Thursday, March 27, 2014

Waking up to War

I'm unsure why so few in the West seem to understand that Putin plans to invade Ukraine.  The capture of the Ukrainian Navy ships Ternopil and Slavutych by the Russian Navy was an act of war.  It had nothing to do with the "referendum," otherwise the ships would have simply been sent away.  Putin plans war, and said so in his Crimea speech.

Now some are starting to sound the alarm:

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

Rehabilitating Crimea

Refat Chubarov, head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (parliament) is asked why Tatars in Crimea are unhappy with Putin's promise to respect their rights.

"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

So says one of Alexander Motyl's friends in Lviv.

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.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen carefully. I want you to understand me clearly: if we make that decision, it will only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. And let’s see those troops try to shoot their own people, with us behind them—not in the front, but behind. Let them just try to shoot at women and children! I would like to see those who would give that order in Ukraine.
Little surprise, then, that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland have all asked for a meeting under Article 4 of the NATO Charter.  I wonder how close we are to the invoking of Article 5?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Putin's Speech on Crimea and other "reassuring" notes

Here's the full text in English, courtesy of Prague Post.  The speaker of Lithuania's parliament, Loreta Grauziniene, responds "Putin aims at reestablishing the borders of the former Soviet Union."

Other bits:

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

The Russian attack was just announced 11:00 minutes ago by NYT, a little less than 2 hours ago by Kyiv Post.

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 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

Putin's Trap

What is Putin up to?  Here is the most cogent analysis I've seen.  From Lilia Shevtsova in The American Interest.  A crucial bit:

"The Kremlin’s intervention in Crimea and involvement in the destabilization of southeastern Ukraine exemplifies the Putin Doctrineformulated 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.
"Many have viewed the Putin Doctrine as an exercise in empty rhetoric, but Putin has proved that it is the real thing. He has also proved that foreign policy is now the key instrument serving his domestic agenda. What a lesson this has been for those Western politicians who believed they could rest their Russia policy on the basis of “de-linking” domestic and foreign affairs!"
And ...

"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.

I Predict War

Rather than a lengthy post, I'm going to outline some salient points regarding Ukraine and the Russian invasion.  I'm astounded by the stupidity of much of the commentary in the America media and by American and Western politicians and diplomats.  The commentary is so far off that I suspect that many commenters don't believe their own words -- it's hard for me to think anyone in government really believes Putin is an honest player who is interested in "resolving the issues" with a "political solution" rather than conquest.  I think he fully intends to invade Ukraine well beyond Crimea.

1. Euromaidan was about liberalizing and better trade relations with the E.U.

2. Yanukovych was not just a criminal, but a kleptomaniac beyond belief; in his term in office he stole at least $12 billion, and probably  a great deal more.  He also began setting up an oppressive dictatorship and had demonstrators attacked and killed.

3. Yanukovych was not deposed.  He voluntarily abandoned office and fled, to Russia.  His flight had been organized well in advance.  There was no coup.

4. Putin had planned for some time to invade Ukraine should it be necessary to enforce Kremlin control.

5. His invasion of Crimea and Kherson Oblasts were entirely unprovoked.  There have been no threats against "Russians," however defined.  The Euromaidan movement was not in any way fascist.  Here is a letter to Putin from a number of Ukrainian Jewish dignitaries and a statement from the chief rabbi of Ukraine denying Putin's "antisemitism" charge. Note that "fascist" was Soviet language for anyone who opposed the USSR.  Putin still uses this terminology.  On the other hand, Pavel Gubarev, Putin's man in Donetsk who declared himself governor, proposed a referendum to join Russia, and suggested Russia should invade, actually is a neo-nazi.

6. After invading, Putin installed a puppet government run by pro-Putin mafia men.

7. The "referendum" in Crimea is a hoax.  There are two options on the ballot -- join Russia or become independent of Ukraine.  The Ukrainian press was shut down and replaced by pro-Kremlin media. Ukrainians who prefer the status quo are threatened and attacked when they try to rally.  There's substantial evidence that non-Ukrainians (Russian citizens) will be voting instead of Ukrainians.  The outcome is already known.

8. Russia is massing forces in Crimea and on Ukraine's eastern and northern borders.  Here are photos and video taken in Russia by Russians of military equipment going to the border near Kharkiv.

9. Yesterday (13 March) Putin stated that the separation of Ukraine from the USSR was not legal.  Today he stated that he has the right to invade eastern Ukraine to protect "Russian citizens."  Russian citizens have indeed invaded Ukraine, trying trigger provocations that can be used as a pretext for Putin.

It's very easy to document all this, from multiple independent sources.  There's no sensible way western leaders can believe this is something other than naked and coldly-planned aggression by Putin, that there could be a "political solution" that doesn't include Ukraine's surrender.  As I've said elsewhere, I think Putin has two options. Either he can occupy Crimea and sabotage and subvert Ukraine until he brings it to its knees, or he can just get it over with "quickly" and invade..

As I've said elsewhere, I think Putin has two options. Either he can occupy Crimea and sabotage and subvert Ukraine until he brings it to its knees, or he can just get it over with "quickly" and invade.  I think he'll do the latter.  Otherwise why fool around with all the troop movements?  He's not a wimpy post-modern progressive, trying to "send a message."  He's a tough and nasty KGB officer.  

Unfortunately, in either event, Ukraine is incapable of resisting the Putin.  I think Putin has no plans of stopping with Crimea, it's just a matter of his time frame and methods.  He might take his time and sabotage and subvert the rest of Ukraine, but then he might just roll in.  The Ukrainians say they can't stop him militarily and I am sure that's right.  The west is impotent.  Obama is a weak man and pissed off the Brits a long time ago.  The Germans are half subverted themselves.  Putin thinks everyone would rather sell stuff to corrupt Russian oligarchs and buy cheap Russian gas than stand up to him, and he's right.  This will be very bad, and it won't stop with Ukraine.  So which do I think Putin will do: occupy Crimea and sabotage and subvert Ukraine until he brings it to its knees, or just get it over with "quickly" and invade? 

I think he'll do the latter.  Otherwise why fool around with all the troop movements?  He's not a wimpy post-modern progressive, trying to "send a message."  He's a tough and nasty KGB officer.  Killing a lot of Ukrainians won't bother him at all (heck it's a Soviet tradition.)

Of course, there are things the West could do.

1. Freeze Russian bank and financial accounts in the west.  Instead of "targeted" ones proposed, do it in general with "targeted" exceptions for dissidents, etc.​  But U.K. has already said they won't do anything to restrict Russian finance.

2. No more visas for Russians, again, with targeted exceptions.  Gary Kasparov is keynote speaker for this year's Milton Friedman Awards Banquet.  Let him come.

Those two things alone could lead to Putin's downfall.  But there's more...

Deny all western ports to Russian ships.  End the ban on exporting U.S. natural gas.  Reverse Germany's ban on nuclear power. Kill Assad.  (I don't have any particular preference for this opposition nor a desire to get involved in Syria, but if the U.S. simply killed Assad and then privately said to Putin "how's your boy Assad doing these days, Vlad?" Putin would respect that a lot more than Hillary's fricking "reset" button.)  

I think none of these will happen.  Remember when Obama told Medvedev to tell Putin that after the election he could be "flexible" with Russia on defense and foreign policy?  Putin correctly understood.  No one has the balls to stand up to him.

Various people have warned what a post-American world would look like.  Now we're about to see it.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why no blogging?

Certainly it's not for a lack of things to say.  I've been following events in Ukraine very closely, and there are plenty of other issues worth tackling.  But for me, Ukraine has such personal significance that it's hard to consider writing about anything else.  And it is hard to write about a situation in which my friends' freedom and lives are on the line.  But I shall post something very shortly.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Putin's War on Ukraine

As I write this, Putin's invading forces are occupying Crimea and less than 20 minutes from the deadline they've set for attacking the Ukrainian naval vessels Ternopil and Slavutych.

Russian tanks, APCs, and artillery are massing just across the border from Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk. 

Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine. My guess is that he will do it, and will try to take Kyiv and to break through in the south to TransDniestr. I have no inside knowledge at all, but if he's going to invade I wouldn't expect him to do it in a pussy-footing half-arsed American style. The costs of taking the bulk of Ukraine aren't that much higher than if he limits himself to the east. I would also suppose he leaves Lviv, Ivano-Fkankivsk, Rivne, and other major western centers alone, just because they aren't worth holding for him. At least, this is what I would do if I were a KGB man intent on rebuilding the Soviet empire.

One other thing I'll note is that the phony "libertarians" associated with Lew Rockwell are showing their true colors. They are beside themselves with hysteria over the American threats to start a war, even though no such threats exist. Yet there's not a peep from them about Putin's invasion and open threats of war, nothing about Yanukovych's criminality and murderous oppression, nothing about the censorship going on in the Russian news media or the shutting down of free press and free speech in Crimea.  I'll be posting something on these pseudo-libertarian thugs soon.

Meanwhile, I've also been writing my friends and former students in Ukraine, people who actually have been fighting for liberty. They are in great danger, as is all Ukraine.

From Kyiv Post:

March 3, 8:37 p.m. -- According to EuroMaidanPR, the official information service of the revolution that toppled Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine's president on Feb. 22, Russian troops movements have been spotted about 10 kilometers from Ukraine's northern border in Chernihiv Oblast. Officials said tanks were seen. The sightings came a day after interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov later informed that a no-fly zone over the country had been initiated for military aircraft.
On March 3, the State Border Service of Ukraine announced that Russian forces were accumulating forces, including artillery and armored carriers, along the country’s eastern borders along the Donbas regions of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv. Russian border services have also closed the border for Russian citizens traveling into Donetsk, while the governor of neighboring Rostov-on-Don ordered the set up of the refugee camps, according to the EuroMaidanPR's Facebook page.
In response, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk has said that Russian troops will not be allowed into the eastern regions of Ukraine. “I am convinced that no Russian military contingents will be allowed into (Ukraine's) eastern regions,” he said. See this link: -- Brian Bonner

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