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The Ukrainian government made progress today in its efforts to reassert authority in the East. This provoked an angry response from Russia, including a massive show of force on the Ukrainian border. Now, Russia is on the verge of a monumental historic blunder as UN Ambassador Churkin has threatened to invoke Section 51 relating to self-defense.

The Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has announced that Russia has the international legal grounds for introducing peace-keepers into Ukraine in the event of necessity. Churkin told Interfax:

'There are relevant norms in the UN Charter, Art. 51 of the Charter, which speaks of self-defense, and which we, by the way, activated during the conflict in the Caucasus in 2008," he said on the air in the program 'Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyev.'

'So we have international legal grounds. There is the relevant decision of the Federation Council,' noted Churkin.

Nobody in Ukraine is seriously contemplating bombing Russia or invading Russian territory. Therefore, Churkin's own statement implicates Russian special operations forces in East Ukraine despite denials from the Russian government.

Ukraine's Security Service has released a video implicating two Russian Special Operations figures in the chaos in East Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) has released a YouTube video it says implicates high-ranking Russian Military Intelligence officers in the April 17 abduction and subsequent killing of Horlivka City Councilman Volodymyr Rybak.
The first part of the video allegedly shows a recording of Russian Military Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel Igor Bezlier ordering a subordinate to abduct Rybak, tie his hands and blindfold him while driving him away to a remote place so that he could rendezvous with the captors.

In the second part of the recording, Russian Military Intelligence Colonel Igor Strelkov – who the SBU says is coordinating the Kremlin-backed separatist movement in eastern Ukraine – calls Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk, “to come and pick up (Rybak’s) body because it is starting to stink.”

In response, Ponomaryov complies, and says he will come to take and “bury the punk.”

So now, based on new news reports, a more complete picture of Russia's operations have emerged. At the top are Russian operatives like Bezlier and Strelkov. Underneath are foreign adventurers, irregulars, nationalists, and Cossacks like Duck Dynasty and friends. Below them are grassroots supporters, rank and file people who support either federalization, independence, or union with Russia.

You can read John Kerry's response here. But what we want to say is that Russia is on the verge committing a blunder of monumental historic proportions. The US had no business either facilitating the coup in Ukraine or trying to push Ukraine to become a member of NATO. The Ukrainian government made a blunder of their own when they tried to remove Russian as an official language on taking power. While it was rightly vetoed, it sent a clear message to the East that they were not welcome in the new government. Any revolutionary movement must include all the people if it is to be successful. If we had not included the South in our effort to overthrow King George, we would not have succeeded.

But these missteps would pale in comparison to the kind of mistake that Russia is now on the verge of making. Crimea likely would have voted to reunite with Russia even if that election had been free and fair. Russia made the same kind of mistake back in 1979, when they invaded Afghanistan and bled their own economy dry in a futile effort to subdue the Afghan people. We made the same kind of mistake in Iraq and Vietnam when we tried to prop up governments whose armies were not willing to fight and bled trillions of dollars in the process.

Should Russia make the same mistake, it would be worse than any of these three misadventures. The capital flight would accelerate to the point where Russia would run out of foreign currency reserves within a year or two. The economy would tank into a depression. Western sanctions would hit even harder and would isolate Russia even further. Even China would not vote with Russia in the UN Security Council Resolution against them. Even Belarus is distancing itself from Putin over his threats to invade the East. And on top of that, there would be a worldwide boycott of Russian goods and services.

On top of that, relations with the West would deteriorate to the lowest point in recent memory. Should Putin continue to meddle in the same of "self-defense," then the risk of the worst-case scenario, nuclear confrontation, would be greatly increased. This is the elephant in the room which people are not talking about. Yet it would result in the deaths of tens of millions, if not billions of people around the world.

Putin has a clear choice before him -- war or peace. There is no middle ground here. Peace means doing his part to deescalate the confrontation in the East by using Russia's influence with the protestors there. War means invading East Ukraine and calling it "self-defense." We are familiar with this sort of rhetoric. It is the same sort of rhetoric that we used to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 in a war of aggression of our own. It is astonishing that Putin has not learned the lessons of this debacle.

Putin may very well overrun all of Ukraine in 3-5 days. Yet his problems would have just begun. The chaos that is already taking place in Crimea would be multiplied many times over. While the Ukrainian Army may be in disarray, the Ukrainian people would take to the hills and woods and fight for as long as it takes. They have ample experience in guerrilla combat. That is why the West will not send weapons or arms there -- because there is no need to. If Putin underestimates the resolve of the Ukrainian people, who have already shown a willingness to die for their beliefs, then he will have bled his country dry in a war much more disastrous to him than Iraq or Vietnam was for us.

But if Putin chooses peace, and reigns his militants in, and allows Ukraine to exercise its sovereignty as a nation, then there is no reason, as Putin himself said, that relations with the West can't be restored to good standing. We have plenty of problems with the new Ukrainian government. Yet exercising its Section 51 right to defend itself as a sovereign nation is not one of them. It is no different than Russia exercising its own right to defend itself against the Caucasus separatists.

We do not buy the argument of some who would insist that Putin is somehow a lunatic. We can't play armchair psychologists any more than Dr. Bill Frist could when he tried to diagnose Terri Schavio from a distance. Putin can and does act rational, such as when he facilitated the deal that is allowing Syria to destroy its chemical weapons and when he helped facilitate the deal with Iran to halt their nuclear program. But if he listens to those who do not have the best interests of anyone at heart, but who are simply trying to exploit the Ukrainian people for profit like they are the Russian people, it will destroy any good that he has done. It will destroy his place in world history, his legacy, and how he will be remembered by his own people. Many of us in the West would share Putin's vision of a harmonious economic community stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific with Ukraine serving as the gateway. But all that would be destroyed if he were to embark on a reckless path that would destroy his own country.

For those who wonder why we are singling out Russia, we are simply calling it both ways. I blogged for years against the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the war crimes that were committed by the Bush administration. But as someone who is an experienced observer of these sorts of conflicts, we see the same sort of rhetoric being used by Russia. The US has facilitated dozens of coup attempts since 1953, and we are still experiencing the blowback of these actions today. But none of this would justify what Russia is actively contemplating, given the fact that they have dropped their rhetoric about having "no plans" to invade Ukraine. Our position is very similar to RT's own Abby Martin, who is a lifelong enemy of any form of imperialism, whether it be American or Russian.

And for those who wonder why we give Russia the benefit of the doubt, there is no other way to peace. War always starts with propagandizing and dehumanizing the other side and refusing to listen to what the other side has to say. That is one thing I will refuse to do, regardless of what choice Putin makes. We are always taught in school to be good listeners. So why all of a sudden do we refuse to be good listeners when it is much more important to listen than it is to lecture?

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Comment Preferences

  •  the smartest thing the west could do (11+ / 0-)

    would be to offer a mini marshall plan to ukraine, belarus and moldova. keynesian style. let crimea and the rest of russia see the border countries genuinely building their economies.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:40:18 PM PDT

  •  There is no evidence of Russian operatives in (5+ / 0-)

    the UKraine.  You are just spouting propaganda.

  •  Here is RT on the evidence of operatives (4+ / 0-)

    Unverified & Exposed: NYT-State Dept 'Russians in Ukraine' image proof collapses

  •  I sure hope this is a bluff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope, mookins

    Putin is clearly playing a very dangerous game of brinkmanship. What's his end game? He must realize that open war would be an epic disaster. My hypothesis is that the goal of the covert-ops invasion was to establish a position of strength from which then to negotiate a make-shift settlement that would grant Eastern Ukraine some amount of autonomy. That would greatly enhance Putin's stature as "protector of Russians everywhere" or some such. But now he finds himself in a bind: as the government forces are pushing back against the separatists (and the special-ops forces orchestrating them), he cannot just stand by and do nothing. So he responds with more saber-rattling. One can only hope he knows what the hell he's doing.

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

    by brainwave on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:00:58 PM PDT

  •  To add to your analysis (3+ / 0-)

    The reason Putin has engaged in all this stirring up of Russian nationalism is to cover up the state of the economy. It was already heading for recession before he started his adventures.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:02:05 PM PDT

    •  Nonsense. They were expecting a minor slowdown (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, Alhambra

      They may experience a modest recession lasting at most three years, and those most affected will be the investor class. The citizenry as a whole will see the recession as a minor inconvenience compared to what they went through in the Yeltsin years. Meanwhile Gazprom and Putin are finalizing a freakin' huge ten-year gas deal with China. Russia will soon be awash in yuan and Chinese consumer goods. Good times will be right around the corner.

  •  Would you prefer this unelected government (12+ / 0-)

    in Kiev, filled with Right Sector and Svoboda members, including the SBU which is like sourcing the CIA only worse, go over there and slaughter the people in Eastern Ukraine who are protesting what most consider an illegitimate government?  

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:03:52 PM PDT

    •  If they are doing that: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, akeitz, bear83, Lawrence

      Then let's see the evidence. I'm all for setting up a human rights group in East Ukraine whose purpose would be to protect ethnic Russians and which would report violations of human rights by Right Sector and other members to the media, the UN Human Rights Council, and other organizations.

      "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 Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:09:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's just starting so it can't be said what will (9+ / 0-)

        happen to the people.  But if Kiev wants to use the military against it's own people, that's Russia's point.  They will stop that.  These people are being painted as terrorists and militants by a government that is highly suspect to say the least.  It's lies, just like all the lies we're getting through our trusted mainstream media.  War propaganda, it's old as the hills.  The U.S. has no business backing them, but we know why.  It goes way back and it's all about world domination.  That's what's behind all this.  The U.S. not only instigated a coup, it and NATO have instigated a crucial move in their plan on the geopolitical chessboard.  Russia is reacting to it, not unreasonably considering these psychopaths goals.  

        “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 continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others….The U.S. must…protect a new order…for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

        Defense Planning Guidance, NY Times, 1992.

        "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:19:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  HRed (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83, Tony Situ, Lawrence, sviscusi

      For spouting continued falsehoods.  The members of the government are members of parliament and were in fact elected.  The notion that they are not is pure Russian propaganda and demonstrably false.  It has no more place here than trutherism

      •  I'm talking about the so called President and (5+ / 0-)

        his Cabinet.  The ones directing this show of force. Do you realize who you're parroting.  The neocons, John McCain, the ones who want war with Russia.  They're driving this.  They have the agenda, over two decades in the making.  I posted part of it above.  You want to help Obama, stop saying the same shit as those people. Hopefully he's fighting against what they want.

        "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 08:43:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am done (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bear83, Lawrence

          There is nothing to say here.  I don't care what McCain says and I certainly am utterly unconcerned by what help or hurts Obama. It would be difficult for me to care less. Frankly,I have an extremely low opinion of both. Frankly both parties and the left and right are pretty contemptible.  

          I am done. I am sorry, but the left has nothing to offer

          •  They're not representative of the left. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mindful Nature

            Most of the left do not belong to the authoritarian left and don't rely on "news" outlets from totalitarian states and CT fringe websites to form their opinions.  Furthermore, people who are truly left don't align themselves with quasi-fascist states like Russia.

            I understand where you are coming from, though, as conversing with some of these people is no less frustrating than conversing with people who only watch Faux News.

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 02:10:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are Deutsche Welle and Der Spiegel (0+ / 0-)

              CT fringe websites?  Has Germany become a totalitarian state while I wasn't looking? Because that's where I go for good analysis of the a Ukrainian situation. I consider RT the exact equivalent of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They are propaganda organs that sometimes provide factual information when it supports - or at least doesn't get in the way of - their message. The one thing about RT though, they have plenty of journalists on the ground in East Ukraine right now doing quite a lot of reporting from the field - more than anyone else. Their videos cannot be totally ignored. Taken with a grain of salt, yes, but not totally ignored.

              •  Nope. I read them both regularly, in german and (0+ / 0-)

                in english.  DW actually provides some of the best news coverage worldwide, at times.... I know some people who work there.

                RT has to be taken with a huge grain of salt and that grain is getting bigger all the time because context is extremely important in journalism and RT often provides no context or a false context.

                Disagree with you about RFERL - it is slanted towards U.S., but not nearly as slanted as RT is towards Russia.  Whether a country is a democracy or a totalitarian regime does tend to make a big difference in media coverage, in general.... Al Jazeera English is one notable exception to that rule.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 09:00:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Since you are a regular at the Deutsche Welle site (0+ / 0-)

                  you must have read Elliott Morss' article Black Clouds Over Ukraine. I happen to agree with him completely. Ukraine will end up partitioned in some fashion. The only questions are how long will it take and how much blood will be shed. Since this is an election year, I'd wager that the US will throw in the towel on their ill-advised adventure before November and the Ukrainians will be on their own. It will be exactly like Georgia and South Ossetia in 2008.

                  •  U.S. won't "throw in the towel". (0+ / 0-)

                    Judging from its actions over the last few months, clearly the U.S. intends to challenge Russia's moves to re-establish itself as the dominant power in the post-Soviet countries, at least up to the point of committing its own troops to any war.

                    I don't have any idea what the end game will look like, but I'd wager on increasing escalation & eventual war. It certainly looks like the U.S. has given the green light to the Ukrainian government's attempt to dislodge the pro-Russian occupiers by force, a serious upping of the ante. The U.S. appears ready to announce new economic sanctions on Russia regardless of Putin's next moves. It almost seems like the U.S. is daring Russia to escalate this into an actual shooting war. (So far this the Ukraine crisis has been a phony war on the ground but a propaganda war of the highest order, & if Russia is goaded into an actual shooting war it would be a propaganda coup for the U.S. side.) Meanwhile, the broad outlines of a deal that would be acceptable to Russia while respecting Ukrainian sovereignty & self-determination have been plainly evident for months, & while Russia has put out feelers to this effect, the U.S. doesn't appear interested in anything of the sort, perhaps because such an agreement would be tantamount to acknowledgment of Russia as a co-equal power with legitimate interests outside its borders, which the U.S. is patently unwilling to do.

                    Perhaps the thinking is that if/when Russia's regular troops move into eastern Ukraine, this would galvanize the E.U. countries that have cold feet about confrontation with Russia into lining up behind the U.S. position, breaking their energy dependence on Russia, & devoting more of their funds to military spending. It would also present a compelling political case for increasing U.S. military spending & returning to a Cold War-like state of permanent military readiness, which would satisfy the military-industrial complex. If/when this escalates into a shooting war, & I suspect that it eventually will, I fully expect the U.S. to begin arming & supplying intelligence to the Ukrainian nationalist side. In spite of domestic political realities & Americans' newfound aversion to foreign interventions, there remains a strong desire inside the U.S. foreign-policy establishment to cut Russia back down to size.

                    •  Wagering on eventual war? (0+ / 0-)

                      Between what entities? The US is not going to start an armed conflict with Russia. NATO has some bellicose saber rattlers, but they can't and won't engage in armed conflict with Russia unless the US leads the charge, and that's not going to happen.

                      So who will be going to war with whom? Is the government in Kiev going to start armed conflict with Russia? I don't think they are suicidal, so I highly doubt it. On the other hand, I do think civil war is highly probable, especially once the full effect of IMF "economic reforms" are felt, and in that conflict, I'd put my money on the anti-western side even if the US is supplying arms, intelligence and mercenaries. Russian intelligence, command and control, and mercenaries will be highly motivated because they will be fighting for a nationalist ideal. Russian imperialism is very popular in Russia right now, even among the intelligentsia. Our side, on the other hand, will only be fighting for money. No one's buying the Cold War anti-Russian bullshit anymore, and it's pretty hard to maintain a commitment to armed conflict when all you are fighting for is a paycheck.

                      Meanwhile, Russia will be inking a freakin' huge ten-year gas deal with China the end of May. That deal will give them all the leverage they need to crush western economies by cutting off the oil and gas spigot to Europe if Europe wants to play rough. It will also provide Russia and China the opportunity to crush the USD as the world's reserve currency if China so chooses, and it may well choose to since they're pretty pissed about having to import our inflationary dollars on top of their own inflation. It's a huge risk to us, and all the FOREX traders and our own Treasury know it. All this financial sanctions bullshit that we're threatening is just that - bullshit.

                      Basically, we've got few good cards to play. We're bluffing. We're holding a low straight while Russia is holding an ace-high full house. That's why we're pulling out every stop we can think of to cause immediate economic pain in Russia, because longer term they can easily tell us to go f#*k ourselves. The problem for us is Russia has hundreds of billions in reserve currency and almost no exposure to western debt markets, so seriously hurting them economically is highly doubtful. If I were a betting person I'd much rather be holding Putin's hand than ours.

                      •  Civil war in Ukraine; guerilla war against Russian (0+ / 0-)

                        . . . forces inside Ukraine. For my part I think this is a deluded approach, but it's pretty obvious that the U.S. is intent on escalation & has no interest in a peaceful settlement. Which on one level is insane because, as you state, the U.S. doesn't have a lot of leverage here. Why go this route? Because Russia is mounting a direct challenge to the U.S.-led world order, & that's not something that the U.S. will ever accept or accommodate. Whatever its public position has been, for the last 20 years the real U.S. policy, through successive administrations both Republican & Democratic, has been to roll back Russian power & influence whenever & wherever possible.

                        But, the moment this turns into a shooting war, Russia has lost the propaganda war.

                        •  Who loses the propaganda war depends on... (0+ / 0-)

                          the precipitating event that starts the shooting war. If Kiev sends in troops and/or militiamen on a large scale to fire on East Ukrainians I wouldn't bet that Russia loses the propaganda war. In fact, I'd bet the opposite. So far Russia has managed to keep its powder dry despite what happened Thursday, which, by the way, I strongly feel was a US instigated test to assess the amount of provocation necessary to get Russia to react. Compare that "test" to Russia's violating Ukrainian airspace Friday with several passes of fighter jets to assess Ukrainian radar capability. Russia didn't kill anybody during their test, but Ukraine did. As a matter of fact Ukraine can't test Russia without killing people since the marker Russia laid down was the protection of ethnic Russians.

    •  Would you prefer Putin to invade and in effect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      annex eastern Ukraine?

      •  Chances are he won't need to invade. (0+ / 0-)

        He won't need to unless Kiev does something really stupid that precipitates intervention. The country will break apart all on its own once the full weight of IMF "economic reforms" are felt, if not sooner depending on how stupid and incompetent the government in Kiev is. But don't take my word for it. Read what global financial experts are saying.

  •  Thanks for this thoughtful analysis. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope, bear83, Lawrence

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:23:34 PM PDT

  •  . (9+ / 0-)
    Crimea likely would have voted to reunite with Russia even if that election had been free and fair.
    Crimea voted to join Russia in an observed referendum vote. The Crimans are just fine with that. No one there is running around with their hair on fire.

    But Westerners can only mouth the propaganda:  "Russina seized Crimea. OMG."

    The capital flight [from Russia] would accelerate to the point where Russia would run out of foreign currency reserves within a year or two.

    The economy would tank into a depression.


    They would sell their oil and gas in Rubles and Euros and destroy the Petro-Dollar which would collapse the US economy.

    Again, the constant propaganda is truly tiresome.

    •  Eastern Ukraine has a referendum vote (7+ / 0-)

      …schedule next month about becoming independent from the Ukraine NeoNazi government.

      Let us remain mindful of the human right to governmental self determination in this process.

      People don't belong to the dirt. The dirt belongs to the people.

      •  straight from Putin's mouth (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mindful Nature, bear83, Lawrence

        bravo! Even neo-nazi government! Wow.

        Is it the knee-jerk anti-American policies that makes you 100% trust the bravado from uncle Putin?

      •  But is there a level of granularity at which (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the right to self determination applies to the exclusion of all other levels? What about Ukraine's right to self determination (also known as national sovereignty)? What about the right to self determination of non-Russian minorities in Eastern Ukraine?

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

        by brainwave on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:46:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Countries split apart and join together (4+ / 0-)

          …all the time. People live where they prefer to live.

          This is about Ukraine becoming a Republic and Eastern Ukraine becoming an independent state within the Ukraine.

          This article can fill you in. It is a meeting that was held between eastern and western Ukraine a week ago coming to terms with the reasons for the split.

          Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s mission to prevent his country breaking up

          It presents the case quite fairly.

          •  Incidentally, this is less about ethic Russians (4+ / 0-)

            …and more about the economic realities of the two halves of the Ukraine.

            Western Ukraine is fully industrial with factories. It is where the capital rules and all the graft takes place.

            Eastern Ukraine economy is based on agriculture and farming, and they are very poorly served by the central government.

            This is a long term fracture. Meanwhile, both sides are poorly developed -- which is why Russia has poured $30 billion into the Ukraine and gives them basically free fuel.

            The Ukraine never pays its bills. Its a black hole, where the government steals all the spoils. This includes the current government, who have been corrupt through two administrations.

            The IMF wants to loan them money and force the already poor people into severe austerity. Just as they do to all nations they deal with.

            The entire kabuki is about installing missiles right on the Russian border and building a NATO base right up Russia's ass.

            •  ??? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Involuntary Exile, Pluto

              I had the impression, Eastern Ukraine ist the industrialized part and that is one reason why Kiev does  do not want give them more independence and the Western part is the so called 'bread basket'.

              Am I wrong or did you mistakenly switch them?

              Read the European view at the European Tribune

              by fran1 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:57:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  One good source: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                fran1, Involuntary Exile


                The west is forested but has factories and industry. More urban.

                The east has mining of iron and coal. More rural.

                All have agriculture.

                Culturally and politicall, they have nothing in common.

                •  Thanks Pluto (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Pluto, Involuntary Exile

                  this is a very useful link!

                  Read the European view at the European Tribune

                  by fran1 on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 01:58:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Nothing in common except for the fact that (0+ / 0-)

                  ethnic Ukrainians constitute a majority of the population in all Oblasts in Ukraine?....

                  Your bias is showing.

                  "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                  by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 02:04:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ethnicity not sole indicator of political fidelity (0+ / 0-)

                    Economic interests or religious affiliation can easily outweigh loyalty to the tribe. Just because East Ukraine has a majority of ethnic Ukrainians does not mean that those Ukrainians welcome the government in Kiev. If you want to know where their allegiance lies, look at what church they attend. Are they having their babies baptized in the Greek Catholic Church, the non-canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, or the ROC? Are their jobs dependent on trade with Russia or trade with Poland?

                    Ethnic Ukrainians in East and West Ukraine have about as much in common with each other as Italians in Naples and Milan do, or Americans in San Francisco and Mobile. Look how long it took and how much blood was shed over centuries to knit Naples and Milan together. It took a civil war and the blood of 620,000 US dead to cement the union between our North and South. You can't count on ethnic identification to prevent civil war.

                    •  Of course ethnicity isn't the only factor. (0+ / 0-)

                      Since the vast majority of Ukrainians in all parts of Ukraine, including the east and south, are against Russian troops invading and against govt. buildings being taken by separatists, it is clear that Ukraine is bound together by more than just ethnicity.

                      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                      by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 08:46:59 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'd like to see some some supporting facts (0+ / 0-)

                        that the majority of Ukrainians - all Ukrainians, not just ethnic Ukrainians - in the Donbas are opposed to the takeover of government buildings by separatists. If what you claim is accurate, why aren't there pro-Kiev militias trying to roust them out? Why did the police give up their arsenals without a fight? Why aren't there large demonstrations supporting Kiev?

                        The fact is ~40% of East Ukraine is ethnically Russian. Of the ~60% that self-identify as ethnically Ukrainian, a substantial number are of mixed Russian and Ukrainian descent or are in mixed Ukrainian-Russian households which speak both Russian and Ukrainian or only Russian. Intermarriage has been going on in East Ukraine since before WWII.

                        •  Since you won't accept polls done in Ukraine, (0+ / 0-)

                          what's the point?  I'm probably just discussing with a wall.

                          The police did not give up their arsenals without a fight - they were assaulted by highly-trained military/militia units that severely outgunned them.  Local police stations are not trained or equipped to fight a military.

                          Here's one example, from Kramatorsk:

                          There were large demonstrations supporting Kiev, despite the fact that anyone who does so is in danger of being beaten, kidnapped, or murdered by armed Russians/pro-Russians:


                          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                          by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 11:01:07 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I would say that Russia has been... (0+ / 0-)

                            extremely successful in their undertaking so far. They have managed to gain control of several cities with a handful of special forces and a small number of militia, mercenaries, and irregulars. All they need to do is continue thwarting Kiev and the US for a few more months until IMF "economic reforms" are fully implemented. Once the full impact is felt, the country will tear itself apart. If Putin can just keep doing what he's doing, there will be no need for Russia to invade to accomplish its goals. They'll go in as "peacekeepers" and the country will be partitioned.

                            And by the way, I find your insult laughable. How can I take seriously a poll on a question worded the way that one was?

                          •  That poll is more extensive than many done (0+ / 0-)

                            where.  If the armed separatists had lots of support, they'd have thousands on the street rallying for them in every major city in the east.

                            That's not the case.

                            I think your analysis is way off.  Russia has to invade before May 25 or it will be too late.  Once a democratically-elected president steps up to the plate and decentralization occurs, it would be much harder for Russia to invade.

                            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                            by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 12:56:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You assume Russia wants to invade. (0+ / 0-)

                            You assume Russia wants to annex Ukraine now. I assume they do not need to. If decentralization takes place, Russia needs only to wait for the full effect of IMF imposed austerity to be felt. The country will tear itself apart. Russia doesn't want the expense of integrating East Ukraine into the Federation right now. They are too busy with Crimea. For them it is much better to let Western imposed austerity bring about the collapse of Ukraine so they can pick up such pieces as they choose somewhere down the road after integration of Crimea is complete. Armed conflict and occupation right now would be a major pain in the ass for them. I suspect that's one of the reasons the US is egging Kiev on. It would suit our purpose rather than Russia's to start a war in the East sooner rather than later.

                          •  I'm not assuming they want to annex all of (0+ / 0-)

                            mainland Ukraine, but it does seem that they want to annex what Putin calls "Novorossija".  He basically telegraphed it in his "people's" tribune performance.

                            The IMF austerity for Ukraine is not the huge bogeyman that you think it is.  Ukrainians have already been under the severest form of austerity: full-blown corruption austerity.  With E.U. accession come stringent anti-corruption rules, so they will have the severest form of austerity replaced by a lesser form of austerity.

                            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                            by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 01:30:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, please. Don't make me laugh. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Eternal Hope

                            Since our little adventure in Kiev started, the Hryvnia has lost 38% of its value and inflation has risen by double digits. Pensions and welfare payments are about to be reduced 10% (or may have been reduced already). Ten percent of all police, prosecutors and bureaucrats are slated to lose there jobs (some may have been terminated already). Unemployment was 7.5% at the end of 2013 and has been rising steadily as the conflict between West and East has continued. It is now estimated to be 8%. Dumping 10% of the total government payroll will exacerbate the situation. The downward economic cycle has already begun.  And this is only the beginning. The World Bank has stated that delay in the implementation of their reforms will necessitate an even harsher "correction". They intend to impose economic "shock therapy".

                            Ukraine's fiscal deficit now exceeds 5 percent. FY 2013 GDP growth was 0.0% and is declining thanks to inflation and devaluation of the Hryvnia. The government cannot access debt markets because bankers are unwilling to lend in the current climate. Businesses are having an equally hard time finding financing. Now throw in austerity and what you get is...Greece. Do you really think people as poor as Ukrainians are going to tolerate 25% unemployment for very long? Those bad old days of socialism are going to start looking pretty good to a lot of people, especially when they see that their neighbors in Crimea are faring quite well.

                            And that, right there - the looming 25% unemployment - is why the US and EU need Ukraine to start a war with Russia. You can take people's mind off their suffering if you can give them a cause to fight for.

                          •  I need to add one thing... (0+ / 0-)

                            The only thing I can see causing Russia to advance a full invasion and occupation is if NATO started installing missiles in Ukraine. If that happens, all bets are off. But I don't think NATO will ever get the chance, no matter how much they want it.

      •  Is the referenudum binding on Kiev? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I can set up a referendum in my own household on whether to become "autonomous" from the US, but would such a referendum be binding on DC?  No.

        So I'm wondering, who set up this referendum you're referring to?  And has the Ukrainian government agreed to recognize it and be bound by its results?  Because if not, then it's just a "beauty contest" vote.

    •  There were plenty of problems. (0+ / 0-)

      And there is rampant chaos; few basic services and institutions there are functioning. It's a lot more difficult to govern than it is to grab territory. I'm sure Crimea would have voted for annexation in a fair election, but there were Russian "tourists" driving all over to polling stations stuffing ballot boxes. There were Russian soldiers in the streets along with "self-defense" forces, which was an act of intimidation.

      As for Russia tanking, it's already happening. Their markets showed another massive selloff today. And given the rate of capital flight, Russia will run out of foreign currency reserves. And good luck with trying to sell that oil given that the Ruble would become worthless.

      "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 Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:41:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Since I trade the Foreign Exchange (6+ / 0-)

        …there is too much of a gap in our relative knowledge about matters.

        Suffice to say, when the stock market enters a bear market and goes down -- due to uncertain fundamentals -- it does not mean that it is crashing.

        Russia would be thrilled to accept Euros or Yuan or Real or Rupee for oil. And hold reserves in those currencies instead.

        Avoiding te US Dollar for trade is now the policy of most nations in the world.

        •  But look at the patterns. (0+ / 0-)

          Every time that Putin gets belligerent, the Russian markets tank. And every time Russia backs off, then they go back up.

          "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 Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:56:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fundamental traders use geo-political events (8+ / 0-)

            …to trade the Forex. They are called "news drivers."

            Technical traders smooth out this volatility and follow larger trends.

            The markets you are looking at are commodity markets, and geo-political events rock them daily or monthly, depending on whose hair is on fire.

            I only became interested in politics because of Forex trading. I'm a fundamental trader. It matters that I know what drives the volatility and subsequent speculation (for scalpers). In this case, we are talking abut the oil markets.

            As for the Dollar -- its days are over. Dollar hegemony is at an end. Thus, so is the Forex market, quite soon.

            Note, the US has NO reserve currencies (and they are likely out of gold). They just print money money to trade with. The world is sick of them exporting inflation. And they are fed up with US sanctions (which nobody pays attention to anymore.)

            There's going to be a day of reckoning when USians have to use EUROs, etc. to trade with other nations.

            •  Thank you for explaining to the financially naive (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BigAlinWashSt, fran1, Pluto, dharmafarmer

              Those of us who understand financial markets find the hyperbolic pronouncements of uninformed to be downright laughable while simultaneously very sad.

              If anyone wants to know what Russia's economic future will look like they should acquaint themselves with the ten-year gas deal Russia and China will be finalizing in May when Putin goes to China. How big will it be? Well...China will raise its natural gas supply to as much as 420 ­billion cubic meters per year by 2020 amid rising demand due to urbanization, a government statement said on Wednesday.

              China's total consumption of natural gas rose 13.9 percent year-on-year to 167.6 billion cubic meters in 2013, according to a report published on January 15 by the Economic and Technology Research Institute of the China National Petroleum Corp.

              The higher consumption led to a 25 percent increase in imports, totaling 53 billion cubic meters last year, 31.6 percent of the total consumption.

              Supplies will continue to be tight this year, the report said, predicting that the natural gas consumption would expand 11 percent this year to 186 (sic) cubic meters.

              Natural gas consumption in China is projected to be 186 billion cubic meters in 2014 and is expected to rise to 420 ­billion cubic meters per year in 2020. That's one hell of an increase in just six years, and Russia will be all too happy to accept Yuan or gold for supplying the lion's share of that increase.

              Russia has to ride out a modest recession, no more than three years, and those most affected will be the investor class. The average Russian isn't likely to suffer all that much. They're not married to consumption and debt the way Americans are. God knows the Russian people had to endure real hardship during the Yeltsin years, so this little recession will be seen as a minor inconvenience, nothing more.

          •  Well, in the mean time (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            also US companies are affected. It looks like Visa is loosing at the market.

            Der weltgrößte Kreditkartenanbieter Visa rechnet wegen der US-Sanktionen gegen Russland mit einem Dämpfer für das Geschäft. "Wir sind gefangen zwischen der Politik der USA und Politik von Russland", sagte Visa-Finanzvorstand Byron Pollitt am Donnerstag bei der Veröffentlichung der jüngsten Quartalszahlen.
            this is from the +++ Ukraine-Liveticker +++: Visa klagt über Folgen der Russland-Sanktionen

            Sorry only in German

            Read the European view at the European Tribune

            by fran1 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:04:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  So the market gods will punish Russia? (6+ / 0-)

        Did the markets punish the U.S. when it invaded Iraq? This notion that Russia's economy will collapse over what its government is doing in Ukraine is just neoliberal wishful thinking. Russia has about $500 billion in foreign-exchange reserves, ranking it #5 in the world; it's nowhere near running out of money. Russia's unemployment rate is around 5% - significantly lower than ours. A falling ruble would cut both ways, & would make Russia's non-oil exports more competitive; in any case, that's hardly a sign of impending disaster. Oil is traded globally is U.S. dollars, so a falling ruble has no effect whatsoever on Russia's oil exports.

        For what it's worth, I don't defend Russia's invasion & annexation of Crimea. But in light of what the U.S. is attempting to sow in Ukraine, I understand why Russia feels that it can't simply sit on its hands & accept what is happening. I'm certainly no fan of President Putin's domestic policies. He's shown himself to be autocratic, authoritarian & borderline reactionary, but he's no madman & not a tyrant. In fact, I'm inclined to believe, even now, that he does not WANT war in Ukraine, determined though he is to not let the country slip into NATO's orbit.

        (By the way, if I'm the citizen of a country that's being invaded, I'd much prefer the new Russian way of surreptitiously infiltrating with special-ops forces & cutting off military assets without firing a shot than the American way of bombing everything to smithereens & then occupying with trigger-happy soldiers & Blackwater mercenaries.)

    •  yes and 95% of it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83, Lawrence

      is coming from Russia and parrots like you. The only aggression and provocation is coming from Putin, his military is sitting on Ukraine's borders, his operatives are inciting violence in the East, and yet his propagandists blame Ukraine for everything.

    •  Observed by crackpot and far right E.U. party (0+ / 0-)

      members that love Putin.  It's really bizarre how some of you are twisting yourselves into pretzels, aligning with European and the Russian far right over this.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 01:37:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So Russia is invoking a right to self-defense (6+ / 0-)

    outside her national borders? Would that be the Bush Doctrine? Ah, what goes around...

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

    by brainwave on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:48:38 PM PDT

  •  The agitators will stop (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tony Situ

    When Putin orders them too, it's that simple, and if they continue, it's because that is what he wants.

    Personally, I think the Russians will find a reason to move troops into the east, and things will get bloody.

    This revolution is not scheduled!

    by harrylimelives on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 09:48:26 PM PDT

  •  Comrade Vlad has become 'dizzy with success'. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, Lawrence

    He looks like what he is, an anachronism.

    But successes have their seamy side, especially when they are attained with comparative "ease" -- "unexpectedly," so to speak. Such successes sometimes induce a spirit of vanity and conceit: "We can achieve anything!", "There's nothing we can't do!" People not infrequently become intoxicated by such successes; they become dizzy with success, lose all sense of proportion and the capacity to understand realities; they show a tendency to overrate their own strength and to underrate the strength of the enemy; adventurist attempts are made to solve all questions a trice.
    --Joseph Stalin 1930.

    •  he retains the option to draw down (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      otoh, they really have been playing this well, and Stalin's words should be heeded. Even their absurd propaganda is having its intended affect this side of Russia, apparently. I wouldn't be at all surprised if events escalated to the point that the Russians did move to control large swaths of, if not all, Eastern Ukraine. It's all gone so well up to now, after all.

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:42:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That anachronism is... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, Alhambra

      eating our lunch. He doesn't need to move into East Ukraine. It's going to move to him as soon as the full weight of the IMF "economic reforms" hit, if not before then. This is not merely my opinion. It is the opinion of experts in global finance. See Elliott Morss' article Black Clouds Over Ukraine over at Deutsche Welle.

      US sanctions against Russia will not stop the breakup of Ukraine because Europe will not support further sanctions. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have already signaled earlier this week that they are unwilling to go along with more sanctions because of harm to their own economies. Other Eastern European countries will follow. The German government hasn't said anything publicly about whether or not it would support further sanctions, but public opinion is running high against them, especially if it means a slowdown for their economy.

      There will be a lot of saber rattling and bluster from the US, but in the end we will not do anything serious about the collapse of Ukraine. The American public has no more stomach for conflict or nation building, and the Administration will not want to piss off the public in an election year. The only question is how long it will be until the US and Russia meet in Geneva to draw up the agreement for partition.

  •  I think this is a pretty good analysis, in general (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope, waterstreet2013

    I can tell that you are researching a lot, doing your best to make objective analyses.

    One niggle I have is with you calling what happened in Kiev a "coup".  It can't really be called a coup when a thoroughly discredited and corrupt president flees the country and the democratically-elected parliament of the country then elects new leaders.

    Another would be that you make the assumption that Crimea would join Russia if a free and far referendum were held.  Polls from Crimea did not indicate that, and a free and fair referendum after new elections in Ukraine, where all sides of the argument could be openly made, very well may have had a different outcome from the outcome of the rigged shotgun referendum.

    BTW, there is a new poll out from Ukraine that shows just how unpopular an invasion by Russia would be, even amongst Ukrainian Russian speakers and eastern Ukrainians - and this despite Kremlin media banging war drums for invasion non-stop.  It has a lot of interesting internals, as well:

    Tipped and recced for all the effort that you are putting in to this and for giving a quality overview of the situation.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 02:02:20 AM PDT

    •  Yanukovych fled to escape murder charges. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He had ordered the sniper killings at Maidan Square.

      Valentyn Nalyvaichenko was the security chief for police. He stated to the parliament that Yanukovych ordered the killings.

      Putin's buddy for this situation is a mass murderer.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 05:35:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd put as much faith in a poll funded by USAID (0+ / 0-)

      as I would one funded by RT, which is to say, not very much. Just look at the way the question was worded. I'd like to see a poll, in East Ukraine only, on the question "Would you support Kiev sending in troops to occupy the Donbas?" I think we all know what the answer would be in West Ukraine.

  •  What Putin invites is a war of terrorism (0+ / 0-)

    against his government.

    A Resistance.

    And he invites his legacy to be turned to Stalin II.

    He can win, of course. He can murder millions. Turn Russia back 500 years.

    Kristof says that there's a war between Putin and Taylor Swift. He bets on Swift. He thinks it's a culture war.

    I don't agree.

    Russia is owned by gangsters. Corruption sits on every deal. Anything can happen.

    "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

    by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 05:27:15 AM PDT

  •  I think this is ahead of the facts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope

    Your analysis seems to me to be based heavily on two data points: first, on the material released by the Ukrainian intelligence services purporting to show a Russian military guy directing an assassination. One guy. By the intelligence service that is trying to get the world turned against Russia. That's a lot of weight on one point.

    Second, that Russia is invoking its response to Georgia 2008 in the wake of the South Ossetian war/separatist movement. In that conflict, Russia was able to argue successfully that its actions were partially justified. In any case, the world certainly did not rally to Georgia's defense. Maybe especially because John McCain and other Republicans were so overtly belligerent.

    Can the Russians get away with this twice? I don't think so, and I think they know it. They can earn a lot of points with the world by not intervening and bringing Ukraine's economy to a crashing halt. That puts the US and the EU on the hook for billions of dollars that Congress and Merkel won't want to appropriate.

    Putin might be crazy, but he's not stupid. He stands to gain much more by going to the brink, bringing the US to it also, and then walking away.

    Well, we will see. We always do, whether we want to or not.

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