Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Putin Orders Military Readiness As Crimea Puts Russian Leader In Power

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has ordered military readiness exercises and a state of alert in the Russian strategic base of Sebastopol in the Crimea and along the Ukraine's borders:

Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, said Moscow was "carefully watching what is happening in Crimea" and that measures were being taken to ensure the security of the facilities and arsenals of its Black Sea naval fleet, which is based in the fiercely pro-Russian Crimean city of Sebastopol.

The autonomous eastern peninsula, which is home to a largely ethnic Russian population, is at the centre of tensions over the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow, by pro-European protesters at the weekend.

"In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (1000 GMT) today," Interfax quoted Mr Shoigu as saying.

At the same time, Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement today that 'extremists' were "imposing their will" on Ukraine and fomenting tension and unrest.

In the Crimea itself, where the population is 60% ethnic Russian, the local assembly in the Crimean capital of Simferopol is debating holding a referendum to decide whether the Crimea will remain part of Ukraine or return to Russia, which had control of the Crimea until Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine administratively within the old Soviet Union back in the 1960's. Numerous clashes between pro-Russian demonstrators and non-Russians, mainly Crimean Tatars who want to remain part of Ukraine are being reported.

And in Sebastopol itself, ethnic Russians have kicked out the city administrator and installed their own mayor, who promptly announced the formation of paramilitary 'self-defense' units to defend the Crimea against the "fascists" in Kiev.

Yesterday, the country's interim president, Oleksander Turchynov called the new Ukrainian parliament to discus "the question of not allowing any signs of separatism and threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity and punishing people guilty of this," according to an official statement while Russia caled on the EU's Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to condemn the rise of "nationalist and neo-fascist sentiment" in western Ukraine and 'anti-Russian' activity.
In reality of course, the Ukrainian parliament has no power to enforce anything and would probably be much better off concentrating on forming a government. Any moves to bring the ethnic Russian population to heel as part of Ukraine would provide the Russians with just the excuse they need to send the tanks in.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov continues to say Russia will not intervene militarily in Ukraine, but if the Crimea breaks away with Russian assistance , then he can say that technically, he kept his word. The same is true of eastern sections of the Ukraine where there are also a great many ethnic Russians whom retain their loyalty to Russia. Russia retaking the Crimea would essentially give them control of Ukraine's sea coast on the Black Sea and effective control of the country.

Stay tuned...


sykes.1 said...

This is an ethnic fight not a fight for democracy. After all, Yanukovych and his party were freely and democratically elected, and then deposed by violence.

The ethnic divisions are also geographic divisions, so a clean partition is a possibility. Peaceful partition is also the most desirable outcome.

Rob said...

Certainly it's the most desirable outcome for Putin. He keeps the strategic base at Sebastopol and the Crimea and saves $12 billion in aid money.

We've already spoken about Yanukovych's election on another thread. To say he was 'freely and democratically elected' is a huge stretch, but whatever.

And please drop the 'ethic conflict' line. This is about Russian control, colonialism and imperialism.The Ukrainian rebels are by no means a very sympathetic group, but that's the real story. It has been for centuries.

B.Poster said...

The standard narratives on this are either 1.)the rebels are acting against a fairly elected government on behalf of American colonialism and should be condemned as a coup or 2.)the rebels are freedom fighters who have majority support, are lovable freedom fighters, and only want to resist Russian colonialism.

As with most complex real world things, the truth is likely somewhere in between. It would seem clear that the Russian backed government backed government lacked popular support. If they had popular support, it would seem the army and security forces would have backed the government to the hilt. They did not. As such, I think it's safe to assume the government did not have popular support. As such, to wait for an election that Russia would have simply rigged would not have had a good ending for them.

Given their prior experiences under Russian/Soviet colonization one can certainly sympathize with why they might act as they are. Perhaps emotion is clouding their judgment. A fight against Russia is a fight they cannot win. For them to win such a fight, would require a miracle comparable to the parting of the Red Sea that delivered the ancient Israelites from ancient Egypt. It would be unrealistic for America to expect to defeat Russia at this time. As such, the Ukrainians would be even less likely to win.

Now as for them being some sort of freedom fighters, this seems far fetched. For the most part, these don't seem like good people. For the most part, not worthy of any support from us nor should the EU desire them as members. They generally seem to be for the most part first class thugs. Essentially Ukrainian thug vs. Russian thug. Even more puzzling is why anyone would actually want to be a part of the EU.

Finally no one should be under any delusion here. The Russians hold all of the cards here. The Russians can always invade Ukraine any time they wish to impose whatever they want. This is a bit messy so they could simply act to undermine the Ukrainian government. They are very patient so they may not want to play this card just yet. Also, they can cut off natural gas supplies to Western Europe or the Ukraine any time they want.

Assuming they are actually thinking about supporting the rebels which a number of reports indicate the US and perhaps EU nations are supporting the rebels there is absolutely nothing they can do to counter the steps laid out above that Russia can take. Getting involved in unwinnable conflicts is generally a bad idea. It's an even worse idea when no discernible personal or national interests is involved. For America their is no discernible national interest involved. I would hope and pray we would stay out of this and if we are involved get out NOW. At the very least recognize what we are up against and recognize who the rebels are.

In summary Russia holds all the cards. The opposition and their supporters hold none. The opposition and any supporters they might have would sure make lousy poker players!! The opposition and their supporters should hope and pray for something on the order of the parting of the Red Sea. That type of miracle is what they would need to prevail. But then these don't seem to be good people so that's probably not in the "cards."

Hopefully I'm wrong about them. Again, it seems one could understand their desire to risk Russian colonization.