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Crimea, Putin and the Ukraine

I’m trying to figure out this whole Ukraine thing

About 16,000 Russian troops are reportedly in Crimea without bearing any flag or insignia on their uniform. I’d point to the Geneva Convention except Russia just violated Ukrainian sovereignty. But why would Russian troops show up in Crimea, an autonomous region of the Ukraine, without any insignia? Were they hoping no one would notice they were Russian? Did they hope to pass them off as local Ukrainian’s rising up against the government overthrow? No idea. All I know now is that they seem to be surrounding military installations in Crimea. They may or may not have delivered in ultimatum to Ukraine’s military. Putin says he is protecting ethnic Russians who the west claims are not in any danger. Normally I don’t trust the western media too much and despite being a proud American I often travel to other new sources if for no other reason than to see how they spin the news.

The only place I looked (and I didn’t look very hard) that documented any atrocities or human rights concerns was in the Russian media which I understand to be a loose puppet of the Russian state. I mean I’m ignorant of many things but I do know that prominent Russian journalists who are anti-government also tend to end up anti-living. Anna Politkovskaya comes to mind (case unsolved).

I’ll give you that it’s hard to search google for things like “Ukraine russian ethnic violence” right now when every news article in the last 15 hours has some combination of those words in it. It’s just hard to get a clear picture of what’s going on. US and EU officials seem to be treating it as if Putin is in some sort of drug induced phase and we just need to wait for him to sober up. The Russians for their part aren’t doing much to dispel that notion except to show Putin watching military demonstrations with glazed eyes and to release statements through the foreign ministry that don’t seem to bear any relation to fact. You got to hand it to the Russians, if the ultimatum is true, they picked a clever way to fight this. Everyone knows that the Russian military could likely bulldoze over that of the Ukraine. But if you’re one of those soldiers in the Crimean barracks, surrounded by those same Russians, you’re probably shitting your pants right now watching videos of those military exercises. Putin might take over Crimea without firing a shot…for now.

But this doesn’t look like this can end this way does it? Will the US and EU seriously just let Russia walk into Ukraine? Ukraine voted with an outstanding majority to break off from the Russians in the nineties and while separatism has been moderately popular in much of eastern Ukraine my understanding was that it was never a dominant force. And what now of Latvia? Estonia? Will Russia open up again with the Fins before its all said and done?

Of course not because those are NATO countries. NATO is not maybe what it use to be. There might be a lot of discord and disagreement but Europe does not want Russia to advance and they can conceivably stop Russia. Putin doesn’t want a war with NATO because that doesn’t help anyone and there is the very real possibility that he would lose, particularly if he was the aggressor. Russia looks pretty powerful now but who would you put your money on to win WW3, Russia or NATO? It doesn’t matter because all are loser in that scenario and neither one can be certain enough of victory to risk it. The EU isn’t poised to invade Russia. Marginalize it probably but Russia’s got China and other allies why not just stick with them? Let Europe marginalize you and just deal with your buddies. Europe has no intentions to invade you. As for China, you think China will back you up in a war with the US and NATO. NO FUCKING WAY. China has enough of it’s own problems without picking sides in a fight with no winners. Not to mention that China and the US are closer buddies than they let on. Their politicians might publicly and privately disagree but both governments know how intricately they are connected and have no desire to seriously disrupt that. That’s why we don’t press China on human rights and they don’t get involved in our shit unless it affects one of their allies and then only up to a point. The Chinese government seems to be run like a corporation with awesome kickbacks and expense accounts. They’re in it to figure out how to turn their 1.3 billion employees into profit. They’d probably trade to both sides but fight neither. Maybe just maybe if Russia were on the ropes bad they’d snatch up some land but even then i doubt they need the headache.

Putin has to know that right? So what is this really about? Why is he doing something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel? As absurd as it sounds this has the very real potential to escalate to war. The same notion has sounded absurd before and then turned out true. If I have to site examples of that to you than you shouldn’t be reading this blog (I doubt anyone will). Will Russia just take Crimea? Will everybody just be cool with that? The US can’t let that happen, they have treaties, but what can they do? NATO could send in a bunch of troops to the Ukraine (at the invitation of the government in the Ukraine if they even have a legitimate one) and other bordering NATO states and demand Russia withdraw. I know what Russia will do. They’ll bring a bunch of troops to their border because now they have a legitimate threat and concern on their border. Putin won’t have to reach far for propaganda about western imperialism if NATO tanks are on the border. If a fight doesn’t escalate the best scenario is the next cold war. Now keeping those bases in Okinawa, Europe and Korea doesn’t seem like such a bad idea does it. I bet Merkel won’t be bitching about NSA wiretaps for a while now that Russia is knocking on their doorstep so to speak.

But this can’t lead to war, can it? Is the world that crazy? Are we blowing this out of proportion? This isn’t the Sudetenland and Austria all over again is it?

I have no fucking clue.

Right now Europe and Obama seem to be playing the long game. They don’t have to make any military decisions yet but we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I can’t see a way in which they allow Russia to invade the Ukraine but I also don’t know if they’ll have the balls to stop them. I think they will because I think just showing the Russians we could mean war would do enough to stop them (but that’s a dangerous fucking game). Does Russia even have grander designs past Crimea? Has this been in the works for a while? Obama seems to be counting on Putin withdrawing from Crimea at some point. I don’t think he thinks that Putin has designs to stay there long term but what the fuck do I know? Nothing, absolutely nothing. I’m just guessing at best.

As always, this is my humble opinion and nothing else.