Monday, April 14, 2014
Ukraine and beyond
As Russia's war for territorial expansion continues, economist Anders Åslund explains why Putin must win at all costs, and what can be done about it. I agree. Incidentally, Åslund was on the board of directors of EERC-Kyiv when I taught there and I met with him on occasion. I think a great deal of him.
Those "green men?" Economist Paul Gregory provides solid evidence that they are indeed Russian troops who have invaded Ukraine.
And political scientist Alexander Motyl shows why Russia's actions easily qualify as state-sponsored terrorism under U.S. and E.U. law.
These are dark times. May Putin's schemes come to ruin, and may Ukraine escape bondage to his criminal regime. Unfortunately, Putin's targets include more than just Ukraine.
From the Baltic Times,
Estonia's Interior Minister tries to reassure people that "it can't happen here," but...
Some of Putin's shills are already calling for parts of Estonia become Russia.
And Latvia claims Russians are already doing advance work looking for Russia supporters.
Here's a thoughtful piece discussing the implications. If the West does not treat the Budapest Treaty (under which Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees) as binding, will the NATO agreement be any more solid? What conclusions will China, Japan, Israel, and others draw if the West allows Putin to invade Ukraine?
Dark times indeed.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, has a fairly perceptive analysis of Russia's behavior. It's a pity he has to conclude with a call for the primary culprit to voluntarily de-escalate. But so far, the West appears to be interested only in marginal responses, so Rasmussen can do little else. NATO also has a useful fact sheet dispelling the lies Putin and Lavrov tell about NATO and Ukraine.
One of my current students has just sent me this excellent State Department fact sheet that refutes ten Russian myths about the current situation in Ukraine. Of course, it's worth reiterating that these aren't honest misunderstandings but intentional disinformation concocted in the Kremlin. (Thanks, Ashley!)
Yuriy Gorodnichenko, economist at UC Berkeley (and one of my former students in Kyiv) compares George Kennan's analysis of the USSR with Russian behavior under Putin. It's not very reassuring.
Also from VoxUkraine, Kateryna Dronova of UC Berkeley gives an excellent analysis of language in Ukraine and explodes the lie that the Russian language is under any sort of assault (one Putin's most absurd claims).
And a Belarussian opponent of Lukashenka says Putin is contemplating attacking Ukraine from Belarus as well, with Lukashenka's help. If so, may Putin's forces get stuck -- permanently -- in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
Photo: from Pussy Riot's protest of a couple of years ago. Incidentally, a number of You Tube videos critical of Russia and Putinism seem to suddenly be unavailable.
Hot War Begins in Ukraine, and My Predictions
Meanwhile, Russian media has mounted a full Soviet-style disinformation campaign to convince the citizens of Russia that the West and Ukrainian-speaking fascists have already mounted a genocidal war on ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Waking up to War
Now some are starting to sound the alarm:
- Today's Kyiv Post outlines why they believe a full Russian invasion is imminent.
- Moscow Times was two days ahead on this.
- This piece in Foreign Policy explains some of the timing and why Putin need to act soon.
- And General Philip Breedlove, USAF and Supreme Commander of NATO, has stated it looks like Russia is prepared to fight all the way across Ukraine to Moldova.
Recall Unforeseen Contingencies' analysis of three weeks ago? I hate to say "I told you so." And I still have slim hope that I won't be able to... but that slim hope is dwindling fast.
Friday, March 21, 2014
"Imagine that one morning some people unexpectedly enter your flat. You don’t know them, they look scary and they’re armed. They don’t touch you. They talk to you politely. They use your toilet, bathroom, but are extremely courteous. And then they say: "Let’s continue to live this way!" I’d like to ask you: would it be better that they discussed how you will live together BEFORE they broke into your flat, or AFTERWARDS? Please excuse me, but that’s an answer to your question."
Chubarov neglected to mention that the last time this was done, Tatars were butchered and deported. Stalin decided they were suspect. But relax, relax, this is 2014, not 1944, a kinder and gentler time. Putin puts it this way:
"I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalize the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name."
So don't worry, Refat, everything is OK. Putin simply wants to rehabilitate you.
War is Inevitable
And when it comes, Russian forces will use Ukrainian women and children as shields. So says Vladimir Putin. Motyl's analysis of Putin's recent press conference makes this seem very probable.
Here's an excerpt, from the official Kremlin translation:
QUESTION: But there are Ukrainian troops, there is the Ukrainian army.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Putin's Speech on Crimea and other "reassuring" notes
Russia has now captured three Ukrainian ships (wow, does the "referendum" also give Russia Ukraine's navy?), Russia is massing troops in Crimea and on Ukraine's northern and eastern borders, and has been conducting military "exercises" near the Estonian border. The Russian government is now expressing concern over the rights of Russian speakers in Estonia as well.
Belarus' Charter 97 site (run by Lukashenka's opposition) has some interesting items. Petro Symonenko, head of the Ukrainian Communist Party, has fled to Minsk. The Belarusian military appears to be mobilizing and Russia has deployed combat aircraft to Belarus. They also report that Putin and Lukashenka were regular guests of Yanukovych at Mezhyhirya.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians seem to increasingly expect a Russian invasion. Also interesting -- a "leaked" document that describes a Russian plan to subvert and take Ukraine.
It's hard to know what to make of some of the reports, such as this last one, which appears to be a faked document. But here's one I can comment on. Chuck Hagel has received "assurances" from Russia's Defense Minister that Russian troops on the eastern and northern borders will not invade Ukraine. My comment: if Russians do intend to invade, what answer will they give to that question, Chuck?
Rhetorical question, of course (and hence a comment). I don't think Chuck Hagel reads Unforeseen Contingencies
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Russians attack Ukraine, Lew Rockwell blames America for war
I've documented that the Euromaidan movement is a pro-freedom movement, that Yanukovych was extremely corrupt and oppressive, that Russia invaded Crimea without provocation and set up a puppet regime and plans for a Soviet-style referendum. Now Russia has invaded Ukraine outside Crimea.
According to Lew Rockwell and company, this is just a reasonable Russian response to a neocon coup in "Kiev" (sic, it's actually Kyiv). Obama is about to seize the assets of anyone who disagrees with his "placing us on a war footing" with Russia over Ukraine, and this is all about trying to stop American world domination. (This bit, from Russian official state television, is hilarious. It turns out American diplomats --Assistant Sec'y of State Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Pyatt -- were concerned with Yanukovych's dictatorship, Russian attempts to dominate surrounding Ukraine, they met with members of the opposition to discuss how Ukraine might have a better government, they had opinions on the opposition leaders, and they lamented the indifference and incompetence of the E.U. That's evidence of a coup? You're kidding.) But a "coup" isn't enough, the U.S. government wants war with Russia. Need proof? Why here's photographic evidence of Nuland and Pyatt conducting a coup and preparing for war. Umm, OK, actually they are handing out bags of cookies, and the Rockwell.com post mocks them, not unreasonably, for such a pathetic action.
Obama sends diplomats to hand out cookies, Putin invades Crimea with 20,000 troops and asserts a right to invade all of Ukraine. Rockwellians scream "America is starting another war!"
Of special note, Pat Buchanan argues that whether people in the former USSR live under freedom or dictatorship is irrelevant; their populations are shrinking, after all. The thing we should be worried about is that "European Man" is an endangered species, while those darned Africans, Asians, and Latins just keep breeding without limit. Buchanan's piece is so crazy it has to be read to be believed.
And Ron Paul is convinced that Viktor Yanukovych is the legitimate ruler of Ukraine and was deposed by an American plot, that we should increase trade with Russia in response, that the real dispute is just eastern Ukrainians vs. western Ukrainians, and that the referendum in Crimea is "certainly moral." All this to Russian state radio VR (Voice of Russia) which notes that he needs little introduction. Of course he doesn't, he's a regular on Russian state TV and radio, where he regularly denounces America.
But the finest (i.e. most horrible) bit comes from "Anti-War" (hah!) Justin Raimondo, who argues that "every nation has a right to set its own course, so "Let Crimea Go!" It's only "Washington’s limitless supply of arrogance" that could find anything wrong with "self-determination." The referendum is being conducted at gunpoint, there is no way to vote to not break away from Ukraine, and the everyone knows already what the results will be -- even Raimondo! It's a forgone conclusion how the Soviet-style vote will go. His account of Ukrainian events is entirely the Kremlin's account.
Lew Rockwell's stuff is so crazy and propagandistic you might almost think it comes from Pravda. Well, in fact, it does! Are the Rockwellians Soviets after all? They behave towards Putin the way the CPUSA behaved towards Stalin -- faithful mouthpieces. This isn't anti-war libertarianism. They keep harping on Yanukovych as being the "legitimate" ruler of Ukraine, forced out by a vicious mob. (Wait a minute -- aren't they supposedly anarchists who deny the legitimacy of any government?!) They seem utterly incapable of noting Yanukovych's unbelievable corruption, his oppressive police state and violence, and the clear danger that he was about to sell out Ukraine to the dictator in Moscow. That Putin is a dictator who crushes his opposition and censors the media is never mentioned. That he invaded Crimea, well, so what, "Russia has always had an interest there." They regularly use Russian spellings for Ukrainian city names. Rockwell even included a bizarre pro-Russian rant in which the author gloats over Russians giving us arrogant Americans our comeuppance at Sochi. It's not just the federal government they hate -- it's America.
Ever since Murray Rothbard repeatedly defended Joseph Stalin his more rabid devotees have been profoundly anti-American. Lew Rockwell and co. have now made it perfectly clear that they are not just anti-American but pro-Putin, and they welcome Russian dominance at his hands. They work for it with their regular propaganda, which is directed, often as not, against Ukrainian citizens who don't want to be dominated by thugs like Yanukovych and Putin. They take their leads from Kremlin propaganda. They are genuinely evil.
Friday, March 14, 2014
"The Kremlin’s intervention in Crimea and involvement in the destabilization of southeastern Ukraine exemplifies the Putin Doctrine, formulated by the Kremlin in 2012–13. One of the goals of this doctrine is to find ways to reproduce the traditional Russian state and Putin’s regime, and to respond to new domestic and international challenges. This doctrine is based on three premises: Russia is a “unique” civilization and must contain the demoralized West; Russia can only exist as a galactic center, around which orbit satellite-statelets; Russia is the civilizational pillar whose mission is to defend “traditional values” globally.
"The government will use both psychological and physical terror tactics to ensure dominance and guarantee obedience—both here and over there. This is an up-to-date version of the Brezhnev Doctrine used in 1968 against Czechoslovakia, an aggression which was also meant as a warning to Soviet society."
Shevtsova tries to come up with something positive at the end, but that's just window dressing. The West is impotent, not because it has no power, but because it has abandoned principle.