in military capacities as was the USSR, they still have enough bombs to destroy life on earth – without any reaction of more bombs by any other nuclear power. So destabilization of the Russian Federation could [and IMO will] lead to major war].
It is true that the USA depends to very limited extent on Russian Oil imports, the situation for the EU is very different – no Russian gas, no economy to speak of.
Sir, I am not familiar with Brzezinski’s positions on Ukraine, would you please give the reference – how to view him in that respect? I have not been following the MSM recently and did not see him on any of the talk shows or panels.
Mr. Escobar, here is a link to the English-language version of the Association Agreement itself. Note that Article 10 (page 14) anticipates military cooperation.
Harper, B, & Burton50,
Thank you all for the guidance. It gives me an excellent basis on which I can peform some research.
If only principle of the thing was enough…,
I am not sure about Thorium; India has been working on that for decades and they never seem to have made much progress.
And nuclear is the best green energy there is, after natural gas.
And US has a lot of natural gas both on the continental shelf and in even in places like Ohio and Michigan.
EU might have problems but not US.
Strength or weakness are relative.
I would suggest that Russia will be strong enough to wage a war if her leaders estimate that it in their national interest – in Ukraine.
I have been trying to work out what the Russians might do if they really are faced with the prospect of a new Ukrainian government acceding to the EU proposals.
It is important to remember that the Crimea was only incorporated in the Ukraine as a result of Khrushchev’s decision in 1954. A possible strategy for Russia would be a variant of that which Ambassador Matlock suggested that they might adopt confronted by the prospect of Ukraine being admitted to NATO, in an article following the Georgian War. The arbitrariness of Khrushchev’s action could be used as grounds for people in the Crimea to demand a referendum on whether the decision should be reversed, which Moscow would then endorse.
The article by Ambassador Matlock, which remains well worth reading, is at
Also quite possible is a Russian encouragement of trends towards federalisation.
(See http://www.kyivpost.com/content/russia-and-former-soviet-union/russia-sees-nothing-subversive-about-its-diplomats-statements-in-kyiv-336844.html )
For a Russian view of Brzezinski’s role, see
reply to Babak:
India has started working on a new thorium reactor, water cooled, unfortunately it is based on plutonium as source of neutrons.
The natural gas resource is great, the q is what percentage is economically extractable and at what price. Recent analysis of leakage indicates that it is far greater than presumed. and as Methane is a far greater source of global warming effect – approx. 20x that of CO2 – it creates the climate climax far sooner. Aside from that it does not replace the need for transportation fuel soon enough.
Please note in this respect that Shell oil gave up 2.5 billion investment in shale gas, for finding it to be uneconomical on one hand, while EXXON announced that shale gas without liquids is a source of loss for the company at present prices. Notable that all major public oil companies has decreased resource base and reduced income in last financial year.
With respect to thorium, the USA had a fluoride salt based reactor many moons ago, ran for over 5 years, the program was discontinued as it DID NOT PRODUCE PLUTONIUM for bombs. One major advantage of thorium reactors is that it can use all fissile by-products of other reactor or bomb material as source of neutrons, thereby negating disposal issues [on which the US spent fortunes for nothing at Yuma]. The US has great source of thorium in the coal ash produced by all the thermal generators based on coal.
Thank you Sir, unfortunately your text is overlayed in key areas by the picture of Pat Lang and above it by the list of viewers – I don’t know what one can do about it. But Many Thanks again.
fanto, I had in mind an article by Brzezinski published in the FT in December. The link is at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5ac2df1e-6103-11e3-b7f1-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2msHONEft As background to an understanding of how the Russian authorities are likely to view the prospect of having the Russian fleet replaced by the American in Sevastopol, a piece by Robert Bruce Ware from 2005, entitled ‘A Reply to Matthew Brzezinski on the topic of Illyas Akhmadov’, is worth reading. (See http://www.network54.com/Forum/155335/thread/1111431531/1111431531/A+Reply+to+Matthew+Brzezinski+on+the+topic+of+Illyas+Akhmadov ) This is, incidentally, not to say that Bruce Ware is an apologist for the Russian authorities. He is an American scholar, who did a PhD on Hegel at Oxford, and thereafter fieldwork in the North Caucasus. The resulting study of Dagestan was published in 2009, and a collection of essays he edited entitled ‘The Fire Below: How the Caucasus Shaped Russia’ last year. I should stress that I have no claims whatsoever to expertise on the Caucasus, and would not regard myself as entitled to firm views on the area. Questions such as the history of the Circassians are fundamental to understanding what is going on in the former Soviet space, and I cannot pretend to have made a serious effort to come to grips with them. Irrespective however of what one thinks of the positions of the Russian authorities in relation to the Caucasus, it is important to understand them. As to the Brzezinski article, however, I do have firm views: it expresses the romantic fantasies of a Polish ‘szlachta’, quite possibly still dreaming of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is a sleazy web of honeyed words, designed to gloss over the fundamental truths that Ukraine remains a deeply divided society, and that Putin has vastly more support in Russia than dreamers in the West want to believe. Confidence that ‘regime change’ in Moscow would be likely to bring back to power the kind of ‘liberals’ who controlled Russian politics in the 1990s, meanwhile, seems to me likely to be pure fantasy.
I have no idea why Habakkuk’s material is posting that wide. The problem is not at my end. pl
Thank you for your comments.
I think I heard that there are multiple gas fields in Mobile bay ,each of which alone could power the United States for more than 300 years.
Thanks David. I think I was trying to be a bit flip, ironic, in the sense that these bogeymen(threatened drive south, missile gap, etc.) or causes(Georgian Democracy) are raised in the one cause – opposing the Russians, and the other – supporting democracy – in an inept, ignorant and hypocritical sort of unfolding of a local/international dialectic. Each is hyped in execution of fp incompetence
Whatever that means.
Bottom line, the Ukraine & Black Sea are not Afghanistan or Iran, they are Russian near abroad.
IMHO there the salient point is that Russia is to Ukraine what the U.S. is to Canada. The major component of our economy, culture and security. Ukraine owes Moscow money and is energy dependent upon it. Putin being what he is, no Ukraine/EU co-operation can go unchallenged, or if achieved, unsabotaged.
and the Earth’s temperature after this 300 years?
thank you Sir, this time the text is inside the column
Sir, the comment in question (the reply of DK to my question ) is now completely gone. this is strange
Sir, I should have scrolled down before I replied above, shame on me – now I see the whole text
Probably the same, plus or minus a few degrees unless you believe in the global warming cult.
While I think that government funding for a national sports team is probably a reasonable proposal, and indeed a very common thing for a nation to have, there’s this:
Nowadays there are these odd defund this and defund that bills make the rounds in the US.
Usually the initiator is some partisan with a pet issue who doesn’t like a particular utterance of some government (in the wider sense) funded body or govt slaried person, and decides to screw these people and scorch some earth by witholding funding.
As a result of the apparent proliferation of such attitudes and approaches, government funding for the olympic team in the polarised political climate in America today will mean that athletes, if they know what’s good for them and national sports, refrain from any political statements.
Just imagine that – a gvt funded sports team visiting, say, Gaza on a friendship tour! In the Cold War days such things were foolishly thought to be harmless, to even facilitate thaw and peace – nowadays it will in all probability be viewed by the volcal and rancorous nuts as “Terrorists in trainers”, “legitimising the terr’ists of Hamas!”.
I just noticed that I posted the previous post in the wrong thread.
please look at MAP #3 produced by NASA at the:
These maps indicate nature’s constraint on fracking [water stress], climate change over 6 decades etc.
ENJOY and learn
Excellent comment with which I totally agree!
Very informative comment PL! Thanks much!
lol sorry Norbert I was told when I was an 8 year old how MIAMI WOULD BE UNDER WATER BY 2000 because of global warming and it seems like Miami is doing fine along with all the rest of the cities predicted to be under water.
Climate change occurs and climate change is caused by man are two different things. But that kind of level headedness doesn’t get the tax dollars for “Study” versus ICE CAPS MELTING TOMORROW!!!!!!!
Looks like Ukraine is getting a little hot and heavy.
And it looks like provinces are declaring independence while the army has been authorized to use weapons on rebels. Woo boy.
I wonder what the R2P crowd is going to demand we do now.
Thanks for this excellent comment!
Tyler, Within a week of the end of the Olympics a whole lot of the dissident leadership is going to be missing. Some will be behind bars and some well, gone forever. “Special Tasks” will have a say. The far right has its neck stuck out waaaaay to far. There will be Marshall law in Kviv and perhaps several other western cities to go along with it.
I think this is probably wrong. It is extremely unclear that Yanukovich has reliable security forces behind him. Also relevant is the fact that he is — not least because he is corrupt through and through — extremely unpopular.
A mistake however is to interpret this unpopularity as evidence that there is some kind of cohesive Ukrainian ‘people’, who are being kept from their European destiny by a wicked tyrant.
On all this, the blog ‘The Vineyard of the Saker’ is a useful source. Precisely because his identification is very strongly with Russia, the analysis of the weakness of Yanukovich’s support by ‘the Saker’ is telling.
(See http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/a-short-follow-up-to-my-post-about.html )
As to the Russian position, I think that ‘the Saker’ is also right in thinking that these are problems that Putin needs like a hole in the head.
However, he is also I think right in stressing that the Crimea, and in particular the naval base at Sevastopol, are a neuralgic issue. The prospect of a U.S. naval base there is one which the Russians will go to great lengths to avoid.
Saker is a good read. Today, Yanukovych, safe in the Eastern Ukraine called the situation a Coup d’etat and said he would not sign any of the motions set forth by the Parlimen, notably the trimming of his powers and new elections in May. Further, he says he is the legitimately elected president and will not step down under any circumstances.
The Russians are saying the terms of the most recent “agreement” are not being enacted. The eastern regions of Ukraine are forming militias and rejecting any replacement govt. from Kiev. Partition, hmmm. That would be “sponsored” and messy.
So,the counter to a coup is????? Olympics over soon.