Tag: Ukraine

Putin Sends a Message… and Bombers


President Obama has spent most of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing trying to avoid Vladimir Putin. For his part, the Russian leader seemed amused at the cold shoulder, gamely trying to force photo ops with his American counterpart. The result was a collected, smirking Putin and an exhausted, peevish Obama. The body language of the photo above tells the story almost as well as Russia’s latest troop movements.

As Obama bumbled at APEC, Putin moved his army into Ukraine:

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Yeah, those guys. Forgot about them for a bit, didn’t we? Scotland was fun to chat about, but they aren’t the ones with the planes and the ships and the nukes. So, a few hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Canada’s Parliament, this happened: Preview Open

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An Appeal to the West from a Ukrainian Patriot


With Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko scheduled to address Congress tomorrow, we must understand that he faces both the external problem that we follow closely and an internal problem about which we hear little. The external problem is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which has led to over 3,000 deaths. The internal problem is Ukraine’s political crisis which Irina Gokieli addresses below.

The Maidan revolution was a popular uprising against Russian domination, against a corrupt political class, and against a society that lacked a rule of law. In her essay, Irina describes Ukraine’s hard road in fighting both an external and an internal conflict with a parliamentary election looming in the near future. As Mikhail Gorbachev before him in Russia, Poroshenko faces a parliament that reflects the corruption and abuse of the ruling elite that has held sway over Ukraine since independence. She issues an urgent appeal to the West to pressure Ukraine to deal with its internal problems, without which Ukraine has little hope of prevailing over Russian aggression.

A Teachable Moment for Rand Paul?


We now have on our hands Barack Obama’s War, for our latest Middle Eastern war belongs entirely to him. And someone — let it be me! — should alert Sen. Rand Paul to this teachable moment, for Obama’s War (which Rand Paul supports) was brought on by the very policy of non-intervention that he, his father, and the Cato Institute all championed. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has testified in word and deed, there is essentially no difference on foreign affairs between left-wing Democratics and arch-libertarians who sometimes vote Republican.

This war might have been avoided. Had Obama taken the trouble to arrange for a few thousand American soldiers to remain in Iraq — as he easily could have — the Iraqi’s coalition government between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd would have held, despite Maliki’s perfidy. That, in turn, would have prevented al-Qaeda’s reemergence in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. Moreover, ISIS would not be in control of great swathes of Syria had the president followed the advice of his advisors and allies and backed the secular-minded opposition to Bashar al-Assad from the start.

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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: