The odds are not good over Ukraine

"Mr Medvedev, quoted by Russian news agencies, suggested that Western countries that accepted Ukraine's new authorities were mistaken.  A stand-off continues between those who back the Maidan protests and those opposed.  The capital is finally at peace. But running beneath this return to relative normality is an uncertainty and disquiet over what will happen next.  The mood here is cautious. One man, Sasha, told us he wouldn't mind reunification with Russia. Crimea: Ukraine's next flashpoint? Nervous uncertainty across Ukraine "The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts. "Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise. This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny." He added: "We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens." Ukraine's foreign ministry quickly responded to Mr Medvedev's concerns for Russian citizens in Ukraine, saying they were "unfounded". However, Russia's foreign ministry also issued a strongly worded statement saying a "forced change of power" was taking place in Ukraine and accused interim leaders of passing new laws "aimed at infringing the humanitarian rights of Russians and other ethnic minorities"."  BBC


 It seems to me that the odds on Russian military intervention in Ukraine are about 50/50 at this point.  It seems very unlikely that the Russian government believes that the US would go to war over Ukraine.  The Russians still have over 1,000 thermonuclear armed ICBMs.  No matter how crazy McCain and the neocon priesthood may be, Obama is not a madman.  Only he, as Commander in Chief, could initiate hostilities and he will not do it.  The Russians are smart enough to know that.  This gives them a free hand in Ukraine. 

Does anyone here have access to private satellite photograhy that might indicate Russian deployments?  pl

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47 Responses to The odds are not good over Ukraine

  1. Anon1 says:

    I don’t think the Russian military has to do much to go into Ukrainian terrority. The Black Sea Fleet main base at Sevastopol and its naval infantry units would be able to move quickly to secure the Crimea and maybe Odessa. I would expect the Russian airborne forces (VDV) would be in some kind of quick reaction alert by now. I doubt anyone outside of the US Government would have access to commerical imagery over the area as they would have bought up all the imagery.
    Here’s an intereting opinion peace from the Moscow Times:

  2. oth says:

    APC’s in Crimea somewhere
    Berkuts return, Sevastopol protests:

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    Russia will do nothing overt at the present time.
    They have a lot of opportunity in the coming weeks, months, and years to assess the situation in Ukraine and act accordingly.
    I think, overall, it is foolish to expect the Russian Government to accept geographical isolation in Ukraine, Georgia, and Southern Russia.
    But they can play the same game; set up their own thugs and destabilize the central government.
    We also seem to be witnessing mob rule not just in Ukraine but also in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, and in Thailand.
    May be it is the spirit of the times….

  4. blowback says:

    I don’t think the Russian Army will go charging into the Ukraine any time soon. More likely, it will play out like Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The western Ukrainians will push too hard such as banning the Party of Regions and the Communist Party from the upcoming elections at which point parts of southern and eastern Ukraine will declare independence and request fraternal assistance from Mother Russia including lots of ATGMs and SAMs. There will be enough Ukrainians and Russian “volunteers” trained in using them to make it difficult for the western Ukrainians to do much about it. As for looking at satellite imagery, I’d be far more interested in looking at what the Poles or Germans are up to – probably not a lot as Warsaw and Berlin would probably be the first European cities reduced to glass in the event of a nuclear conflagration.
    BTW, Sevastopol is not Russia’s only Black Sea port. There is also Novorossiki where I believe the Russians have been spending a lot of money improving the naval facilities.

  5. The Twisted Genius says:

    If Putin finds it necessary to sent tanks rolling across the borders and transports disgorging airborne troops at the airports, he will precede this overt invasion with a “preparation of the battlefield” by SVR and GRU operatives and their local agents. These operatives and agents are undoubtedly already active whether there will be an overt invasion or not. Those ostensibly running Kiev at the moment are right to feel an uncertainty and disquiet over what will happen next.

  6. harry says:

    Are the Olympics over?
    Then let the Games begin!

  7. Cat Mack says:

    I also find the fragmentation scenario very likely in the longer perspective. The economic situation in Ukraine is dramatic and none of the actors in the broader neighborhood has the financial capacity to keep the whole country and central institutions from outright collapse. This includes the United States and the usual intervention tools at its disposal such as IMF.
    I would argue that Berlin is not much concerned with the Russian nukes, though. Berlin missed on waves of emigrations from the newly admitted EU member countries and Ukraine represents one the last remaining significant reservoirs of easy to integrate and relatively educated labor force. They might need it to shore up their Sozialwirtschaft in 2-3 years. Think of a new Generalplan Ost, sans the overt genocide, but with all the economic planning unchanged. Bottom line, I would not be surprised if Berlin and Moscow again redrawing zones of influence in the Central Europe according to very old plans. Which attempt is it? Fifth?
    Warsaw is not a player in the region. They have disarmed themselves and their politicians and intelligence services bark as their handlers from BND and GRU require. Even if the leash was removed, they have no organic presence / connections to local networks in the Western Ukraine. As the last resort, one can always organize another Smolensk.

  8. JohnH says:

    Agreed. Russia has natural gas, and Ukraine doesn’t. Russia and Europe have financial resources, and Ukraine doesn’t. Europe needs Russian natural gas.
    Russia can afford to take time, assess the situation, and act accordingly.

  9. JohnH says:

    Personally, I don’t have a lot of confidence in either neocon or R2Pers’ judgement. Back in the 1960s a lot of Washington insiders were chomping at the bit to nuke Russia. When Kennedy asked, “then what?” they had no answer. War was averted.
    I don’t trust Obama to even ask, ‘then what?”

  10. eakens says:

    Last time I checked the pipelines traverse both the northern and southern portions of the country. Best case for the west is that the country splits, but even then that leaves Russia to only agree to supply the friendlies.
    Perhaps this is what we meant by “Fuck the EU”

  11. turcopolier says:

    The divide is really east/west. Nick Burns said today that at a minimum Russia will seek to dominate Ukraine economically and failing that military intervention is likely. I agree. pl

  12. walrus says:

    It has been demonstrated twice in the Twentieth century that commercial/economic considerations play no part in the decision to go to war. I therefore discount “logic” about what the EU or Russia should do.
    The question now in my opinion is whether Putin thinks time is on his side or not from the point of view of the Security interests of Russia and to hell with how many Ukranians get killed one way or another.
    I don’t believe Putin wants a “failed state” on his borders because the nastiness inherent in that may infect Russia, as Rubin already hopes. I also believe, perhaps wrongly, that Russia has a terror of disorder rather like the Chinese.
    My wild guess then, is that Putin will act militarily very quickly and surprise the hell out of the Washington R2P crowd. Their choice then will be to leave the Ukranian rebels to their fate or to try to arm them, and if they do that, we run the risk of major escalation towards European war.

  13. Tyler says:

    Right Sector, the street fighters who broke the police line in the face of shotguns wielding baseball bats and makeshift riot shields and provided the catalyst of the last few days, aren’t seeming to be very fond of the new crew of politicians who showed up in Kiev to fill the power void.
    They seem to be true nationalists, not interested in trading autocrat Putin for the limp wrist technocrats in Brussels. Should prove interesting to see how events fall out and if there will be a second storming of Kiev.

  14. Kyle Pearson says:

    Just a quick comment, though:
    the groups protesting in Thailand are A) peaceful, B) anti-Thaksin (who one-of-if-not-the most violently corrupt and anti-democratic politicians in the country), and C) genuinely represent the majority of most Thai people.
    The violence that has occurred in Thailand has largely been the police and military there attacking the crowds, not the other way around. The Thai king is approaching his death, and the Prince Regent is well-known as a profligate, corrupt playboy who only cares about his own venal pleasures. It is the Prince who is backing Thaksin (with US and Western European support).

  15. FB Ali says:

    I have no special knowledge or insight into the situation. Nevertheless, it seems to me unlikely that Russia will undertake any military intervention any time soon.
    I think they will see that there is enough weakness and uncertainty in the internal Ukrainian situation to warrant watching from the sidelines and influencing it where possible for now. There is enough potential there for a reasonably favourable outcome from their point of view.
    Their control of gas supplies to not only Ukraine but also Europe, and the sentiments of Western Ukraine are powerful chips they can use in a poker game with the West.

  16. GAW says:

    I don’t think Russia’s position is all that strong, for economic reasons.
    All the pipelines to Europe pass through Western Ukraine, and if Russia invades you can bet angry Ukraine natives will destroy them. Which hurts Russia much more than it does Ukraine, as the Russian income from energy sales in Europe is cut off.
    Ukraine owes Russia massive debts, which for certain will be defaulted upon in the event of military action, which I have just read in financial reports would sink several large Russian Banks, or force the Russian Government to bail them out at huge cost. This is a positive for Ukraine, getting out from under that debt burden, and will be an easy choice to make in the event of hostilities.
    Russia is dependent upon energy revenue flow continuing, any interruption puts their Budget far into deficit, and international lenders may not be easy to find at that point. Leading to a sudden radical downsizing of the Russian economy.
    The effects are already being felt, the Ruble has crashed to deep lows vs the US $ just on the effect of the Fed tightening, and if that trend continues, it will cause hyper-inflation in Russia and then total economic collapse. Loss of European energy revenues will push the Ruble far lower than it is now.
    No one doubts the Russian military capability to divide Ukraine, or occupy it in a matter of days or weeks, but that would not be close to the end of the story. Putin’s reputedgeo-strategic chessmaster status will be tested here, I don’t see any outcome that does not inflict long term economic damage on Russia..

  17. All,
    After Susan Rice suggested that it would be a ‘grave mistake’ for Russia to intervene militarily in the Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry produced a tongue in cheek response, suggesting that this good advice on the ‘mistaken path of the use of force’ would be better given to her own government.
    (See )
    The Crimea is a special case. It is only in the Ukraine because of Khrushchev’s 1954, ‘ukaz’, while the presence of the Black Sea fleet both makes it that much more important that it is not abandoned to a nationalist Ukraine, and makes preventing this easier.
    According to the blogger ‘the Saker’, the Fleet includes a Brigade and a Battalion of naval infantry, the latter specialising in counter-terrorism. He argues that this force would be quite adequate to protect the Crimea against any challenge the nationalists could mount. If any members of this ‘committee of correspondence’ are in a position to assess the validity of his argument, their contributions to this discussion might of value.
    Otherwise, I think ‘the Saker’ is right in suggesting that the last thing that Putin wants is to be drawn further into a new Cold War, which would be the inevitable result of military intervention, or indeed encouragement of separatism, at this point. A modified Orwellian scenario of Oceania in conflict with Eurasia and Eastasia is quite patently something he would prefer to avoid.
    Moreover, the political situation in the East and South is very fluid and unclear. It may be that opinion hardens in favour of resistance to the nationalists who have taken over in Kiev, it may be it does not. Unless it does, military intervention would be patently foolish. In turn, how attitudes develop is likely to be a function of developments in the capital, which remain highly unpredictable.
    The politician most likely to be able to cobble together some kind of compromise and deal alike with the E.U., the U.S. and Russia, making it possible to hold the country together, is Timoshenko. But whether she can control forces like ‘Pravy Sektor’ remains only one more among a long list of moot points. And it seems unclear what her state of health is.
    In any case, if strong separatist impulses were to emerge in the East and South, there may be more obvious ways for these to manifest themselves, and for them to be encouraged by the Russians, than immediate secession supported by Russian tanks. It has been suggested that these regions – which supply a high proportion of central government revenues – might withhold them, for example.
    If one were to end up with a situation like that in South Ossetia, where a local population determined to defend the assertion of their independence from the state of which they are legally part is threatened by stronger forces from that state, then Russian military intervention might be a possibility.
    But even if it does turn out to exist, a further question may be raised as to whether – or perhaps rather, in what areas – the nationalists are in a position to mount an effective military challenge. And in seriously contested areas, where they want to see the nationalists defeated, giving support to secessionists, without actually intervening directly, might still make better sense for the Russians.
    (Two thought-provoking posts by ‘the Saker’ are at: )
    What has clearly happened, however, is that the amateur aficionados of the ‘politics of the street’ in the West have raised a whole series of ghosts which are now unlikely to go quietly back to sleep.
    Yesterday, a moment to Mikhail Kutuzov was demolish in Brody in the Western Ukraine. As with the renewed attempt to marginalise the Russian language, this kind of action reinforces what seems to me a merited scepticism about the willingness of the more politically active of the nationalists to make any effort whatsoever to find compromises. What ghosts may be being raised in the East and South of the Ukraine, and in Russia, is an interesting question.
    A fundamental problem with much Western coverage continues to be that people anticipate continuity between Putin and his Soviet predecessors, and simply fail to grasp that in a whole range of areas, precisely what he is trying to avoid is repeating their mistakes. On Putin’s conservatism, an interesting essay has just been published by Andranik Migranyan.
    (See )
    The fact that part of this conservatism involves resistance to U.S. claims to a right to intervene indiscriminately in other countries provides another reason why military intervention is likely to be a last resort. And nothing in Putin’s record to date suggests any enthusiasm for precipitate action which would prematurely close off alternative possibilities.
    Rather than Napoleonic impetuosity, he may well be more inclined to follow the maxim of Kutuzov – ‘patience and time.’ And indeed, it could conceivably turn out to be the case that the U.S. and the E.U. have recklessly overextended themselves.

  18. harry says:

    Nationalists. Yes thats one name for them. Its the threat from the Nationalists that explains why the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine has called for a evacuation of Jews from Kiev?
    And Russian speaking Ukrainians are Ukrainian too.

  19. Ulenspiegel says:

    Please, get correct hard data on German demography, net immigration, mortality surplus…
    Hint: You are talking nonsense. 🙂
    There is absolutely no need for immigration from Ukraine, the influx from Romania and Bulgaria plus Spain is more than enough to produce a net growth of 100-200.000 per year, a number that can be provided with jobs.
    A more interesting pool of educated people is Russia. 🙂

  20. Ulenspiegel says:

    That is a naive take of the situation.
    Russia only exports commodities in meaningful volume. Pipelines chain the producer to certain customers, a replacement takes at least one decade and the alternative customer China would very likely not pay European prices.
    In addition, LNG terminals in Europe offers options for the buyer, esp. when the buyer has no shares of the pipeline system in Germany. Russia OTOH has no meaningful LNG capacity.
    If you follow a little bit the changes in industrial contracts – the conditions became worse for Russia – you may realise that the affair is quite interesting: cutting her exports means for Russia cutting her lifeline.
    The whole situation was analysed by a think tank affiliated to Germnan industry around 2005, their predictions came true, for me a good indicator that their basic strategic assumptions were solid.

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, I agree.
    It is very difficult for me to envision a situation in which EU or US would be able to give to Ukraine tens of billions of dollars over many years while their own economies are suffering – specially considering what is going on in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, UK and soon Germany as well.

  22. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Interestingly, the stories that I’ve heard (and I have quite knowledgeable contacts in Southeast Asia) are quite different.
    While Thaksin (and his organization/family) may be corrupt, they are also very good at organizing electoral support. (Not unusual in a lot of “democracies” in the developing world–India is full of this.) Particularly among the rural Thais, he and his family are much beloved and the support his party enjoys is quite genuine.
    In fact, while the Western-leaning/”sophisticated” Thais may despise Thaksin, they simply cannot match his organizational ability and cannot actually defeat them in a fair election, which is all the more reason they are resorting to street protests.
    In addition to the urban elites, Thaksin has also earned displeasure of the king, who, despite the good PR (nobody is supposed to criticize him, after all) is in fact quite reactionary, along with the more conservative elements of the society who are skeptical of his populist ways. So, an unlikely coalition of the liberal city dwellers and the conservative elite have formed against the government.
    All in all, this sounds remarkably similar to the situation in Ukraine, or even Morsi’s Egypt, or Venezuela. My sense is that the Western countries’ position vis-a-vis Thaksin is rather mixed: they are not hostile to him or his sister per se, but they won’t miss them if they are overthrown. I don’t have good firsthand information so I can’t vouch for these–although I can vouch for my contacts being knowledgeable. What I do find stunning is that virtually the same narrative is emanating from so many places that suffer from exactly the same issue. All these governments are dubiously democratic: that is, they have all been “demoratically” elected, but their legitimacy is questioned by large segments of the population. All preside over highly divided societies and have gained power by exploiting and exacerbating the social divisions. All have repaid their backers through corruption and/or abuse of government authorities at the expense of their political opponents. Their opponents have limited means to remove them through legal and “democratic” means, so they seek to use illegitimate and forced means to defeat them.

  23. Fred says:

    A very important point. What kind of ground work was laid by the Obama administration’s $5 billion in spending? To me it seems they’ve created a mess where the rebels or protesters (whatever name they have now) are more interested in eliminating their political opponents (with laws, for now) than in creating any kind of coalition government – the kind that was being called for just a few days ago.

  24. Fred says:

    The gas is still in Russia and the customers aren’t in Ukraine. Glad to know those customers are buying billions of rubbles in natural gas they really don’t need and can go for a year or so with a supply of zero.
    If you think the Russian’s are going to bail out the Ukrainians by paying Western banks – just like the Greeks did – then you failed to pay attention to the Russian response to that ‘crisis’ or see what the IMF led bail out did to the Greek economy. It would do the same to Ukraine’s, which is the reason for the crisis.

  25. Fred says:

    As you point out it was Nikita Khrushchev who grafted the Crimea into Ukraine. I am surprised that the Russian Foreign ministry did not take the opportunity to follow Obama’s hero Lincoln and praise the US for admitting that the policies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in regards to the Crimea and Ukraine were the correct policies and that the United States is now willing to fully back the nation created by the USSR.
    (See the Trent Affair for reference)

  26. kao_hsien_chih,
    While my ignorance of Thailand is complete, your account of its politics rings true. And the general conclusions you draw seem to me of immense importance.
    Some scattered observations. Commonly, Western journalists, diplomats etc etc, are prone to assume that ‘liberal city dwellers’ are the natural beneficiaries of ‘democratisation’ in the societies they are, supposedly, trying to understand.
    These are the people to whom they generally talk, and this is one reason why time and again they completely fail to understand what is actually happening in these societies. In general, Western journalists, diplomats, etc etc, don’t attempt to talk to a wider selection of people: they haven’t developed the intellectual skills required to do so, even in relation to their own countries, and they find it frightening.
    For precisely the reasons you give, ‘modernisation’ may not in fact generate political stability, in that bridging the gulf between ‘liberal city dwellers’ and other groups in the population may be extremely difficult. This is a problem which people in the West in general appear not to wish to face.
    However, Ukraine is a special case, in several ways. One element is that Yanukovich does not have a strong basis of popular support. Precisely an element of stability in the situation in Ukraine used to be that the Eastern oligarchs, who dominated the ‘Party of the Regions’, had very strong interests in maintaining an independent and unified Ukraine.
    Largely as the result of their – totally delusional – belief that Yanukovich is Putin’s puppet, the U.S. and the E.U. have blown this relative stability apart. How far the Eastern oligarchs will retain serious influence is one of the major imponderables of the current situation.
    As to Ms Nuland, and Geoffrey Pyatt, perhaps it would be best if they retrained as elementary school teachers. There are few other professions for which their peculiar combination of arrogant condescension and limited intellectual grasp appears to be an appropriate qualification.

  27. Marco Naccio says:

    Check Haaretz again for the correction. It was not the chief rabbi, but rather a Chabad pretender to the throne. Propaganda.

  28. Thomas says:

    And the loss of Russian energy supplies will do what for the European economy?

  29. groovenoter says:

    Completely distorted and disingenuous read of the situation:
    A) the demonstrations are mostly peaceful but the forces behind them have a history of violence;
    B) name me one Thai politician and party that isn’t corrupt; the Democrat party which is one of the main sponsors of the protests is notoriously corrupt and their main beef with Thaksin is that they cannot replicate his electoral successes. The last Democrat government to run Thailand in over a generation was installed after the 2006 coup;
    C) complete falsehood. The anti-Thaksin crowd are angry because they cannot rid themselves of Yingluck and the TPT party at the ballot box; they represent around a 1/3 of the Thai electorate mostly centred around the BKK middle class. They do not have the support of the rural Thais.
    The Yingluck government and the police have been bending over backwards to avoid any kind of serious or violent confrontations. The military has not been involved in the situation and the military leadership have been try to maintain a studious if somewhat convoluted distance from the whole mess (please check out the latest statements by the Thai military chief Prayuth Chan-ocha. It’s all over the MSM and the internet).

  30. Tyler says:

    Why the hell would I care about the jews?
    Do the jews care about the shit Israel is stirring up in the MENA affecting the Christians there?

  31. Joe100 says:

    All –
    Right Sector seems to be “taking over” Kiev as seen in the following Saker posts
    Not a pretty picture!
    And here is some footage of the “peaceful protesters”, likely primarily Right
    Sector members –
    While Right Sector may see themselves as “true nationalists” from their own perspective, their violent behavior and “strong” views suggest that they are not likely to tolerate conflicting views. And the transitional government is now asking for $35 billion in immediate outside support to avoid default. There are also reports of various forms of US and EU financial support for Right Sector.
    So what benefit could possibly accrue to the EU or the US from this mess?

  32. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Well, even with regards to Ukraine, my take is that while the Eastern oligarchs do undergird the coalition supporting Yanukovich, they are also underwritten by a large population that is Russophile, both in their economic and sociocultural outlooks, and skeptical of the West. So, they are rather equivalent of the “rural Thais” in relation to Thaksin’s party–even if their role is more secondary. One difference might be that they are invested in relations with Russia, rather than in Yanukovich himself. So, while Yanukovich might be disposible, Russian ties are not.

  33. kao_hsien_chih says:

    We are not talking about years yet. I believe Ukrainian “gov’t” asked for something like 30 billion over next few weeks, or they will go bankrupt. If we are speaking of years, we might be talking many hundreds of billions, or even trillions, to prop up a country with gdp of less than 200 billion….

  34. robt willmann says:

    These days, in addition to the prime investigative technique, “follow the money”, are the fraternal twins, “follow the debt” and “follow the derivatives”. All of them most likely apply, and will apply in the future, to Ukraine which, in an amusing twist, is bankrupt like the government now trying to tell it what to do, that of the U.S.A.
    Waiting in the wings, to be “invited” to give “help” to Ukraine, is the International Monkey Business Fund, less accurately known as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If those sharks get into what’s next for Ukraine, the “nationalists” and Right Sector who hate Russia will realize that Putin is saintly compared to the IMF.
    The first few hours and days after a coup are, of course, critical, as the plotters want to give the appearance of business as usual so that those protesting and feeling the pressure of getting back to their regular lives to survive, will go home and more or less accept the “new order”. Sure enough, right away there was Catherine Ashton of the EU sitting there with the “interim president”, Oleksandr Turchynov, as pictured in the BBC article in the main post above. I wonder if the sweet Ms. Ashton is familiar with that slippery looking fellow. After all, when being involved in the security service, Mr. Turchynov was accused of ordering the destruction of the case file on the notorious Ukrainian – Russian – Israeli organized crime figure, Semyon Mogilevich, who is presently one of the FBI 10 Most Wanted Fugitives.
    Russia seems to be first protecting its Crimean naval base and Sevastopol, so that there is no Act Two there of the theatre that played out in Kiev–
    A few Russian armored personnel carriers are roaming around that area, and the Sevastapol city council appointed a new mayor, a Russian citizen.
    I think that Russia does not want to divide Ukraine into two countries, as that would create many more details and problems to deal with, such as drawing a border, protecting the new border, putting together a new governmental structure, if any, for the new country, etc. etc. However, splitting Ukraine would cause a default on all the debt that government has outstanding, and if Russian banks were not too exposed from holding a lot of it, a default would slap the western banks holding that garbage bond debt.
    Back on Sunday, 23 February, on the NBC Meet the Press television program, Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, appeared to answer the softball questions asked by the host–
    She made a big Freudian slip when talking about the agreement signed last week to keep the lid on but did not last very long: “… and that agreement is very consistent with our principles and it’s consistent, in fact, David, with where this situation is going. We are going to have a unity government, we are going to have near term elections, we are going to have constitutional reform, and that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people ….”
    “We” are going to have a unity government, and near term elections, and constitutional reform? Silly me; I thought it was all being done by and is all up to the Ukrainian people.

  35. kao_hsien_chih says:

    [snark}Haven’t you got the memo? We are all Ukrainians. Heck, “we” are more Ukrainian than those silly Slavs in Ukraine because “we” know what’s good for them better than they do…. [/snark]

  36. eakens says:

    This Ukraine drama coincides nicely with the US ramping up of LNG facilities and capacity in anticipation of being an exporter of NatGas.
    This struggle between the US and RU only goes to highlight how weak Europe really is. The question is what will the EU do now that it has been made crystal clear to them that even they are nothing more than pawns. This is the danger of spending and printing yourself into bankruptcy. A few minutes of self-reflection by our leaders would be appreciated.

  37. Charles I says:

    They already occupy little bits, and the Crimean ports aren’t going anywhere.
    “Russian troops now control the main access to Sevastopol, the Ukrainian port city that is home to a major Russian naval base, following orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin that put Russia’s military on alert.
    A military checkpoint – with a Russian flag and a Russian military armoured personnel carrier and troop transport truck — was set up on the main highway between the Crimean capital of Simferopol and the naval port of Sevastopol. The checkpoint is north of the city of Sevastopol, and so well beyond the Russian base.”

  38. Charles I says:

    And Stalin sowed it with deported Tatars

  39. Thomas says:

    Would Europe be able to get new supplies in sufficient quantities to prevent even a short term disruption?
    How would the populace respond to this if not?

  40. Ulenspiegel says:

    Here you miss the point: A larger percentage of NG is now traded as LNG, therefore, a share of the Russian exports, which happen via pielines, can be substituted with LNG at a higher price. And LNG production increase happens at a higher rate than demand increase. As some European companies have invested in a pipeline net in the past they prefer (cheaper) Russian NG of course.
    OTOH, as Gas and oil are the only menaingful sources for income, a stategy that destroys this income, is self-inflicted pain for Russia.
    Worst case is a military invention that led to the destuction of pipelines in Ukraine and forces the customers to get substitutes, this means lost market for Russia, I bet some guys in Ukraine know this very well.

  41. Ulenspiegel says:

    Europe can of course not substitute 100% of the Russian imports within a short time: It is quite easy in electricity generation, much of the NG in electricity generation has already be substituted with coal again.
    The storage capacity in Germany is good for around 3 months of demand, however, the pipeline capacity between Lower Saxony and Bavaria is IIRC not sufficient to provide sufficient NG pressure at 100% demand, in February 2012 the high Russian and east European domestic demand has already caused problems in Bavaria: NG powerplants stand idle, Austrian (coal) capacity did the job.
    If 100% of Russian import are lost, the problem is of course the heating sector. An short term interruption during summer may be doable, one year interruption with a cold winter would be “interesting” and would of course damage the European economy and would very likely causes thousands of dead people.
    The most likely answer would be a crash program to reduce the volume of imported NG, however, the long term loser would be Russia.

  42. Ulenspiegel says:

    some of the export facilities are the answer to the lack of domestic pipeline capacity in the USA.
    And do you really assume you pay only 4 $ per mcf because shale gas production is so cheap or the producers are owned by the Salvation Army? How does a LNG facility affects the price in the USA?
    The next question for you is: What is the carrying capacity for NG of most European countries? What for the USA? Maybe you loook in the wrong direction. 🙂

  43. Thomas says:

    Thanks for the info.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think the most likely answer would be that Russia will not cut exports to EU, but others might – such a rump Ukraine.
    EU has no energy future outside of Russia – none, zilch, nada.

  45. harry says:

    Marco is right. It was actually Russian propoganda. I apologise for propogating it. And I assume you care for Jews like you care for all people. Its not Jews stirring up the middle east. Its not even Israelis. Its some Israelis.

  46. Cat Mack says:

    Dear Ulenspiegel, I hope you subscribe to comments. Challange accepted.
    Have a look at list of countries by median age ( Germany is the third oldest country in the world, trailing behind Italy and Japan. For comparison, in 2010 U.K. had median age 3 years less than Germany. This will not stand, though. Over the remainder of 2010s, the Germany will be the fastest aging country in the Europe ( In 2020s, the process will slow down due to increased mortality of old Germans. Countries which lost a sigificant portion of their youth due to emigration in 1990s and 2000s will accelerate their aging to ridiculous levels (Poland, Romania, Spain, Baltics), all while migration sinks (primarly U.K. and Nordics) will stay stable. By 2020, median age in Germany will be 48 years with quater of population already retired.
    Can immigration stablize Germany? First, the Eurostat statistics linked above already account for migrants who left their countries by 2011 and their anticipated fertility. The report links to tables updated for 2012, all trends continue. You can find have a look at age-cohort pyramids from at Looking through these tables, there are no young people left in Spain for Germany to import. Bulgaria is similar: their demographics collapsed in 90’s and there are no young people to export. There are certainly young people left in Romania. Aren’t the most mobile of them already in U.K.? As the crisis deepens, I concurr that you might be able to squeeze a couple dozen thousands here and there. But I submit to you that they will be of “lower” quality (or maybe different) compared to more mobile people who already left and did NOT choose to go to Germany.
    Ukraine will have a peak of potential emmigrants (demographics 25-29) in 2015. Less so Russia, I suspect that most of that demographic in Russia will be Muslim in a couple of years.
    Besides, spending some time in Zurich, I have observed quite a lot of young and enterprising Germans emigrating.
    I would be very much interested in your opinion on how Germany can run such a society in couple of years, without some deus-ex-machina solution. I can see Germans going for a modfied T4 euthanasia program in couple of years. Current fertility is irrelevant. All of Central Europe, including Germany, is at 1.3 or lower TFRs. Again, compare this to U.K.: Poles and Romanians living in U.K are at roughly 2.7, Britons themselves at 1.85 or so.
    Trying to make the rest of Central Europe unstable to attract migrants is one way Germany can move forward. But I do not thing it will work in the long term.

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