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Old 02-20-2014, 05:18 PM   #1
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Situation in Ukraine

Surprised that no one has put up a post on the Ukraine situation, since it's a very important geo-political struggle going on there, IMO.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:48 AM   #2
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I've come to realize that people here don't care about stuff like that, so I didn't bother.

But..it is something I have been watching closely, because it is a sort of proxy war between the old western powers and the new eastern powers.
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Old 02-21-2014, 02:01 PM   #3
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Old 02-21-2014, 06:31 PM   #4
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I've come to realize that people here don't care about stuff like that, so I didn't bother.

But..it is something I have been watching closely, because it is a sort of proxy war between the old western powers and the new eastern powers.
What "new" eastern powers.
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Old 02-23-2014, 05:48 PM   #5
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Have been following it in the news - very sad.

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Old 02-24-2014, 11:18 AM   #6
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:31 PM   #7
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I think it was about 10 or 12 years ago now that the Ukranians elected a pro-Western leader and Putin tried to kill him with some radioactive cocktail that didn't work, but deformed the guy's appearance. The pro-Western/pro-Soviet fight in the Ukraine has been going on, probably since the break up of the USSR. At least that's an improvement over having the battle line in Berlin.

It's obvious why a faction of Ukranians would rather be affiliated with the economic sphere of Western Europe. I find it more baffling why there's a significant faction that would rather be hooked in with the second tier Russian sphere (though I haven't read anything about it). It's probably because of their ethnic roots and some people getting some sweetheart patronage kind of deals for going that way.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mark_Henderson View Post
I think it was about 10 or 12 years ago now that the Ukranians elected a pro-Western leader and Putin tried to kill him with some radioactive cocktail that didn't work, but deformed the guy's appearance. The pro-Western/pro-Soviet fight in the Ukraine has been going on, probably since the break up of the USSR. At least that's an improvement over having the battle line in Berlin.
He was dosed with dioxin, and developed Chlorachne

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It's obvious why a faction of Ukranians would rather be affiliated with the economic sphere of Western Europe. I find it more baffling why there's a significant faction that would rather be hooked in with the second tier Russian sphere (though I haven't read anything about it). It's probably because of their ethnic roots and some people getting some sweetheart patronage kind of deals for going that way.
The answer goes back at least 500 odd years and has to do with the Kingdom of Poland.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/eAVVWlUywO0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Much of present day Ukraine was part of Poland from ~1400 to ~1650.

With the Partition of Poland, starting in the late 1700's the Russians took control of the Ukraine.

You may think that all that happened so long ago, so why should anyone alive today care, well stop and recall the former Yugoslavia in the 90's. People there would recall stuff from the 1200's as forming the basis for actions they took then, so it isn't unheard of for things to be remembered for a long long time.

This isn't to say that the Ukraine will degenerate into a bloody civil war the way the Balkans did in the 90's, but simply that it isn't unheard of for people to look 500+ years in the past to provide an "identity" that motivates them today.

BTW, for those of you scoring at home, the Partition of Poland was the basis for my question about "what 'new' eastern powers".
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:30 AM   #9
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It's obvious why a faction of Ukranians would rather be affiliated with the economic sphere of Western Europe. I find it more baffling why there's a significant faction that would rather be hooked in with the second tier Russian sphere (though I haven't read anything about it). It's probably because of their ethnic roots and some people getting some sweetheart patronage kind of deals for going that way.
Some short answers.

1. Eastern Ukraine is largely ethnic Russian, just as one might say parts of the SW United States are ethnically Latino.

2. Ukraine gets something like 90% of their energy from Russia, specifically Gazprom.

3. Ukraine is deeply in debt to Russia.

Points 2 and 3 give Russia inordinate power over the Ukrainian government. They can outright turn off the power, and/or bankrupt Ukraine any time they want to.

It's more complicated than that, but this is the Cliff Notes version.

Regardless of who the Ukrainians elect, the government must obey Russia or either be killed, discredited, or see their country sink to economic oblivion.
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Old 02-26-2014, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O_P_T View Post
Much of present day Ukraine was part of Poland from ~1400 to ~1650.

With the Partition of Poland, starting in the late 1700's the Russians took control of the Ukraine.

You may think that all that happened so long ago, so why should anyone alive today care, well stop and recall the former Yugoslavia in the 90's. People there would recall stuff from the 1200's as forming the basis for actions they took then, so it isn't unheard of for things to be remembered for a long long time.

This isn't to say that the Ukraine will degenerate into a bloody civil war the way the Balkans did in the 90's, but simply that it isn't unheard of for people to look 500+ years in the past to provide an "identity" that motivates them today.

BTW, for those of you scoring at home, the Partition of Poland was the basis for my question about "what 'new' eastern powers".

I knew the ethnic history went back a lot longer than the break up of the USSR. I was just saying that the current struggle for the country's siding with Russia or Western Europe has been active for some years now. I think the leader that got poisoned was pushing for them to join NATO.

In addition to the long historical perspective, more Russians moved there during the Soviet era and probably during the tsarist empire too.
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Old 02-28-2014, 05:39 PM   #11
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Situation is getting tense.

Russia launched unplanned military "readiness" maneuvers on the Ukraine border.

Soldiers without insignia have been spotted at various airports in the Crimea.

The new Ukraine government is saying Russia has "invaded".

Obama has issued a statement warning there would be "costs" if Russia intervenes.

Nothing definitive has happened yet, but it certainly is a classic case of brinkmanship right now.

From the AP.



Quote:
Obama warns Russia of 'costs' in Ukraine

By MATTHEW LEE
AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is warning Russia there will be costs if Russia intervenes militarily in Ukraine.

Obama says the U.S. is deeply concerned by reports of military movements by Russia inside Ukraine.

He says any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be destabilizing. He says it would violate Russia's commitment to respect Ukraine's borders and would invite global condemnation.

Obama says the U.S. stands with the world community to affirm there will be costs for an intervention.

Obama spoke at the White House late Friday.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Cold War-tinged suspicions between Washington and Moscow are spiraling over the crisis in Ukraine despite the Obama administration's efforts to tamp them down.

Instead of lowering tensions, attempts by senior U.S. officials to calm the situation appear to be heightening the perception in Russia that developments in Ukraine have become an East-West duel for influence on the territory of the former Soviet Union. At the same time, reports of Russian military maneuvers in and around Ukraine and its strategic southern Crimean peninsula have fueled deep distrust of Russia in Washington and kindled fears of a repeat of Russia's 2008 conflict with Georgia, another western-leaning former Soviet republic.

On Friday, as pro-Russia gunmen patrolled Crimean streets in armored vehicles and took over airports there, and Ukraine's pro-Western interim authorities accused Moscow of invading their country, the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry delivered blunt warnings to Moscow against military moves in Crimea that could further inflame tensions.

Kerry and White House spokesman Jay Carney both said any Russian military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake" and that the United States was watching closely to see if Russian activity was "crossing a line." They did not, however, spell out any consequences for such an intervention.

Kerry said he called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the second time in two days to press the Kremlin to keep its promise to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Kerry told reporters that Lavrov had once again repeated Russian President Vladimir Putin's pledge to do just that while also pointing out that Russia has broad interests in Ukraine, including a major naval base in Crimea.

But Kerry, in comments that highlighted Washington's rising suspicion of Moscow, said the U.S. is watching to see if Russian activity in Crimea "might be crossing a line in any way." He added that the administration would be "very careful" in making judgments about that. Carney echoed Kerry's comments at the White House.

"While we were told that they are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty and do not intend to, I nevertheless made it clear that that could be misinterpreted at this moment," Kerry said. "There are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not send the wrong messages."

Ukraine, meanwhile, accused Russia of a "military invasion and occupation," saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports in Crimea.

Kerry reiterated the U.S. view that Russian military intervention in Ukraine following the ouster of the country's Russia-backed leader would run counter to Russia's self-professed opposition to such operations in other countries, such as Libya and Syria.

And Kerry noted that during his call with Lavrov, fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was holding a news conference in southern Russia in which he said he was not asking Moscow for military assistance and called military action "unacceptable." In his appearance before reporters, however, Yanukovych, who still regards himself the president, also vowed to "keep fighting for the future of Ukraine" and blamed the U.S. and the West for encouraging the rebellion that forced him to flee last weekend.

Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine, which is at the center of what many see as a tug of war between East and West.

One of the catalysts for massive demonstrations that led to Yanukovych's ouster was his rejection of a partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of historical ties with Moscow. That EU agreement would have paved the way for Ukraine's greater integration with the West, including potential affiliation with NATO, something to which Russia strongly objects for former Warsaw Pact members.

Underscoring U.S. concerns are memories of the conflict in Georgia, where Russian troops remain in two disputed enclaves in violation of a 2008 cease-fire.

Amid the heightened tensions over Ukraine, the U.S. this week twice renewed its objections to the Russian military presence in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

Kerry and other senior U.S. officials have tried without success to dispel widespread sentiment in Russia that the United States and Europe are trying to pry Ukraine out from under Russian influence. They have insisted repeatedly that Ukraine is not a "zero-sum game" in which one side - Russia or the West - wins and the other loses.

Their argument, though, seems to be falling on deaf ears in Moscow, where Russian officials have been accusing the U.S. and its allies of meddling in Ukraine, fomenting anti-Russia sentiment and actively encouraging Kiev's Western aspirations at the expense of its historical connections.


On Friday, Kerry said issues like EU or NATO partnerships should be put on the back burner in order to concentrate on reducing tensions and setting up a democratic transition.

""We do not want to get caught up in the historical or the more current tensions over association agreements or NATO or other kinds of things," he said. "There's a place for that down the road if Ukrainians want to have that debate, but we do not believe that that should be part of what is happening now. Now is time for transition and for respect for the pluralism and diversity and democracy that the people Ukraine want."
Looks like another Bad vs. Worse situation is developing. Hope the bad choice is made.
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Old 02-28-2014, 06:48 PM   #12
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Personally, I think Obama is in way over his head here.

Obama has no cards to play in Ukraine if the Russians decide to move in. Putin knows it, Obama knows it.

Barack is overplaying his hand with what he is saying, and he is grossly mistaken if he thinks the Russians will back down.....they have far more at stake in Ukraine than the US does. Ukraine owes them a boatload of cash, and Russia makes boatloads off of oil and gas, and they already have a military base there.

Something about Ukraine is not right....there is too much blatant, public belligerance over it. It's not the usual geopolitical game...and Russia has the strong hand here, while the US has no national interest in Ukraine except for the benefit of the EU, as far as I know.

There is more to this than meets the eye, but I'm not sure what it is.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:33 PM   #13
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Looks like another Bad vs. Worse situation is developing. Hope the bad choice is made.
I think you should be posting this in the is the end near thread...
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:38 PM   #14
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I think Putin is a bad mo fo... If Obama does have the stomach to stand up to Putin this could get very very ugly... I think Russia's one country will have to worry about more more as time goes on. President Putin wants to make his country relevant again. He wants the world to respect him and fear him.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:50 PM   #15
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Personally, I think Obama is in way over his head here. Obama has no cards to play in Ukraine if the Russians decide to move in. Putin knows it, Obama knows it. Barack is overplaying his hand with what he is saying, and he is grossly mistaken if he thinks the Russians will back down.....they have far more at stake in Ukraine than the US does. Ukraine owes them a boatload of cash, and Russia makes boatloads off of oil and gas, and they already have a military base there. Something about Ukraine is not right....there is too much blatant, public belligerance over it. It's not the usual geopolitical game...and Russia has the strong hand here, while the US has no national interest in Ukraine except for the benefit of the EU, as far as I know. There is more to this than meets the eye, but I'm not sure what it is.
Its quite simple.

Putin and the Oligarchs have a vested interest in reestablishing Russia as a world power. In their fantasies, approaching the USSR in the before time.

That is a fantasy because they no longer have the military might or political strength, on the world stage, to impose that same degree of power.

They are like a 4 year old, or a puppy. They will keep pushing to get more, until they meet sufficient resistance that they deem they have found their limits and stand pat.

Of course, that is a best case scenario. Countless wars have started over miscalculations where one side pushed too far and the other side didn't back down.

Take note that I've passed no judgement over where the appropriate balance between where Russian power and influence should end and where the EU or USA should begin.

As far as a US national interest, there are at least two.

First is the 1994 Budapest Memorandum http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ukrain...ity_Assurances

I'm sure the lawyers will have a field day interpreting the specific legal "nuances" of this agreement (i.e., the "letter of the law), but the clear spirit of the memorandum is that the UK and the USA pledged to protect the Ukraine "sovereignty" in agreement for them to give up the nuclear weapons left behind after the break up of the Soviet Union.

Failing to follow up on a diplomatic commitment has consequences.

Second is that should Russia intervene militarily, this will be the second time they have done so recently. Previously they did so in Georgia.

They pushed then and no one pushed back.

If they push again in Ukraine, then they are even more likely to push again elsewhere.

What if they push someplace else? Say one of the Baltic republics, that are in NATO?

Do we let that slide?

This is why the Ukraine situation is a "Bad vs. Worse" question.

If Russia takes military action, which is "Bad" option and which is the "Worse"?

If the US essentially does nothing, what are the consequences?

It will have reneged on a promise to Ukraine and will have encouraged Russia to toss its weight around more.

How many other countries will reevaluate their relationship with the US and ask if we will honor our agreements with them when the smelly brown stuff hits the rotating blades? What will be the long term effects of that?

What will an encouraged Russia do trying to expand their power and influence? Will they be encouraged to the point that they push too far or too fast and cross a line we can't accept?

If the US does decide to take action, what do we do?

Could we intervene militarily? Sure, but to what effect?

If we talk the talk about stopping the Russians, but fail to walk the walk, would the situation be worse than if we did nothing?

Maybe. Being viewed as unwilling to use one's military power has effects, but they aren't the same as being seen to have incapable military power.

Of course, even if we were to intervene effectively, it would be a war with the expenditure of blood and treasure that involves.

So which one of these is the "Bad" choice and which is the "Worse" one?

Damned if I know.

IMHO, anyone who claims to know for sure is either a fool or an ideologue
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