NATO Needs to Move Now on Crimea by Admiral James Stavridis (Ret), Foreign Policy
… Hopefully, there can be high-level diplomatic discussions at the United Nations, European Union, and other international organizations that will lead to full territorial integrity of the sovereign state of Ukraine. And the state of the Russian Black Sea fleet has to be sensibly resolved, as do important trading and energy relations. The hope is that cooler heads will prevail.
However, hope is not a strategy, and therefore further action should be considered. Planning is vital to laying out options to decision makers, and NATO's military planners should have a busy weekend at least.
This is a classic case of a situation where the United States should be working in lock step with our allies around the world, but especially our European friends and most notably the 28 members of the NATO alliance…
I thought this article might be of interest given the topic and the author of this SWJ piece:
<blockquote>Now Misha, as he is commonly known, is back in the headlines. This time it is not as an object of the adulation he no doubt believes is his due, but rather as the subject of criminal charges that have been filed against him by Georgia’s general prosecutor for the “violent dispersal of demonstrators” in November 2007 as well as for attempting to seize an independent television station, Imedi.
These charges have caused a good amount of consternation among his Washington fan base. Senators John McCain and Ben Cardin, along with two Senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Jim Risch, neither previously noted for their expertise in Caucasian affairs, released a statement decrying the charges as politically motivated. The Senators began by conceding that “President Saakashvili and his government were not faultless…”
That is only too true. Leaving aside that during the brief 2008 conflict, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented numerous cases of Georgian forces targeting civilians and using cluster bombs in violation of international law; subsequently, evidence surfaced that Saakashvili and his government imprisoned and tortured political prisoners as a matter of course during his years in office. Even as recently as the 2012 Georgian elections, State Department veteran John Kornblum noted the “ruthless oppression of freedom and violence against [opposition] campaign workers.”</blockquote>
Despite others making fun of me for continuing to read this site and post here, I am glad I "stayed." I am getting quite an education. Won't make any difference, but it's still the correct thing to do.
There is something that we tend to forget in this long thread and it goes back to a comment by Robert that this is really a sphere of influence issue and we should not be involved.
If we take the Putin Doctrine and it is now in the realm of International Relations a true political doctrine we can identify currently worldwide over 345 ethnic/language/religion pockets of populations that could in fact be taken over by a neighboring country with a large of amount of these being in Africa. Most of the problem lies with the colonial powers and the way they drew arbitrary borders years ago. So now are we viewing the complete reshuffle of sovereign borders?
The question becomes then do we walk away (not get involved) from these future events with the simple argument that is a sphere of influence?
That is really what this is all about---the unlimited ability of one country to take portions of another using a fake argument ie language/religion/ethnicity in order to expand their own territory at the cost of the neighbor.
And this in the 21st century and in the absence of a cold war.
Just a side comment---the current actions and comments out of Moscow the last two days including this morning led me to believe that Putin has now turned this into what we feared in the 80s a true conflict over East vs West.
The comments coming from Moscow have a tone and style truly never seen before even in the cold war days and it could be summed up by this comment late last night by Moscow and it is a direct challenge to the EU/NATO and the US.
"Der Garant für Sicherheit in der Region sei allein Russlands Präsident Wladimir Putin."
Security in the region can only be guaranteed by Russia's President Putin.
Now if you were a former eastern European vassal to the SU after 1945 what are you thinking now?
If you are the US has now your concept of soft power failed and Putin is relegating you to the dust bin of history and a second rate power?
Also has the decision to literally pull all troops out of Europe come back to haunt the decision makers that made that decision?
Now is the EU being directly challenged to the point that they are being made politically insignificant?
Interesting questions that will be answered in the coming 10 days if not sooner as the Russian comments are even directly challenging the Germans.
This may sound cynical but I know the answers that are coming--so I am going to enjoy the summer like winter we are getting into now and thank global warming for keeping my heating bill low AND watch history being made.
This came in over the social media at 11:08 this morning on Der Spiegel.
It seems that Putin is "really sad" ---" really really sad"that the West has thrown up a wall of "misunderstanding" in what the Russians and Putin are trying to do-and "he feels misunderstood"--as stated by his own Press Speaker.
The key interesting comment is at the last when they are indicating that it is they who are being driven by events NOT them driving the events---now that is an interesting admission.
Admitting that you are evidently "being driven by events" is not a good thing for an alleged superpower these days.
So I guess the solution of the Crimea events is what to offer to send a delegation of therapists to Moscow at no cost then they will pull back---just why did they not say that sooner?
Wladimir Putin fühlt sich unverstanden: "Trotz aller Anstrengungen unseres Präsidenten und seiner Bereitschaft, die russische Position Tag für Tag zu erklären, stoßen wir immer noch auf eine Mauer des Unverständnisses", sagte Putins Sprecher Dmitrij Peskow dem TV-Sender Rossija 24. "Das ist wirklich traurig." Moskau steuere auch überhaupt nicht die Entwicklungen in der Ukraine - "ganz im Gegenteil".
While Putin seems to be "getting along" with Obama at least telephonically daily---this statement from 1400 today shows the Russian response (actually Putins') to the initial EU step phased sanction actions which seems to really have hit a major nerve.
In the realm of international relations this statement displays a series of emotions that is rare to see at least in the open and for the entire public---but again it is part and parcel of the KGB/FSB I/O game.
The problem that Putin is running into is that while he "assumes" he is a superpower--his economy is based on two raw resources oil/gas---but the rest of it is crumbling and is in dire need of foreign investment and new industries which can only come from the West. Secondly, the gas weapon will not hold as the winter in Europe was extremely mild and the summer has actually started further reducing the need for gas. European reserves are sitting on 3/4s full which gives the EU appox 6-8 months of time and surprisingly the green energy is actually reducing further dependence on gas in ever increasing amounts.
Lastly the EU Cartel Office has found three major violations on the part of Gazprom allowing the EU to fine Gazprom 10% of last years total earnings ---that fine which will be massive---and they are looking at current violations and thinking about higher fines for 2014---so the gas weapon is rather dull.
Yes it will hurt the EU if they go into a full scale embargo but they seem to think it is worth it in the end---the question Putin has to answer is it worth destroying his own economy over the Crimea in the end game?
So in the end Putin is failing to realize and maybe it is an Putin ego thing that really Russia is just an emerging economy at the most or maybe a level two economy---it just has nuclear weapons thus is a tad different than other emerging economies. He has not even realized that the EU has turned Russia into a cheap labor production country as they have virtually nothing in the way of Russian made products that are sold inside the EU.
IMO this response reflects the Putin miscalculation that (after the Georgia experience) things would go to be back to business as usual in a short fashion.
(14:52) – Heute
Russland schickt klare Botschaft an die EU
In der Krim-Krise hat Russland der Europäischen Union für den Fall schärferer Sanktionen mit einer deutlichen Antwort gedroht. Härtere Strafmaßnahmen gegen Moskau würden nicht ohne Reaktion bleiben, teilte das Außenministerium in Moskau am Freitag mit. Die jüngsten Beschlüsse der EU zur Lösung des Ukraine-Konflikts seien "nicht konstruktiv".
Besonders das Einfrieren von Verhandlungen über Visa-Erleichterungen und über ein neues Rahmenabkommen für die Beziehungen zwischen Brüssel und Moskau sei "befremdlich". Es dränge sich der Eindruck auf, dass diese Entscheidungen nicht vom "gesunden Menschenverstand" geleitet worden seien, hieß es.
It has been interesting to see the reactions by Putin to the mounting economic pressures---he first signals to the Germans that he "might be" interested in dialog in a fact finding mission and then maybe with an observer team from the OSCE which Russia is a member.
Then when the West attempts to create the "fact finding group" the Russians block any engaging attempts then when the OSCE is standing at the Crimea crossing point they are blocked entrance by these Putin so called "civilian defense groups" that kind of look like the Russian army in sanitized camos but with Russian military license plates of the Black Sea Fleet. From the comments of the OSCE theyindicate the "civilians soldiers" were very professional and very well trained---so much for the myth of "civilians".
All he has been doing is playing the delaying card to win time to de facto do a quick election to ensure Crimea stays inside Russia nothing less nothing more.
The only thing that will get his attention is a strong series of sanctions as talk does nothing for him as he knows with time it will die out---he just has to wait the West out as he did in Georgia.
There is great fear on some of the Russian blogs indicating they fully understand the sanctions impact based on Iran and from the various official responses they seem confused and do yet not quite have figured out how to counter it.
This report came out over German blogging on the halting of the OCSE team.
Die OSZE-Beobachter steckten fest, aber sie würden nicht umkehren, zitiert die AFP westliche Diplomatenkreise: "Sie werden von zwei Gruppen Bewaffneter nicht reingelassen." Die Kämpfer seien "sehr professionell, sehr gut ausgebildet".
To really understand the Crimea conflict or what I call the new Putin Doctrine of annexation through language spoken there are at least four things all running parallel to each other at this time and place that have made even myself go back to rethink over 40 years of military and political science training and education.
Living now in Berlin and speaking fluent German and Russian compliments by the way of the excellent SF language training in Oberammergau Germany and the then even greater/excellent Soviet Studies School in Garmisch Germany---it is great to tap into social media and open source media in the two languages plus the English on the side to get a far better picture of the parallel events running in the background.
By the way Berlin has a large Ukrainian and Russian population that has been holding common demos in front of the Russian embassy here against Putin---strange that they get along but Putin does not.
This particular conflict has opened up a discussion on what some call the hard and soft forms of political actions/responses---soft referring to the current WH response and hard referring to Putin.
There has been in the EU and particularly now with Germany a possible third way developing that is in between the two and which indicates that Putin may have directly caused his own worst nightmare---an emerging consensus within the EU and NATO that will effect Europe in the coming years.
Remember it is all about getting consensus with 28 countries which is like a training video I use to use for Commanders and Staffs called "Herding Cats".
Will provide more thoughts later today as I work through a number of German and Russian comments from the last two days.
Rant Corp---I had not brought up these points as it tends to add an emotional side to a rather complex problem that G martin could if he had the time and historical background create an excellent case for complex theory and design.
You are in fact correct---right now NATO has been forced into major meetings as Poland under article 4 asked for the meetings.
Putin has done a number of things---
1. he has destroyed the myth that the Ukrainians and Russians are brothers in arms based on WW2
2. he has effectively created the Putin Doctrine which if not thoroughly challenged allows him when he wants to invade any country when a group of people speak Russia
3. he has no established a threat in the Crimea that effectively isolates the Ukraine meaning they can never join the EU or NATO---if they did he would threaten to invade the eastern portion---something that came through clearly yesterday in his press conference
He in effect has turned Europe back to the Cold War days by firing a ICBM much like the NKs with Kim does when he wants attention.
My concern is that the WH does not get this and my deeper concern is why did the entire IC miss the moves as they have been building since 2008.
Just how is it possible that 150K man Army mobilizes and moves without any prior warning---this was exactly the deep fears of Europe/NATO back in the 70/80s.
To the IC---are you simply to tired of chasing AQ not see other development in the world---ever remember Pearl Harbor---what happen to that small intel world called Indications and Warnings?
This is what happens if you spend 600 billion dollars every year on a military that gets its butt kicked up around its ears by folks who plant fertilizer bombs and walk around in sandals with goat shit stuck between their toes.
It gets all kinds of crazy people thinking bad things.
At the moment I seriously doubt that any West European is willing to risk even a 5 cent rise in a liter of petrol for the sake of the Ukrainians.
That needs to be made to change for all our sakes.
In times like this every Central European will apply the ‘Ask the Mantelpiece’ test to determine what foreigners can they rely on when the Bear threatens the door.
In probably every home in this part of Europe there will be upon the mantelpiece above the fireplace a collection of photos. Most will be of children but in a pride of place there will be a few faded black and white photos depicting rather stoic looking people in stiff poses. The frames of these old photos are usually very heavy solid silver – many with rather elaborate orthodox Christian markings and probably draped with rosary beads and a small crucifix.
All over central Europe people will look into the eyes of these long dead people and ask themselves which one of these parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters or close friends ended up in a ditch with a German or Russian bullet in the back of their neck or starved to death and left by the side of the road.
For tens of millions of folks they will stare into the eyes of at least one murdered relative - for some suffering families there will be dozens. It is the foreigners who share this terrible legacy that the Ukrainians are hoping will come to the aid.
And those folks will overwhelmingly be Polish.
I believe it is very important that folks should not confuse what happened to the Polish and Ukrainian Christians in this part of Europe with the Nazis slaughter of the Jews. Many more Ukrainians and Polish gentiles died at the hands of Stalin and Hitler than did Jews. It is an appalling fact but before WW2 even began, the Stalin killed as many Ukrainians in the Holomor as the Nazis had Jews exterminated during WW2.
However in recognizing Clausewitz’s foremost lesson about knowing what you are getting into, the sad truth is many folks in this part of Europe are terribly anti-Semitic. I recall a briefing back in the day when folks were attempting to resurrect the Ukrainian People’s Army to fight UW within the SU and the plight of John Demjanjuk (Auschwitz’s Ivan the Terrible) was mentioned. The UPA representative was explaining how embarrassed he was that USD2 million had been raised for the former Auschwitz guard’s defense.
I naively asked whether that amount of money and support was hampering recruitment. He gave me a questioning glance and explained he was frustrated by the fact that everyone in the Ukrainian community knew Demjanjuk to be innocent. If on the other hand had they believed Demjanjuk to be guilty they would have raised USD 20 million with no trouble at all.
The Poles will fight with or without us. The Ukrainian will fight as well but Putin (stupidly IMHO) does not fear the Ukrainians. Whether he is deluded by a sense brotherliness or lack of a large enough standing Army it doesn’t matter he probably is correct in thinking that the Ukrainians standing alone could not hold off the Russian Army.
But not so the Poles. Putin knows they will sacrifice millions of their citizens to keep the Bear from subjugating them again and he will lose.
So how to avoid a bloodbath.
The Poles should threaten the Germans that they will mobilize the Polish Armed Forces if the EU doesn’t apply full economic and political sanctions on Putin. They can bring up the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Katyn, the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the Massacre of Ukrainian Cossacks at Lienz, the Polish Cavalry Charge at Krojanty and hundreds of emotive and harrowing accounts of German - Russian brutality against Poles and Ukrainians.
The propaganda fire the Poles and the Ukrainians could light under the backside of the whole German political class would be unbearable. For good measure they could declare their willingness to once again defend themselves from attack from both East and West as they have been doing for 900 years.
Despite censorship Putin would find it very difficult to stop the whole Molotov, Katyn, Warsaw Uprising, Holomor tsunami of Soviet atrocities sweeping across the Russian internet – probably for the first time.
And everyone goes home.
For those that speak German here is a massively interesting article showing a Ukrainian Air Force Bde that while totally unarmed marched up singing to the Russian SF Commander who demanded they surrender and become line crossers which the entire Bde refused to do not even for the increased monthly pay the Russia SF Commander was offering them.
My respect---not sure how western army units while surrounded by superior forces would challenge the aggressor in the way they did and still not surrender. They stated it was for their pride in the Ukraine and their military.
The KGB/FSB I/O TV network RT carried this same photo BUT claiming they had crossed over---the actual story is now being carried via social media in Moscow as proof on just how bad RT is at putting out propaganda.
Pictures like these are starting to hurt Putin's image as many Russians know that the Ukraine fought side by side with Russia during WW2.
That fact was thrown in the face of the Russian SF Commander.
A yet Putin still claims no Russian troops in the Crimea.
Who says sanction threats cannot cause some in Moscow to flip out.
Know this individual who in the past has made some out of control/crazy right wing/Russian nationalist comments meaning this is not unusual for him--the KGB/FSB use him to lance anti anything comments and stories---
This one is strange even for him---if you do not pay back company bank loans then you are in default/then you go out of business and risk the entire country being sucked into default.
This came out of a pro Putin supporter yesterday who was making the case they could resist economic sanctions---notice though the amount on hand---if true then why are they dependent on outside investment and new companies when in they they could go for global funding outside and finance it internally with that amount.
Again a lanced KGB/FSB I/O comment for western media and it got picked up.
"But pro-Kremlin experts argue that Russia, which has nearly $500 billion in foreign currency reserves, can weather the economic storm, and that any sharp diplomatic gestures are likely to be short-lived". (2008 experiences)
Does not fit the doom and gloom coming out of the Russian business community yesterday after the market/rubel crashes.
This is from TIME a few hours ago from one of their reporters in the Crimea which shows an interesting development with the former eastern bloc that I think Putin and the Russian Army generals did not calculate at all.
One should not forget that the current Russian Army group of Generals are holdovers from the old Soviet Army while the new guard coming up at say the LTC/COL levels are products of post SU and actually have vastly different opinions than the top generals when they are outside their senior command structures---they can make great jokes about the Soviet Army days and current Generals in ways we would not dare in our Army or at least publicly in the US Army.
In many ways they envy the US Army and have a respect for our Iraq and AFG combat experiences as soldiers and as an Army---by the way a number speak good English.
My deep concern is when this is all over and done the new Putin Doctrine still exists as a valid Russian annexation tool.
Every single state in the former Soviet Union, from Central Asia to the Baltics, has a large Russian-speaking population, and this statement means that Russia reserves the right to invade when it feels that population is threatened. The natural reaction of any Russian ally in the region would be to seek security guarantees against becoming the next Ukraine. For countries in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, including Armenia, a staunch Russian ally, that would likely stir desires for a closer alliance with NATO and the European Union. For the countries of Central Asia, Russia’s traditional stomping ground on the geopolitical map of the world, that would mean strengthening ties with nearby China, including military ones.
China, which has long been Russia’s silent partner on all issues of global security from Syria to Iran, has also issued cautious statements regarding Russia’s actions in Ukraine. “It is China’s long-standing position not to interfere in others’ internal affairs,” the Foreign Ministry reportedly said in a statement on Sunday. “We respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
So in the course of one weekend, Putin has spooked all of the countries he wanted to include in his grand Eurasian Union, the bloc of nations he hoped would make Russia a regional power again. The only gung-ho participants in that alliance so far have been Kazakhstan (see above) and Belarus, which is known as Europe’s last dictatorship. Its leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has so far remained silent on the Russian intervention in Ukraine. But last week, Belarus recognized the legitimacy of the new revolutionary government in Kiev, marking a major break from Russia, which has condemned Ukraine’s new leaders as extremists and radicals. The Belarusian ambassador in Kiev even congratulated Ukraine’s new Foreign Minister on taking office and said he looks forward to working with him.
As for the impoverished nation of Armenia, a late-comer to Russia’s fledgling Eurasian alliance, it has also recognized the new government in Kiev while stopping short of any official condemnation of Putin’s intervention in Ukraine so far. But on Saturday, prominent politicians led an anti-Putin demonstration in the Armenia capital. “We are not against Russia,” said the country’s former Minister of National Security David Shakhnazaryan. “We are against the imperial policies of Putin and the Kremlin.”
Ned---what was even more interesting was the fact that the outgoing USAREUR Commander had tried during his entire tour to get invited to Moscow to met his counterpart.
Only happened after the first exercise was completed and resulting lessons learned session after the first exercise ---then magically the doors were opened and his invitation came from Moscow.
Wish there were a "LIKE" button to ping here. This particular branch of the discussion is interesting because I have been turned down for development positions for not assuring the interviewers that, for example, I could bring Afghan contracting standards up to Western standards in two year and, instead, saying two generations, not two years. In the interim, start grooming the rising stars among the rising generation by training them, sponsoring them for international conventions / seminars (i.e., doing the civilian equivalents to what the U.S. did with this cross-national training).
major.rod---the reason I think this initiative is/was important for them and the capping will hurt is that a group of younger officers COLs really do want to copy us---as they see the combat experience forming our future army and the Russians have not had a "good war" say since WW2 and they wanted to learn from us.
The senior COL from the MoD who was driving the combined exercises after we worked a really solid combined C&C (integrating both Russian and US decision making processes) and standardized templates in two languages stated at the end of the working session last Dec 2012 that it was "historic" in their eyes as to what had been achieved.
Russians tend to use that word sparingly--our side though did not get what they meant as regular Army tends to not be great FID individuals at that level.
Once AV12/13 were in the record books look at how the mil to mil took off with visits on both sides.
It was a big deal for them.
major.rod---the first two critical bi-lateral exercises were held in Grafenwoehr in 2012 and 2013 and were called Atlas Vision 12 and 13 and were scheduled to occur every year up to 2015---2014 was to be in Moscow and there was then talk to hold a combined Bde sized operation in the wide open spaces of Russia.
Everything is totally unclassified which I found great as it demands more to plan unclass as classified.
Built around the peacekeeping theme that was something neutral and Russia had some good experience in ---we do not have the same experience levels.
The first exercise AV12 was more of a sniff and see each other since there had been no official contacts since about 2004/2005 when there was something similar called the Torgau exercises which were similar but each side did they own thing with their command structures. Then there was a really long break and we were totally surprised when they showed up and were anxious to do one inside 90 days if possible which we pulled off---was not easy though.
The uniqueness of AV is that it was an attempt to develop a combined C&C structure where two different militaries can function error free using standardized report forms in two languages---the next piece was developing a combined decision making process combining the Russia decision making process with the US MDMP. Finally the last piece actually combined maneuvering within a UN mandated peacekeeping operation.
Was actually successfully done after a strenuous week of combined two language debates at the Marshall Center in Garmish (the old Soviet Studies Center)and a modified form was actually found which in my eyes was a total major step forward for any combined concept.
Out of the exercises we were shown for the first time by the Russians their actual decision making process something we on the intel side had sought for many years to understand---that is why I cannot for the life of me NOT understand how the WH and IC are not getting what is going on with Putin's "civilian defense" units in the Crimea which he now yesterays stated he cannot order back to their barracks as they are not Russian troops---come on--Russian military equipment with military license plates---plausible deniability .
IMO they really were attempting to reach out and really wanted to learn from us---based on the seriousness they exhibited in the planning meetings 2 of which were in Moscow, the quality of the officers/ w English abilities with some and the large numbers sent.
Will give you an example---for a Russian soldier to remain outside Russia for longer than three days takes the physical signature of the MoD personally---and they were there over 8 days at a 35 man strength so you can see the internal emphasis on the exchange.
Will search out the actual unit designators for their two Peacekeeping Bdes for you.
Will ontact you via your blog.
Outlaw - I find your points on our bi-lateral training with Russian military forces and the impact on the Ukraine situation fascinating. Do you have references to these previous exercises and the Russian BDE's involved? I'd like to write on the subject myself and want to be as well documented as possible as well as refer to you as a source. If you could reach out through my blog gruntsandco we could correspond directly.
Concerning a previous comment of mine that the US Army had trained during two US/Russian peacekeeping exercises Russian staff officers from their Peacekeeping Bdes---some initial reports are coming out that the two Russian Peacekeeping Bdes are in fact now on the ground in the Crimea.
Great to see our training being effective--appears we are better at training Russians than say Iraqis.
This may in fact be the defining moment for Germany---meaning always remaining on the sidelines and or actively and finally forming their own foreign policies and defending the EU.
In the past they were able to sidestep but no longer is that possible.
The interesting thing is that they felt for years that being a loyal political partner as well as a economical partner Russia would at least listen.
They are quietly noticing that it got them nothing---now it will be interesting to see if they step up---what is interesting is that both parties the SPD and the CDU---left and right are both frozen in their opinions and one sees that in their actions.
Also opinion polls are showing the public leaning to avoidance of war if it over the Ukraine mainly due to the large numbers of east bloc individuals flooding into Germany right now.
<i>Putin is literally betting that the West will back down and not use the massive economic pressure they can in fact deploy against him because they cannot get a unified position among themselves.</i>
Yes, that's his bet... and it's a pretty safe bet. The US can't impose meaningful sanctions alone: the US economy is just not that closely linked to the Russian economy. The US and Europe acting together could impose really meaningful sanctions... but they won't. What I think you're forgetting here is that the EU is also under deep economic stress, and the Germans in particular (Germany is the key to aking sanctions work) are not about to lose their Russian export markets or their Russian gas just to punish Putin. German sanctions on Russia would be as much sanctions on Germany as on Russia, and there's very little chance of Germany going along with an aggressive sanctions regime.
In short: yes, a unified and aggressive US/EU sanctions regime would really hurt the Russians... but there's little or no chance of the EU going along with it.
carl--no actually and this is a compliment for the Russian Army they do have two standing true UN designated peacekeeping BDEs that have some good UN experience. They are actually quality wise quite well trained for UN assignments ---we have nothing in the way of the same type of unit as we tend to form our units based on the mission that is assigned.
Maybe something DoA should look at for long term development as there is an increase in UN operations.
This is different from the Russian MOI internal security units which are armed and wear the same uniforms as the army with only different patches.
Ned--the peacekeeping units go as follows---one in alert status one in training which lasts for the training unit one year.
The leak was in an interview being conducted when the journalist speaking Russian asked are you Russian and the response was yes and then the question what unit then a quietly spoken "peacekeeping".
You can the see the ease they have with civilians and they are definitely holding to a tight ROE.
As in the Sudetenland, or maybe the Anschluss, the new norm of protecting ethnic / linguistic segments of other countries only works if its corollary, appeasement, is firmly in place. Hopefully, Chancellor Angela Merkel will tell President Obama, "Now, don't go wobbly on me, Barack". As the hours pass, with not a finger lifted by the West, the options for a decisive small intervention to deter further action has about run out.
Truthfully, I lack the knowledge of logistics and other burdens of partial / mini / micro mobilization. Nonetheless the string of inaction by President Obama is impressive with the following:
1. forced de-militarization of U.S. support for defenses of Poland and the Czech Republic;
2. the hijacking of the insurgency in Syria; as well as,
3. the loss of nerve in Iraq in 2010 (when President al-Maliki subverted the electoral process and when the U.S., with over 50,000 troops still in-country, squandered its leverage by not pressing al-Maliki to accede to a peaceful transfer of power).
On another note. I am surprised to learn that peace-keeping troops are the ones from the Red Army in the Crimea. I had thought that, without identifying patches, these people might be equivalent to the 'black patches' I remember in Iraq.
Russian Duma is on the verge of passing a bill that allows Putin to Annex any territory that he feels needs "protection" of the Russian language.
Anyone now doubt that is about "spheres of influence" or is it a blatant land annexation in order to reinstitute the old SU using language as a reason?
Putin is great in wanting to protect Russian speakers in Crimea but they are only 59% of the population and there are three other minorities (41%) that are not so inclined to rejoin mother Russia especially the Tartars who are in fact armed. Putin has said nothing about protecting them---strange?
The same argument Putin uses for eastern Ukraine but there the Russian population is in fact the minority there while Ukrainians are the majority.
Today a number of eastern Ukrainian proRussian oligarchs openly warned Russia to stay out as they are Ukrainians not Russians.
Under international law we now see in the 21st century a full blown aggressor attacking another country under the guise of "protecting" the Russian language. So is this the new norm?
Putin is literally betting that the West will back down and not use the massive economic pressure they can in fact deploy against him because they cannot get a unified position among themselves.
Wonder when does Mexico pass a bill allowing them to Annex San Antonio in order to "protect" Spanish speakers or the KSA invades Iraq to "protect" threatened Sunnis in the Sunni triangle and the list can go on and on.
Now we hear the same Russian Foreign Minister who works with Kerry on Syria and Iran throw the new reason out there that the Ukraine is denying the human rights of the Russian speaking population when most reporters on the ground shug their shoulders and say What?---never have seen that.
At the same time the human rights of the opposition in Moscow are constantly being violated.
For those that speak German and for those that do not think economic threats have an impact.
Today Gazprom the Russian oligarchs' favorite company and a massive supporter of Putin took a double digit Billion dollar loss on the Russian stock market. They want to now raise their prices but the EU is not buying as their tanks are full---wonder just how long these oligarchs can hang on after these losses before whispering in Putin's ear that it is hurting them?
This is a incoming German report on their market losses today and the Rubel hit the lowest point in their history against the dollar and euro.
Kind of embarrassing if you start a war and now your own currency is being hit massively and you need more of your currency just to buy the "hated" Western currencies who are opposing your war venture.
Kind of a Catch 22 that the KGB/FSB did not think through as really the Russian economy is just another "emerging market"---not an established one---the Russian Central Bank had to raise their interest rates strongly just to keep the Rubel exchange rate from exploding upward--the longer this event drags on the higher the exchange rate will go and as well as the interest rates---it is a death spiral for a struggling economy.
So just how is Putin to entice investment into Russian when his economy is tanking---was the Crimea really worth it?--you gain a new protectorate but lose your entire economy over it and it then generates questions about your leadership.
And who said "money is not a weapons system"?
The losses even impacted the EU markets as well.
Moskau - Die Krim-Krise hat die russische Börse am Montag auf Talfahrt geschickt: Der Moskauer Börsenindex MICEX brach um 5,89 Prozent ein, der Index RTS sackte nach Börsenöffnung um 7,08 Prozent in den Keller. Der Rubel stürzte auf ein historisches Tief gegenüber Euro und Dollar. Ein Euro kostete erstmals mehr als 50 Rubel.
Der RTS, in dem in Dollar notierte Aktienwerte zusammengefasst sind, brach sogar um bis zu zehn Prozent ein. Das ist der größte Tagesverlust seit den Turbulenzen nach der Pleite der US-Investmentbank Lehman Brothers im Herbst 2008. Einzelwerte wie die Papiere des Gasförderers Gazprom sackten sogar um bis zu zwölf Prozent ab.
This is what I have been harping about reference reigning in Putin---yes economic threats have a place now in the 21st century as an international relations tool--as a serious way to get someone's attention.
All the while the US mass media bemoans it has no impact.
In a early morning call by Germany (Merkel) to Putin she simply made the statement you are clearly in violation of international law and norms and this will have an impact on our business relationships with you and Russia as well as impacting our really long standing solid political relations with Russia.
Merkel then suggested Putin let the OCSE mediate the issue and he accepted---now it will not stop/roll back the Crimea invasion--it might though avoid another 1914 event, but I think he looking for a face saving exercise on his eastern Ukraine threat.
NOW it is really interesting watching how the KGB/FSB is managing their IO campaign against the West---they have been lancing a series of articles via social media and general media from little known writers stating the West needs Russian assistance in Syria, Iran and NK and that the EU needs gas in order to create doubt.
By the way the US media and reporters in Russia picked up the lanced article and reported on it as planned---they never questioned the premises.
Now for a reality check--the EU right now has overfilled gas reserves due to a mild winter and have actually reduced their intake from Gazpom and have amble supplies for over nine months BUT Russia on the other hand is in massive need of a high inflow of hard currency as their economy is slumping badly---hard to balance threats against the EU when you need EU monies.
The Syrian threat is nothing as the Russians have constantly blocked a solution just as with Iran, and I am not so sure Putin has any impact ability on Kim/NK. AND would the US really trust him going forward as a mediator after this?
Today the Russian stock market plunged and the Ruble dove all on the reported coming war and looming economic sanctions and threatened bank freezes. By the way just on verbally threatened sanctions---they really paid attention to the Russia being thrown out of the G8 threat.
The Russian economy is in fact truly struggling which is not reported much in the US and is extremely venerable at this time and place ---it was not six years when Georgia occurred---Putin failed to do his homework and assumed the past worked so why not the future.
Russia could have had the Crimea solution it wanted which all of EU agrees to a degree was historically Russian if they had been willing to go into a Federation form of government in open dialogue and in collaboration with the Ukraine which I think is where the Ukrainians wanted themselves wanted to go to begin with.
Some are indicating a form of free block state status as a possible solution similar to say Switzerland and or Austria years ago allowing for closer relations to the West and a formal economic/political relationship with Russia---which Austria got along with nicely for years after WW2.
The declared Putin Doctrine took a major hit-question is when will he lash out again?
One German headliner today was "Just What is the Man Thinking?---actually questioning his sanity.
Ned---there is no trip wire as the current decision maker decided several years ago to pivot to Asia and leave the EU area to the EU as he and his previous decision maker fully and truly underestimated Putin---he is conflict shy and being conflict shy just invites more attempts to challenge you.
Red line in the sand in Syria---kind of disappeared did it not just before the trigger was pulled---chemical weapons removed---do you really think so?--Syria is way behind, Iranian nuclear weapons capability---seems to still be there even if an agreement is reached, late night telephone calls to Putin- MIGs overfly the Ukraine and armored vehicles are forming up on the border and the list goes on.
There is no trip wire as they are really only two Combat Bdes left in Europe and one is deployed to AFG and the other is Airborne so where are they going to jump into? So much for a trip wire---and just recently SecDef signaled more leaving Europe.
We basically have as a superpower really no superpower left in Europe that could in fact go on alert status as a signal of dislike that can be projected and Putin knows this.
That is why it is so important to make the economic threat viable and hurt--if your economy crashes around your ears it just might get your attention and cause you to hesitate---and Putin is blinking right now as he is not so sure if in fact the trigger will be pulled---based on the conflict shyness he thinks it will not be pulled---the question to the conflict shy US decision maker is can you personally rise up and show strength and leadership without trying to logically find solutions that actually fly in the face of reality on the ground as Putin thinks long term and is in for the long haul on this one.
If the conflict shy US decision maker cannot do this then pack it in as the days of US influence at least in Europe are over and the pivot to Asia is a farce.
There are some and actually a growing number of analysts that say we the US is in fact headed into a period of isolationism---might be actually true if you think about it.
Some politicians/political parties in the US simply do not like playing in the play ground sandbox of international relations as it is really hard these days as there are countless problems in that sand box that have no clear answers.
I have read your comments and they are very well thought out and integrate a lot more knowledge than I have. That is really helpful to me; so, thanks a million. I still believe that some show of strength is needed to drive the point home to President Putin that an invasion will mean U.S. (preferably with N.A.T.O.) casualties.
In essence, "To get them, you got to go through us." Logistically, this may be hard to do in time. If it really is impossible to insert a small trip-wire force (to be replaced by U.N. blue-helmets, if possible), then, perhaps a small flotilla stationed off of Sevastopol.
If that flotilla is not possible -- really not possible, rather than inconvenient -- it might make sense to initiate the actions proposed by some Republicans yesterday of admitting the Ukraine and Georgia into N.A.T.O.; re-start the construction of missile defense systems in Poland and Czech Republic; as well as, publish a schedule of further financial retaliation if certain milestones are not met.
Hopefully, as you have documented very persuasively, the market reactions will be sustained to force Russia into "seeing the way" very soon. The face-saving compromise for the Putineer?
Perhaps a proposed simultaneous admission of Ukraine into the process of E.U. ascension; most favoured nation status with the U.S. (if not extended already); and, admission into the Central Asia trading bloc. That will smoke out Putin's intentions quickly.
Thank you again for the best analyses I have read thus far, Outlaw-09; President Putin may seem inscrutable to people like me but financial markets are not.
Ned---here is why this thing is so important while many in the West say so what it is power politics as usual and or it a sphere of influence thing or as Madhu says it is something the West/East has done for 50 or so years.
By the way the Moscow stock market is a tad on the crashing side today and the Rubel is free falling out of fear of war and what an economic sanctions process can do to the Russian economy as they have seen the effects on Iran.
HERE is the super big difference;
1. most if not all of the former east bloc countries were run over by the Germans headed to Moscow in the 40s and then run over by the Red Army headed back to Berlin---BUT this time the Red Army stayed and the SU started a program of forced Russian immigration into the "newly acquired " friends. The program was designed by Stalin to implement a long term Russia ethnic population and language and many of the eastern bloc languages were actually suppressed as a national every day working official language-Russian all the way
2. after the SU break up the former east bloc could not wait to get out from under the SU and ran headlong to NATO as a defense mechanism against eventual Russian moves which they all knew over the long run would in fact occur---and have all reinstated their own national language as the working language and Russian as a second language.
NOW enters what I call the Putin Doctrine which states the following if one reads his comments carefully and I mean carefully and between the lines which the WH and the IC have honestly failed to do the last ten or so years.
1. I Putin can determine which international agreements I will support and those if even I have signed I will ignore.
2. I Putin alone can determine at what moment in time and under what circumstances I will declare a Russian language population in whatever former eastern bloc country I pick to be under attack and needs Russian military assistance.
THEN I will invade and sell it/the invasion as my right to defend under my own conceived examples of violence to the rest of the world and then I will sit back and ignore the world as it is my inherently born right as a Russian to defend Russians where ever they reside.
NOW here is the core issue---using that argument now Mexico could stand up in the UN and declare we are militarily entering Texas to defend poor oppressed Spanish speaking Mexicans in say San Antonio or El Paso or even Houston---all the time making the same argument as Putin does. OR the Chinese can now do the same thing for Chinese speaking groups in the Russian Far Eastern border areas which by the way is hugh.
It is a total can of worms with this specific doctrine---it has though been exercised twice in the past and he got away with it so he actually assumes it is normal which from his perspective is correct.
Many can argue sphere of influence all day, but I have never seen in my education over the years it defined strictly on ethnic languages.
Hear, here! Carl, I second your gratitude to Outlaw. Outlaw, my tuition check is in the mail. I may be the only person I know, but I think that N.A.T.O., led by the U.S. must show a forceful response, as I discussed in my letter home. The push-back need not be large but noticeable enough as a trip-wire. At that point, compromise is possible (e.g., permitting the Ukraine to participate both in the E.U. and the developing Russian trade community). http://nedmcdletters.blogspot.com/2014/03/letters-to-friends-and-family… This situation sounds much like the 1930s, especially with the news that Russia had been planning this incursion for five years or more.
While the various financial weapons would likely impose devastating effects, one must remember sanctions, frozen assets and frozen visas tend not to change behavior of the leadership but increase misery of the people. The Putinistas and oligarchs have enough money and resources not to suffer. In fact, economic means alone may harden the Russian stand.
It is disheartening that there have been no signs -- at least that I know of -- of mobilizing by the U.S. and western democracies. Germany's Chancellor may not be so inclined to appeasement as she suffered under the yoke of the Soviet Empire.
You are doing a wonderful job with all your comments. It is like getting an education for free. It's marvelous to listen to a guy who really knows his business. Keep up the good work.
I have one question. I think somewhere below you said the Russian army is all volunteer. I read though that they still get a lot of people through the draft. Am I mistaken?
Why do you keep going back to 2006? This all started as soon as the Soviet Union fell, long before Putin, long before. You are telling only half the story. It's important but it's only half.
Greater EU's gun barrel is NATO and its bases and its missiles. How'd we react to missiles in Cuba again?
Where would the US be if they HAD joined NATO? War for what reason and for whom?
What happened when the lights went out in the Soviet Union? How many people died? This has been going on since the fall of the Soviet Union, the West stirring the pot and Russians dreaming of being a power again.
It takes two to tango.
What are AMERICAN interests again? Shall we go back over the way in which the US guaranteed security during the Cold War while Western interests were selling and buying from the Soviet Union?
NATO math: one Eastern European life = 2 NATO soldiers = 3 American soldiers = 10 Vietnamese, and so on and so on, us forget about the rest of the world and American interests.
And I am NOT in any way belittling what is happening to the Ukrainians.
What are AMERICAN interests again?
Madhu---one final comment that kind of counters what you are thinking.
Example of the long term thinking by the Russians and they do act in a long term fashion something we are not good at really.
In 2006, NATO proposed Moldovia, the Ukraine and Georgia join NATO---Russian complained bitterly and NATO pulled back and it did not happen.
Guess what keeping 2006 in mind.
1. 2008 invasion of Georgia by Russia.
2. Moldovia was next and finally
3. Ukraine is now occurring
By adding all the newly "acquired" Russian speaking territories Russia will have added if counting the Ukraine five new protectorates since 2006.
See any what we call trends or indicators going on? AND it is not about US stirring the pot in the former eastern bloc---it is hard core real politik in the rebuilding of a hegemon especially if the reports tonight are correct that Russia is now going to issue the Rubel inside Ukrainian territory.
Where would Putin be today if they had joined NATO?
One should really fully understand Czarist history and the follow on Communist history in how they built on the back of WW2 the final Czarist dream of a Greater Russia. Have not heard the EU try to claim the title of a "Greater EU" created via the barrel of a gun and there is certainly not an EU army the last time I checked and NATO has 28 opinions to gather before they decide anything these days---Putin makes all decisions himself.
Putin eats, sleeps, and dreams of the Greater Russia nothing less nothing more.
No, it is really a much simpler thing. If you absolutely refuse to fight, and I don't, I own you and everything you have forever; or at least until you decide to fight, by which time you ain't got nothing left to fight with because I took it all.
Same thing with nations, which are bigger groups of you's and I's. Of course in this case, us fighting them isn't needed. Their economy is so weak it is subject to being gravely damaged by the sort of things Outlaw 09 listed below.
There is not any way to fancy that up. It is too plain a thing. If you won't fight and are confronted with somebody who will, you give him what he wants limited only by his appetites.
Putin is a killer. You don't impress a killer unless he knows that if he goes too far you will kill him. That ain't such a sweet thing but it is life and sometimes life ain't so sweet.
Pat Lang has this on his blog:
<blockquote>In any event, one sole fact must be remembered by all the arm waving foreign policy enthusiasts. Russia possesses the ability to destroy the United States as we have the ability to destroy Russia. There can be no combat between us and them. None! The risk of escalation is just too great. pl</blockquote>
Too much or an important caution? Whatever the problems of Russia, the West did not handle its Cold War win in the best way. Children in DC. Children masquerading as adults! The post Cold War NATOists and Atlanticists, why you must make the entire world turn in your shadow, nothing else matters but your emotions and your interests. He makes that point too.
Madhu---you completely missed the simple point that this whole thing was kick started by the general population similar to the Orange Days who were basically fed up with their governance, the rampart corruption and the oligarchs and took to the street.
Listen to the Russian UN Ambassadors' speech--- he basically admitted that in open forum---we do not understand why the people revolted since we Russia had influence over them and we Russia controlled their governance---so what the heck happened? They blamed then the West, radicals, revolutionaries and then the worst word ----Nazi radicals.
I thought I was hearing the 1970s all over again.
They cannot seem to understand that a proRussian Russian speaking woman in her 60s was bringing food and water to those in the forwards lines--she was like many others there---that is what Russia cannot understand.
Ukrainians really want good governance and a developing economy as do millions of others in this world---that is Putin's worst nightmare.
Putin is deeply afraid that this type of street demos will occur again in Moscow as it has in the recent past.
Franklin Foer, Regime Change Inc., 2005, The New Republic:
<blockquote>The Rose Revolution--and the nonviolent movements it inspired in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon--represented a vindication for Ackerman and his ideas. And, in Washington at least, they needed it. According to his friends, when Ackerman began hawking the principles of nonviolent struggle to government bureaucrats and think-tank wonks three years ago, much of officialdom considered him a dilettante. His friend and admirer Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, recalls, "I remember him talking to a group more politically seasoned. They were clearly thinking this guy is really off-base: 'We're talking about more serious stuff than you.'" But, suddenly, the zeitgeist has turned in Ackerman's direction. Now some of the same officials who dismissed him have become his boosters. The State Department has distributed his videos to anti-Castro dissidents in Cuba (a fact Ackerman didn't know until the regime arrested some of these dissidents two years ago and charged them with possessing his films). When some of State's desk officers don't want to create international incidents by advising activists on how to overthrow governments, they gently suggest visiting Ackerman, who has fewer qualms about lending a helping hand.
The State Department has begun paying attention to Ackerman for a good reason: His tactics are suited to the current political climate. The wars against Saddam Hussein and the Taliban have exhausted the U.S. appetite for forcible regime change. At the same time, the goal of promoting democracy in the Middle East and Central Asia remains. To be sure, there is a slew of NGOs that advise and finance democratic activists, but they specialize in working with movements as they approach full bloom--especially as elections near. In places like Iran, however, there are few vibrant movements to foster. That's where Ackerman has found his niche.</blockquote>
So, you see how even genuine popular movements can become tainted and how easy it would be for authoritarian regimes to perceive that they are next, especially after Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. and so on.
Someday we may push the Russians, Chinese and Indians together with their worries about sovereignty. Fanciful and doubtful due to internal fault lines, but something to thing about. Who wouldn't worry about our regime change fetish?
If you want to go down a particularly worrying rabbit-hole, look up IMF-2008-Ukraine, and, the following:
<blockquote>Peter Ackerman is the Chairman of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Boston. He is also the chairman of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, the former chairman of Freedom House, and a "a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace, and the Business Advisory Council of United States Olympic Committee."
In recent years there has been a long-running debate between critical scholars and affiliates of Ackerman's International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, with the critics suggesting that the ICNC and their founder and primary funder, Peter Ackerman, are acting in the service of imperialism. 
"Peter Ackerman is the Managing Director of Rockport Capital Incorporated, a private investment firm. Since its inception in 1990, Rockport has made numerous direct investments in fields as diverse as movie libraries, publishing, propane distribution, textiles, custom labeling, wax refining, auto part remanufacturing, variable life insurance, SMS integration, and internet-based food retailing. From 1978 to 1990, he was Director of International Capital Markets at Drexel Burnham Lambert where he structured, financed, and invested in hundreds of recapitalizations including the largest and most complex leveraged acquisitions of that period." He was the Executive Producer of the documentary Bringing Down A Dictator.</blockquote> - Source Watch
A kinda sorta Regime Change Inc and the State Department are pretty much the same thing, it sometimes seems....
Tufts, Council on Foreign Relations, the post Cold War Atlanticists, the IMF, international banking, you don't have to be a paranoid like me to see that the surface is not the whole story.
<blockquote>That's the board of the New Atlantic Initiative (NAI), which is headquartered at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC. Alert readers will ask why there's no asterisk next to Colin Powell's name. We have no idea; perhaps some overworked typist's oversight.
But there you have it: the full explanation why there is a discrepancy between George Bush's democracy doctrine and how US foreign policy functions in Eurasia.
A look at the NAI roster makes it hardly necessary to read the mission statement but here's the objective:
The New Atlantic Initiative (NAI) is an international nonpartisan organization dedicated to revitalizing and expanding the Atlantic community of democracies.
The NAI's central objective is to strengthen Atlantic cooperation in the post-cold war world by bringing together Americans and Europeans to work toward common goals, including:
--The reinvigoration of Atlantic institutions of political cooperation and consultation.
--The admission of Europe's fledgling democracies into the institutions of Atlantic defense and European economic cooperation, notably NATO and the European Union.
--The establishment of free trade between an enlarged European Union and the North American Free Trade Area as a complement to strengthening global free trade.
<strong>Translation: If you think American foreign policy will ever get out from under Europe's thumb, dream on hayseed.</strong>
Well this is one hayseed who has been jerked awake. America will disengage from the NATO-centric view of the world when the cows come home. And if President Bush doesn't tow the "new Atlantic" line, money says he'll run into powerful Senate Republican-Democrat coalitions that block his most important domestic initiatives.
I note in passing that the objectives of NAI throw light on another mystery, which is the limp-wristed support for the Iraq invasion by several Republicans who support the AEI view. But of course! The Iraq invasion (and Bush's Greater Middle Eastern Initiative) runs counter to Europe's views on how best to deal with the Middle East! Silly Pundita to have wondered.
This tirade is nothing against Mrs. Thatcher and other anti-communist stalwarts represented on the NAI board. Yet Americans do need to find their own way; we can't do that if we are perpetually locked into the European geopolitical view.
The AEI-NAI influence in Washington solves the riddle of Kuchma's fall from power, Colin Powell's slap in the face to the Russian people after the Beslan massacre, and many other US steps that don't make a lick of sense, if we want American foreign policy to reflect integrity rather than a double standard.
<strong>Integrity is not the only issue. Towing the NATO line during the Cold War meant that the US could call for embargo against certain governments for arms trafficking with despotic regimes but not other governments, such as Germany and France. US adherence to the "new Atlantic" initiative continues the tradition of the American government playing ostrich.</strong>
Pundita must cut short this writing to put ice on her ankles, which are black-and-blue from kicking herself for not thinking first of the AEI when she embarked on the wacky quest to make sense of US meddling in Ukraine. </blockquote> - Pundita stumbles across Meddler's Inc., aka New Atlantic Initiative, Jan 27, 2005 blog post.
Well, Bush's democracy doctrine turned out to be a disaster but that doesn't mean the post doesn't have some merit.
Oh, by the way, if some things don't make sense in South Asia regarding American policy, well, just look at the community that views Eastern Europe as central to US security interests. That's all that crew ever cares about.
Based on WikiLeaks US Embassy Cables from the Ukraine reviewed/reported on by Slate.com ---it appears that since 2006 this was being voiced as a potential Russian move and how the Russians were building internally for it---but no one then knew how to slow it down and or stop it.
WikiLeaks does on occasions have some good background DoS Cables.
Madhu---the problem is while the rest of the Soviet bloc was struggling to reorg, rebuild, and create new countries sometimes with the old players sometimes with new players---the only Soviet state that did not reform and change was in fact Russia.
Especially under Putin the same old KGB control measures and laws have been reinstated, the military rebuilt and Putin has moved in a hegemonic fashion since 2008 to rebuild the old Soviet Union under a new name.
Having camped through the old Soviet Union in 1973 with a VW Beetle for over eight weeks and having seen many different areas what stuck me then was the people were friendly, poor, and struggling to move forward economically-they just wanted a better life after WW2--with real emphasis on poor. It was just as corrupt then as it is today so nothing has changed there.
I came back thinking how can it be a superpower outside of having a military and nuclear weapons be a superpower when they are poor---Russia today is still basically poor and economically struggling for the majority of the population, struggling with a massive heroin/alcohol problem, with high HIV rates and a serious jihadi problem----and a deep corruption problem and oligarchs draining the country's wealth just as Putin is doing as well.
So what is the difference now to say the old communism days for the general population?
Russia did not stop the Cold War-we stopped it and declared Victory if I remember Reagan and Bush comments--the Russians just ran out of money and collapsed and now they are on the verge again of slumping into a major financial problem was they had years ago.
The problem with the US is they would like to back out of Europe as Obama has signaled that intent ---but then they need to exit NATO and not place their signature on agreements they felt the Russians would uphold and now are not upholding.
Plus who wants to tell US business they cannot invest and profit in the EU without some protection from the US political side to defend their interests---just check the current US business demands now in the ongoing negotiations concerning a new trade agreement with the EU that Obama is driving.
I found the quoted comments by Putin deeply interesting as it reflects a mind set of a former Czarist quoting almost the same comments made then towards the French and Germans of the 1800s.
Half of his comments are basically wrong but in fact they are voiced fears of the old containment foreign policy practiced by the US towards the SU. Example---not sure what the 5000 man bases are he is referring to, he fails to note the former Warsaw Pact countries were joining NATO out of fear of exactly what the Russians are doing now towards the Ukraine---a correct fear by the way and he fails to mention the US offered Russia an opportunity to actually get involved and receive the same missile systems---Putin rejected the offer by the way.
I will argue that for Putin the Cold War never ended---it just cooled for awhile until Russia rebuilt and now you see the challenge to the concept of a unipolar superpower.
The actual military threat against a sovereign state in this modern time by another country using a fake excuse that has been openly challenged by social media that the "reason" is in fact a lie is actually a step to far politically and they wonder why the West is reacting?
By the way the Russian parliament approved attack includes the entire Ukraine and soon there will be a new law allowing any Russian speaking element to formally join Russia ---so what about Latvia/Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria. Does that include say the large Russian population in Berlin or in Cyprus or say in Israel? Can any Russian in say Israel now "ask" for Russian military assistance in protecting their culture and language? See the problems going forward---and the US has not stirred the pot in those countries.
Check the Slate.com article from today on the Wikileak DoS Cables from starting in 2006 that the Russians were starting to make they move on the Ukraine.