Open Thread on the Ukraine Crisis


I believe the Ukraine crisis will continue indefinitely.  Diplomacy seems to lead nowhere and war between Russia and NATO (the United States) would possibly lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

We will therefore leave this thread open indefinitely.  pl

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97 Responses to Open Thread on the Ukraine Crisis

  1. 505thPIR says:

    There will be violence and lots of it. Putin really has two choices: 1)Temporarily occupy Russian speaking and Orthodox areas with their general acquiescence and set-them up as independent Moscow affiliated republics. Annexation doubtful as the illusion of non-annexation still useful. 2)The Ukrainian security forces are underequipped, undertrained muffins. They are not capeable of carrying out a long term occupation of said regions for any enduring amount of time nor are they capeable of finesse/using anything but blunt force. Further, Russian special ops/working hand in hand with local “patriots” would win outright any prolonged guerilla war. The extended border with Russia and Belarus is unsealable. Arms and strategic initiative permanently in breakaway group’s favor. The fracture zones between East and West Ukraine would harken back in terms of blood and atrocity to the worst the 20th century had to offer.
    Once the fighting gets going in earnest this week, secession is going to be a given. How this plays out is not.
    Should Russia intervene directly, it would not likely seem to be in its interest to invade the Western Ukraine and roll-up on NATO borders. A) Direct Confrontation will be a very real possibility and B) Occupation of the Catholic/Ukrainian speaking territories would be bloody and the resistence would be “sponsored”. This would be a trap Moscow would do well to avoid. Again, in this scenario the liklihood of direct conflict with NATO goes up.
    Western Ukraine will be eventually the frontier state of “Europe” in Cold War 2. Advantage Neo-Cons as a deep schism will exist between Europe proper and rest of Eurasia.
    All this said, once the killing gets going in earnest, all bets are off.

  2. 505thPIR says:

    Timely? Some national introspection perhaps?
    “The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: say ‘yea’ to it all. Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”
    Joseph Campbell in a Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

  3. turcopolier says:

    All We all have a big problem. The BHO Administration sees the
    Russian actions as a challenge to world wide authority wielded by the US on behalf of the world community in a post-modern international system and the Russians (Putin) see their own actions as a rightful re-assertion of Russian control of lands which they never should have lost.

  4. Karel Dolejsi says:

    Ukrainian Lieutenant-general Krutov, commander of ongoing “anti-terrorist operation” in Eastern Ukraine. He gave a speech yesterday – highly critical to current Ukrainian authorities, but he is military professional too. Warning sign for the Russkies.

  5. All,
    In one of its intermittent attacks of common sense, the ‘Financial Times’ has published a commentary by Dmitri Trenin, the former career Red Army officer who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center, which seems to bring out very well how dangerous today’s developments may turn out to be:
    “Until Tuesday, when Kiev began a military operation in Ukraine’s east, the Kremlin neither needed nor intended to use military force there. Its army was lining up across the border to deter Kiev from using its own forces against pro-Russian activists, and to dissuade the US and Nato from meddling. A Russian intervention becomes more likely if there is a full-blown civil war.
    “The Kremlin is often accused of fomenting instability in Ukraine as a pretext for invasion. In reality, Russia’s main objective is to help the country’s Russophile southeast to assert itself and create a new political balance within Ukraine. It wants acceptance for official use of the Russian language where it is spoken; direct election of governors, which would create regional elites accountable to their Russian-speaking constituencies and form a counterweight to the pro-western elites in Kiev; continuing economic relations with Russia, especially in the defence industrial area; and, lastly, for Ukraine to maintain a neutral relationship with Nato.
    “Ukraine is a large and complex country. Ukrainians are not Russians, as Mr Putin will have to admit. They are not ‘one people’, even among themselves. But equally, not all those who reject a narrow version of Ukrainian nationalism are Russian agents.”
    The conclusion to Trenin’s article seems to me apposite:
    “If it [Ukraine] is allowed to break up – or made to do so – Russia and the west will spin into a confrontation from which both will emerge the losers. Both sides need to keep Ukraine whole. They cannot allow a clash of civilisations to become a self-realising fantasy.”
    (See )

  6. So the Ukraine a pawn in the chess game of geopolitics but one that can self-initiate catastrophe!

  7. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I’ve been wondering about this from very early days of the crisis… How reliably loyal are Ukrainian troops to The current Kiev government? The impression that I have gotten was that it is not but Russian propaganda might have been exaggerating its disloyalty (ie the unverifiable but large numbers of supposed defectors and such.) How many Ukrainian soldiers will actually fight when things get serious enough, and whether Kiev will have to call on loyalist “militias” they supposedly have been raising (reminiscent of various thugs in former Yugoslavia, on all sides), seems potentially very important.
    I suspect that if Ukrainian Army can maintain discipline, Putin will be cornered. If they caanot and Kiev resorts to unleashing armed thugs, I suspect we will see Russians retake Kiev in a few days after the thugs show up. If the Ukrainian army does falter but no thugs show up in yheir place, the Kiev government will be probably finished.

  8. walrus says:

    I did not fully understand the importance of the military in U.S. life until I visited the Lynn, Mass. Military jet engine plant of G.E. I was in a machine hall, listening to an inspector explain to me why the front housing of the T700 engine that powers the UH60 Black Hawk helicopter we had made was not quite up to his standards when I glanced up the hall and realised that every machine operator was watching me.
    It struck me that all their jobs depended on a continuing need for that helicopter engine and that depended on those military helicopters flying lots of hours and that depended on their being a military justification for that expense. Their jobs also depended on an Australian company not being able to make this complex part cheaper and better than they could, which was why the inspector was doing his level best to find fault with ours, but that is another story.
    Throughout my visits I consistently noticed the preponderance of military activity. I sat next to a pimply Twenty something on an airliner – he was a crew chief for a B52. I saw naval transport ships moored in the Mississippi downtream of New Orleans – doing nothing, but sitting there just in case. I saw the marines training area south of Los Angeles, the huge naval and air installations at San Diego, the submarine on the slip in Groton Conn. and a whole lot more.
    It is quite clear that there are huge sections of the American economy that feed off war, whose jobs, like those of the men at G.E.’s factory in Lynn, depend on the existence of some “threat” that justifies this vast expense. However I am not going to rail against the military industrial complex, there is something more important going on here. When one is under threat of something, we give ourselves permission to postpone introspection. This is an obvious and necessary survival trait.
    Could it be that America now prefers perpetual war to peace because it indefinitely postpones the self analysis and painful change that America desperately needs?

  9. The Twisted Genius says:

    The seriousness of this problem hit me when the news of Brennan’s recent visit to Kiev leaked out. To me, that move meant that the BHO Administration is doubling down on its bet. I have no doubt that the CIA owns the SBU. That’s what they do. ITAR-TASS reports that a Pravy Sektor unit spearheaded the retaking of the Kramatorsk Aerodrome. I’d bet that Brennan told the coup leaders to put Krutov in charge of their anti-terrorist center after instructing Krutov to use the Pravy Sektor and Svoboda units to crush the uprising in the East.

  10. oofda says:

    And the religous aspect is more complex as there are several Ukrainian Orthodox churches. There is the Ukrainian Orthodox Churck- Kiev Patriarchate; the Ukrainian Orthodox Churck- Moscow Patrirchate; and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Then there is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church/ Uniate. This presents a problem for the Russian Orthodox leadership and the Russian Government- they don’t want to be seen attacking fellow Orthodox believers.

  11. Matthew says:

    WRC: It’s simple to de-escalate. All NATO and EU have to do is state categorically that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO/EU unless Russia does too.

  12. Augustin L says:

    What is the administration trying to accomplish here ? In the end it is the europeans and ukrainians that will be the losers. No Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, this will facilitate the pivot towards Asia. Here’s an interesting footage of the Pravy Sektor thugs beating the presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev yesterday, ironically as he exited the studios of a show entitled ”liberty of expression”. This is democracy ?

  13. seydlitz89 says:

    From a strategic theory perspective: President Putin demonstratively thinks and acts strategically whereas the US has acted astrategically in a consistent manner through a series of political crises requiring the possible resort to military action. The character of the political leadership is important, as is the consideration that organized violence in various forms seems to be our/the US’s political/military method of choice.
    In situations of potential military conflict, Putin would think in terms of the correlation of forces, those material and moral forces available to the political community/state in question at a particular time regarding a particular context (contingency).
    Imo the Russians are more reacting to events than precipitating them; I would look elsewhere for that.
    Materially speaking it would be “crazy” for Russia to take on the US/NATO in a military conflict . . . Russians being Russians, that may not matter, but whose to tell those following the US Govt/Cheneyism that?
    Morally speaking it’s another kettle of fish . . .

  14. Anna-Marina says:

    There are two terribly depressing articles in CounterPunch, one by Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury:
    and another by Mike Whitney:
    And here is an excerpt from Whitney’s article where he quotes the prominent neocon Mr. Wolfowitz in order to explicate the DC’ guiding principles re Russia and Ukraine:
    “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere…. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
    It seems that there is no hope for a peaceful solution in the poor Ukraine. The visit of the CIA Director Brennan to Kiev is an omen of an incoming West-provoked civil war in Ukraine.
    The lunatics are courting a mushroom cloud.

  15. FB Ali says:

    The latest developments are covered by The Saker in an 1830 EST sitrep on his site. He sums up the day’s developments thus:
    1) “The Ukrainian military only pretends to participate in the so-called anti-terrorist operation. While some units from Galicia might try it, most units are probably unwilling to shoot many civilians.
    2) The cops, SWAT teams and SBU special forces probably would not mind shooting into a crowd, but they would be fearful to enter inside the urban environment of a city and storm buildings while having a furious mob all around them.
    3) As for the neo-Nazi thugs and common criminals hired by the oligarchs, they have neither the training nor the means to put down a city”.
    The fact remains that, if there is significant loss of life among civilians in this action in succeeding days, the chances of a Russian military intervention become very high.
    It almost seems as if Washington is trying to force such a development. Will Merkel do anything about this, or will she allow Germany to be pulled into this morass?

  16. VietnamVet says:

    All, When CIA Director Brennan was reported by RT to be in Kiev and urging the Putsch to send troops to put down the unrest in the Eastern Provinces, all I could foresee is Ukraine spiraling out of control. With thousands of hydrogen bombs on both sides, MAD is in play no matter how it is ignored by the White House or the media.
    In many ways we are replaying 1861, 1914 and 1941; all over again. In each case, societies had reached their boundaries, stagnated, and thought they needed more land (Lebensraum). The West is now all played out; ruled by a few hundred multi-national monopolies and families, concerned only with preserving and increasing their capital, any way they can, including by war. Sovereign Nations ruled by puppets and controlled by non-democratic institutions without any interest in their people’s well-being.
    Victorian Nuland and Pierre Omidyar (eBay founder and donator to the National Endowment for Democracy) are one and the same as the hot headed Southern Radicals who fired on Fort Sumter. Each sees war as necessary rather than peace with compromise and the concurrent loss of status. Except, this 21st century war will destroy the Northern Hemisphere.

  17. bth says:

    The YouTube link is not from yesterday but from March 10. Are you referring to another one?

  18. steve says:

    Yet, at the same time, you can travel throughout much of the US and see very little military presence, if any, save for the occasional national guard personnel on a weekend.
    Of course, the US is full of industrial and manufacturing operations that supply military hardware. I don’t dispute that.

  19. Tyler says:

    So what happens on the domestic front if we decide to go all in with the Ukraine?

  20. The Brennan visit to Kiev finally documents for me his total incompetence.

  21. IMO Ukrainian factions have no end game in mind other than stirring the pot and hoping someone else keeps it from boiling over. This will not happen and look for many Ukrainians to be scalded.
    Ukrainian-American friends in the DC area tell me almost that entire community is trying to get their relatives out of the Ukraine and hopefully many to the USA!

  22. Dismayed says:

    I was just reading this thread with an eye to asking what others thought the reason for Brennan’s visit might have been. My own suspicion is that at the least he offered to pay SBU’s salaries. And us still running annually ~600 billion in the red … utter madness.

  23. robt willmann says:

    Another big news item of 15 April, and somewhat related to Ukraine, especially as to the natural gas pipeline intrigue, is that Bandar “Bush” bin Sultan was relieved of his post as Chief of General Saudi Intelligence “upon his request”. He is being replaced by Yousif bin Ali Al-Idreesi. The Saudi Press Agency makes it official–
    Bandar “voluntarily” resigning that good job is like former U.S. Representative Tom DeLay suddenly deciding to leave the U.S. House at the height of his power (he was caught up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal).
    Bandar’s involvement in the Saudi – U.S. – British – Israeli false flag operation with the chemical weapons in Syria that backfired, plus his allegedly going to Russia and in the same breath trying to bribe (with military equipment purchases) and threaten (we control the Chechens) the Russian government into changing its position in Syria, certainly generated enough blowback for someone to whisper in his ear that it was time for him to leave.
    Now the question is what relationship, if any, does Yousif bin Ali Al-Idreesi have with the U.S.A.?

  24. Tyler says:

    Some more thoughts on a war with Russia:
    I think we will see the destruction/capture of a major maneuver element.
    Possible coup when someone decides to “nuke the bastards” and someone more sensible says no.
    The Left has spent the last fifty years declaring we are hyphenated Americans. Look for propaganda in the vein of asking why the US can find an army to fight in Ukraine but can’t find the troops to secure the borders. The fault lines are there – all someone needs is a hammer.

  25. crf says:

    It’s premature to say that some diplomatic understanding will not be found. There are still talks scheduled, and the Ukrainian government had its chance today to try to use force to put down the insurrection, but few of its actors had any heart in the role.
    I don’t think the military people on the ground (on both sides) are willing to truly fight and their resolve isn’t likely to increase. Probably the civilians (Russian-leaning and Ukrainian-leaning or neutral) want to resolve this without fighting, and would be willing to compromise to make the threat of armed conflict go away. The proposals for a decentralized government with more regional autonomy would not likely to be seen as horrible by Ukrainian citizens, in particular if, in exchange for more regional autonomy, Russia made a promise not to meddle.
    The main obstacle to compromise appears to the United States, and whatever (now obviously weak) tentacles it has inserted into the Ukraine government: they see (perhaps rightly) the imposition of this kind of deal as very coercive and unfair (such is life). But the US has really nothing concrete at stake, except nebulous concepts of being a world wide hegemon made to look weak: and with nothing at stake, it can afford to be petty and difficult. Especially since looking weak means the Democrats may lose Senate seats! (Yes, risking war with Russia vs Losing Senate seats: what path will Obama take?)
    Perhaps there is something Russia can do to have the US save face, while still having the Russian federal “deal” imposed on Ukraine? Let the Swiss or Germany take the lead in negotiations, so the US doesn’t have to appear to compromise? Have Russia pay a lot of money or gas to Ukraine? Have Russia pay for Crimea? Even have Putin resign?
    Putin can afford to resign. Everyone knows that a Russian/China alliance would allow those countries to counter the US/Canada/Euro alliance in access to resources and industrial know-how. Absent such an alliance, both countries have a very clear picture of what the US strategy will be, since it has been played out in Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and now Ukraine. the US strategy will be to welcome all the countries surrounding Russia or China into US-alliances, and foment endless disputes within Russia or China, between them and the countries bordering them. Eventually, the US will seek to topple the heads of China and Russia, shatter those countries into pieces, take each of them over with puppets, ensure they remain in a depressed state of development, and plunder their resources to keep the populations of the US/EU/Canada placated.

  26. William Herschel says:

    Eloquent and true.

  27. William Herschel says:

    The hysterical Russia bashing in all, repeat all, the Western press means to me that they are reading blogs such as this and The Vineyard of the Saker and they are scared that the truth is too near the surface, much too near.
    It’s really, really hard to make the Right Sector look good, but that has not prevented the lead Ukraine correspondent of the New York Times from doing so:
    This guy was an “activist” and coal miners in Eastern Ukraine are “terrorists”. George Orwell is writing this script.

  28. Fred says:

    You need only look at local police forces to see military presence. Watch any TV news program about virtually any police department raid and you’ll see military equipment on display.

  29. Poul says:

    There has been a lot of talk about Bear-baiting, but it seems that the Russians are engaged in Chihuahua-baiting.
    Are they pushing the West-Ukrainians in Kiev until they get a violent response or are there other goals?

  30. Fred says:

    President Obama was just in Ann Arbor Michigan. Ukraine was worth zero words the audience. A call to service? Naw. The students? They were all just a face in the crowd who hit ‘like’ on Facebook and cheered at the charismatic politicians words – about how wages just above poverty level were what America needs now. That is their first full measure of devotion to their duty to the Republic. Of course they support Ukraine, the same way they support(ed) Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan. Just Monday NPR had Samantha Power on regurgitating our guilt over Rawanda and how America has an obligation to protect – in the Central African Republic. It appears the only people on Earth America has no obligation to is right here in the United States.

  31. F.B. Ali,
    Certainly, I am not counting my chickens on this, but some interesting indications that ‘the Saker’ may be right about the reluctance of the Ukrainian military to shoot civilians have been coming in.
    Reports of soldiers in Kramatorsk abandoning their vehicles and/or switching sides have been making headlines. If RT is to be believed:
    ‘The soldiers and civilians started fraternizing very quickly and soon were joking about “coming for a visit without weapons next time.” Many of the soldiers put on St. George’s ribbons, the traditional Russian emblem used to commemorate the Soviet Union’s fight against Nazism in World War II.’
    (Se )
    I particularly enjoyed a video reproduced by the BBC, under the title ‘Ukraine crisis: Russian Lada “chases tank in Sloviansk”.
    (See )
    What really surprised me was to see the ‘Guardian’, whose Russia coverage is commonly tendentious, producing a really very interesting report from the birthplace of Yanukovich. It points the dilemma which both the Kiev authorities, and John Brennan, may now be facing:
    ‘Anti-government protesters now occupy municipal buildings and police stations in a string of eastern cities. The west says that behind the scenes Russia has co-ordinated these actions. The problem for Kiev’s beleaguered government is how to wrest the buildings back without endangering the civilians now occupying them. There is no easy answer.
    ‘In Yenakiyevo, the birthplace of Ukraine’s fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych, local police have sided with the protesters. They have even lent them flak-jackets. On Tuesday the mayor chatted calmly with activists outside his occupied building. A banner read: “No to Nato.” Residents stuffed donations into a large plastic bottle. The black-blue-red flag of the Donetsk republic flew from the roof.’
    (See )

  32. Joe100 says:

    The best line from the paratroops switching sides is: “They haven’t fed us for three days on our base. They’re feeding us here. Who do you think we are going to fight for?, he said.”
    If Saker’s take on available forces and the status of events is even close, it is not clear that Kiev has any forces that could put down the widespread protests.

  33. Poul,
    Why should the Russians want a violent response?
    Ukrainian army soldiers fraternising with civilians, putting on the orange and black St George’s ribbons … Much more of this, and Turchinov, Parubiy and Brennan are snookered. They wouldn’t have a play on the board.
    The Russian play is clearly for referendums on a region-by-region basis. Their best outcome would probably be for regions officially to stay in Ukraine, but settle critical policies – in particularly economic policy – on a regional basis.

  34. Karel Dolejsi says:

    bth: Yes, sorry, shame on me. It`s new commander, but old speech. And now it`s already clear, that Krutov probably cannot acomplish too much with his demotivated troops.

  35. Joe100,
    The comic element is getting stronger.
    The Kiev authorities are attempting to claim that the fact that their APC was seen entering Kramatorsk flying a Russian flag was a ruse to penetrate the town.
    According to the acting major of Slavyansk, a column with four armoured vehicles, a self-propelled gun and communications vehicles is sitting facing his town hall:
    ‘“We’ve let them through. The only condition is that the servicemen unclip their magazines through they retain the ammunition load. Our activists are bringing dinner shortly: we’ll offer them a meal and then let them decide if they remain on our side or leave,” Ponomaryov said.
    ‘The military has a choice: join the Donbass self-defense units or leave their weapons and military equipment and withdraw, he added.’
    (See )
    Obviously things could still go terribly wrong. But at the moment, the momentum seems to be against the ‘putschists’ in Kiev.

  36. Tyler says:

    I’m wondering if the Russians have a plan to export “democracy” to our shores in the US manner.

  37. Poul says:

    I agree it’s all bark and no bite.
    General Krutov got chase off by locals at Kramatorsk yesterday.
    “In an attempt to defuse the situation, Gen. Krutov came out to speak to the angry protesters but was attacked by them. After a tussle in which his hat was knocked to the ground, he managed to take refuge in the airport.”

  38. YT says:

    “Lassen Sie alle kehren vor der eigenen Tür, und die ganze Welt wird sauber sein.”
    “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  39. Poul says:

    In case they wanted a casus belli.
    But I agree the end goal for the Russian government is what will decide the course of events.

  40. The Twisted Genius says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the CIA was paying SBU salaries for quite some time. I remember the video footage of at least one pallet of cash being picked up by US Embassy personnel from the airport in Kiev prior to the coup.

  41. The importance of this handoff cannot be minimized but ends decades of Prince Bandar influence in SA and the USA!
    He was one of the principle corruptors of the Bush family IMO!

  42. Charles says:

    Russian media also reported that that a lot of gunfire was loosed during the attack and that there were deaths. Last night on PBS World News at 11.30, on camera interviews were held outside the base with locals who stated there was no gunfire, no battle.
    Fog of war and propaganda IMHO we can’t be sure of the Pravy Sektor and Svoboda elements’ role as either participants or props.

  43. Charles says:

    Thank someone’s gods this is over there and not here.

  44. The Twisted Genius says:

    The Russians are probably the only ones who have a clear picture of events in Eastern Ukraine if, as I contend, Spetznaz GRU and FSB operatives are roaming the area. If they see the “anti-terrorist campaign” fizzling out as it appears to be doing, they can afford to sit back and wait. No Russian tanks rolling in. No new EU economic sanctions. Putin may just get his federalized Ukraine and the opportunity to quietly castrate Pravy Sektor on his own schedule. The neocons and R2P cabal will be left screaming and hurling feces like a pack of howler monkeys. (Didn’t I paint that picture before?) We just have to keep them away from the nuclear weapons.

  45. Fred says:

    Of course they do, it’s called protecting native Spanish speakers. First up Texas, California and Florida. Because who needs to learn to speak English. Oh, wait our own politicians have been pandering that way for years. First up, no seperate protection for Non-Engish speakers. That’s sure to gain the hispanic vote in this fall’s election.

  46. jon says:

    Seems like a reprise of the Sudetenland. And the Ukraine is not showing much capability.

  47. Fred says:

    I was wondering who Andrew Higgins might be, since he explains in paragraph 6 that oh so troubling question ‘Who fired the bullets’ he asks in paragraph three. Of course this guy has an opinion on Andrew Higgins:
    He’s certainly no Judith Miller. Thank goodness for the NYT.

  48. Fred says:

    “We just have to keep them away from the nuclear weapons.”
    Who, the neocons? Certainly the ideal setting for a false flag operation somewhere. Imagine just what that will unleash with the R2P crowd in D.C. calling the shots.

  49. TTG,
    “I’d bet that Brennan told the coup leaders to put Krutov in charge of their anti-terrorist center after instructing Krutov to use the Pravy Sektor and Svoboda units to crush the uprising in the East.”
    If he did anything of the kind, then he really is a moron. For years it has been obvious to anyone with half a brain that the key to the stability of Ukraine lay in the fact that Russophones in the South and East – outside the Crimea – in general were quite happy to be ruled from Kiev and had no desire to be incorporated in Russia.
    If there was one thing that could change that, it was empowering ‘Banderistas’ in Kiev. How anyone could have been so stupid as to do this I simply cannot understand. To compound the stupidity by sending the most hard-core ‘Banderistas’ to suppress the East really would be unbelievable idiocy.
    But then, perhaps someone might suggest that some competent expert — perhaps Colonel David Glantz might fit the bill — could be employed to instruct the State Department on the significance of the St. George’s ribbon.

  50. Fred,
    Yes, but the NYT is – like its counterparts in the U.K. – quite palpably losing the trust of its readers. The technologies which have made it possible for readers to comment on articles over the past few years are of revolutionary significance.
    So, for example, the NYT has just published an editorial entitled ‘Mr. Putin’s Power Play’. It opens:
    “When President Vladimir Putin of Russia talks about what is happening in Ukraine these days, it is as if he’s looking into a mirror. He says fascists and nationalists are running amok in Kiev, even as Crimea is annexed in the name of Great Russia; he says Russians are threatened in eastern Ukraine, even as Russia directs secessionists there to seize administrative buildings and arms; he calls on President Obama to use his influence to prevent the use of force in Ukraine, even as he puts a major military force on the Ukrainian border.
    “This ploy was a fixture of Soviet propaganda, and when other sources of information are silenced, it can fool people for a while. But nobody outside Russia is buying it.”
    (See )
    The bizarre element of the situation is that the NYT appears to believe that everybody in the West agrees with them, when the comments on their editorial demonstrate conclusively that this is not the case. The one currently with most recommendations reads:
    ‘This Editorial is very disappointing. It is unbalanced, like the propaganda spewed before the Iraq War, not least spewed on the pages of this paper.
    ‘The NYT owes us a better job of this, especially because it failed us so badly before Iraq.’
    Fourth in the list, by number of recommendations, is a comment which accurately pinpoints the ‘soft totalitarian’ nature of today’s NYT.
    ‘That is very typical of NYT editorial board to present its own opinion as a universally held and solely acceptable one. It is not enough for them to express an opinion, they must also claim than everyone else thinks similarly. In this particular case they are simply wrong. As a simple inspection of NYT readers’ comments following Ukraine-related OpEds would reveal plenty of people outside Russia are “buying” or at least finding a measure of sympathy with Russia’s position. In fact, it instead seems that majority of commenters are not buying the official US government line. One cannot but draw a parallel between NYT coverage of events in Ukraine and its so-called “journalism” during the run up to the invasion of Iraq. One wonders if consequences of such uncritical warmongering by the paper of record will not also be similarly dismal.’

  51. William Herschel says:

    “Andrew Higgins has worked in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia and China as a foreign correspondent. Born in Britain and raised in Chicago, he attended Cambridge University, Shandong University and Middlebury College. He speaks fluent French, Russian and Chinese and some Arabic. Before joining the Post in 2009, Higgins worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Independent and Reuters news agency. He co-authored a book on China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. His awards include a Pulitzer Prize, the Oversea Press Club’s Hal Boyle award for best foreign coverage and the German Marshall Fund’s Peter R. Weitz Prize for reporting on Europe.”
    He couldn’t possibly be working for the CIA, could he?

  52. Poul,
    So far, the goal they have repeatedly put forward is regionalisation.
    There are plenty of reasons why this may be a better outcome for them then the incorporation of parts of the South and East in the Russian Federation.
    Among them 1. many people there do not want to be back under the control of Moscow, 2. the East European oligarchs do not want to be under the control of Moscow – but might well like more autonomy from Kiev, 3. Putin wants to avoid permanent rifts with European powers, in particular Germany, and if possible the U.S. 4. Russia may have more influence on the South and East, and be less committed to large expenditures, if it is nominally in Ukraine rather than part of Russia, 5. there might be better prospects of enticing central Ukraine – in particular Kiev – into closer relations with Moscow, if what is at issue is not incorporation in the RF.
    That said, contrary to what Western politicians and the Western MSM want to suggest, the ability of Putin to manipulate what is happening is limited. If people in the South and East do not want to be part of Russia, he cannot make them. By the same token, if they do not want to stay part of Ukraine, he cannot easily make them.

  53. The Twisted Genius says:

    David Habakkuk,
    I agree that empowering the hard core “Banderistas” is an incredibly stupid act. However, I feel the ice is heavily tilted towards Brenner being stupid enough to do just that. I watched the mantra of “capture-kill” take over a large part of the CIA like a religious awakening. I’ve also dealt with their Central Eurasia Division. They remain an imperious lot, even through the height of the GWOT period. The State Department has their own equally fervent R2Pers. Perhaps, as you say, someone like David Glantz could help enlighten both the State Department and the CIA, and exorcize the demons from the BHO Administration.

  54. walrus says:

    More unbalanced trash from the Daily Mail. It seems the Presstitutes have been given instructions to make a case for NATO intervention.
    “Vladimir Putin is striking at the heart of the West.
    His target is our inability to work with allies in defence against common threats. The profoundly depressing fact is that the events of the past few months, as Russia has annexed the Crimea and ­suppressed opposition in Ukraine, have shown the West to be divided, humiliated and powerless in the face of these land grabs.
    We are soon to face a bleak choice. We can chose to surrender any responsibility we have to protect Ukraine and the Baltic states — almost certainly Putin’s next target — from further Russian incursion. Or we can mount a last-ditch attempt to deter Russia from furthering its imperial ambitions.”
    Hysterical counterfactual blather.

  55. walrus says:

    After reading the latest from the Saker, I have to ask what are the chances of a military coup in Kiev?
    I think Yulia Timoshenko on Ukranian TV, may have just triggered one and a tidy end to this crisis:
    “We have to form a new military, a parallel army of volunteers which will beat them back. Then we will negotiate with Putin from a position of force. Our new military will never allow the occupants to get to Kiev. We will engage in a pubic advertisement campaign to ask for volunteer contributions to pay for it. We have to be strong!!”
    If I was an Army Officer I wouldn’t like this idea one bit, shades of the Sturmabteilung and Ernst Rohm!
    A military coup followed by a new constitution and internationally supervised elections seems like the best way out of this mess to me.
    What influence does Washington have on the Ukranian army?

  56. smoke says:

    One reads the NYT in these times specifically to track the official story and spot its shifts, no?
    Sometimes after the Jump, or in the inside pages/non-featured web stories, there is some real reporting and good information to be discovered.

  57. zanzibar says:

    Yes. We are “ruled” by idiots! Not just on strategic matters but even the mundane.
    Why couldn’t Brennan accomplish whatever he wanted on the phone? Now BHO can’t deny that he is not meddling in the affairs of Ukraine.
    I suppose we deserve the leadership we elect.

  58. zanzibar says:

    This is an interesting story by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph.
    If the “idiots” running the US government continue down this path, it will only be a matter of time when some creditors refuse to accept US paper for real goods & services.

  59. Bandolero says:

    See yesterday’s speech of General Krutov in front of the air field in Kramatorsk explaining the people there that he and his man came to their town to liberate the people of the region with an anti terrorist operation:
    His speech was essentially over when a woman yelled at him loudly: “Who of us here you call a terrorist?”

  60. CRF! IMO power is taken not given and Putin won’t resign any time soon. For right or wrong he also has star power in Russia now!

  61. Russian-American friends and Ukrainian-American friends continue to tell me phone lines to the USA from and to the Ukraine remain completely open and not disrupted. Does NSA know? YES!

  62. Bandolero says:

    The authorities in Dontsk have today decided that on May 11 there will be a referendum in the Donetsk region where the people shall answer two questions:
    1. Do you agree that a so-called the Donetsk independent republic shall be created?
    2. Do you agree that the Donetsk shall become pat of the Russian federation?
    I think the result of the referendum is quite open, but I see that the new Kiev power did not do a good job at making friends with the people of Donetsk and the successes of the “Donetsk people’s republic” forces create a bandwagon effect for Russia.
    Whatever the result I expect that Putin will try to achieve the solution for Donetsk that the referendum result shows is wanted by the people of Donetsk.
    And then, of course, I expect the result of the Donetsk referendum to have a huge influence on what will happen in other regions of Ukraine. I think, first, Lugasnk will follow Donetsk, then Kharkov and Odessa will be a bandwagon effect, and there will be a ripple effect through Ukraine. I would not wonder if we would see in the coming months, say next winter, a referendum in Kiev where the poeple decide that Kiev will join Russia.

  63. Karel Dolejsi says:

    In my humble opinion, general Krutov would be much better(=rational) leader than Timoshenko, at least for now. – But influence of GRU on the Ukrainian army is probably much bigger than Washington’s influence, it seems to me. (However, Krutov is former SBU officer, i.e. intelligence specialist.)

  64. Ikonoklast says:

    This recruiting commercial is possible indicator of the likely state of the Ukrainian armed forces:
    (Apologies if this has been posted here previously)

  65. Bandolero says:

    “A military coup followed by a new constitution and internationally supervised elections seems like the best way out of this mess to me.”
    I agree. But there is one more important tasks in the interests of the Ukrainian people: the Ukrainian people shall and wnats to get rid of the supremacy of the traitor oligarchs, those billionaires who really ruled the country in the last two decades, live on the backs of the people and sell the country and the people at every possibility when they see a penny for themselves by doing so.
    “What influence does Washington have on the Ukranian army?”
    Not much. The US has a post-coup puppet installed a head of SBU, but US military ties are much deeper with Russia. So, if someone can help the Ukrainian “Siloviki” take power in the interest of the Ukrainian people, it’s Putin.
    And if I understand Putin right, he’s just running the kind of scenario you propose, albeit not centralized from out of Kiev as you suggest, but beginning from out of the eastern and southern periphery closing in to the center later.
    What the US can do to help Putin and the Ukrainian army to do it as unbloody as possible is doing and promising nothing, at least not in a military sense.

  66. robt willmann says:

    Up next is a meeting tomorrow on Thursday, 17 April, in Geneva, Switzerland (beautiful place), with people from Ukraine, the U.S., Russia, and the “European Union” there to talk about Ukraine. Traveling with Kerry is none other than Victoria Nuland, she of the recorded phone call revealing U.S. participation in the coup in Ukraine and with her epithet directed at the EU; in the schedule she is called “Toria”–
    Secretary of State John Kerry has now landed in Geneva and is striking a “thoughtful” pose with his hand around his chin for the publicity photo–
    The EU people don’t have the guts to do it, but they should take Victoria Nuland down a notch or two at this meeting, including a public statement about her.

  67. different clue says:

    Whatever influence Washington has is devoted to the pursuit of IMF/EU austerity for Ukraine and total privatization of every asset worth taking over. Would Washington want a Ukrainian Army coup which would jeopardize the EU/IMF/NATO agenda? If not, the Army would have to mount a coup in defiance of Washington’s wishes.

  68. Fred says:

    Just how much money will US pension funds, both municipal and corporate, lose when this financial neutron bomb goes off?
    The latest news from Detroit is that general pension fund retirees are being forced into a permanent end to cost of living adjustments and an immediate 4% plus cut. Of course our very own billionaire oligarch Mr. Illych does gain $186,000,000 in tax money for his hockey arena, because that deal got done first. Joy.
    On another note why does anyone in D.C. think Ukrainians are worth screwing our own citizens over for, or that all those citizens are just going to take getting screwed like this the same way the Occupy WallStreet crowd did?

  69. Fred says:

    America should defend Ukraine with the last drop of Edward Lucas’ blood, but not a single drop of an American’s; and be sure to spend his money too, not mine.

  70. Tyler says:

    Do you think that the Ukrainian government actually believes that there are Spetznatz on the ground, or are they just waving a bloody shirt while telling the soldiers going to fight the “anti-terrorists” that they are just fighting Russian backed thugs?
    In other words, is Kiev sending fighters out east to go show the flag and little else, or are they sending conscripts to go get carved up, knowingly or unknowingly, by the polite green men?

  71. William Herschel says:

    Ukraine certainly has proved to be a litmus test. Here is the king of the bleeding hearts at the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof echoing John McCain:
    This guy is actually in Kiev. Talking to either Right Sector or Right Sector wannabe’s who are asking him for guns. And he is writing a column in the Times pleading with the American people to give them guns.
    Kristof starts his column talking about Russians, quite literally as if they were animals deserving to be hunted down and killed:
    “For decades, Ukrainians have been starved, oppressed and bullied by Russians, and, with Russia now inciting instability that could lead to an invasion and dismemberment of eastern Ukraine, plenty of brave Ukrainians here say they’ve had it and are ready to go bear-hunting.”
    But before the column is half over, his real target emerges:
    “It’s crucial that Putin pay a price for aggression so that he doesn’t benefit from bellicosity.”
    Putin, Putin, Putin. I am convinced this is all about regime change in Russia. The neo-cons, and I had not the slightest idea how many neo-cons there were hiding behind liberal masks, do not like him. Ukraine is a pretext to bring down Putin.
    So Russia will be turned into Iran. Best of luck with that project, CIA on the Hudson.

  72. William Herschel says:

    Anyone wishing to balance the views of the Saker’s blog should read this blog:
    The ground that the two blogs cover seems to overlap to a great extent.

  73. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nicholas Kristof is emphatically not a bleeding heart.
    He was in Iran a few years back and was showered with hospitality of the Iranians people. He came back and wrote and opinion piece in NYT in which he urged crippling sanctions on the Iranian people so that their increased suffering could affect the trajectory of the Iranian nuclear developments.
    People like Kristof are not humanitarians in the sense that Mother Theresa was; they are tribalists for whom Iranians, Arabs, Muslims and many others in the world do not qualify as human beings.

  74. Well in my view the President has called it quits. His travel schedule for the rest of the year has ballooned. Guess DEM incumbent pols told him they don’t want him near them even now!
    They now know [DEM incumbents]if the 2014 elections about the President they lose. If about them maybe a nail biting win!
    Washington rumor has the President dumping the HHS Secretary to prevent her making the Republican ticket as VP in 2016!
    It would all great fun if not so serious.

  75. ffintii says:

    The Germans know full and well how the Eastern front went in WW2. My guess is Merkel wants to take Obama to the red button, then humiliate him.

  76. The lead in to this post and thread by PL:
    “I believe the Ukraine crisis will continue indefinitely”!
    This thoughtful comment prompted me to review my knowledge of Ukrainian history including the movie TARAS BULBA with Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis.
    Since Taras Bulba have the peoples of the Ukraine demonstrated any talent for self-government? Even Nikita Kruschev was born in Russia!
    What is the Ukraine beyond its writers, artists, and poets?

  77. georgeg says:

    Kyvpost is an extension of N.E.D……

  78. Anna-Marina says:

    An interview with S. Kohen, a former Soviet dissident and now professor at NYU:
    “…things are getting worse and worse. People are being killed. So, obviously, that’s bad, and we’re moving closer toward a military confrontation. The Russians want NATO expansion ended to its all former Soviet republics…
    Three other important points:
    1. The highest level US and NATO official allow themselves lying openly about the Ukrainian crisis
    2. “Sending the head of the CIA, at this inflamed moment to Kiev reinforces the Russian narrative that everything that’s happening in Ukraine is an American provocation”
    3. The West’ dishonesty has pushed back any democratization processes in Russia and consolidated Putin’s power

  79. The Twisted Genius says:

    I think the coup leaders in Kiev truly believe East Ukraine is crawling with Russian Spetznaz and other Russian units, notably the Russian 45th Airborne Regiment. News accounts out of Kiev always mention fighting the Russian troops rather than Ukrainian citizens. The videos of the Ukrainian 25th Airborne Regiment troops wearing Saint George ribbons and handing over their BMD-2s to the citizens of Kramatorsk put a dent in this narrative as did the Lada chasing the BMP out of Sloviansk. As these Ukrainian troops return west, the truth will slowly spread by word of mouth.
    I believe the Russians are in East Ukraine because that’s how they fight. They’re probably setting up FAARPs to receive their silent choppers to ferry money, arms and other supplies to Spetznaz teams and Ukrainian resistance units. I know exactly how it’s done, but it doesn’t take that many Spetznaz soldiers to do this. My team’s planned UWOA was near a thousand square miles in southwest Poland.

  80. The Twisted Genius says:

    Oops! My memory is slipping. That Lada was chasing what I think was a T-64b, not a BMP. And my UWOA was closer to five thousand square miles. Large parts of the second and third echelon were scheduled to pass through it on the way to the Rhine.

  81. Mark Logan says:

    To my eye the eastern Ukrainian people in the tapes appear remarkably calmer than the politicians and pundits. Laconic. As if they are not overly concerned which ridiculous bureaucracy they will eventually have to endure. First one that makes them angry loses?

  82. Tyler says:

    Thanks TTG, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
    It seems like the press is growing more hysterical over here with regards to the situation on the ground.

  83. Fred says:

    Shouldn’t the Ukrainian army be thought of as a national institution with a history that goes back at least to 1917? Why would such an institution, whose history includes defeating the Wehrmacht – including units made up of native Ukrainian nazis, have any sympathies with current neo-Nazi leaders? Especially ones in power due to a coup that on its face appears to have been fostered by ‘the West’ (however you want to define West)?
    It seems the Ukrainian government has figured out it can’t rely on its own army to suppress dissent in the East. They ordered the disbandment of one regiment already. What effect will that have on the rest of the army? That action reminds meof Roman history, where the recently proclaimed emperor Vitellius, thinking he will ensure the loyalty of his legions, disbands the praetorian guard of the man he ousted, thus immediately putting thousands of trained troops out of work, out of favor and out to support his opponent, Vespasian.
    Why would this not be apparent amongst the intelligence agencies in the US and NATO countries, especially after the actions in Egypt where that ‘freely elected’ president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian army – with ongoing popular support from the people of Egypt?
    Did Victoria Nuland and company not understand these basic facts or did they ignore them?
    It is apparent that the current political leadership in Ukraine is building a military force loyal to it – not the Ukrainian state – the “National Guard of Ukraine”. How is that likely to affect the moral and effectiveness of the rest of the Ukrainian armed forces? Just how is the NG of Ukraine likely to be used – front line troops, political commissars, brownshirts?
    I won’t ask who the heck is advising President Obama that continued support of the neo-Nazis now in power in Ukraine is a good idea.

  84. David H! Newspapers never guessed that in addition to financial challenges created by the existence of the internet their [the newspapers]creative writings would be subject to blog analysis.

  85. TTG! Question? Before the crisis were there all-Ukrainian units in the Russian military and were many Ukrainians in command or leadership positions in the Russian military?

  86. The Twisted Genius says:

    The new National Guard units that Kiev is creating are largely composed of the hard core cadres of the right wing nationalist Svoboda Party. It will be tasked with law enforcement duties, protecting the country’s borders, and fighting terrorism. In other words, it’s a Brown Shirt-like armed force answering only to the coup leaders in Kiev that will be used to attack the pro-Russian separatists in the South and East Ukraine. Pravy Sektor paramilitary forces are also being legitimized to fight alongside the National Guard.
    The best of Ukraine’s forces (SBU Alpha commandos and the 25th Airborne Regiment) have already proved their unwillingness to take on their countrymen in the East.

  87. The Twisted Genius says:

    There were 7 million Ukrainians in the Soviet Army in WW II. There were over 350 Ukrainian generals and marshals as well. That integration existed until 1991.
    Soviet units stationed on Ukrainian soil when Ukraine declared independence in 1991 were nationalized and became the Ukrainian armed forces. These Ukrainian units had long histories as Soviet Units. A lot of these units were disbanded for economic reasons. AFAIK no new units were formed since independence, only reorganized from former Soviet units. Only some very senior Ukrainian military leaders had experience in the Soviet forces. It’s been over twenty years. The more important factor is the long history of close cooperation between the Ukrainian and Russian since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

  88. Tyler says:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my previous question.
    The Right Sector thing doesn’t sound at all analogous to what happened with the SA. Nope.

  89. confusedponderer says:

    It tells a story by itself when the unwillingness of armed forces to shoot at their countrymen is the express reason for the formation of new units (who, and that is inescapable, would be more ‘reliable’?).
    The coup government could just rightaway call their new forces ‘revolutionary guards’, though with Americans that may be poor naming. On the other hand, given US attention spans, why bother. I’m sure Kerry wouldn’t get the joke.
    In the ukrainian context, the presumed willingness to shoot at countrymen of other ethicity, be they ‘muskars’, poles or Jews has a sad and a sinister connotation.
    Alexander Cockburns article below is a must read for anyone who wants to get a glimpse at the demonic, primeval focers that way be unleashed by having empowered folks like Pravy Sektor.

  90. Fred says:

    Just what kind of ‘freedom’ is the National Endowment for Democracy promoting?
    Just a rhetorical question.

  91. Tyler says:

    Sounds like there’s a “plan” afoot to somehow replace Russian LNG with US LNG:

  92. Fred says:

    The interesting take in Zerohedge is the dozen or so banker ‘suicides’ and one outright murder. Seems some folks are finally fed up with getting ripped off by the sharks. Or more accurately the corrupt sharks are eating each other.

  93. Today May 25th a Ukrainian oligarch won the election for President of the Ukraine. No surprise here since oligarchs have controlled the Ukraine since 1991! I assume voters in the Crimea did not vote today. Perhaps am wrong.

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