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Yesterday was the bloodiest day so far of the conflict. There are too many people on all sides who are happy to see the conflict continue as it is. All sides need to stop the madness, or it will engulf us all in a third world war that is in nobody's interest except for Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex.

There were a few hopeful signs. President Obama admitted for the first time during his news conference tonight that Russia had legitimate interests in Ukraine. Russia sent a diplomat to Ukraine to talk to the people who are holding the OSCE monitors hostage and their UN ambassador walked back remarks saying that Russia was no longer bound by Geneva. But all sides can start by toning down the inflammatory rhetoric. On one side, you have the US constantly preaching to the Russians about their obligations under international law. You have Lavrov, one of RT's most frequent people to write about, preaching at the Ukraine government about their obligations to protect ethnic Russians. You have the Ukraine government drag its feet on any kind of meaningful dialogue with its Eastern and Southern citizens. In reality, there are too many people in all three quarters who are happy to see the chaos continue.

The City of Odessa rightly declared three days of national mourning for the mob violence that killed dozens of people there. Russia's response was surprisingly muted after the constant drone of preaching at the Ukrainian government (as of this writing), asking the Ukrainian government if any Russian citizens were killed. The US rightly condemned the violence and called for the Ukrainian government to bring those responsible to justice.

But we listened to the emergency Security Council session called today by Russia to discuss the violence going on in Ukraine. There was some deeply disturbing rhetoric being thrown around. We heard the Russian ambassador blaming the US and the EU for the violence, implying that the present Ukraine government was somehow a puppet. We saw the American ambassador accuse the Russians of lying; if that is the case, then it should be able to speak for itself given the unprecedented social media coverage of the conflict. Even China tacitly suggested that Russia was out of line by calling on all parties to stick to the Geneva Agreement of April 17th after Russia had suggested they were no longer bound by the agreement.

It is in Russia's best interest to do all it can to bring this conflict to a close. Putin is seeking to close a massive gas deal with China this month, and he cannot afford to anger China. He is even contemplating building a gas line from China to South Korea to sell that country gas. The line would have to go through North Korea; Abby Martin of RT did a fluff piece on North Korea where she interviewed someone who had been there who said that there was no homelessness, there was free college for all, and reports of them being a threat to the South or the US were blown out of proportion by a compliant media. Russia's goal is to undermine our free trade agreement with South Korea by selling gas much cheaper than we can. But the problem is that Russia may have unleashed a Pandora's Box that even Putin cannot control anymore.

There is a clear US strategy in the sanctions that is not properly appreciated -- they are designed to target Putin personally by restricting his ability to move money around. But they are also designed to force him to choose between the ultranationalistic theories of Alexander Dugin and the powerful oil and gas interests which are driving Russia's economy. Dugin believes that Ukraine is not really a country (something echoed by Putin back in 2008), while his oil interests want to maintain close ties with the West, including BP, Exxon/Mobil, and Shell. Both Obama and Merkel threatened to impose sanctions on unspecified entire sectors of Russia's economy, which could jeopardize or end these ties. So if Putin listens to Dugin and continues his aggression against Ukraine, then he will have to explain to Gazprom, Yukos, and other big oil companies what happened to their ties to the West and to their bottom line.

Putin, however, is in a bind. On social media and on Twitter, Russian nationalists and pro-Russian posters who are influenced by Dugin's thinking are clamoring for vengeance and wondering why Putin has not acted (as of this writing) already. This could translate into a drop in Putin's stratospheric popularity and unrest at home. The drop may be short-term as it could be offset by a massive deal with China and Iran, as well as the exploitation of the Arctic's resources, which Putin has routinely brought up on the Presidential website.

But if we are to put a stop to the insanity that is going on right now in Ukraine, it is up to us as working people to unite against the insanity. We have to say, along with Markos, that we're sick and tired of all the power games that all the parties are playing and that what happens between Russia and Ukraine is none of our business. The US is right to pursue sanctions; otherwise, international law would not mean anything. But the kind of shrill rhetoric that was employed by Samantha Power today at the UN or John Kerry playing armchair psychologist and speculating on Putin's state of mind to the Wall Street Journal only serves to encourage Putin by allowing him to dig in his heels and continue his aggression against Ukraine. Driven by the teachings of Dugin, Putin believes that Russia is a bulwark against the decadent West. Therefore, he needs a hostile West to validate his current policy of aggression.

We have way too many mutual interests with Russia and China to continue the kind of shrill rhetoric that this government has been using during the course of this crisis. All three of us have an interest in stopping terror, combating climate change, and maintaining stability in the world. The kidnapping of over 200 girls by Boko Haram, along with religious violence in the Central African Republic and the deteriorating situation in South Sudan all require our attention. All parties have an obligation to deescalate the tensions in Ukraine so that we can use the UN, not as a tool to pursue American hegemony, but as a cooperative tool to bring peace and stability to the world.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A little contradictory (8+ / 0-)
    We have to say, along with Markos, that we're sick and tired of all the power games that all the parties are playing and that what happens between Russia and Ukraine is none of our business. The US is right to pursue sanctions;
    if it is none of our business, then how can it be right to pursue sanctions.

    Generally, I think that when a smaller country is being subjected to invasion and shadow invasions by a more powerful, it is our business, individually and collectively to speak out about it.

    Great diary as always.  I don't always agree, but I always read with interest.

  •  and (6+ / 0-)

    I think the deadliest day to date was not yesterday, but rather when Yanukovitch ordered the troops to open fire on the protestors

    not that it matters.  What matters is that neither is surpassed by any days in the future.

  •  This won't end soon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, cybrestrike, native, dfarrah

    "Even China tacitly suggested that Russia was out of line by calling on all parties to stick to the Geneva Agreement of April 17th after Russia had suggested they were no longer bound by the agreement."

    Actions speak louder than words.  I think China's refusal to sanction Russia (along with China's need for a strong ally in the coming years) suggests that Putin is not in danger of angering the Chinese.  We may have mutual interests like climate change with Russia and China but none of these countries seem concerned with them.

    •  China historically has had conflict with Russia. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And the nature of authoritarian states is that they don't tend to be very trusting -- of their own people, or of their neighbors -- especially not other authoritarian leaders, unless one side has a clear power advantage over the other and the other authoritarian leader acquiesces willingly to a subordinate role.

      Part of China's dilemma in this case is that it has ties to Ukraine as well, and the Russian actions undermine the argument about the absolute right of national sovereignty within a nation's own borders.

      China has supported Russia on the Syria issue, but in this case, I don't think China is entirely comfortable with Russia's actions in Ukraine.  China's dilemma is that it doesn't trust NATO or the U.S. or our Asian allies either.  It's a question of who does it trust less.

      •  China and Russia will be having joint naval (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus, fran1, mookins, chuckvw, dfarrah

        exercises in the East China Sea in late May.

        •  China has done naval exercises with the US & EU (0+ / 0-)

          too. I think that says more about the diplomacy of China and the urge for others everywhere to be a friend.

          •  You are being disingenuous as usual. (0+ / 0-)

            The only joint military exercises the US and Europe have had with China were for disaster relief and piracy and were extremely limited in scope and depth. Russia has agreed to sell China their state-of-the-art S-400 missile system, advanced fighter jets and radar systems that can detect US stealth fighter planes such as the F35.

            U.S.-China joint exercise wraps up
            Nov. 30, 2012

            CHENGDU, China — The U.S. and Chinese militaries on Friday wrapped up a modest disaster-relief exercise hailed as a tentative trust-building step amid growing suspicions between the Asia-Pacific region's largest armed forces.

            While not a full-fledged operation, the two-day exercise at People's Liberation Army barracks outside the city of Chengdu consisted of U.S. and Chinese officers sitting around a table facing a flat-panel video screen and discussing how they would respond to an earthquake in a fictional third country.

            EU Naval Force And Chinese Navy Warships Work Together In Counter Piracy Exercise At Sea In Gulf Of Aden

            EU Naval Force warships, FS Siroco and FGS Hessen conducted a joint counter-piracy exercise with two Chinese Navy ships, CNS Yancheng and CNS Taihu.  The exercise, which took place at sea in the Gulf of Aden, had followed a day of pre-briefings on board FS Siroco, when the EU Force Commander, Rear Admiral Herve Blejean, welcomed Senior Captain Li Pengcheng and the rest of the Chinese delegation to the EU Naval Force flagship to discuss the exercise and the various events that would take place the following day.
            With military helicopters hovering overhead, the exercise began with the EU and Chinese warships manoeuvring close to each other to simulate a refuelling at sea operation.  Members of the ships’ crews then transferred across to each other’s ships to conduct a series of practical demonstrations and exercises.

            The exercises included a joint counter-piracy boarding operation, with the Chinese and EU Naval Force boarding teams embarking onto the Chinese logistics ship, CNS Taihu.  Small-arms and helicopter exercises were also carried out.

            The busy day ended just before sunset, with the ships bidding a warm farewell to each other with a traditional warship ‘sail past’.

      •  One suspects that China (0+ / 0-)

        . . . is uncomfortable with Russia's unilateral redrawing of an international border. At the same time, there is little doubt that China welcomes the challenge that Russia is posing to U.S. supremacy in that region.

  •  Here's an article about Aleksandr Dugin that (4+ / 0-)

    was in one of the Canadian newspapers yesterday.

    •  Alice in Wonderland (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, Lepanto, unfangus, native, chuckvw, dfarrah

      NATO and the EU expand further and further east, to Russia's doorstep, yet it is Russia that is accused of expansionism and a desire to dominate Europe.

      "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

      by Paleo on Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:48:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When was the last time that NATO expanded? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lawrence, joe from Lowell

        Several nations in 2004, but most recently in 2009 Croatia and Albania -- neither of which is on Russia's doorstep.  This after the Georgian invasion of 2008.

        Russia is accused of expansion, because that is its history -- especially as it relates to Eastern Europe.  With respect to Ukraine in particular it has a long history of invasions and interference and genocide.

        This is even Putin's stated aim, when he talks about a kind of Anschluss policy related to people with Russian ties in foreign nations.  For Hitler "annexations" of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland were all justified on the basis of some Greater Germany and the alleged poor treatment of "Germans" in these countries.  

        By that Putin's Hitler style logic Russia has valid claims on the Baltic states into Eastern Europe.  This is part of the reason that these nation's have requested a strengthened NATO presence.

        I realize there is a danger at taking Putin at his words, but I would assume, on this issue, that he probably isn't lying, because that policy under his authority has already played out in Chechnya, Georgia, and now Ukraine.  In the case of Belarus, Putin has his repressive, but dependent dictatorship to leverage.

        •  Expansionism (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw, dfarrah

          Ask Mexico about expansionism if you want a lesson in expansionism.

          Russia has a history of being invaded, so its "concern" over creeping NATO expansionism is not illegitimate.  And guess what, they don't even have a Monroe Doctrine.

          "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

          by Paleo on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:17:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Russia hasn't been invaded since WWII (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joe from Lowell, NotGeorgeWill

            Alot of countries in Europe, in fact most countries in Europe, have a history of invasion. Russia doesn't get special privileges because of their paranoia.  The only country expanding in Europe is Russia.  

            "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

            by Texas Lefty on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:19:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  RANDOM BAD STUFF 'BOUT AMERICA! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mark Lippman, NotGeorgeWill

            You remind me of an old joke:

            An American goes on a visit to Moscow in the late 1970s. The Soviet government assigns a tour guide to serve as his minder. The guide takes him to the new train station.

            They spend about an hour walking around as the guide points out the details of the construction and design, the beautiful rest rooms, the skylights, and talking about how it's free for everyone.

            After a couple hours, the American says, "You know, this is really beautiful building, but I just realized, I haven't seen any trains come through."

            The Russian looks at him for a moment, and then says, "But what about the Negroes in the South?"

            Art is the handmaid of human good.

            by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:59:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Putin is not Hitler. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fran1, native, Paleo

          He's an opportunist who will exploit situations like Ukraine's to his advantage.

          "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 Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:50:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He doesn't have the same anti-Semitic views . . . (0+ / 0-)

            at least as far as I can tell.  But he does share the same degree of cynicism and uses the same justifications for his invasions.  His views also appear to have a lot more in common with the fascists on economic policy than with the communists.

            I think he will exploit the situation in a way that improves his short-term advantages.  At the absolute minimum his moves are going to isolate Russia and cost it hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage.  A greater escalation and confrontation will come with greater costs.

      •  That link is because the diarist mentioned Dugin (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Texas Lefty, native

        here and a couple of days ago, too.

        The writing of Aleksandr Dugin is a must read for anyone interested in political and strategy. He's a deep intellectual, as well as popular and influential. He also teaches at the State University in Moscow.

        The newspaper article focused on one element of Dugin's writing. I expected a remark like yours even though I hoped at least one other soul would be prepared to say something interesting.

        I certainly don't agree with everything Dugin says but he's a brilliant thinker. His observations about the US political scene cut to the bone. He writes Russia's side of the story. It's compelling, provocative, and truthful. Not shabby bumpersticker slogans. Repeating - I still don't agree with all of it.

        About expansion, no countries have joined NATO since 2009 and current events have nothing to do with that. Ukraine announced years ago it wouldn't join. No countries have joined the EU since 2007. It was never on the list of candidates or potential candidates. There are qualifications and a protocol to accede. Ukraine is nowhere near meeting the qualifications. The Affiliation Agreement would be a premliminary step.

        Without any change in the NATO or EU status quo there could be something else chafing Russia. Dugin tells that pretty well. Some people don't want to read him because there are parts that are hard to take. But all that has to be on the table for peaceful coexistence.  

        •  Help if you got your facts straight (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eternal Hope, InAntalya
          No countries have joined the EU since 2007. It was never on the list of candidates or potential candidates. There are qualifications and a protocol to accede. Ukraine is nowhere near meeting the qualifications. The Affiliation Agreement would be a premliminary step.
          Croatia acceded on July 1 2013 and the relevant treaties under the EU's Neighhourhood Policy (ENP) are called Association Agreements.

          In addition there are five candidate countries, Iceland, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, which are in negotiations. Of those, Serbia is the most likely to accede next which in itself is a challenge to Putin's wish to return to the days of the USSR as the overlord of the Slav nations. Formal accession negotiations started with an EU-Serbia intergovernmental conference in January this year. (Macedonia's application for candidate status has been recommended by the Commission but has not, as I understand it, yet been approved by the Council. Greek sensibilities over the name may inhibit things - you will note the requirement for the "FYR" bit)

          Negotiations with Turkey are really going nowhere in terms of membership with several countries, especially France, challenging whether it is a European country and with the still unresolved situation in Cyprus. Nevertheless, Turkey has preferential trade terms - two of its companies, Vestel and Arcelik (better known under its western European trading name Beko) producing much of the radio and TV equipment and white goods sold in the EU. (Virtually every TV, apart from high end ones, sold are made by these, especially Vestel, even if they have labels with the names of large Japanese or Korean companies. From what I understand, a UK OEM maker of televisions, Cello, is a local buyout of a plant formerly owned by one of these two and their earlier sets were very similar to Vestel models.)

          Turkey does however provide a model for a future relationship with Ukraine - much as Turkey is a bridge between the EU and the Middle East, Ukraine could at least in the short to middle term be a bridge between the EU and Putin's neo-COMECON. Whether that is still viable is doubtful as Putin's hegemon ambitions for Russia appears to only offer a binary choice for the Ukrainians.

          Ukraine is not a candidate country because it has not yet applied for membership. There is no formal "potential candidate" status however Ukraine, along with Belarus, Moldova and three Caucasian countries; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia referred to as ENP countries and are able to draw on special funding and programs to enhance their economies and governance. This is a means of reforming these areas towards compliance with the acquis, a requirement of membership. The enhanced Association Agreement that was due to be signed by Ukraine last year would have progressed this.  ENP relations with Belarus are suspended because of "the political context" which is a polite way of saying Alexander Lukashenko is as bad a tyrant as Putin.

          Cecilia Malmström is the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs - the role includes border control. She was formerly the Vice-President of the Liberal Party of Sweden. In March she wrote in her blog:

          Ukraine is a vastly important and proud European country. After the previous president Viktor Yanukovych left office, the new government is facing a host of challenges – weathering out corruption, safeguarding the integrity of public authorities and getting the economy back on its feet. The EU has a key role to play in contributing to making that happen. The Ukrainian people deserve a democratic and European future in freedom.
          That sums up the purpose of the Association Agreement and, in the section I have put in bold, identifies the reasons Yanukovych, Putin and the corrupt oligarchs in both countries found it such anathema.

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

          by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:08:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  At least one of the leading candidates (0+ / 0-)

            in the upcoming election is a corrupt oligarch.

            It always seems impossible until its done. -Nelson Mandela

            by chuckvw on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:44:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Still doesn't prove the "further & further east" (0+ / 0-)

            claim, which is where I started when I replied to Paleo.

            Thanks for the factcheck. I forgot Croatia. Here's a map. Considering that Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952 I still don't see where anything is moving east from the 2007 status quo.

            If Russia is worried about geographical proximity, why is there no squawking about Norway which actually borders Russia in the north.  The "further east"argument is lazy and sloppy because the international border between Norway and Russia is actually as far east as Istanbul.

            I'm giving you information that actually supports your side of the rox/sux nonsense, and you're still rude and condescending. Thanks for the chuckle.

      •  We're expanding not militarily (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Texas Lefty, joe from Lowell

        but because democracy is a very attractive Western export. Our system is better than that of Russia, so of course countries choose the West. I guess we should try to be a shittier example for developing democracies to follow.

        •  Democracy? (6+ / 0-)

          You mean like overthrowing an elected government in Ukraine?

          I'm sorry but that's total bullshit.  NATO didn't expand with a gun to its head.  It gave Russia assurances that in returning for agreeing to the reunification of Germany, only 45 years after millions of Russians died from a German invasion, NATO would limit its expansion.

          And tell Greece and Spain about Russia's shitty economic system.

          "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

          by Paleo on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:41:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That must be why Spain and Greece left NATO. (0+ / 0-)

            OH, WAIT!

            Art is the handmaid of human good.

            by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 10:00:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Back to Dugin . . . (0+ / 0-)

            Even Dugin who talks about destroying the West in his 2012 book, says that the West defeated fascism in a partnership with the USSR, and that the West defeated Communism at the end of the Cold War.

            Even after austerity, the average income in Greece is 10X what it is in Ukraine. It also exceeds average incomes in Russia. An average income earner in Ukraine would gladly trade places with an average income earner in Greece. You're accustomed to an American standard that average income earners in Ukraine can hardly imagine.  

            You're using knee-jerk arguments that don't hold up. You're correct that citizens of Greece and Spain are dissatisfied but few of them would care to trade places with Ukrainians or Russians. As bad as things are for them, neither Ukraine nor Russia would be an upgrade.

            •  Unemployment rate in Greece and Spain is 5 times (0+ / 0-)

              higher than Russia's.

              "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

              by Paleo on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:59:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  How many of them are going to Russia to look for a (0+ / 0-)

                better life? How many go to other countries? Which ones?

                As a rhetorical question, would there be any advantages to go live in Russia instead of staying in the US?

                What about the separatists in eastern Ukraine? Are their methods correct, i.e, taking over government buildings, holding journalists, and international observers? Should those methods be used in the US as a means of political expression?

                Those are questions that come to me from Dugin's writing.

                If our political system is responsive to citizens, it can accomodate constructive change. If it exists as an existential fact and it resists the attempts of citizens to engage by legitimate means, then what?

                •  Not the issue (0+ / 0-)

                  Which is that the EU's neoliberal austerity is not all that it's cracked up to be.  And that it is not the only alternative for Ukriane.

                  "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

                  by Paleo on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:33:47 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  What NATO country annexed it's neighbor again? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe from Lowell

        Russia is accused of expansionism because they did in fact expand. Crazy concept right?

        "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

        by Texas Lefty on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:17:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're like a Republican talking about rape. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tony Situ, Mark Lippman

        The concept of consent is so glaringly absent as to cause the reader to do a double-take.

        Countries in Eastern Europe freely choose to ally themselves with NATO, and that's like Russia invading its neighbors by force.

        Sure it is.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:56:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, kind of like Cuba (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dfarrah, ChadmanFL

          And I'm sure if  in the past Mexico wanted to align itself with the Warsaw Pact, or today form a military alliance with Russia, the U.S. would simply yawn.

          "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

          by Paleo on Sat May 03, 2014 at 10:31:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shorter Paleo: "Hey, look over there!" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tony Situ, Mark Lippman

            Aw, what's the matter, you don't want to talk about Europe and NATO and Russia anymore?

            I think the Bay of Pigs invasion was every bit as wrong as Russia's invasion of Crimea.

            Could you please make at least a minimal effort not to be gigantic hypocrite, and instead find some principles you can apply?

            Art is the handmaid of human good.

            by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 11:24:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  What must happen is that we need to stay away (7+ / 0-)

    Who are we to lecture anyone about international laws after Iraq.

    Using sanctions only will do nothing.

    Russia has lots of cards and China knows to stay away.

    Europe, except the UK, knows better than saber rattling.

    Russia and Ukraine will settle this.  Putin may take over eastern Ukraine kind of like when we took over Texas.  Sure that was almost 200 years ago but the Ukraine Russia conflict started 1000 years ago.

    Just thinking aloud.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:14:23 PM PDT

    •  I am not sure about Europe (6+ / 0-)

      Merkel should know better, but she seems to be stiring the fire - despite a lot of Germany being angry about her Ukrainian politics and the rest of Europes politicians are not much better.

      I feel a little sick having to admit that I agree with Henry Kissinger in this situation - we have to sit down with Russia and also be willing to compromise. In Germany even Merkels mentor former Chancellor Kohl is critizing Merkel, and also Schröder and Schmid think it is plain wrong how Russia is treaded and a garanteed path to desaster.

      I do not like Putin - but he is the President of Russia and the west has to deal and talk with him, just adding sanctions after sanctions will not solve the problem, contrary it will agravate it. Unless of course it is not at all about the Ukraine but about destroying the economy of Russia, but I can not see how this would help the Ukraine.

      Read the European view at the European Tribune

      by fran1 on Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:45:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Merkel lived under Soviet Communist rule . . . (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sviscusi, Lawrence, Shockwave, randomfacts

        She has no illusions about Russia.  The experience clearly shaped her worldview -- as it did for almost anyone who lived under the Soviet backed East German police state.  I believe Putin also had some connections with that state during his days as a KGB agent.

        As far as negotiations go, if Putin's position is that Russia is entitled to absorb land of other sovereign states at will, the negotiations aren't likely to go anywhere.  Does Ukraine have the option of "annexing" Belarus and dominating it in Russia's stead?

        •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw, Shockwave, native

          so it is even more amazing that she does so little about the surveilliance from the US. I would say most of the Germans are not on her side in this. And if you read the comments in German newspapers the frustration with Merkel is slowly turning into anger.

          I do not agree what Putin did in the Crimea, however I can see his point, considering how to Nato is enroaching along the Russian boarders. But putting Puting against the wall and refusing real dialog is not going to solve the problems.

          Read the European view at the European Tribune

          by fran1 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:02:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  NATO hasn't expanded along Russia's borders . . . (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lib Dem FoP, Shockwave, randomfacts

            in close to 10 years.  And for a long time, the understanding was that Ukraine would never be part of NATO.  This was part of the bargain that also facilitated the removal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine on the grounds that Russia would respect Ukraine's territorial integrity.   Also, the Ukrainian population and politicians didn't want to antagonize Russia.

            Now all that goes out the window.

            As far as the Merkel situation goes, we'll see.

          •  Personally, I think that (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fran1, Lepanto, Shockwave, unfangus, native, chuckvw

            Having wound up and let loose their actors, it is slowly dawning on the EU, US and Russia, that they have lost control of their actors,

            That what we will see over the next week, is a repeat of the WWI through WWII Ukrainian Passion Play.

            •  Think we are looking at months . . . (0+ / 0-)

              not weeks.  And I don't think anyone has lost control of their "actors" yet.  If the Russians want to reign in their thugs, it won't be hard considering that a fair number appear to have crossed borders to join the fight and/or are receiving direction and financial support from Moscow.

              The situation that might be WWI like relates to the U.S.'s alliances with NATO members.  An action by Russia against an ally will trigger a response by NATO.  Russia has nuclear weapons on one side, but it has no real allies.  

      •  Schroder even met with Putin recently. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shockwave, native, chuckvw

        "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 Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:53:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I will echo Mindful Nature . . . (3+ / 0-)

    this is a thoughtful diary, but I don't come to the same conclusion that you and Markos do with respect to the U.S. not having an interest in this particular fight.  Ukraine's situation may not trigger an overt military response, but economic sanctions are in order, and if the Russian military gets involved, we have a moral obligation to ensure that Ukraine has the capacity to defend itself to the greatest degree possible.

    I think this is one of those situations where a gradual escalation is probably more likely to result in war than a more unambiguous signal from the U.S. and NATO.  e.g. the goal is deterrence and likely containment to the greatest degree possible.  I think a re-emergence of the Cold War is still preferable to a hot war.

    What are the odds that Putin gains control of Eastern Ukraine, Odessa, and Transnistria and then says -- "that's enough, no more invasions"?  And if those invasions are allowed to take place, does the delay strengthen the position of the NATO alliance, or does it weaken it against further Russian aggression and increase the risk of a wider war?

    •  I had a thought (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, randomfacts

      people here are ignoring the position in Syria where Assad is using chemical weapons against his people. Barrels containing explosives and chlorine are being dropped from helicopters on civilians. Chlorine is a "dual use" chemical and is not covered by the agreement to dispose and destroy CBW stocks.  It is nevertheless a gross violation of international law and its use in WWI was one of the triggers for the banning of poison gas.

      Assad is of course protected by Putin but there are precedents, which Putin is calling on to legitimize his invasions, to take military action without the authority of the UNSC. A very strong diplomatic warning that there would be immediate "tit for tat" action against Assad if there are any further incursions might have an effect on the KGB Colonel.

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

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:36:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I fear not many will listen... (6+ / 0-)
    We have way too many mutual interests with Russia and China to continue the kind of shrill rhetoric that this government has been using during the course of this crisis.
    Even "liberals" seem to be caught up in the romance of a new Cold War. The Kyiv tail could well wag the Western dog right into a truly nightmarish situation. That could easily happen tomorrow or next week. Neo-con/lib policymakers who think that expanding NATO (a military rather than an economic association) is a great idea have bound us on yet another blunderific course...

    It always seems impossible until its done. -Nelson Mandela

    by chuckvw on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:17:08 AM PDT

    •  Is Kyiv even the tail? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, protectspice, unfangus, native, chuckvw

      It appears probable that what happened in Odessa yesterday was the work of Right Sector, which could be indicative that Kyiv can't control the radicals.  Remember, it's Avakov running this show, and the Right Sector want him dead for the operation which killed one of their leaders last month.  If we give the Ukranians carte blanche, pressure from these groups will likely ratchet up the conflict further.

      On top of that, there are allegations being made that English was heard from among the pro-Ukrainian group.  RT has already floated the idea that Blackwater is on the group, but another possibility is that these are people from the diaspora.  If the accents were Canadian that would seriously up the possibility that there are now "volunteers" on the ground.  Canada has a large population of Ukrainian descent, particularly out in the Plains.

      by ManfromMiddletown on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:55:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  About half of the Canadian Ukrainians, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Are Mennonites and Dukabor's, who have no truck with state sponsored violence.

        The other half date mostly from pre and post WWI immigrants, who sadly, were Bandarized by the post WWII DP's.

      •  We've called on all sides to stop the violence. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        native, chuckvw

        Following Odessa. We've called on the Ukraine government to find and hold those responsible. That might account for the fact that Russia's response was more muted than I thought it would be. The US met one of their key demands, to use their influence to stop the violence. At least for the time being.

        "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 Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:00:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Kyiv regime (and its neo-lib/con supporters) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        chose to ride that tiger. It now will be difficult for them to dismount.

        Radical rightists were appointed to key security positions and they promptly allowed a "national guard" to be formed that doesn't answer to the central authority. It wasn't the Ukrainian military that committed the atrocities in Odessa yesterday. As events unfold, the Ukrainian military and official law enforcement will likely be facing well armed and trained fascist militias.

        This could have been foreseen. Cookies, billions of dollars, and a complete obliviousness to political and social realities on the ground... U.S. foreign policy. Classic.

        It always seems impossible until its done. -Nelson Mandela

        by chuckvw on Sat May 03, 2014 at 11:32:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If this insanity continues I fear the West will (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fran1, unfangus, native, chuckvw

    finish up biting its own ass.

    For if does continue, it will inevitably worsen, and at a certain point the EU will find itself constrained to beg Putin to intervene in Ukraine so as to restore a modicum of law and order - so as to ensure that the gas continues to flow.

    I sincerely hope that I'm totally wrong in this and that some peaceful solution can be arrived at before that stage is reached. But for this to happen both sides have to cut out their willie-wagging, cut down the rhetoric, and look upon each other as potential partners for peace and not as adversaries.

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

    by Lepanto on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:46:53 AM PDT

  •  well...... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fran1, native, chuckvw, dfarrah

    some of us warned that this might lead to a catastrophic civil war. The dirtiest of all wars.
    Most chose sides.

    I so wish it was summer of 2013 and Yanukovic was still in power.

    •  Especially when if these comments (5+ / 0-)

      from the Western Ukrainian media are true - which believe they are as Der Spiegel so far has been so far supporting the Western PR.

      Ukraine: Tote bei Feuer in Odessa nach Brandstiftung - SPIEGEL ONLINE

      Während in Odessa Menschen verbrannten, meldeten ukrainische Medien geradezu triumphierend, "Patrioten" hätten die "Separatisten zurückgeschlagen". Man sei dabei, sie erfolgreich "auszuräuchern".

      While in Odessa humans were burnt,  the Ukrainian media thriumphatically(?) wrote, "Patriots" have successfully "beaten back the separatists". They are currently successfully "smoking" them out.
      Sorry for the lousy translation. And last, but not least, the current Kiev chosen Governor had the following to say (also from the same Spiegel story): "They have neutralised terrorist". No wonder they want to split or have add least more independce in the Eastern Ukraine.

      And this is what the West supports. :-(

      Read the European view at the European Tribune

      by fran1 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 01:43:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes (4+ / 0-)

        this is what you get in a civil war. People go about killing each other and do so without compunction. But dont delude yourself into believing that the anti Kiev people were any better. Recall the tortured policeman dumped in a creek in Slavyansk two weeks ago?

        No matter who you support in a civil war, that side will do things like this. The west of course doesnt "support this" - no more than Russia actually supported the thuggery of kidnapping the OSCE observers. They support political sides.

        Note that Odessa has declared a state of mourning . That should show you that there are some decent humans living there who don´t cheer for a headlong jump into barbarity. It´s easy to highlight the outrageous statements of any side´s extremists (as the Spiegel likes to do, with characteristic nihilism). One can stare oneself blind on that and lose perception of the more complex reality.

        •  I have no doubt that there are (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          protectspice, native, chuckvw

          decent people in Odessa - my comment was about the media and the govenor.

          And according to OSCE they were not OSCE Observers - the OSCE denied these military observers being on a OSCE mission.

          And to the frustration of many Spiegel readers it has been pretty anti-Russia - this is one of the few stories not shouting the Western PR.

          But the sad thing is, there are always nice people on each side, who in the end pay the prize for the extremists. The sad thing is, that the extremist are supported by the US, EU, IMF and Russia.

          Read the European view at the European Tribune

          by fran1 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 03:36:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Also reported (3+ / 0-)

            From the Guardian on the lead up to the fire:

            The clashes reportedly began after protesters gathering for a rally in support of a unified Ukraine were attacked by pro-Russia activists armed with clubs and air pistols.

            But the confrontation quickly escalated into a series of skirmishes as the two sides played a deadly cat and mouse game in the centre of the city.

            Police largely stood aside as the two sides hurled molotov cocktails, cobblestones and bricks at each other. Girls as young as fourteen were smashing cobblestones to break them up into missiles of a manageable size.

            The piece goes on to report how pro-Russians were firing from the roof of the building and that even members of Right Sector were attempting to help those fleeing the fire.  Howard Amos was tweeting from the scene:
            Under siege pro-Russian activists are throwing Molotovs from roof of regional administration:
            Activist tells me the heavily outnumbered pro-Russians inside are shooting and throwing flash grenades.
            There are also reports of machine guy fire from the pro-Putin side. This picture tweeted by Amos shows a part of the pro-government side. The marks and damage to the building behind (note the smashed window and blinds) appear to be from such weapons.

            Scroll down to the Interpreter liveblog and you will see at about 14:00 GMT that a protester on the government side was shot in the head, including this picture of the body covered in a Ukrainian flag.

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

            by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:52:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You're pissed off that Ukraine is trying to put (0+ / 0-)

        down a rebellion?

  •  And some good news (4+ / 0-)

    the German Militaryobservers are free, thanks to Putin sending a negotiator.

    Looks like Schröder partying with Putin had good influence. That was the big buzz in Germany last weekend.

    Read the European view at the European Tribune

    by fran1 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 01:48:51 AM PDT

    •  Just the German? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eternal Hope

      The group were not "German Military" but military officers attached to the OECD of which Russia is a member. I also seem to recall there were other nationals besides Germans in the group kidnapped.

      Putin has a problem - how can he influence the eastern separatists and deny he has incited them in the first place. You may also have noticed that Russia has politely asked whether any of their nationals were injured or killed in the fire in Odessa. In that context, this posted on March 10 might be prescient:

      “Russian Federation is the only state that defies the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova,” Oazu Nantoi told Moldova.ORG. “Russian troops stationed on the left bank of the Nistru River can receive orders and intervene without leaving for Odessa if they will generate mass disorders and ask Putin for help, or they could come to Chisinau to take control over the territory of the Republic of Moldova.”

      Ex-defense minister, Ion Costas said that a considerable number of Cossacks, who support their colleagues in Odessa, station in Transnistria.

      “That’s why, Ukraine will better secure its border with Moldova,” Mr. Costas said. “Troops from Transnistria could arrive in Odessa any time to back the pro-Moscow forces.”

      A similar opinion is shared by political expert Anatol Taranu who said that there is information about the presence of Special Forces that have been deployed in Transnistria.

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

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:53:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So who's the hero and who's the villain? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    starduster, randomfacts

    I come to this diary a bit late so I doubt many will read this.  A few weeks ago, a large mass of people decided they did not like the guy running their country so some of them gave their lives to get him removed from office.  Was that legal? Was the removal of the pro Russian Pres by the legislature with in the bounds of their own constitution?  Does the legality of it even matter.

    Putin is a bully, he always has been and always will be.  He is nothing more than a KGB thug who was able to wrangle his way into power.  Is Putin a hero or a villain?  Based on everything I have seen or read I consider him a villain.  But i do not know him personally, he might be just as nice a guy as George Bush.  All of that said how can you make a deal with a bully?  I will give you my lunch money today if you promise you won't take my lunch money tomorrow?  I think we can all agree, the bully is going to take your lunch money tomorrow as well.

    Pres Obama, does not want to entangle us in another military confrontation, does not even want to consider giving the Ukraine lethal military aid.  I can respect and even agree with the position he has taken.  The question, however comes back, who is going to stand up to the bully and make him quit taking other peoples lunch money?

    The way out of this is to just tell Ukraine its time for you to rejoin Russia.  Oh and by the way, Belarus, just rejoin now as well cause you are next.  Moldova, Kazakhstan, etc, there are like 10 countries down south there, they all may as well just rejoin the Motherland and save us all a lot of problems.  I suppose we may be able to hold the line on Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

    The problem is, the majority of the people of most of these countries do not want to be ruled from Moscow.  Especially by a KGB thug.  They have already been there done that and lost the T-shirt in the last set of conflicts they went through to find their way to where they are today.  Most of them are relatively peaceful decent hardworking nations.  So how on earth do we get Russia to stop acting out with out putting 250,000 boots on the ground and blowing the hell out the the southern military district of Russia?  When some one figures that out please let me know.

    "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

    by padeius on Sat May 03, 2014 at 02:35:50 AM PDT

    •  As always, the US is the villain, at least (3+ / 0-)

      according to this diary and this site's membership. smh

    •  Putin has carte blance to take over all non-NATO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      lands he chooses.  That's just the way it is, because nobody wants to get involved.

    •  Sanctions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      padeius, Texas Lefty, joe from Lowell

      Despite the bravado, the sanctions are hitting the Russian oligarchs and, unfortunately for the people of Russia, the economy hard.

      Sanctions are a long term measure but they will, eventually, cause the downfall of the present regime in Russia. Putin is up for re-election in 2016 for his second second term as President (the Russian constitution has a maximum of two consecutive terms, he was Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012 when he switched titles, but not roles, with Medvedev). He was already facing increased political protests at home and the economy was already tanking. It is now in recession and there is a flight of money from the country.

      How Putin leaves office is of course speculation but it will likely be "voluntary" in 2016 or soon after unless the oligarchs or people get to him first. Whether his immediate successor will be a democrat or another of the "strong men" the Russians have an affection for, long term Russia will seek a peaceful accommodation with the European family.

      The thing is Russia and the USA are both going through the internal upheavals and crises of identity that the former European colonial powers went through in the 1950s-70s, some of which are still lingering. Russia, China and the USA extended their borders through colonial conquest. In the case of the USA, former nations were simply wiped out or other colonial powers' territory purchased to form a nation state. In the 20th century the US's military power and financial wealth grew and the term "sphere of influence" replaced Empire. Russia's expansion westward and southward was halted by the simple fact of their already being strong nation states or at least national communities with long histories resisting them.

      In Britain even today UKIP's policies hark back to the days of Empire and (White) Commonwealth when a newspaper headline read "Fog in Channel, Europe cut off". It takes a long time for some to reconcile a diminished role in the world.

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

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:27:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One possible correction (0+ / 0-)

        I think Putin is in office till 2018 and will most likely win reelection and be in office till 2023 or so.

        "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

        by padeius on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:04:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I understood the Presidential terms in Russia are 4 years. Wiki states he was President from 2000-2004, 2004-2008 and 2012 to now. He was Prime Minister (with the same powers as President) from 2008 to 2012.

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

          by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:31:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i was going off memory and thought (0+ / 0-)

            they were 5 years.  I will take your wiki as truth and withdraw my previous correction.

            "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy" James Madison 4th US President

            by padeius on Sat May 03, 2014 at 08:12:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Russia will not need to annex Belarus (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, chuckvw

      Belarus is much more like the old Soviet police state/classic dictatorship than Russia itself, and serves Kremlin interests better as an independent state where all kinds of clandestine arms and other deals can be conducted with deniability by Putin-approved oligarchs.

      Putin did not need the Ukraine to become another Belarus, but neither was he willing to allow the US and EU displace Russian influence with their own. The status quo would have been fine with him but that was disturbed by meddling led by Victoria Nuland (who has bragged on CNN of the US spending of $5 billion to change the Kiev regime)

      Unfortunately, the usually prudent Obama allowed Nuland, an unreconstructed neocon and former Cheney acolyte, into his administration and neocons are never satisfied with a less than perfect status quo.

      If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

      by Valatius on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:09:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ukraine insanity - smiling girls w/ Molotovs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice, native

    on their way to "protest".

    Nikolaj Olejnik

    Two girls are smiling and firebombs with which later burned alive more than three dozen people. One of them on the shirt - the international symbol of peace in the colors of the flag of Ukraine.

  •  Hold on there a minute. Not our business? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Look, what goes on inside Ukraine between different factions of Ukrainians may not be our business, but when one country tried to seize another's territory by force, that's a serious threat to international peace and stability.

    Was Italy's invasion of Abyssinia none of our business?

    I don't like the weasel-wording in "what goes on between Russia and Ukraine." That's like saying "what goes on between Mike Tyson and his wife," and is a lousy way to describe an assault by one party on another.

    I don't this faux-even-handedness, whether it's the media talking about the "controversy" over global warming, or here.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:52:57 AM PDT

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