"Mr. Putin’s request, largely a formality, signaled publicly for the first time the Kremlin’s readiness to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and it served as a blunt response to President Obama, who just hours earlier pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty. Even as Mr. Putin submitted his request to the Senate, formally called the Federation Council, it was clear that forces allied with Moscow were largely in control of the disputed peninsula." NY Times
It is becoming clear that the Nuland/neocon/NED campaign against Russia in Ukraine was probably a covert action intended to punish Russia for not supporting US/Israeli/Saudi and Turkish policy in Syria and to some extent with regard to Iran. I have no specific knowledge of US actions in this but "back azimuths" run into events and actors make the true story obvious. Was there to be a second phase of the spread of revolution, a phase aimed at Russia itself? We will probably never know.
In any case Putin has called Obama's bluff. You should not threaten if you are not prepared to act. The Russian Strategic Missile Forces have the ability to end civilization in North America. The same is true with regard to the capabilities of US missile forces if they were applied to the Eurasian land mass. for those who have forgotten or never knew, this is called MAD (mutual assured destruction). Russian and US ICBM forces cancel each other out as instruments of war.
Obama threatened penalties for Russia for disobedience to his warnings.
What could they be?:
– Conventional war conducted by the US in Russia's back yard would be very foolish. The risk of escalation to nuclear war would loom large.
– The editorial board of the Washington Post suggests diplomatic and economic sanctions against Russia.
-We would close our diplomatic posts in Russia and withdraw our ambassador?
-We would boycott the G-8 meeting in Sochi?
– We would persuade the Europeans to boycott Russian natural gas?
– We would seek UN sanctions against Russia? They would veto anything like that.
– We would not allow them to participate in diplomacy involving Syria and Iran?
You get the picture. pl
The second phase was not (yet) a direct regime change action on Russia (Putin’s Russia is pretty coup proved) but a take over of the Crimea (with the help of (Muslim) Tartar irregular forces trained in Turkey), nullifying the Russian status of force agreement there and thereby neutralizing the Russian Black Sea fleet. It is that fleet that is supplying and protecting Syria.
This phase was interrupted when Russian forces controlled the airports and a Turkish plane had to turn around. That plan is now busted.
Russia can now pick the valuable eastern parts of Ukraine and dump the dirt-poor rest on “western” taxpayers.
Well done neo-cons.
OK, but I will hazard a guess that if all had gone well they would have had a “go” at Russia itself. That is how the neocons think. They believe that all the world is waiting for Jacobin salvation. pl
He warns Russia that there will be costs for military intervention in Ukraine, but doesn’t specify what those costs will be, probably because he can’t think of any costs which we can possibly impose.
Chuck Hagel is asked what we can do if Russia “moves troops into other parts of Ukraine,” and replies, “Well, I don’t want to get into options.” Indeed he doesn’t, since we don’t have any options.
American foreign policy pronouncements are becoming increasingly vapid and embarrassing.
I think you are spot on.
My fear is not that Moscow or Washington will engage each other. Neither is stupid.
Rather, it is that some other actor eager to see a major power confrontation carries out some covert action that causes events to take on a life of their own. For example, the rioters in Kiev, Bandar and company, or elements of the radical Likudniks. These on-lookers to history remind me of Princip and the Black Hand. Both BHO and Putin must worry about a similar spark and I would advise them both to be vigilante. Does’t the Navy have assets in the Black Sea? Remember the Maine?
loved this comment from the haaretz article
“I guess next thing we’ll see in him in West Bank…considering this quote:
By Oren Aviv 01 Mar 201400:35PM
“I saw unarmed civilians with no military background being ground by a well-oiled military machine, and it made my blood boil,” Delta told JTA”
“It is becoming clear that the Nuland/neocon/NED campaign against Russia in Ukraine was probably a covert action intended to punish Russia for not supporting US/Israeli/Saudi and Turkish policy in Syria and to some extent with regard to Iran”
I find that plausible.
They’re lashing out and are of the mentality that you get to beat somebody up to regain street cred after making a joke out of yourself, which is precisely what they did to themselves about any time they tried bombing somebody already. I presume they just couldn’t control that itching trigger finger any longer.
So they throw Ukraine into turmoil, shmooze with Ukrainian Neo-Nazis (white power flags and Wolfsangel runes on Maidan square were notable), or any ultra nationalist as long as only he is anti-Russian.
And apparently they have trained Tartar separatists (Jihadis?) in Turkey and planned to ship them over to the Krim to make a stir, all that just to stick it to Putin for having the gall to save the US from their own self-destructive impulses, not just once but twice?
Just take that demented lunatic McCain and look at what scum he gets himself on photo with.
Neocon allies generally appear to consist of the scum of the earth – and what a motley crew they have: Ukrainian neo-nazis, Syrian kidnappers and prisoner beheaders, communist terrorist cultis like the MEK, Tartar Jihadis, Chechen Jihadis, Beluchi Jihadis, probably Uighur Juhadis as well, just to cause China some headache – the madder the better.
Neocons will go to bed with anybody as long as they think they can use them against some of their choice targets.
They probably wouldn’t mind joining forces with Hannibal Lecter, as long as he hates Russia, Syria and/or Iran. That’ll do.
The result speaks for itself. These psychos leave devastation, carnage and failed and failing states in their wake. Libya was a giant screw-up. Syria is a mess. And now the BS in Ukraine. And I bet these loons aren’t done yet.
Putin and any self respecting Russian will not forget the unrelenting US hostility … in response to Russian support.
There is breaking news of a terror attack in Kumming China. I can guess who will be proved to be behind it.
NHK, whose head claims the Nanjing Massacre didn’t occur, showed up on my cable this week. Last night they played a documentary blaming China for forcing Imperial Japan to attack US. Even if true, how do they account for their wanton cruelty during the war? Just one part of the propaganda offensive that has been underway recently.
Neo-cons you have achieved the delirious dream of a world at war. How does it end? Will you survive to see it?
Do you really believe you control narrative? Well, we will see.
Thomas Geraud Sasseen
One possible ‘cost’ that could be imposed by the west would be the creation of hyperinflation in Russia by concentrated economic attack on the exchange rate of the Ruble. The Russians have been using their foreign currency reserves to prob up the Ruble in the open market, spending some $11b in 2013 alone. The Russian government equates stability in the Ruble with political stability. They have not forgotten the lessons of the their great financial crisis of 1998.
Currently the Russians’ foreign reserves are high, and the balance of payments of trade between the EU (their main trading partner) are beneficial to the Russians. Loss of access to EU markets, and western capital flight would change that. Already analysts are predicting nearly a 20% change to the downside for the ruble in the first quarter of 2014. This was prior the Ukraine situation. The Russians were already suing the EU in the WTO for greater access to EU markets. This could be a lever for the west as well as threats of even more limited access. The Russian economy has already slowed, and the Russian would be far better served in investing the reserves internally rather than propping up their currency. The west restricting western capital flows into Russia would only exacerbate this situation. Realize also that while petro export profits make up half of the Russian budget, it’s only 10% of the total Russian GDP.
It’s just speculation on my part, but there are still levers to be pulled, outside of military ones, that could easily ‘cost’ the Russians dearly, especially if the idea is to destabilize the Putin government.
Interesting illustration of ethnic distribution within Ukraine.
If Russia intervenes in Ukraine militarily, I should expect her to cover entire Ukraine. Leaving the Western Ukraine as a potential bridgehead for NATO expansion does not make sense given the political costs that the Russian Federation would have to bear for any intervention in Ukraine.
I personally think that the empty garbles coming from the NEOCON’s and those dumb enough to think we needed to get involved in the Ukranian pit could only unnecessarily place us in harms way at a time when we are already on the edge because of wasted resources in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., etc.
@nick b Currently the Russians’ foreign reserves are high, and the balance of payments of trade between the EU (their main trading partner) are beneficial to the Russians. Loss of access to EU markets, and western capital flight would change that.
Russian “loss of access to EU markets” would mean that my heater here would not heat anymore. If you want European support for any policy better forget such nonsense. I prefer a heated apartment over support for fascist in a Ukrainian coup government.
BTW: Russia is currently TRYING to lower the ruble. It is what their economy currently needs. They have more currency reserves than the “west” could possibly fight.
@Pat – ” I will hazard a guess that if all had gone well they would have had a “go” at Russia itself. That is how the neocons think. ”
I really wonder how that should have happened. I see no sign that such would be possible. Russia, unlike Ukraine, has blocked all the color revolution paths for the usual regime change attacks and public support for the government is sky high compared to “western” countries. There is no (para-)military force that could endanger Kremlin rule. What trick would the neo-cons use to attack Russia? I find nothing that has the slightest chance to work.
I hope we would be smart enough (but I am dubious of course) we would do nothing. This grab by the Russians will not sit well in the rest of Europe. It will create its own consequences, both inside Russia and outside. Especially in Eastern Europe and middle Europe. The Germans are not going to be crazy about this. It would be ironic indeed if, like China’s aggressive moves in the Pacific has aroused minds in Japan, this move of the Russians does the same in Germany.
For all the clumsiness, arrogance, dithering, and false bravado (with other people’s kids) of the foreign policy establishment in DC this is still an arrogant and threatening move by the Russians.
They would be reclaiming a region that they had controlled for 300 years or more previously.
And the Germans are going to do what now that would be different?
Chinese government, in a different context, quashed the Democracy Movement – something that potentially was even bigger than the earlier May 4-th Movement – and US and EU huffed and puffed and then went back to business-as-usual with her.
In the international arena, legitimacy and force go together.
Put another way, if the efforts to physically isolate Russia fail, the chances of a war in which Russia would seek to break out of that isolation would go down, in my opinion.
In a new cold war situation Russia could stop exporting gas and oil. What do you think would happen with the oil price if that would happen? Add Iran and Venezuela and maybe Iraq and use some weapon gifts to stop exports from Libya and South Sudan and you have a situation of $300 oil. That is not good for Western economies.
Understood, and not disagreed with. I guess one of the points I was trying to make was that the gas could continue to flow to Europe (Russia still needs hard currency), and it would still only be 10% of their GDP, it’s not enough to prop up the Russian economy if other export to the EU were significantly curtailed.
I’ve read differntly about the ruble, but not enough to say you’re incorrect. Russian foreign currency reserves are currently estimated at $450-500b dollars.
As I said, just speculation on my part. It’s also unwise to assume the US policy makers have a clue.
First of all Babak, I know who has ‘controlled’, your term, a ‘region’, again, your term, lo these past 300 years or so. If nothing else, I can read the posts and comments on this blog as well as anyone else can.
No one in Europe is going to like marching into a nation, unilaterally, with military force to alter borders. That seems self evident. What they will do about it is another question. But it is a long term one, as well as a short term one. They may conclude they can do nothing about it. At the moment. In that region. But they may start reviewing other longer term options regarding their own borders. This need may seem all themore acute in light of American weakness and incompetence.
Regards China, I was not referring, nor do I give a particular damn, about movements, Democratic or otherwise, in China. I was referring to the sea grabs by China in the past few years that have so aroused Vietnam, Korea, the Philippians and Japan. And please know, the right or wrong of who controls what territory is irrelevant to me. Only the reactions they engender matter to me.
As to how “legitimacy and force’ go together. They only go so far and no further. No one is talking about ‘war with Russia’. But 10 years from now? This step of theirs might be viewed in a different light. i.e. in retrospect it might be seen as the beginning of something. Even if that is not obvious now. That is, of course, sheer speculation my part but I stand by it. However, I think history has demonstrated that aggressive moves, justified or not, by either Germany or Russia, tend to create counter moves.
I’m not sure that’s how it would play out. From the International Business Times, October of this past year:
“On the other hand, who is still buying? Oil demand in rich industrial nations has stagnated, Europe is still finding its feet after five years of turmoil — its oil consumption dipped to a 22-year low — and the U.S. has recently overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, which means it needs to buy less imported oil. Even a 6-year high of 16 million auto sales in August made almost no difference in oil imports, because guess what — Americans are replacing their old gas guzzlers with more energy-efficient cars.
As a result, Russia relies on oil consumption primarily from emerging markets, but what will happen when quantitative easing in the United States ends? Interest rates will go up, and those emerging economies will start to struggle — unless they are able to sort out their own economies between now and the day the Federal Reserve eases off the monetary gas pedal. When that happens, the flow of Russian oil could dry up along with its primary source of revenue.”
Please don’t misunderstand my speculation for support of this. I was just pointing out that there are still levers to be pulled, however self defeating they may ultimately prove to be.
You ask about consequences. How about, all of the assets, public and private, associated with the Russian kleptocrats that the United States and the rest of the West can get their hands on are frozen or appropriated?
BTW, the bit about the Ukrainian Revolution being an American frame-up, and why, being “clear” is an impressive bit of gut-checking.
joe from Lowell
Russian businessmen do not run the Russian government. Putin has a record of imprisoning them and will laugh if you seize their money. we seized vast Iranian private assets and it has done us no good at all. pl
Thank you for your comments.
Ukraine – Border Country – could have been left alone as a neutral state.
But evidently US and EU could not leave that one well alone.
What history has demonstrated – again and again – is that no one learns from History.
The 20 million cars sold in china do mean new demand, because unlike those cars sold in the US and EU those 20 million cars are not substitution for cars that go to the junk yard but new oil demand. And the same is true in India, Brazil, Turkey etc. That is the reason why oil prices stay high while demand in the West has dropped
“deja vue” feeling – not good
Crimea now Russian for rest of this century IMO!
On the Senkaku-Diaoyu Island disputes, China claims the Cairo Declaration of 1943 gives them control. Every one is in an island dispute with each other over there and diplomatic arbirtration is the way to go, but Abe is balking. Japanese revisionist history is antagonizing both China or South Korea.
You are correct in that this is not sitting well with Europe and things could be spiraling out of control.
“Russia is threatening peace in Europe with its military actions in Ukraine and must immediately de-escalate tensions, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Sunday.
“What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations charter,” Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels. “It threatens peace and security in Europe.”
His comments were echoed by former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt, who drew comparisons to the disputes that escalated into the start of World War One in 1914.
“On the centenary of 1914, we are suddenly in a Europe of invasion, aggression and threats of massive use of military force,” he wrote on Twitter. “When Russian forces demands that Ukraine forces in Crimea surrender weapons it’s clearly a military occupation that is taking place.””
How’s Target’s security system doing after the last bout of hacking? Do you really think “Cyber Command” is going to stop any kind of retaliatory action made against American firms and their customers?
And the Germans are not going to be going crazy for it when collection plate is passed around either. It will be impossible to pretend a few billion pledged from a conference given to whoever manifests “legitimate authority” can address Ukraine’s dire economic and political culture, or change local maps the way a boot on the ground can.
On this point alone any banker public or private should be closefisted if presented with short term magical thinking. The corruption ensuing the Orange Revolution has crippled the political and economic culture to the point of Revolution. That corruption must have been integrated into Ukraine/Russia relations both legitimate and criminal, as well as have been the purview of unknown Deep State actors of the sort that got $70bn out the door while the giddy liberated crowd voted for more of the same, only not commies. Drastic, “extraordinary measures” will be required the new interim leader confessed as currency controls were announced among the first order of new business.
Economics be damned, in the short the gas will be used cynically as possible when opportunity knocks even as Lavarov pledges assistance today. Crimea is going where it is going.
So you are correct to be dubious
One can only now hope to be on the losing side of the western debate on who will pony up and take the reins of this nag. There’ll be no war.
There will be no real Marshall plan for Western Ukraine that Moscow does not allow and benefit from either. I am sure they”l be content with billions of lolly being injected into the Ukraine banking system. The IMF is already afoot with its own designs so I expect the machinations, not many taking account of our new found fellow, er, democrats, but focusing on how to get dispositive rights and mechanisms in place before the Russians (owed near $2bn for gas alone) have their way.
The country was so corrupt and apparently so looted that bankruptcy and or revolution was imminent,most realistically to be staved off by the Russians and the gas and growing consumer economy instead of having been wooed by an EU not prepared to weigh, let alone pay the freight. Any EU deal was a band-aid, latent with the same Russian perspective of its well entrenched interests, sunk investment and realistic consideration of their local agency.
Its very ironic to me that in this context I very much support Putin’s decision to go into Crimea – to paraphrase JFK – “We are all Russian now ” Ms Victoria Nuland Kagan and the rest of the R2P , neocon Harpies be damned .
” we seized vast Iranian private assets and it has done us no good at all. ”
Oh come on, I bet that somebody at least felt good for being tough on something.
US policy vis a vis Iran for a long tome has consisted of being tough for the sake of being tough, and sanctions have always been part of it.
After a couple decades, US hawks are running out of things to sanction or seize, so, to ratchet up the pressure some more they took what they could get their fingers on. The private assets were a low hanging fruit in this regard.
Whether it actually works is a quite secondary a consideration to that.
Naturally, the neocon instinct in face of the brick wall at the end of that cul-de-sac is to double down, break through the wall and boldly change the game!
For instance war with Iran is to them an option that allows them ‘to change the game’ without having to change the policy of accepting nothing but unconditional surrender from their various enemies of choice.
War as a ‘game changer’ thus must always ‘be an option’, ‘on the table’, precisely because it is the only alternative to a reality based reassessment of something that obviously doesn’t work. One just needs to look at their record.