This comic hit me square between the eyes today. I just have to share.
The situation in Crimea seems to be taking a strategic pause while the diplomats remain hard at work. I used to joke that soldiers know they are about to go to work (and many of them will die)
when the diplomats begin running towards their safe, warm and cushy airplanes.
The situation in Crimea is being made overly complex by most of the news outlets, so please allow me to somewhat clarify.
Crimea was a part of Russia for nearly 200 years. Then Nikita Kruschev ‘gave’ Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Some say it was a token of appreciation and a de facto apology for what Stalin had done to Ukraine, causing a famine in Ukraine in the early ’40s. After Russia owned Crimea for so long, it makes sense that 60% of the residents were ethnically Russian. I’m grossly oversimplifying but this roughly portrays the truth. Please don’t forget that Crimea is only one autonomous republic inside Ukraine.
Fast forward to 2014 and there is a popular uprising in Ukraine against a pro-Russian government which is on the verge of accepting a very pro-Russian $15 billion deal. Ukraine is roughly split in half, Ukraine is largely Ukrainian vs Russian (32,158,493 to 7,090,813), the western part is pro-European, the eastern half is pro-Russian. The western part of Ukraine outnumbers the eastern part of Ukraine, the capital Kyiv or Kiev lies inside the western part of Ukraine.
Protest began in earnest when the ‘law on languages’ was dissolved, making Ukraine the sole language. When protests against the pro-Russian government broke out into uprisings and then violent protests against the 2010 winner of the Presidential election, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014 Yanukovych left Ukraine and went to Russia. After the election, as seems to be typical in former Soviet states (my view), Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko, the loser of the 2010 election, was found guilty of charges, including corruption, and was put in prison. After the protests ended, she was released prison and immediately called for elections.
It was at this point I began paying attention to Russian forces massing outside Ukrainian borders, then unmarked soldiers appeared in Crimea, then propaganda began spewing forth from RT, ITAR-TASS and other Russian propaganda outlets. I say this because no other news outlets corroborated their stories. ”Goebbels Big Lie” seemed to be at work, roughly, if you say a lie loud enough and often enough, people will believe you. Russian friends on Facebook began posting links to even more outrageous falsehoods, I was even caught in one outrageous disinformation piece, stating that the company named Blackwater had allegedly put 300 men on the ground – meaning US personnel were on the ground in Crimea – which turned out to be a really bad fabrication. The element of truth that was used was that Russian personnel were on the ground wearing no patches and no insignia and Russian media were widely labeling them as private individuals, sort of ‘Russian’ Blackwater. This also turns out to be untrue because these personnel have turned out to be Russian soldiers, they have started to wear their patches and insignia, identifying them as Russian soldiers. Russia also wants the ‘law on language’ restored, returning Russian as an official language in Ukraine. My gut feeling is this last point is a negotiating point of the Russians, one which could be thrown away if pressured.
So, after this long introduction, Russia says they are protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine, they are seeking to annex Crimea and have even held a referendum, and the people of Crimea have said they want to return to Russia. President Obama, of the United States, says this is illegal by international law. The problem I have is I cannot find which international law this violates.
There are a large number of additional allegations on both sides, but those are the basics at present. Russian soldiers occupy Crimea. 150,000 (or so) Russian troops remain just outside of Ukraine. The European Union is guaranteeing $15 billion to Ukraine and the US is guaranteeing $1 billion. Russia’s offer of $15 billion remains. There have been no talks about Russian gas pipelines that cross Ukraine into Europe, but that is Ukraine’s sole bargaining chip, if the worst happens and Russia attempts to occupy all of Ukraine. Ukrainian military leaders in Crimea have stated their loyalty to Russia, but one does not know if those statements were made under duress.
From the perspective of a military strategist, Russia has lost their momentum. If Russia wants just Crimea, it would not be difficult to keep their forces in Crimea, but Russia would remain a big loser. The rest of the world may never trust Russia again, even if conciliatory gestures are made, nobody will ever truly trust Russia again. If Russian forces roll into Ukraine and occupy East Ukraine, the damage will escalate, even if Ukraine does not fire any defensive shots. If all of Ukraine is invaded, NATO will surely be forced to defend with military forces. That would be disastrous beyond belief, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, would perish.
Russia’s only option with a positive outcome would be to withdraw, apologize and seek to compensate anyone for their losses and negotiate access to Crimean ports. But does Russia care? No. I would say Russia will lose but not as big as they could. They will keep Crimea and hope for a status quo.
The Los Angeles Times broke an incredible story – about the Russian sinking their own boat, here.
But that would be deceitful for me to leave it at that. The Russians sank the boat intentionally to create an obstacle, preventing Ukrainian Navy ships from sailing into the Donuzlav Lake.
The only other real update was that Russian soldiers are starting to appear with rank, insignia and patches and openly identifying themselves as Russian soldiers. Strange, why would they do that? Yes, the whole world suspects, the whole world actually knows – that they are Russian soldiers. So why change now?
Prior to the Ukrainian “situation”, I normally had anywhere from one to seven readers per day from Russia. Some I know by name, some I don’t.
Now I can ‘proudly’ say, I average 59 readers from Russia.
Now let’s lump in my Russian ‘friends’ from Facebook, I’d estimate I have ten. BUT, I post publicly and each of these Russian friends has a BUNCH of Russian friends. Every time they post an article from Russia Today, from ITAR-TASS or from any number of perfectly skewed news sources, I rebut their story.
No, I do not expect to change any minds in Russia. ”I do expect, Mr. Bond, for you” to know everything you are being fed might possibly be wrong, invented, skewed, disinformation, misinformation, propaganda or even… incorrect.
Within “Information Activity” circles here in the US, many experts are wondering what is wrong in Russia. Your propaganda used to be so good, your stories had the grasp of basic facts. It was difficult for gentlemen like Herb Romerstein to counter your stories. Your stories had depth, they contained basic nuggets of truth, they built off facts, they were practically works of art.
Now you’re reading my blog. I’m grinning because that might be a compliment, if I scrunch my face up and look at that sentence in a wierd way. With your current track record I’m not sure if I can even take it as an insult.
One thing, I know for sure, is that Hillary Clinton called it right. As much political flak as she’s taking for the timing of her statement, what Russia is doing in Ukraine and Crimea, it is certainly not original. Hitler did it in Sudetenland, you did it in Crimea. Oh, and South Ossetia, too.
But, Russia, thanks for reading. It’s been a pleasure!
Please, somebody, tell me how Putin comes out the winner in this East vs. West, Russia vs. EU/US fight?
Russian stocks have fallen and it is estimated $34 billion dollars has been lost – by Russians. “Russian Stocks Crash As Central Bank Scrambles, Hikes Rates Most Since 1998 Default”, here, “Russia Stocks Drop Second Day as Sberbank to Gazprom Fall on Fed”, here. A bunch of “Friends of Putin” have now been devalued. I’m sure they’re thrilled to lose so much money. RT *gasp* is admitting as much: “Ruble, stocks slide over growing Ukraine tension”, here.
So, Russia, de facto, is spending $34 billion for access to a port he already had. Congratulations, Mr. Putin, you win. I’m sure your friends are happy for you.
For the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse more than two decades ago, Russian military forces have moved into an Eastern European country and occupied its territory. Over 15,000 Russian soldiers are now stationed in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea, according to Ukrainian officials (it’s not clear how many of them were already in the region before this crisis), in a deployment ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to protect “Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory.” No shots have been fired, but Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has placed his country’s military on its highest alert level to deter “potential aggression,” as the United States condemned Russia’s “invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory” in violation of international law.
Fifteen independent countries, including Russia, emerged from the Soviet Union’s disintegration. Six of them—Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—are in Europe, and all of them have a complicated relationship with modern Russia. Seven other countries once belonged to the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union’s military alliance in Eastern Europe. With the Cold War’s end, none of them had faced the threat of military intervention by the communist superpower’s successor state—until now. (In discussing Europe here, I’m not including Eurasian countries like Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, or the military support Russia offered Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region in the early 1990s.)
In response to the standoff in Crimea, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves announced that he would convene the National Defense Council on March 2 to discuss the crisis and called upon the Baltic states to increase their defense spending. “The events in Ukraine show that this struggle is taking place within Europe as well,” he said in a speech to the Baltic Defense College last week. “This sends a clear signal to Estonia and the [other] Baltic states: we must invest more in our national defense.” Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania, joined NATO in 2004.
RT Anchor, Liz Wahl, quit RT, she cannot endure any more “whitewashing” by the Russian government.
Update. Here is the first RT anchor to quit: