Sunday, March 02, 2014

Thoughts on Ukraine...

So Ukraine had internal political disagreement connected to whether it wanted to join the EU or Eastasian Union. It's former leader sided with the latter, the public in the western Ukraine largely said no, there were riots and killing, then Russian invaded because it saw opportunity.

The key in all of this are Russia's intentions. Do they want to seize Crimea as they have, or is this an attempt to annex the Russian speaking part of Ukraine as a whole?

If Russia is demonstrating it's capability and tomorrow they will suddenly withdraw, we will avoid war but create a new Cold War conflict line between Russia and not-Russia.

If Russia is annexing Crimea, war may be avoidable and negotiated settlement possible, which could include referenda and the like. Tricky, but it would avoid bloodshed.

If Russia wants to annex Russian Ukraine, and is aiming to do so, then war is likely in Ukraine.

Under Putin, Russia will to do as it pleases because it cannot be challenged without inviting the set of risks that came with the Cold War.

This is not a viable option for most, including me. The long game could be catastrophic.

So what then for the rest of the world? Let Russia do as it pleases for the next years or decades until its internal politics finally change? Or, muck about at confronting it rhetorically and maybe militarily?

Scenario: Russian annexing of Ukraine makes Obama look weak to US voters. The TeaGOP then wins the next US election with a name-your-swaggering-blowhard at the helm...

Aside: This is the kind of thing intelligence agencies should be all over, not snooping on ordinary people who don't like pipelines and oil tankers.


Steve said...

Its possible Putin is taking the only action possible to prevent a Syria, Bosnia type civil war. And its people like Harper that are the problem not the solution. Maybe this situation was inevitable, but the American right backed by the Saudis has brought the country to boil.

e.a.f. said...

Unfortunately Putin is going to do what Putin wants to do. His ability to make this a them vs us situation may take the focus off of what is happening within the country.

Harper did the wrong thing by recalling our amabassador, its so childish. it doesn't play well if you are looking for a negotiated settlement. any settlement which might work has to leave Putin saving face. its his ego.

The rest of the world might want to sit this one out and not get too involved. Both the Ukraine and Russia have nuclear arms. Lets not inflame the situation.

Your analysis is accurate. At this point in time it might be best if other countries stayed out of it, on the surface, anyhow. Let the Amassadors and such do their jobs.

If they want to send a message to Putin, they might want to tell him, the G8 meeting is off in Sochi, too dangerous. Meet us in Germany. it will send him a message and not start much of anything.

theo said...

Ian Welsh’s recent commentary is interesting. The Ukraine does not possess nuclear weaponsat the moment.

Boris said...

Theo, what Ian is describing is a threshold capability. Canada falls into the same category. If war does not happen, Ukraine would be under pressure to develop such weapons. Unfortunately, the precedent is now set for countries to attack others when those others a thought to be building nukes. Russia may well attack nuclear sites in Ukraine if it thought Ukraine were doing this.

It's a bloody awful situation and I'll be surprised if it doesn't progress to war.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day I just knew that the post Soviet elevation of the USA to the role of the world's policeman would have unintended consequences. The US and its NATO allies never learn. Vietnam, Afghanistan (post Soviet invasion and present), Iraq etc every single one of them was a clusterfuck from the word go. The West armed and trained its future attackers in all of them.
Then not being happy with being such gullible twats we decided to try and humiliate Russia in Serbia/Kosovo. That humiliation inflicted by GWB and Condi Rice, but gone along with by Blair and Merkel when they thought Russia was never going to recover is costing us dear today. We tore up the rule book regarding the territorial integrity of states and when an embarrassed Russia elected a hard man to rebuild it's pride they didn't forget that precedent. Georgia and now Ukraine are the result of our gross stupidity and failure to think through the implications of our actions.
We didn't only ensure that Russia returned to a Soviet mind set, this time with more resources we also removed any legal instruments that held such actions in check. This is ours to own. We created Putin, empowered him and gave him the precedent he needed. The parallels with the rationale and the action on the ground in the Ukraine and Kosovo are undeniable. The Ukraine is now suffering for Nato's hubris when it thought it would call the shots forever. How many will now die because of the children we elect and the chickenhawks who egg them on?

Boris said...

harebell, you could add Iraq and Afghanistan too. But I think that's only part of the equation. Russian governments (Soviet or current) like the US have never really been known to respect borders when they want to have a war. Vietnam, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, all the way to the present day.

Post-USSR Russia was a mess and Putin is the sort of nutcase who thrives in that kind of environment and has been extraordinarily canny and plain lucky so far, but he's not immune to undermining himself the same way every other thug might.