Will Russia invade Ukraine?

February 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The White House warned to keep its troops out of , amid fears that Moscow may step in with military force following the overthrow of the President, its ally.

Tensions also mounted in Crimea, in Ukraine’s southeast, where pro-Russian politicians are organising rallies and forming protest units demanding separation from Kiev. The region is now seen as a potential flashpoint because of its deep strategic significance to Moscow.

US President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, said it would be a “grave mistake” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to send soldiers into Ukraine to restore a friendly government after the upheaval. Nobody would benefit if Ukraine were to split apart, she said. “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate.”

Who knows what Putin will do. Obama has warned of consequences if Russia invades, but as one (left leaning) commentator said, “Not even the President’s daughters fear him, when he talks of consequences”. This is in relation to his strong talk of the use of chemical weapons in Syria crossing a red line, and then nothing happening when they did use them.

The biggest thing holding Putin back may be the Ukranians themselves. While Russia may be welcome in the Crimea, the rest of the Ukraine would resist them strongly. The most likely outcome is the country splits in two. But this would then mean the rest of Ukraine would then be a country very hostile to Russia.

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81 Responses to “Will Russia invade Ukraine?”

  1. Fletch (6,488 comments) says:

    To be honest, for me, it’s hard to know who to root for in the Ukraine. Russia is, well, Russia, but the EU is a total disaster as well. You can kind of see both sides. I wouldn’t want to join with either side.

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  2. ChardonnayGuy (1,213 comments) says:

    If Russia did invade the Ukraine, it would touch off a civil war. Russian-speaking Ukrainians might well welcome them as ‘liberators,’ whereas other Ukrainians would view this as a second era of Soviet occupation. Added to which, they’re already bogged down in an interminable war in Chechnya. Moreover, it would galvanise Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states et al against Russia, rendering EU/Russian foreign affairs and trade relations rather difficult. They may have to let this one go, given the consequences of deliberate Russian intervention. My guess is that they want a satellite Ukraine, rather than an occupied tributary.

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  3. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    Obama is a fool and his idiotic meddling in Ukraine has opened a real can of very nasty worms.

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  4. Zebulon (124 comments) says:

    Once again the West has ensured the downfall of a democratically elected government. As was the case with Syria, the actions of the US end up making Russia look like the peace maker.

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  5. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    I can see it splitting in two.

    I can see why they yanks are doing it, I can see why Russia are pissed.

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  6. Urban_Redneck (103 comments) says:

    Obama is a fool and his idiotic meddling in Ukraine has opened a real can of very nasty worms.

    Obama is a fool and his idiotic meddling in Libya/Egypt/Syria has opened a real can of very nasty worms. (along with Sarkozy and John Key’s neophyte twin brother David Cameroon, of course)

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  7. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    Russia hasn’t got any legitimate case for invading Ukraine, let alone an intervention. Economic warfare is much easier although I should point out it tried precisely this tactice with the ex-president to draw him into Moscow’s orbit and that led to rioting on the street and the president’s ouster.

    And I’m still fuming over Chris Trotter’s idiocy (but I repeat myself) in describing Ukraine as a violent overthrow of a lawful government. If only he had bothered to grapple with the fact that the person he was supporting was a thief, he might have had more credibility.

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  8. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    DPF, it’s not just Crimea. Significant areas on or east of the Dnieper are Russian speaking, which probably wouldn’t complain if re-incorporated into a Russian-speaking state. One of the first things the new ‘government’ did was repeal the ability to use Russian in state matters (such as court cases, official documents, etc.). Strategically, the Russian-speaking portion of Ukraine is the most economically viable (coal, iron, and allied manufacturing / industries- steel, trains, vehicles, etc.). In many ways, a partition of the east (either as a vassel state ofRussia or incorporated into Russia itself) would be far less problematic, although it would leave western Ukraine economically weak. Simply put, the Russians control the gas and oil and the gas and oil are what moves the eastern economy (along with domestically produced coal). The east would probably prosper if annexed and while probably feeling more ‘Ukrainian’ now than 20 years ago, the realities of life are far simpler: having a job and not being told you must use a language which you can’t fully communicate in (although this has been changing with the younger generation, who are often bi-lingual through state measures).

    The more interest question is whether the Russians would even attempt to cross the Dnieper. If they control the east, would they want to ‘maintain Ukraine’ or simply annex the remaining territory / set up a vassel.

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  9. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    @metcalph

    A thief, but a Russian-speaking one and the Ukrainian speaking politicians are thieves as well. The current situation is not as simple as a thief was thrown out and now things can ‘get back to normal’. That is one of Ukraine’s structural problems: the politicum is basically corrupt and has no real proposals, only complaints (kind of like the Greens and Labour, but far far worse).

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  10. EAD (1,296 comments) says:

    Yes Russia must butt out of its own back yard – that’s Amerika’s job as President Zero confirmed today. Or maybe it was the unelected “President Barrosso” of the EU who said that Russia should respect democracy and the will of the people?

    It beggars belief that the EU / US / UK cannot see the threat they make the Russians by interfering in Ukraine. The next Cold War is being started by the West as we speak

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  11. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    Oh, and the reason Obama did “nothing” in Syria was that John Kerry blundered his way into a peace (a rare reversal from the normal circumstance where idiotic blunders cause wars).

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  12. gump (1,661 comments) says:

    @Zebulon

    “Once again the West has ensured the downfall of a democratically elected government.”

    ———————–

    Hitler was democratically elected and appointed Chancellor via an election that complied with Germany’s legal and constitutional processes. I think you’ll agree that the West did the right thing in ensuring the downfall of the Nazi government.

    When a dog goes mad you take it outside and shoot it. The same principle applies to governments.

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  13. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    @gump

    The difference is that Hitler suspended the democratic process and went mad (literally). By comparison, Yanukovich simply didn’t make a decision certain people wanted (‘pro-Europe’ – in the case of an FTA and the regional partnership) and they started protesting significantly. The fact that elections were scheduled for 2015 is inconsequential, the fact that people had a choice and elected him in the first place is inconsequential. The point is that he isn’t ‘our’ man, so ‘the people have spoken’ and we have ‘democracy in action’ through civil unrest. Sounds like a great way to run a democracy…

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  14. tas (646 comments) says:

    Putin just needs to find a good excuse to invade. Ukraine is genuinely split into pro- and anti-Russian halves. The situation may well degenerate, in which case Putin can send in “peacekeepers.”

    Putin is smart. He will figure out how to bend the situation his way. Sending in troops would be a last resort.

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  15. thePeoplesFlag (256 comments) says:

    Ask yourself this – how would the United States respond to Russian meddling in Canadian affairs to create a civil war between Quebec and the rest of Canada?

    Russia is a nuclear armed power, the Ukraine is clearly within it’s sphere of influence, the revolution has overthrown an elected pro-Moscow government and it has a strong Russian minority unhappy with recent events.

    If Russia does invade the Ukraine, expect lots of rhetoric from the west and not a lot else. Saving Kiev from a Russian imposed puppet regime is hardly worth risking a nuclear war.

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  16. Wayne Mapp (67 comments) says:

    I think it is quite likely that Russia will annex the Crimea. It is already an autonomous region and the local Crimea govt could well invite Russia in. Crimea is highly strategic to Russia and is quite self contained from the rest of Ukraine. It is unlikely to pose a military challenge to Russia.

    From Putin’s point of view he makes his “strongman” position clear, without excessively damaging relations with the West. He gets to cock a snoot to the US, which always appeals to Russia, especially if it is relatively cost free. I think the Economist was unwise to lecture Russia on this issue. It will encourage him to act rather than deter him.

    To go beyond Crimea is much more challenging. Where would he stop, how much resistance would Russia encounter, how much damage would be done to European relationships? All these things are much more imponderable than an operation confined to Crimea. And I do not think that Putin is that much of a gambler; he prefers safe bets, which Crimea would be.

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  17. EAD (1,296 comments) says:

    I will say one thing about the situation in the Ukraine – it makes people question their old loyalties.

    Do hard-core lefties take their usual anti America line or does anti gay propaganda now win that game of top trumps?

    For the Conservative, do old loyalties to the USA remain or do they see the US as a war-mongering rogue state that opposes the Russia’s Conservative if somewhat authoritarian government?

    For us Libertarians, it’s an example that all government by it’s very nature is a necessary evil that must be always restrained

    And one observation for us all. Nationalism is a very powerful force that manipulative Politicians can play for all it’s worth. It is the most basest human instinct. A country can not and will not survive if you have rival cultures competing for supremacy. Politicians who encourage mass immigration and tell said immigrants not to integrate into the host culture to maintain their cultural pride (multiculturalism) are playing with fire.

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  18. Wayne Mapp (67 comments) says:

    I think it is quite likely that Russia will annex the Crimea. It is already an autonomous region and the local Crimea govt could well invite Russia in. Crimea is highly strategic to Russia and is quite self contained from the rest of Ukraine. It is unlikely to pose a military challenge to Russia.

    From Putin’s point of view he makes his “strongman” position clear, without excessively damaging relations with the West. He gets to cock a snoot to the US, which always appeals to Russia, especially if it is relatively cost free. I think the Economist was unwise to lecture Russia on this issue. It will encourage him to act rather than deter him.

    To go beyond Crimea is much more challenging. Where would he stop, how much resistance would Russia encounter, how much damage would be done to European relationships? All these things are much more imponderable than an operation confined to Crimea.

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  19. Wayne Mapp (67 comments) says:

    I also noted that Rice seemed to limit her comments to restoring a friendly govt in Ukraine. But annexing Crimea does not require that. Has the US already anticipated this outcome, and is signalling there will be no big trouble if Putin limits his action to Crimea?

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  20. BlairM (2,364 comments) says:

    To me, the problem is that the West has decided to relive the cold war, despite it ending 25 years ago. This has coloured everyone’s judgment. Normally, when a democratically elected government does something people disagree with, the response is to organise and kick the bastards out at the next election. It is not to riot, start killing cops, and try to overthrow the government. Phrases like “puppet state” are ridiculous in Ukraine’s case – anyone who has done some reading knows that the Party of the Regions is no Russian Trojan horse.

    Not only should the government not have been overthrown, but if it had happened in a country bordering the United States, there would be massive pressure for the US to invade and restore democracy. It might not be the best course of action for Russia to interfere in Ukraine’s affairs, but if they did, not only would I not blame them for doing so, but I would support them.

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  21. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    Anyone who thinks the thugs who now own the streets of Kiev are democrats or even pro EU are living in a fools paradise and need their heads read

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  22. tvb (4,499 comments) says:

    The removal of the President must have had army support but they timed it well to be during the Winter Olympics. Putin will sit there are wait his time coldly calculating his next move.

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  23. tom hunter (5,078 comments) says:

    Two good articles::

    the Daily Mail one is over-egged as usual, but still worth a look:

    Ukraine sits on the fault line dividing Eastern Europe between pro-Western and pro-Russian views. Her people are split over attitudes to the old imperial capital, Moscow.That divide is now opening up as pro-Russian districts in the East such as Kharkov and Crimea refuse to accept the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych celebrated in Kiev.
    ….
    But what complicates matters and makes them so dangerous now is that the most militant pro-Western protesters are violently anti-Russian. Many Ukrainians want to join the EU and Nato – not for reconciliation but to recruit allies against their old enemy.

    This combination of a looming Ukrainian default threatening West European banks and a potential conflict with the EU’s major energy supplier, Russia, means that Ukraine’s troubles are not only on our doorstep but threatening to flow across it.

    The violence in Kiev and inflammatory rhetoric of the hard core of the Ukrainian demonstrators now met by pro-Russian groups in the East shows that no one has things under control.

    Walter Russell Mead is more nuanced – as usual:

    The political leadership of virtually every major party or movement in Ukrainian life is sketchy at best; many are corrupt tools of business interests, some are inexperienced hotheads with ties to dubious forms of ultra-nationalist ideology. The country is still close to insolvent, with no way to pay large debts coming due. Russia, a predatory neighbor with dreams of subverting Ukraine’s independence, still enjoys the support, purchased or sincere, of a significant network inside Ukraine’s establishment. The EU remains divided over the prospect of Ukrainian membership; the EU also faces tight fiscal constraints as it struggles in the toils of its ongoing euro catastrophe.

    Events are moving quickly in Ukraine, and in revolutionary situations like this, it can be very difficult to predict how the process will unfold. But Ukraine matters much more in Moscow than it does in either Brussels or Washington (though not in Warsaw, Bucharest and Vilnius); President Putin seems to believe that his geopolitical position requires him to take risks and move fast.

    I don’t like or trust Putin one bit, but I respect that he’s smart and calculating. My bet will be that he’ll let the new government hang itself and be left twisting slowly, slowly in the breeze by its purported Western allies over the next few months – and then he’ll move with a partition of Crimea and the rest of the Eastern Ukraine, using locals to do it but providing them with logistical, financial and political backing. It’s not like those locals aren’t keen on such a move anyway. Of course a sudden “event” in the East could change that calculation dramatically.

    One thing that is certain is that Putin cannot allow himself to be seen as weak by fellow Russians, that’s the greatest crime in Russian history. He will not accept this result.

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  24. Lance (2,708 comments) says:

    @Andrei
    And what’s worse, they are not hard left communist whack jobs.
    Clearly evil.

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  25. Reid (16,632 comments) says:

    Putin is doing exactly what he did in Georgia for exactly the same reasons: to deal with foreign agents attempting regime change disguised as a human wights initiative. Georgia was about stopping Israel from gaining a base from which to bomb Iran without the need to overfly Iraq from which Bush had banned them in one of the few sane moments he ever showed.

    Ukraine is simply a repeat of the same old colour revolution formula developed by Brzezhinsky in the 1990’s for dealing with Eastern Europe. Observant people might have noted Brzezhinsky featured as one of Obama’s F-P advisor during the last Presidential campaign. 2+2=what.

    http://tomatobubble.com/id463.html

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  26. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    A brief history/who’s who.

    http://www.geocurrents.info/geopolitics/protest-movements/strange-bedfellows-emerge-ukraine-protests

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  27. muggins (3,800 comments) says:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2014/01/20140122_ukr.png

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  28. Fentex (1,021 comments) says:

    I don’t understand why people are blaming Obama for anything here – events in the Ukraine get peoples attention, some suggest Russia may possibly stick it’s oar in and Obama exclaims that’s a bad idea threatening severe consequences and some people seem to think this indicates the U.S is to blame for trouble in the Ukraine?

    Ukraine has a tension between its west and east tending both west and east in outlook, and one of corrupt governance by authoritarian thugs. They’ve just tossed out one thug and because he was from the east the affair is wrapped up in policies leaning east verse policies leaning west. But most importantly Ukrainians threw him out because he was a corrupt thug.

    Where does the U.S come into this? Well, NATO policy has (I think) rather foolishly continued to behave like the Cold War is still on and tried to ring fence Russia in by increasing it’s membership and tightening around Russia so it’s likely one could find NATO inspired encouragement for the Ukraine to lean west, but again Yanukovych was tossed out primarily for being an authoritarian thug. The problems for the Ukraine are obvious but not of the U.S’s making.

    I’m all for holding the U.S to account for when it’s stupid and interfering but piling on Obama for these events is just plain weird and uncalled for – all he’s done is state the obvious in U.S interests. Big deal.

    I think the Ukrainian provisional government should make it clear that it’s more interested in getting the Ukraines own house in order, putting foreign policy aside in favour of assuring legitimate government exists to address such issues, delaying decisions that increase temperatures. Perhaps accompany it with some sort of planned snub of NATO (which they oughtn’t ever suggest planning to join) to sooth Putin as it wouldn’t be any skin off NATO’s nose.

    If I were making plans for the Ukraine capitalising on a position between west and east seems likely more profitable than aligning to one or the other, though one can see that’s a tight rope to walk.

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  29. Tauhei Notts (1,746 comments) says:

    Gump at 11.21.
    The democratically elected mayor of Auckland has morphed into a mad dog, but the Aucklanders can’t just go and shoot the mug.

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  30. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    If Putin was so mart and calculating as a lot of you seem to think, he wouldn’t have lost Ukraine in the first place. He does not want to be seen to be weak? That horse has already bolted.

    As for Russia annexing the Crimea, International Law requires the assent of the Ukrainian government, which isn’t likely even if the government were virulently Russophilic. Russia still hasn’t annexed Akbazia and Ossetia in Georgia.

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  31. muggins (3,800 comments) says:

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/forget-kiev-the-real-fight-will-be-for-crimea/495145.html

    Note that Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 at which point Nikita Kruschev presented the region to Ukraine.

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  32. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    If Putin was so mart and calculating as a lot of you seem to think, he wouldn’t have lost Ukraine in the first place.

    um Putin was an advisor to the Mayor of St Petersburg when Ukraine declared independence.

    And of course it was the Ukrainian SSR that declared independence, the borders of which were drawn by Nikita Khrushchev, who was a Ukrainian, in the 1950s and do not match the historical European region of Ukraine which is a tract of land in the Western parts of the “modern Nation” that has been fought over for many generations being divided between the Russian Empire, Poles and the Austro Hungarian Empire, in different ways through the years.

    Much blood has been spilled and it is the memories of these things that have been exploited by the West to try and expand the modern European Empire, they are building.

    Interestingly enough parts of what were the Historical geographical region would now be in Poland and Slovakia and some very nasty Ethnic cleansing took place in these regions during WW2 under the red and black banner that will occasionally be visible in unsanitized photos of the “protesters”

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  33. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    Note that Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 at which point Nikita Kruschev presented the region to Ukraine

    Crimea was part of the Russia SFSR until 1954 which is a slightly different matter (the SFSR included territories such as Chechen-Ingustu which can hardly be described as Russian). As for its prior history that means jackshit in terms of the capability of the Russians to annex territories. Ukraine is an independent state which trumps anything else.

    As for the fantasy of the Russian Peacekeepers in the Crimea, the Russians don’t have a lot of leeway to even send peacekeepers there. It’s not something that can be done lightly and generally requires the consent of the host country or the UN security council.

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  34. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    um Putin was an advisor to the Mayor of St Petersburg when Ukraine declared independence.

    I was talking about the recent loss during the Winter Olympics, duh. The rest of your blood-and-soil post is similarly demented.

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  35. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    Russia still hasn’t annexed Akbazia and Ossetia in Georgia.

    But the EU has annexed much of former Yugoslavia and still has peace keeping armies of occupation in Bosnia and Kosovo neither of which will be in a fit state to join the family of modern European Nations anytime in the foreseeable future

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  36. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    …some very nasty Ethnic cleansing took place in these regions during WW2 under the red and black banner that will occasionally be visible in unsanitized photos of the “protesters”

    Likewise under the red and yellow banner of Mr Putin’s old masters. It’s also kind of ironic that you describe the EU as a “European Empire,” when Russia is the only European empire remaining (if we discount the UK’s last little bit of Ireland it’s hanging onto).

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  37. Nigel Kearney (1,047 comments) says:

    I tend to agree with Blair. If you are going to override an election result with force it should be either:

    1) A situation like Egypt where arguably there just isn’t a sufficient level of education and democratic culture needed for elections to be effective; or

    2) Because the winning side won the election by cheating

    The first one doesn’t apply to Ukraine. The second one may or may not apply, but a regime that held on to power by using the IRS to cripple it’s political opponents probably should not rely on it.

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  38. Fost (102 comments) says:

    Russia will posture over Crimea, with the Russian-speaking demagogues doing all they can to assist, but it will not cause the Crimea to become part of Russia for one very simple reason – water.

    Crimea tried breaking away from Ukraine when the Soviet Union split up, until the the government in Kiev pointed out that the Crimea is very dry and receives a great deal of the water it needs via a large pipeline from Ukraine proper, and that as a separate country/part of Russia they would have to find their own water supply – end of succession plans. I cannot see the situation having changed any in the interim – it is certainly has not been in the Kiev government’s interest to do so.

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  39. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    Andrie,

    “Obama is a fool and his idiotic meddling in Ukraine has opened a real can of very nasty worms.”

    No, Russia’s attempts to recreate the Soviet Union have opened a real can of very nasty worms. The majority of the Ukrainian people want to align with the West, not Russia, and Putin has tried to stop that by imposing, through fraudulent elections, his own puppet. The Ukrainians know what that means, they remember what life was like under the SU, and they are not going to be slaves to another Russian empire.

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  40. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    The Russian military is a joke. They cannot win a war against the West. Even with resources stretched, the US, backed by Nato, could expel any Russian invading army. Obama is a weak and prevaricating puddle of piss, but even he knows that standing back while Russia invaded the Ukraine would destroy the US’s credibility and ensure the Dem’s were out of power in the US for decades. Putin would be a fool to invade.

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  41. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    Who is really behind this? No, it’s not the West or the US, it is this guy:

    Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ге́льевич Ду́гин, born 7 January 1962) is a Russian political scientist, traditionalist, and one of the most popular ideologists of the creation of a Eurasian empire that would be against the “North Atlantic interests”. He is known for his proximity to fascism,[1][2][3][4] and had close ties to the Kremlin and Russian military.[5] He was the leading organizer of National Bolshevik Party, National Bolshevik Front, and Eurasia Party. His political activities are directed toward restoration of the Russian Empire through partitioning of the former Soviet republics, such as Georgia and Ukraine, and unification with Russian-speaking territories, especially Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.[6][7] He is known for the book Foundations of Geopolitics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Dugin

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  42. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    The majority of the Ukrainian people want to align with the West, not Russia, and Putin has tried to stop that by imposing, through fraudulent elections, his own puppet

    Wrong the majority of the people in Ukraine just want to get on with their lives in peace and not become pawns, who will shed real blood, in a battle of wills between the masters of the world.

    You are so clueless

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  43. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    This:

    2308 GMT: Is Russia really sending a new fleet to Sevostopol? Before Izvestia reported this (see previous update below) Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the far-right Svoboda party and a man known for firey rhetoric, reported the same thing.

    “I can show you the SMS” said Tyahnibok, reading out: “A large landing ship from the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation is expected to arrive today in Sevastopol from the Russian port of Temryuk. It will deliver around 200 armed soldiers from the 328th detached battalion of the Marines, who are based in Temryuk, and 10 BTR-80s.”

    He also mentioned that “between 22-23 February, personnel of the 45th Airborne Special Forces were airlifted from Kubinka (in the Moscow area) to Anapa on Il-76 flights, and four other IL-76 flights redeployed even more divisions from Pskov to Anapa. And six Mi-8 helicopters were airlifted from Sochi to Anapa” said Mr Tyahnibok.

    Now, Izvestiya is carrying a report which, it seems, has a separate source. However, the Izvestiya story is about 9 hours old. In it they said that the ships would reach Sevastopol in 4 hours at a speed of 10-15 knots so…even if they were slower, unless the fleet stopped or turned around then the ships would be there by now, and there aren’t any reports of them arriving yet.

    That Izvestiya and Tyahnibok are reporting that there are ships on the move is a story in and of itself, whether or not it proves true.

    http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-liveblog-day-7-decoding-documents-indicting-dictators/#2200

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  44. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    The Russian military is a joke. They cannot win a war against the West.

    Well, no, but then they’re not going to have to fight one, even if they did invade Ukraine. If you’re having fantasies about NATO declaring war on the Russian Federation, they’re going to remain fantasies.

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  45. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    I don’t know Milt – I’ve had a really bad feeling about all of this for a while and its not going to end well

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  46. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    “Crimea tried breaking away from Ukraine when the Soviet Union split up, until the the government in Kiev pointed out that the Crimea is very dry and receives a great deal of the water it needs via a large pipeline from Ukraine proper, and that as a separate country/part of Russia they would have to find their own water supply – end of succession plans. ”

    That was Yeltsins Russia, Putins Russia 20 years ago is a very different beast. Putin holds the whip. The Ukraine would freeze without Russian gas, it’s economy would collapse if it had to pay market rates for power.

    The idea that the Ukraine can continue to exist within it’s present borders is a fantasy, Russia simply can’t allow the Ukraine to join the EU or Nato and retain it’s national security. At the best they may stitch up swiss style neutral federation, but it’d be effective partition.

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  47. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    “Wrong the majority of the people in Ukraine just want to get on with their lives in peace and not become pawns, who will shed real blood, in a battle of wills between the masters of the world.”

    And your evidence for this is?

    See, I can at least point to polls and protests that reveal what most Ukrainians believe. What evidence do you have?

    The ex-President’s decision to align with Russia rather than the West brought one hundred thousand people onto the streets to protest.

    Here is the polling data.

    “Ukrainians opt for EU membership, in particular the youth”

    http://dif.org.ua/en/publications/press-relizy/dfefwgr.htm

    Note that even in the supposedly pro-Russia east, most youth want to align with the West.

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  48. Wayne Mapp (67 comments) says:

    Clearly it would be against international law for Putin to annex Crimea, but that is also true of the invasion and continuing occupation of parts of Georgia.

    If the Russians consider that their interests in Crimea are threatened in any serious way, they will act. And they will know the West will do nothing, just as was the case with Georgia (and that was with President Bush). And the gain for Russia in taking over the sovereignty of Crimea is very substantial.

    And the risks for Russia failing to act in Crimea, if their interests are threatened, are large. They will be seen as weak.

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  49. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    I don’t know Milt – I’ve had a really bad feeling about all of this for a while and its not going to end well

    Well, if it did come to that, the Russians have a pretty good strike rate when it comes to seeing off uppity western invasion forces…

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  50. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    Some things never change.

    http://www.jta.org/2014/02/24/news-opinion/world/east-ukraine-synagogue-hit-by-firebombs

    http://lubavitch.com/news/article/2030669/Chabad-Representatives-in-Ukraine-Stay-Put-Appeal-for-Help.html

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  51. PaulL (6,042 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure it won’t end well. It’s hard to see any plausible way it can end well. But that’s different than a Russian invasion or a civil war or a partition of the country. There’s lots of flavours of not ending well beyond those particularly catastrophic outcomes.

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  52. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    Cha @at 3:30 pm – “Some things never change.”

    Like who didn’t see this coming?

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  53. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    “Well, if it did come to that, the Russians have a pretty good strike rate when it comes to seeing off uppity western invasion forces…”

    Russia lost to Germany in WW1, and the current Russian military had serious problems even invading a small part of Georgia. The Russian armed forces, such as they are, are no match for the West.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    The Ukraine is the new Poland, and once again the specter of Fascism is threatening Europe.

    The real mover and shaker behind Russia’a new imperialism is Alexander Dugin, a fascist nutjob close to the Kremlin, and the architect of Putin’s foreign policy.

    Dugin was one of the founders of the fascist National Bolshevik Party which did not attempt to disguise it’s neo-Nazi ideology. They chose the Nazi flag as their party flag, simply replacing the swastika with a hammer and sickle. And it is no surprise that in the ethnic Russian part of the Ukraine, attacks on Jews have already begun.

    Apologists for Putin’s regime are morally bankrupt, no better than those who defended the Nazi’s in the 1930’s.

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  54. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    See, I can at least point to polls and protests that reveal what most Ukrainians believe. What evidence do you have?

    You know mate, you believe that because you want to believe that – its from a think tank, which almost certainly US funded.

    These riots were supposedly about Ukraine joining the EU but realistically, even in the best of possible circumstances ie Stable Governments not being toppled by street violence, robust economy etc that would be at least a decade away, if not more.

    Its an absurd notion that these events were about that, it was just a sound bite to justify the unjustifiable

    Sheesh people need to start using their grey matter

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  55. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    “You know mate, you believe that because you want to believe that – its from a think tank, which almost certainly US funded.”

    The polling data is from the Ukraine, so that blows hole number one in your tin foil hat theory. The protesters themselves SAID why they were on the streets and their own words contradict yours, and you are not even IN the Ukraine. That blows hole number two in your tin foil hat theory. Using an irrational, evidence-free conspiracy theory, one based on mindless hysteria driven anti-Americanism, is not using your grey matter, it’s turning your brain off to anything other than your cult-like belief in Putin.

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  56. Jack5 (5,148 comments) says:

    The most virulently anti-Russians of the Ukraine, the ones who were the hard nuts of the Kiev coup, come from the same ultra-right strain that sided with the Nazis in World War 2. These ultra-nationalist Ukrainians supplied many of the nastiest of the Nazis’ thugs, as in concentration camp guards. Many of them were also volunteers in the German units against which New Zealanders and other Allied soldiers fought in Italy.

    You can understand the hard-right Ukrainians’ bitterness, that goes back to the 1930s famines and persecution of farmers under Stalinism.

    However, you can also understand the pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east and south-west of Ukraine, and in Crimea. How would English-speaking Canadians react to being forced into French-language dominated Quebec?

    This boil-up could make the break-up of Yugoslavia look like a mere playground fight. The Americans won’t be game to lead Allied bombing of Russian infrastructure as they did of Serbia’s. In fact America is planning to reduce its army to pre-World War 2 levels. Its retreating to isolationism.

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  57. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    The Russian armed forces, such as they are, are no match for the West.

    Hitler and Napoleon both shared your view, and their armed forces were indeed better than their Russian equivalents – much good it did them.

    Oh, and Russia lost to internal revolution in WW1, not to Germany.

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  58. Reid (16,632 comments) says:

    A couple of links that expand on Wayne’s point about the Crimea:
    http://world.time.com/2014/02/23/the-russian-stronghold-in-ukraine-preparing-to-fight-the-revolution/

    and

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-22/eastern-ukrainians-are-revolting

    And a link that reinforces my point about Western involvement:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-hegemonic-ambitions-in-ukraine-sleepwalking-again-into-a-destructive-conflict/5370221?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=washingtons-hegemonic-ambitions-in-ukraine-sleepwalking-again-into-a-destructive-conflict

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  59. Wayne Mapp (67 comments) says:

    Reid,
    The world.time link confirms my view.

    Since Crimea is so geographically separate from the rest of Ukraine, securing it is a readily achievable military objective, especially with the Russian military already in place. Of course they are mostly naval, but that will include marines. The base, I imagine has an airfield, so easy enough to get air and extra people in. But they may not have much armour, unless already pre-positioned. However, I would expect the Russian military to have fully planned for this contingency.

    In reality it probably will not involve fighting as occurred in Georgia (or not much). Ukraine will be simply presented with a fait accompoli, which they will have little choice but to accept. And I suspect Ukraine might be coming to that realisation now. In short the whole thing could be negotiated outcome, albeit backed with military and economic threats.

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  60. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    It’s foolish to overstate President Yanukovych’s legitimacy. Let’s not forget that he imprisoned the leader of the opposition on what are probably trumped up charges. He handled the initial protests in a thuggish fashion and at their outset passed a set of ten laws that drastically curtailed the right to assemble and criticise the government. Then ten laws were not passed under the procedures required by the Ukranian constitution and themselves represented a usurpation.

    I am a supporter of the protestors, albeit a faint-hearted and tenative one. There is plenty that could go wrong. But however decadent Western Europe is it is so much more humane and democratic than Russia’s Putin.

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  61. stephieboy (3,383 comments) says:

    The Ukraine and Russia have complex and intertwined histories . Recall Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushshev came from there and like Stalin (Georgia ) did not stop him from leading a united Soviet Union , albeit by brute force.
    Am pessimistic about the Ukraine as a fledging democracy given this kind of historical baggage. The Ukraine as an EU and NATO member would be untenable to the ex KGB Lt Colonel Putin , his side kick Dmitry Medvedev and Russian nationalistic aspirations.!

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  62. SPC (5,770 comments) says:

    We could send Murray McCully as mediator, as a demonstration of our nations credentials to be on the UNSC.

    His brave contribution to resolving the impasse between China and all of its neighbours over territorial borders in South East Asia provides him with the credentials for the job in the matter of mapping suitable new borders (lebensraum for Russians) in the new greater Russian Eurasia.

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  63. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    Making moves.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/russian-ships-arrive-ukraines-crimean-coast-fears-mount-over-russian-invasion-region-1557639

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  64. SPC (5,770 comments) says:

    Using talents developed in managing foreign aid into Enzed business promotional opportunity, he could broker a lease of Crimea to Russia with Ukraine water to Crimea in return for continued Russian supplies at favourable rates to the Ukraine.

    Then brokering agreement for eastern parts of the Ukraine to secede to Russia after plebiscites to determine that outcome. This in return for Russian consent for the Ukraine to join the EU.

    If the price for McCully brokering this peace in our lifetimes is their taking some of our food exports, they got a bargain.

    I am not sure if the Georgian market and Ossetia is worth our time.

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  65. noskire (842 comments) says:

    Considering that Sevastopol is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, this could get very messy.

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  66. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    Google translate:

    Russian Kubinka of four ships with a special forces regiment currently relocated to Anapa.

    Out of 4 hours they get to Sevastopol at a speed of 10-15 knots, – According to the source “Izvestia in Ukraine”.

    According to him, this redeployment qualitative, not quantitative. From Ukraine following her. In Anapa item is downloading large tank-landing ships to be sent to Sevastopol.

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  67. Daigotsu (465 comments) says:

    Russia will not invade Ukraine.

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  68. tvb (4,499 comments) says:

    If Putin takes Crimea then he is conceding that the Ukraine can go West. But I am sure the EU does not really want a basket case, nor Nato for that matter. Why buy into a flash point with Russia.

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  69. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Russia will do what ever the hell they like

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  70. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    Psycho.

    “Hitler and Napoleon both shared your view, and their armed forces were indeed better than their Russian equivalents – much good it did them.”

    They were trying to invade and permanently colonize Russia. Defending the Ukraine is a very different issue.

    And Russia’s internal revolution was a direct result of their military defeat by Germany.

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  71. ShawnLH (5,683 comments) says:

    http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/Articles/09spring/mcdermott.pdf

    “General Makarov, whose prominent role in the military reform campaign seemed intended to deflect criticism away from Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov, addressed a meeting of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow on 16 December. He highlighted the immense operational and planning problems and low levels of combat readiness that were prevalent during the war in Georgia. In short, Makarov suggested that Russian forces were incapable of fighting a modern war”

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  72. V (745 comments) says:

    Lets see what the Neo-Nazis in the west of the country do. Desecrating monuments to the soviet army that resisted Hitler is not a great place to start.

    Putin doesn’t need to do anything at this stage. As Medvedev said:
    Strictly speaking, today there is no one to talk to there. The legitimacy of a whole host of government bodies is raising huge doubts," he said. "If people crossing Kiev in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government."

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  73. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Defending the Ukraine is a very different issue.

    You think so? Because the Russians wouldn’t see NATO trying to “defend” the Crimea against Russians as being in any way different. There is no low-level conflict to be had here, and no western interest in full-scale war.

    Desecrating monuments to the soviet army that resisted Hitler is not a great place to start.

    The Red Army wasn’t any friendlier to Ukrainians than the Wehrmacht. If there were monuments to the German army that resisted Stalin, they’d probably pull those down too.

    “If people crossing Kiev in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government.”

    That’s actually pretty funny, because he considered guys in Kiev wearing black masks and armed with Kalashnikovs the government only last week… Here’s a tip, Medvedev – in many countries, now including the Ukraine, Parliament is where you find the government. You should try it in Russia sometime.

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  74. ChardonnayGuy (1,213 comments) says:

    No-one appears to be raising the issue of Chechnya, so I will. Given that the Russian security and intelligence services are unable to interdict the “black widow” terrorist attacks on Russian civilians (as a consequence of losing their husbands and sons in the Caucasus’ interminable and heavily censored conflict), it is conceivable that they would face an internal security crisis several magnitudes greater if Putin had a foolhardy attack of historical amnesia and decided to re-annex the whole Ukraine. Let’s just hope no errant ex-Soviet nukes went missing in the vicinity during the post-Soviet nineties chaos following the collapse of the USSR, otherwise things could turn nightmarish very quickly. And I’d have to agree with other comments on this thread that assess the Crimea as a flashpoint.

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  75. stephieboy (3,383 comments) says:

    Someone has stated earlier that the Russian military is a joke.That has a familiar ring.? Napoleon or was it Hitler who said similar.?
    But Chardonnayguy raises some interesting points.Chechnya was indeed a rather bruising and costly encounter for Putin.
    I would say given Ukrainian nationalist aspirations it could be many ,many times worse if Putin decided to invade.The Ukraine has achieved independence after a long history of occupation and oppression under both the Tsars and the Soviets.It won’t surrender that lightly. and I agree it could well have a small stockpile of nukes handy.

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  76. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    Leave Lenin alone!.
    /

    http://inserbia.info/news/2014/02/moscow-demands-new-ukraine-authorities-to-stop-monument-removal-mayhem/

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  77. muggins (3,800 comments) says:

    In my opinion Putin will probably re-annex Crimea. That could be done quite swiftly with virtually no resistance seeing as most people living there are ethnic Russians.

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  78. muggins (3,800 comments) says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26313792

    Pro Russian Ukranians in an Eastern Ukraine city defending a Lenin statue.

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  79. cha (4,078 comments) says:

    Scroll up to view the delusions of grandeur.

    2018 GMT: Hundreds of protesters have blocked the parliament building in Simferopol and have demanded a referendum on Crimea’s independence from Ukraine. They have also called on Russia to help them.

    Meanwhile, any movement of Russian soldiers is being seen by some Ukrainians as a provocation. A citizen in Yalta reportedly filmed this video in Yalta today, which appears to show two military transports drive through the streets and into one of the bases for the Black Sea fleet.

    http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-liveblog-day-8-yanukovych-to-face-trial-at-the-hague/#2018

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  80. SPC (5,770 comments) says:

    Any objective observation would note the inherent fracture within Ukraine that would occur if it chose the EU option, given the Crimea is part of historic Russia and the eastern areas of the Ukraine include Russian speaking areas.

    Ukraine cannot go it alone, so it either straddles both (in the tradition of the Khazar kingdom of the past) or it chooses to fragment.

    The only just path is to preserve the peace while this is decided on. That means the people decide with respect for each other, not the gun. And that does not mean the majority of Ukraine get to impose on the minority their western preference, if they choose that they should do so knowing that it means giving Crimea and the east separation from the Ukraine that chooses the EU.

    We have learnt that much from the break up of Yugoslavia, let borders be decided by plebiscite not proxy groups of armed thugs.

    Maybe the EU and USA and Russia can agree to each take over a third of Ukraine’s historic debt when the new arrangements begin. And the three make it clear to the unity government in Ukraine to respect the wishes of all of those of the Ukraine, including the minority, in the matter of its future course.

    If this is done, one outcome could be that

    1. an economically weaker/smaller western Ukraine joins the EU (but with no debt).
    2. Ukraine receives oil and gas from Russia at lower than market price for many years*.
    3. while it does not join NATO, it can participate in missile shield programmes for the security of the EU but not allow foreign forces on its soil (neither NATO nor Russian).
    4. Crimea and eastern Ukraine join Russia as plebiscites determine*.

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  81. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,753 comments) says:

    The USA would never interfere in the Ukraine:

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