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This morning, NPR's Morning Edition did a report on the confrontation between Russian and "self-defense" forces on one side and Ukrainian loyalist troops on the other side in Crimea. The Russians and their allies are conducting siege warfare, where they are surrounding the Ukrainian troops in their barracks and not letting anyone in or out. The Ukrainian troops are refusing to join the other side, like Putin's troops are "suggesting." Similar to the Chinese Communists, Putin is saying that Russia is not responsible for the "self-defense" forces; Mao said the same thing about the "volunteers" who fought with the North Koreans against the US in the Korean War.

Putin's goal is to starve the Ukrainians out of their barracks. Therefore, he is perfectly fine with talking to the US and the EU, calling his troops back from the border, and saying that force will only be used as a last resort. But the problem is twofold. First, as Morning Edition reported, people are starting to feel sorry for the Ukrainians trapped inside, with crowds gathering to show support for them even when they don't have family members inside. Secondly, at some point somewhere (maybe 1-3 weeks from now), someone will reach the breaking point and start firing shots. That is when things could turn into a real war.

At his presser on Tuesday, Putin was clearly enraged, both at Yanukovich (whom he has no more use for) and the Americans, whom he sees as a bunch of conniving schemers. There is a real possibility that Putin could invade and occupy Ukraine similar to what we did with Iraq. But given the Euromaidan demonstrations, the Ukrainian people have already shown the willingness to fight for their freedoms. And $15 billion could go a long ways towards funding a guerrilla army that would stay in the field for as long as it takes to get rid of Putin's forces. And Putin is pissing away the good will of the people in East Ukraine, as evidenced by the crowds gathering in support of the Ukraine loyalists.

There are two possibilities for Putin. One is to work with the West to return to the February 21st agreement that Yanukovich signed before fleeing the country, in what Putin obviously sees as an act of cowardice. That is obviously what the oligarchs who hold the real power want him to do; they dumped the Ruble on Monday when tensions were high and then bought it back when Putin acted more conciliatory. The other is to make the mistake of his predecessor Brezhnev, who invaded and occupied Afghanistan -- to the disaster of the USSR. If Putin wants to give himself rope for his own hanging, I say let him. If Putin doesn't want to follow international law anymore just because we have been breaking it for years, then there is nothing we can do beyond whatever set of sanctions we can agree on with the EU. Given the fact that the Russian public and even his own advisors are divided about what to do about Ukraine and RT's Abby Martin is against the invasion of Crimea, my money is on option one, with a lot of bluster along the way.

There are not a whole lot of good actors in this conflict, but Martin's profile in courage was one of them. Here is what she said:

“I can’t say enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation’s affairs,” she said at the end of the show called “Breaking the Set” which is posted on the official website.

“What Russia did is wrong,” she said, “military intervention is never the answer, and I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression.”

“Furthermore the coverage I have seen of Ukraine has been truly disappointing from all sides of the media spectrum and rife with disinformation,” Martin said before saying goodbye and marching off the set.

Even her RT bosses respected that stand enough to retweet her message. And RT noted in its slam of Wahl's on-air resignation:
Ms. Wahl's resignation comes on the heels of her colleague Abby Martin's recent comments in which she voiced her disagreement with certain policies of the Russian government and asserted her editorial independence. The difference is, Ms. Martin spoke in the context of her own talk show, to the viewers who have been tuning in for years to hear her opinions on current events – the opinions that most media did not care about until two days ago. For years, Ms. Martin has been speaking out against US military intervention, only to be ignored by the mainstream news outlets – but with that one comment, branded as an act of defiance, she became an overnight sensation. It is a tempting example to follow.
Martin is against military intervention no matter who does it. We need more voices like her on American TV.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:21:56 PM PST

  •  We're not going to militarily intervene. (0+ / 0-)

    Russian doesn't have that sort of care, though. Different cultural value set.

    by DAISHI on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:44:17 PM PST

  •  There's no comparison to Iraq (5+ / 0-)

    No shock and awe, no mass deaths, no turning one religious faction against another. Please spare us the nonsense.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:46:47 PM PST

    •  But the occupation is the same. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jasan, joe from Lowell, bear83

      And Putin is exacerbating the tensions between the ethnic Russians and the Ukrainian population that have always existed since the country was refounded.

      "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

      by Eternal Hope on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:50:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Correct. There are some good points in this diary (0+ / 0-)

      The Iraq comparison isn't one of them. Nor is the Afghanistan comparison. Even any kind of actual fighting as it happened in Georgia in 2008 would be an unmitigated disaster for Putin. What the diarist and many other Western commentators might not realize is the difference between Georgia and Ukraine in the mind of the Russian public. Georgia was a colony of the Russian Empire, which later became a Soviet Republic. Russians continue to view it with a colonial attitude, much like Brezhnev viewed Afghanistan, and much like Americans view Iraq (sad but true). Ukraine, however, is Russia's historic sister nation. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all descend from the Kievan Rus' of the 9th Century AD. If Putin starts a war in Ukraine, it would be in the mind of the Russian public very much as if he started a civil war in Russia herself. The public would be outraged - they would not stand for it.

      In other words, a military invasion of Ukraine is completely out of the question. The policy Putin is pursuing right now is to secure the Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Ukraine so they don't get overtaken by the events. Eventually, there might be an election in which the population of Crimea decides their future affiliation, but I don't think the Kremlin has a clear and detailed plan for that as yet. They're pretty much making it up as they go along.

      "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

      by brainwave on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:30:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But given the NPR report: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brainwave, Lawrence, joe from Lowell

        War is what Putin is risking. The public in Russia is sharply divided on this one, very unusual for them. But all it takes is for one desperately hungry Ukrainian soldier trapped inside his barracks to get desperate enough to fire his weapon and things could go up in flames. Try cornering a rabbit sometime and you'll know what I'm talking about.

        And while you're approaching it very rationally, I'm not convinced Putin is completely rational. Look at his presser from Tuesday -- lashing out at the US and Yanukovich, saying that he still reserves the right to use force, for instance.

        There is another consideration at work here. The nationalists have been buttering him up, telling Putin this is his chance to supplant Obama on the world stage and become the "First Man" of the world and create a new order in which every country will choose its own destiny instead of submit to US hegemony. So the question I have is, how does Putin back down now without appearing weak like Yanukovich?

        Reading between the lines, I don't think Putin really wants war deep down inside. But the longer this lasts, the more likely someone does something stupid and war breaks out. The longer this lasts, the less control he has over whether there is war or peace.

        "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

        by Eternal Hope on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:48:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course no question that Russia is RISKING war (0+ / 0-)

          If you send your troops into a sovereign nation uninvited under whatever pretext, war is obviously what you risk ;-) My sole point was, Putin is not looking at Ukraine the way he looked at Georgia in 2008, or the way Brezhnev looked at Afghanistan in 1980, or the way BushCo & the Neocons looked at Iraq in 2002. He has demonstrated plenty of times that he has a working understanding of what the basis of his own power is. He's not going to mess with that.

          In fact, if I were a betting man, I'd bet good money that Putin is - maybe not exactly scared sh!tless, but definitely not breathing easy about the situation in Ukraine either.

          "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

          by brainwave on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 10:05:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He's playing Big Brother. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If it were Serbia, he would do the same thing. He sees himself as their protector. And he sees himself as the protector of the Orthodox Christian minorities from being massacred by the Syrian rebels, in part. And he went into Georgia for the same reason he is going into Crimea, to "protect" the ethnic Russians.

            "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

            by Eternal Hope on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 10:23:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think he and his administration were primarily (0+ / 0-)

              afraid of losing control. Their fear was that the emerging Ukrainian government and the nationalist activists might move to do to the Russian sphere of interest in Ukraine what the (pro-)Russian forces are now trying to do to them - lock them into a position where they are largely powerless to influence events. So they decided to strike first and preempt their opponents.

              "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

              by brainwave on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 10:51:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Ossetians are not ethnic Russians (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              They are an Iranian ethnic group.


              Putin has well known geostrategic interests in Syria and the Crimea as well as Serbia most of which offer a bulwark against NATO's encroachment.

  •  We don't have to militarily intervene (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to make sure the folks in barracks have provisions.  The UN should make sure those prisoners are being treated humanly and document any interference with its attempt to assure it.

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:03:21 PM PST

  •  I remember watching the 2003 Shock and Awe (2+ / 0-)

    live on CNN

    all I've seen of the Crimea shows a few Russian troops marching around, some other troops of undetermined identity marching around, and some Ukrainian soldiers playing soccer

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:13:25 PM PST

  •  The Feb 21 agreement was broken by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    the Right Sector, NOT Putin, almost the moment it was written.

    Here's a report of it on the day it was brokered:

    Ukraine president, opposition sign EU-brokered agreement on ending crisis

    February 21, 2014

     The breakthrough agreement was witnessed by EU foreign ministers who brokered the deal, including Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as Director at the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry, Eric Fournier.

    Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin, who was present at the negotiations, noted the positive dynamic of the talks.

    "We got acquainted with our partners’ position, and now we understand it," he said. However, he added that “the biggest difficulty is that the situation is constantly changing" and there is no clarity as to who will fulfill the agreements and how.

    On Friday, Yanukovich announced early presidential elections and the return to the constitution of 2004, which limits presidential powers and widens the parliament’s authority. Ukraine’s Parliament has already adopted a law restoring the constitution of 2004 with 386 MP’s voting in favor.

    Yanukovich also said a national unity government will be created.
     “Both parties will undertake serious efforts to normalize life in the cities and villages by withdrawing from administrative and public buildings and unblocking streets, city parks and squares” the text of the agreement reads.

    Leader of far-right group Right Sector, Dmitri Yarosh, told the protesters at Maidan Square Friday that the deal reached between the president and the opposition is not acceptable. Yarosh said that his group will not be putting down their arms until President Viktor Yanukovich resigns. “The Right Sector will not lay down its arms. The Right Sector will not remove the blockade of one of the government buildings until our most important requirement is fulfilled – the resignation of Yanukovich,” Unian quoted him as saying.

    Lavrov sums it up correctly:
    Lavrov, Kerry agree to help Ukrainians implement Feb 21 agreement
    Mar 5. 2014

    "It’s very hard to make honest agreements that will help the Ukrainian people stabilise the situation in an atmosphere of threats and ultimatums,” Lavrov said

  •  I worry about thugs, match-throwers, hooligans (0+ / 0-)

    It's such a volatile situation, it would be easy for some small 'spark' to immediately flare up into something much bigger, not intended by either major side.

    someone will reach the breaking point and start firing shots.
  •  It's falling down around Putin's ears. (0+ / 0-)

    He seems to have fallen for the Green Lantern theory of international affairs: if only he displays enough will, everything will fall into place.

    Well, no, it doesn't actually work like that, and when it doesn't, the people who've only been following you because you looked like a strong horse will head for the exits.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:24:20 AM PST

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