Tag: Ukraine

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Some time ago, March 17th to be precise, Jane’s 360 produced an interesting article on the, then potential, conflict brewing between Russia and the Ukraine. Of the many observations a couple were rather striking: • If Russia were to intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine it would seek to do so rapidly, so as to prevent […]

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Putin Punishes the West by Punishing the Russian People

 

BuXShb7IQAEhEguVladimir Putin, the self-proclaimed savior and protector of the Russian people, wherever they may be, has decided to punish the West by banning imports of food from Europe, Australia, and North America. Russian propaganda is busy convincing the Russian people that foregoing German yogurt, Italian strawberries, and even Big Macs is a small price to pay for Russian pride and the protection of ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, Moldova, and anywhere else they may be from rabid and homicidal Nazi thugs.

Putin may know his politics and may carry the Russian people along with his trade war, but his grasp of economics is deficient, to say the least.

Currently Russian consumers spend some thirty percent of their food budgets on imports. Any trip to a Russian supermarket features displays of familiar food brands – DANONE, Nestle, Pepsi, Dr. Oetker, and so on. Russian consumers buy these goods because they are affordable, offer reliable quality, and they are safe. They do not buy to make sure that German, French, Italian and Greek farmers make money. They buy because they like these products.

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If I were Putin, I would send 50,000 troops into Eastern Ukraine and “liberate” it from the vile Ukrainian rebels who shot down MH17. Sure, the rebels are Putin’s own thugs. But Putin’s been pretending they aren’t his thugs all along. By invading Eastern Ukraine, Putin would be demonstrating his power on the world stage, […]

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The Latest on the Downed Jetliner in Ukraine

 

malaysian airlines crash july 2014_1405612997366_6875150_ver1.0_320_240Over at Commentary, Max Boot puts together the pieces of the puzzle that have so far emerged. His conclusion? Pro-Russian separatists are probably responsible — and that the United States must speak out soon and forcefully.

An excerpt:

On September 1, 1983, Soviet fighter aircraft shot down Korean Air Lines flight 007 which had inadvertently entered Soviet airspace on its way from Anchorage to Seoul. All 269 people on board were killed. President Reagan swiftly condemned “this crime against humanity,” which only redoubled his desire to bring down the “evil empire” (as he had called the Soviet Union earlier that year).

Russian Terrorist “Demon” Executes Two Hostages on YouTube

 

BezlerThe separatist military commander of the east Ukraine town of Gorlivka is shown, on a new video of his own making, executing two civilian hostages. Russian citizen Igor Bezler — nomme de guerre “Bes” or “Demon” — is shown on the video threatening that he will shoot eight captured military hostages unless the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, frees a captured Russian agent.

Before giving the order to fire, “Demon” complains that he has waited three days for the hostage exchange and cannot wait any longer. Therefore, Citizens Budnik and Vasiushenko will be executed, he declares. “Demon” then gives the order to fire as he walks away casually. The video records the shots being fired and shows the victims falling to the floor. [Note: the link points to a story about the video that includes an embed of the video itself. It’s no longer viewable, however, as it’s been removed from YouTube.] [Update: the video is viewable via the linked article, where someone has posted a new YouTube address in the comments section. While it is not nearly as graphic as the standard violence you’d see in a Hollywood film, viewer discretion is still advised].

We do not know if the execution is real or fake. Experts must decide that question. The important point is that “Demon” intended to use this action to intimidate Ukrainian officials.

Saving Ukraine … with Night Vision Goggles

 

shutterstock_31342912President Obama’s National Security Council has announced the allocation of $5 million for Ukraine amid the ongoing armed conflict in the southeastern part of the country, money that’s going to go to the purchase of things like night vision and body armor. This gesture is similar to the announcement after Crimea’s annexation that several hundred U.S. troops would take part in maneuvers in Poland and the Baltic States.

If Ukraine uses the entire $5 million to buy top- of-the-line night vision goggles, its hard-pressed army could get exactly 556 pairs … to fight a Russian mercenary army that numbers in the thousands.

Perhaps the president kept the number small so as not to upset Vladimir Putin? Do we still need his help in finding solutions to Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear weapon? Doesn’t Obama understand that the U.S. is already blamed in Russian propaganda for being behind the whole Ukraine mess? If we’re going to be vilified either way, why not give poor Ukraine some assistance worthy of the name?

The Truth About Ukraine

 

shutterstock_167810666Yesterday, President Obama gave a commencement address to the cadets at West Point. Here’s what he said about Ukraine:

This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next president. We don’t know how the situation will play out, and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order, working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future — without us firing a shot.

Here’s what he should have said:

What Putin Wants

 

In this final excerpt from my conversation with Michael McFaul —  America’s ambassador in Moscow up until as recently as the Sochi Olympics — I put to him the question we’ve all been nursing these past few months: just what, exactly, is Vladimir Putin up to? And when will his appetite be sated? His answer below:

 

Why This Idolisation of Putin?

 

shutterstock_181590386I chose that word carefully: idolisation. We in the West are enthusiastically and appropriately critical of our own leaders. That is fair enough, given the amount of ammunition with which they provide us. But we seem to view the enemies of the West as super-beings, chess masters in a real world board game.

Based on much of the media coverage, you’d think that Vladimir Putin has manipulated things ever so cleverly, whereas the reality is that he has messed up big time.

Yes, he now has Crimea, but that is a consolation prize for what he lost: the rest of Ukraine. Go back a couple of years, what did he have then?

The Pendulum Always Swings in Ukraine — Underground Conservative

 

I’ve resorted to a penname since Ricochet 2.0 came out. After the Mozilla events, it felt like using my name publicly has too many risks; but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  Some of you may recognize my avatar and then may further connect me to my past life.  From 2004 to 2009, I lived in Russia, working for a multi-national. From 2009 to 2010, I took some time off and lived in Odessa, Ukraine.  

I have a lot of insight, perspective, and contacts in both countries. Up to this point, however, I’ve moved on to normal life back in the U.S. and have become more and more disconnected from Russia and Ukraine.  Even the latest chain of events has left me fairly apathetic. It had become my conclusion that Russia will never change, despite my many hopes in the past, and that Ukraine is forever weak and schizophrenic about its identity. 

Why Did Anyone Believe That Power Politics Went Away?

 

Be sure to read this piece by Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann, which serves to remind us that, even though it is not the 19th century, nation-states still play the Great Game. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering in this revelation, but it has to be emphasized nonetheless because the Obama administration—through the comments of Secretary Kerry—seems to have thought that international power politics were a thing of the past. The Administration ought to have known better than that, but, for a time, it seemed to pretend not to know. If that kind of naïveté doesn’t bother you, you are more laid back than I am.

The following excerpt is especially worth pondering:

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Following the uneasy reunification of the Germanies, the early years of this century witnessed the phenomenon of Ostalgie – the puzzling fondness of East Germans for East German things. While most Ossies were content to be rid of the police surveillance and the inferior consumer products, some sentimentalists refused to let go of their Trabants […]

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Robert Coalson at The Atlantic accepted this challenge on March 31 (the 200th anniversary of the Russian army’s entry into Paris), and lived to to tell about it. Here’s what he learned: Europe is in flames. Russia is stable and efficient, but surrounded by envious enemies. Fascists are everywhere. Poland engineered Napoleon’s attack on Russia […]

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The Nation’s False and Dishonest Crimea Narrative

 

For those who believe that the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia might actually unite Americans of all ideological stripes in opposition to the thuggishness of the Putin regime, I give you this piece by editors of the Nation. It shows that even now, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation, while historical memories are still fresh, there are those who are willing to rewrite current events in order to advance a narrative filled with desperate attempts to explain away unjustified Russian bellicosity. And of course, it ought to surprise no one that the editors are willing to put forth false attempts at establishing moral equivalence in order to leave readers with the idea that the United States is really at fault in this story.

The urgent issue today is to stop the drift toward hot war. Yes, Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea trespasses on international law, though it is difficult to bear US officials’ invocation of a principle that Washington itself has often violated (see, most recently, Kosovo and Iraq, the latter now marking the eleventh anniversary of an illegal US invasion and occupation). Financial and visa sanctions, while inflicting a cost on Russia, will not deter Moscow. As Putin argued in his March 18 speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Russia feels “cornered” and has been repeatedly “deceived” by the West—particularly Washington—since the Soviet Union broke apart more than two decades ago, especially in light of the expansion of NATO to its borders.