Small Wars Journal

Responding to Crimea by Bolstering NATO’s Military Presence in Central and Eastern Europe

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 5:47am

Responding to Crimea by Bolstering NATO’s Military Presence in Central and Eastern Europe

Octavian Manea

Small Wars Journal Discussion with A. Wess Mitchell

A. Wess Mitchell is president of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a U.S. foreign policy institute dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe.

SWJ: How should we explain Putin’s escalation in Ukraine?

A. Wess Mitchell: There is a longstanding if somewhat repressed desire among the Russian political elite to repatriate lost limbs of the former Soviet empire. This impulse runs very deep in post-Cold War Russian strategic thinking. The conditions that developed in Ukraine over the last few months provided a political pretext for acting on that geopolitical impulse. The democratic backlash to President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to move his country closer to Europe at the EaP Summit and his ensuing ejection from Kyiv threatened the possibility of a more Westward oriented Ukraine on the doorstep of Russia. In both strategic and ideological terms, these developments were seen as being unacceptable for the interests of the Russian state and elite. Recent U.S. diplomatic behavior also suggested to the Russians a permissive strategic environment in which Putin could act without incurring high costs. This created an opening for a kind of “rebate revisionism.” Putin seized it.

SWJ: Does the record of President Obama’s unenforced red-lines play a role in incentivizing Putin’s probing in Ukraine?

A. Wess Mitchell: Yes.

SWJ: How do you see the implications of Russian aggression for the larger European security order?

A. Wess Mitchell: The post-Cold War European security order has been put on notice. In territorial terms, the Crimea seizure marks the de facto revocation of at least four treaties – the Helsinki Final Act, the Budapest Memorandum, the NATO Founding Act and the Russo-Ukrainian Treaty of 1997. It was an unprovoked and, to date, unanswered land grab that could undermine the foundations of the post-1989 geopolitical settlement in Europe, signaling the end of a stable territorial status-quo East of Poland and radiating insecurity into the eastern member states of the Alliance. Once the legal basis of the territorial status quo has been effectively challenged in any international system, bad things typically follow. Russia may be emboldened to try similar techniques elsewhere, and opportunities abound around its troubled periphery. Crimea- or South Ossetia-style land grabs by Russia suddenly become imaginable throughout the post-Soviet space—and, for that matter, the Baltic States, which possess many of the same triggers that were present in Ukraine and Georgia.

This in turn may lead small states both inside and outside of NATO to look for ways to bolster their security through a variety of mechanisms, perhaps leading to sharpened security dilemmas like those facing U.S. allies in East Asia.

SWJ: What is the message that an unpunished Crimea land-grab sends to the region and to the world?

A. Wess Mitchell: It is a demonstration effect that will create ripples of insecurity in Central and Eastern Europe but also in other global regions in which small and mid-sized U.S. allies sit in close proximity to large historically predatory powers. Jakub Grygiel and I first warned about a trend in this direction in 2010, and we are now seeing this concern is validated on a grand scale. Crimea offers a template for low-cost revisionism—a dangerous precedent for other revisionist-minded powers in the international system who may draw the conclusion that the use of force will be rewarded with geopolitical faits accomplis and territorial gains at little cost to themselves. It sends the message that the rules are flexible for those who are willing to act boldly and use military force to revise the status quo. 

The parallel danger, which Jakub and I have catalogued extensively, is that U.S. allies in other regions may draw the lesson that the United States is only a conditional guarantor at best of their security. Crimea sends a signal to small and mid-sized American allies in Central Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific that we may be entering an era of self-permissiveness on the part of revisionists, and that the chief guardian of the status quo, the United States, may or may not be willing to underwrite the stability of the system as a whole. The undermining of the Budapest Memorandum is especially significant because this treaty solemnized Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for territorial guarantees from major powers. The fate of Ukraine may suggest to other states in similar positions that their best bet is to develop a nuclear deterrent rather than count on outside protection.

SWJ: Over the past year, the Obama Administration rebranded itself as a champion and a guarantor of the core norms that make the texture of the international order. Now in Crimea, “The Norm”, of the international order is under assault. In case this remains unpunished, without real consequences, should we expect that other states with anti status-quo impulses will be incentivized to probe their own normative regional frameworks? Should we expect to see a more probing China in relation to the international norms of the East China Sea and South China Sea?

A. Wess Mitchell: Yes. The Chinese situation is obviously different, since it is primarily maritime in nature and does not involve a large land-locked territory contiguous with the Chinese geopolitical core. But for practical purposes, the situation is analogous, and the Chinese will no doubt take note. Ukraine reinforces the negative precedent from the Georgia War that a regional geopolitical status-quo at the outer periphery of U.S. power is subject to abrupt revision without heavy costs to the revisionist. It is a dangerous moment in any international system when the underlying foundation is shown to be violable without significant penalties, since this can invite challenges to the status quo elsewhere.

A good example of this happening in history was the Russian military approach to the Straits in the 1870s, which invalidated the Metternichian order with its emphasis on solidarity between the three Eastern powers. Only a response from the status-quo powers—Britain, by sending a naval squadron to the Black Sea and Bismarck, by interposing a new diplomatic status quo at the Congress of Berlin—re-affirmed the foundations of the European order and ensured stability. Ukraine is similar to the Straits Crisis in constituting a test of the system, but without the firm response or leadership from the status-quo powers that would be needed to unambiguously reassert the legitimacy and therefore durability of the underlying order.

SWJ: What leverage do we have on the table in order to alter Putin’s calculus?

A. Wess Mitchell: We have a lot of leverage. But in order for it to matter, we have to have the willingness to use it. As Edward Lucas has pointed out, NATO’s collective economic strength is 20 times wealthier than Russia ($40 trillion in GDP versus $2 trillion). With a unified command structure and determined foreign policy, the Russians are using a weak position well, while Western disunity and lack of purpose are neutralizing our natural advantages. Using Western leverage effectively would require a higher degree of commitment from the United States and major European countries to sustaining Western unity in the face of aggression than we have so far shown the political willingness to sustain.

We also have military leverage. Russia would lose any pitched confrontation with NATO. But here too, the Russians have developed an asymmetric strategy—a kind of “thrust and pause” that involves moving into a territory rapidly with limited objectives and halting abruptly to allow Western divisions to surface in the inevitable post-conflict bickering—that plays to Russian strengths of geographic proximity and concentration of force. No one wants a shooting war over Crimea. But if Ukraine matters to us strategically, then we should be more willing to use military levers to strengthen the Western diplomatic position. To use the previous analogy of the Straits Crisis, Lord Salisbury sent the British Mediterranean fleet into the Black Sea as a counter-demonstration to Russian aggression in the Balkans. Even though he famously saw the issue itself as constituting a secondary interest to Britain, he recognized the damage that an unanswered land-grab would have in destabilizing the status quo and inviting repeat cycle of tests of strength initiated by revisionist powers. We should use Western military power in a similar way as Britain in the Straits Crisis – to create a lasting impression of our willingness and ability to confront territorial revisionism in future crises, particularly involving the Baltic States.

SWJ: What are the expectations that the most exposed Eastern NATO states have from the U.S.? What do they expect U.S. to do for their region?

A. Wess Mitchell: They expect the United States to demonstrate its commitment to defending the European security order established in 1989, which was founded on the good faith and credit of the United States as a geopolitical guarantor. This means showing fidelity to the NATO treaty obligations ratified by the U.S. Senate in the event of a future crisis and strengthening the conventional deterrence mechanisms that would help to avoid such a crisis in the first place. Clearly, Ukraine is not in NATO, but it does suggest what could happen to states that are. The same triggers are present in the Baltic States. There is a reasonable expectation among Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that America will match Russia’s rescinding of the territorial status quo east of NATO’s borders with a commensurate bolstering of the status quo west of those borders.

This means relinquishing the traditional U.S. resistance to moving military assets into the post-Communist member states of NATO. If CEE states are indeed allies of the United States, then they have a legal and politico-historical basis for expecting that they will be treated as a serious component of U.S. global strategy, that the United States will have a confident answer to Russian adventurism in this crisis, and an immediate, militarized response to aggression affecting any state within NATO. America can communicate this strategic intentionally by stationing military assets on CEE member-state territory. Strengthening the NATO military presence in CEE countries should be done in a way that is strategically adapted to the evolving geopolitical environment of the Eastern European frontier. The Russian military modernization program is investing in access-denial (A2AD) capabilities that could preclude NATO from effectively reinforcing CEE allies in the event of a crisis. Much like America's Asia-Pacific allies, the CEE states should be bolstered with both indigenous and outside capabilities that allow for an effective counter-A2AD capability that strengthens conventional deterrence in the Alliance.

There is a wide legal and strategic space between the current, minimal extreme of a handful of F-16s and the maximal extreme of moving an entire BCT to Poland. NATO should exploit this fertile middle ground, and America should lead the way.

SWJ: Is this the right time for fixing the unfinished business of repairing the security of NATO’s Eastern Flank, by revising the clauses of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act in order to deploy significant NATO infrastructure on the territory of the new member states?

A. Wess Mitchell: It is imperative. Five years ago, the Georgia War underscored the vital need to address what is essentially the “original sin” of the post-Cold War NATO - that it is a two-tiered alliance with a separate set of terms for its insulated Western member states than for those states which entered the alliance after the Cold War. No alliance can function for long in this fashion. We have already seen the political costs of this two-tier alliance in previous years, through perennial divisions in NATO spawned by differing threat perceptions between secure and exposed members creating political paralysis. The dual structure and the need it creates for continual physical acts of reassurance has been a major driver of political frictions between the United States and CEE countries, because it essentially totem-izes every security project that comes along beyond what is actually worth. If the eastern member states had already received the military attention that they deserve as members in good standing of NATO, then their need for smaller tokens of commitment would be less acute, and the political relationship therefore would be more stable. It is in everyone’s interest to see the Alliance amend this flaw. If Ukraine has the effect of focusing attention on this problem, it will have done the West a service—provided we are willing to act upon it.

About the Author(s)

Octavian Manea was a Fulbright Junior Scholar at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University) where he received an MA in International Relations and a Certificate of Advanced  Studies in Security Studies.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 05/11/2014 - 10:07am

Is there something missing from our national media that should be reported but somehow it is not?

1. We have slowly building ethnic Russia pressure being applied to Baltics in numerous Russian TV/radio broadcasts into those countries and by comments by leading Russian politician's and the stationing of the S300s in Kaliningrad which negates NATO aircraft movements if so decided as a necessity by the CSTO-and eventually into the Baltic--we see as well Russian naval reinforcements moving into the Med and into the North Sea as well as increased Russian bomber overflights in Europe and in the Baltics.
2. We have a building border customs dispute and tit for tat going on now on the Moldavians border with it's Russian enclave with an illegal treaty increase in the allowed numbers of Russian troops currently at approximately 2500 that are stationed in 17 bases (also an increase in base numbers) under the guise of peacekeeping.
3. We have not seen a withdrawal of elite units based in the Crimea which were sent there early on with a Russian strength increase in fighter/bomber aircraft in the Crimea in the last week way above what is necessary for the area along with the S400s being stationed there already.
4. We have in the last few days seen an interesting joust between Romania, the Ukraine, and Moldavia and the Russian delegation headed by Rogozin---his aircraft got rerouted into Moldavia and on the outbound flight his aircraft was denied flight rights over the Ukraine and Romania forcing it back to Moldavia and when they tried to enter Ukrainian airspace again they were intercepted by Ukrainian MiGs and forced back to Moldavia where their aircraft was searched and "independence" ballots confiscated by the Moldavian authorities.
5. Then this Interfax press release by the Russians describing the event;
May 11, 2014 11:35 Petitions of Transdniestrians for recognition are in Moscow - Rogozin
MOSCOW. May 11 (Interfax) - Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin has said that most of the petitions of residents of Transdniestrian for the recognition of the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic have been brought to Moscow.

"The petitions of Transdniestrians for the recognition of their republic are in Moscow. The Moldovan special services that detained and searched our aircraft in Chisinau ended up with only a small part of the cargo. We took care of most of the cargo. The Russian delegation also brought home the message of Transdniestrians to the leadership of Russia. And even though it has sooner symbolic than legal sense, it is important for us now," Rogozin wrote in Facebook on Sunday.

"One way or the other Chisinau's provocation will have serious consequences for our bilateral relations," he added.

The Moldovan authorities confirmed the seizure of petitions for the recognition of Transdniestrian from the jet on which Rogozin was returning from Tiraspol to Moscow.

"The documents were detained by the relevant bodies of the Republic of Moldova for a check of their lawfulness in accordance with acting legislation. The private visit to the Republic of Moldova of Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin who was accompanied by a group of State Duma deputies and a member of the Russian government was marked by declarations of provocative nature regarding the Republic of Moldova," a statement of the Moldovan Foreign Ministry says.

Earlier a United Russia Duma deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov told Interfax that over 30,000 petitions from residents of Transdniestria in support of unification with Russia were seized from Rogozin's aircraft that was delayed in Chisinau given the refusal of Ukraine to allow its flight over Ukrainian territory.

Earlier reports said that Duma deputies and Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky who accompanied Rogozin during Victory Day festivities on Friday in Moldova's breakaway Transdniestrian province were denied permission to fly across Ukraine to Moscow. Rogozin returned to Moscow on a public scheduled flight.

WAS Russia with the "smuggled" petitions going to set the "legal status" for a move into the Moldavian enclave out of the Crimea at the same time as it could/would move towards Odessa where they "claim" the Nazi's were "burning alive ethnic Russians" not done since the Hitler days.

SO what was not being told to the US/EU populations about this particular event as it has barely gained any notice in German or UK leading news media?

THEN in the last few days Putin called the leaders of the CSTO to Moscow for a hurried CSTO conference on the Ukraine---many of the leaders were actually not scheduled to be coming and based on hearsay reporting they were called by Putin and told to be there.

We see the following---Putin claims to have pulled Russian troops back from the border but not actually done so in any form or shape---still has 40K stationed there---we see him claiming to have not control over the "separatists" ie he called for a delay and they denied him his request but did one see him go on national Russian TV/radio media and forcefully speak to them--no not really?

And after these two supposed indicators that he was interested in a peaceful solution and that he wants to de-escalate --the entire Russian government/plus Putin went back to their old demands of the last four weeks against the Ukraine.

With the "separatist" votes on independence which are being done under the barrel of a gun and without any international legality can in fact the CSTO now respond as a whole organization to the requests of the "separatists" after a high percentage of votes for "independence" to protect their ethnic Russian civil liberties and human rights from the "rouge illegitimate neo Nazi, nationalist, and fascist" led Ukrainian government who are bent on the "destruction via tanks and US mercenaries" ethnic Russians? Seems that Putin has all but forgotten Berlin, Hungary and Czechslovakia in the use of Soviet tanks against civilian populations.

If one really looks at how the CSTO is organized and structured as a rival to NATO in fact the answer is YES the CSTO could move into the eastern and southern Ukraine under the guise of a "peacekeeping force" and since units from all the CSTO countries would be participating it is not a "Russian" invasion---it is simply a "peacekeeping" operation as the Ukrainians had previously asked the UN to do and as NATO/UN have done before in Europe.

So what is the US/EU/NATO not telling their populations about the last series of moves by Putin and WHY does the West still hold back on further specific industrial sector sanctions that will actually hurt the Russian economy?

Theses recent Russian/CSTO moves affect all the former eastern European countries that have gone independent since 1990 BUT are claimed by Putin in a recent speech to be part of the "New Russian" Republic.


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 9:30am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I think it's well understood that sanctions will hurt Russia far more than they hurt Europe. Putin may be gambling that his people have a higher pain tolerance, and fewer ways to convert their pain into political pressure, and that nationalism can be levered as a way of enhancing pain tolerance.

He may or may not be right; we'll see.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 8:29am

In reply to by Dayuhan

The former Russian Finance Minster stated yesterday that the "EU fully understands our economy better than we do"--he is not worried about say an economic embargo but rather a EU "specific targeted response" against certain industries and products that would hurt the economy rather quickly and long.

He indicated that the planned growth rate was 3.5% for the year and that was before the Crimea--now he stated it might in fact be 0% which will hurt badly and growth has slowed greatly in the last year anyway causing further economic pain to the average Russian.


Sun, 03/16/2014 - 8:02pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

The Germans can cover the shortfall in the short term. Medium term is less certain: Norway hasn't got that much surplus and LNG import capacity is still limited. Putin may be gambling that they can tough it out til winter returns, by which time the Crimea occupation will be a fait accomplii and sanctions will waver.

We still have yet to see how far sanctions will go and how long they will stay in place.

If the Germans really want to sink Gazprom's stock they should announce plans for a major LNG terminal and supporting pipelines to link it to the distribution net. That would give them real flexibility. Australia has substantial new production and export capacity coming in; that will go to Asia of course but the Qataris are looking to open up new markets in Europe to compensate. Right now the main constraint on Europe's ability to shift to LNG imports to cover Russian issues is lack of terminal capacity. New terminals would mean some redundancy, with the capacity to import way more than is actually needed, but it would be blackmail protection and great pricing leverage, with the Russians and Qataris bidding against each other to supply.

It is certainly true that sanctions will hurt Russia more than Europe, but Europe will feel pain and Putin may be gambling that Russia's pain tolerance is a whole lot higher. May be... we will see.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 4:12am

In reply to by Dayuhan

Check the two statements in the last three days from the largest German independent gas suppliers---they can shift the pipeline around and even supply the Ukraine if they are cut and the Norwegians have signaled they an increase their supply contracts and the EU is sitting over eight months of gas reserves. Algeria has been contacted as well as Libya to supply more gas.

Gazprom is the chief cash cow for the government---how long can they go without earning cash with the sinking Rubel and a badly hit stock market---globalization cuts two ways these days--Putin did not factor it in.

Gazprom alone has lost over 15B in market value just in the last week and if the election and sanctions go into play they will lose even more.

Russia has used over half of their gold reserves just supporting the Rubel in the last two weeks.


Fri, 03/14/2014 - 7:49pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Continental Europe cannot just shift to Norwegian gas: the Norwegians don't have the capacity to increase exports for a sustained period and are constrained by existing supply agreements. The US is not likely to be a significant contributor. There is a lot of new LNG capacity coming on stream worldwide, but to replace Russian gas with LNG imports Europe will have to make large investments in new LNG terminals and supporting infrastructure. The Russian gas weapon can be defused, but it will take time. There is a seasonal window before gas demand ramps up again, but that works two ways: Europe will be able to reduce imports from Russia but Russia will have already factored the seasonal fluctuation into their sales projections. Whether or not any (still hypothetical) EU sanctions on Russian energy exports can be sustained long enough to bite remains to be seen.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 3:28am

In reply to by JPWREL

He lost that bridge when he bet on the wrong horse that raped, pillaged, and plundered the country to the tune of 70B to the point that the population rejected him and indirectly Russia.

That cannot be now corrected regardless of what he does--there is that old saying if one breaks one owns it.


Tue, 03/11/2014 - 8:08pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

While I agree strongly with your point #2 the Ukraine is the founding location of the Rus people that goes back to the 9th century. Moscow will go to great lengths to make sure that Ukraine does not become a base for NATO. Henry Kissinger was quite right the other night when he said that Russia’s interest in Ukraine is profoundly important to them and the NATOization of Ukraine should be off the table.

Americans have a tendency to simplistically paint contending sides either in pure white or black with little reference to history or economics. Consequently, the torrent of words emanating from Washington has been both amazingly hypocritical and unhelpful while seeking to exploit a situation that we have little stake in.

Rather than pumping kerosene on the fire with inflamed rhetoric we should stand back and support the EU in taking the lead in resolving this crisis. The likely solution that Moscow might accept will be that Ukraine will become a bridge to the Europe not part of an European alliance directed at her. But this has to come form Berlin not Washington.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 3:38am

In reply to by RantCorp

The US has given up leadership in Europe to the Germans and Merkel---the beginning of pulling militarily and politically out of Europe--maybe this is what Putin wants---who knows?

This headline was in der Spiegel today---Merkel is given leading role by the US.

Der "New Yorker" kommentiert: "Wenn es eine Lösung für diese Krise gibt, dann liegt sie wohl in Berlin, in der Person Angela Merkels, der de facto Anführerin Europas." Das renommierte US-Magazin "Foreign Affairs" schreibt: "Als Europas Schlüsselstaat und mit seiner engen Verbindung zu Russland ist Deutschland das einzige Land, das Putins großen geopolitischen Ambitionen entgegenwirken oder sie eindämmen kann."

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 3:25am

In reply to by RantCorp

RC---what really worries me is after watching the SU then Russia and speaking Russia since 67 my deep concern is that the ruling class and it is a ruling class similar to the Czarist times Putin and co are truly out of touch with the younger generation ---social media now rules the world--chasing a world empire is not their dream---work, money and travelling are.

That is why the EU visa sanction will hit the young generation hard as they travel a lot.

What is amazing is to watch the ruling class fall literally back into the Cold War vocabulary which is surprising but again matter not as what one learns is what one holds firm on.

Again since the DoS Sec cancelled his trip to Moscow it has been to quiet out of Moscow--believe it was a shock 1) they were trying to drag out the dialogue until the election this 16th, and 2)I think they are looking for a way out and the trip signaled there is no way now accept for losing face.

Putin will inside his population generally see a bump in his popularity but outside Russia is taking a major hit---especially when Merkel broke her silence yesterday and blatantly called the Crimes "annexation".

Putin now knows the Germans and the EU will go to full sanctions after this Monday---this is not the way Georgia and Moldavia played out.

Putin is afraid of the street.

So in fact he bet heavily it would be a Georgia replay and lost---as Robert keeps saying it is the street that governance now has to answer to.


Tue, 03/11/2014 - 5:24pm

In reply to by RantCorp

RantCorp and Outlaw 09:

How much do you think Putin's actions are driven by emotion? I ask because the comments about his not thinking this fully through make sense, but he has to be driven by something.


Tue, 03/11/2014 - 4:51pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09


Back in the day the Soviets were able to restrict what the average Soviet citizen was able to hear/read regards the News. Obviously many of them zoned out but it was still difficult to hear anything that had political implications that the State didn’t want you to hear/read. People weren’t fooled but it was difficult to engage in any active event even if only as a silent sympathizer because there was simply a void of information.

Putin being old school I’m wondering whether he has factored in that young people don’t watch TV or read newspapers anymore. In fact they basically have no time for the traditional news outlets/sources of information that Putin would have manipulated or been manipulated by during his entire career.

I'm wondering whether or not he is aware that young people get all of their information off the internet and they can quickly verify the accuracy with 'friends' that they have been gaming, tweeting, photobombing, fraping etc. from across the globe for years.

It is one thing to badger people with details of events that they are somewhat skeptical about but it is another thing when your audience has irrefutable evidence that you are lying to them.


Outlaw 09

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 3:29pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

RC---this kind of goes to the previous comment;

"The people of Ukraine—not just in Kiev, but in protests all over the country—have once again reminded leaders throughout the world that they should fear the resolve of their own people more than their most imposing of neighbors. It is this message alone more than any geopolitical impulse or statecraft that has the Russian government scrambling. If it can happen in Kiev, in a matter of months or a matter of days, then it can happen anywhere. All players involved would do well to serve their own people’s interests before the bidding of some contrived geopolitical sense of pride."

The EU has given Putin a number of climb downs but they are going to a second level of sanctions that will cause the Russian government to have to explain to his population that they will be required to have visas for the EU which will be hard to get in the current environment effectively locking them out of travel to the EU which is high. Sanctions on the oligarchs will occur at the same time.

This is an example that is being fed to the Russian population as an explanation for their actions in the Crimea. Harkens back to the cold war days---they seem to never learn.

Earlier Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing masked men of firing at peaceful protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

“Russia is outraged by the chaos, which is currently ruling in eastern regions of Ukraine as a result of the actions of militants of the so-called Right Sector amid utter connivance of the new authorities as they call themselves,” the statement said.

Witnesses have described very different scenarios, accusing pro-Russian demonstrators of attacking Ukrainian loyalists. Pro-Russian sentiment runs high in eastern Ukraine, as it does in Crimea.

There have been recently verified reports of bus loads of Russians coming across the border to demonstrate ie "they are oppressed Russians in the Ukraine".

Moscow seems to not want to accept the real reason behind the Maidan uprising. Seems the individual below was 28 and a Billionaire wonder how?…

Moscow has been really quiet since the DoS Sec cancelled his planned secret trip to Moscow yesterday. I am not so sure what their reaction will be to the coming EU sanctions and they are coming as it appears that the UK is all in.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:17am

In reply to by RantCorp

RC---IMO I really think there is a single point that is the driver for Putin and even the Russian people --that is stability vs radial change ie the term revolution.

There has been a number of comments out of the ruling class around Putin and Putin himself unleased the fears--- Nazi's, neo-radicals, nationalists card in a number of his comments. When you pull that old communist card out then something is ringing alarm bells in Putin's head.

Even the old communist card of "the Jews are being attacked under a progom" we need to protect them did not work.

Russia truly thought they had tremendous influence over the Ukraine politically, economically via gas and the eastern portion with high levels of Russian trade and then along came a rag tag group of people from all of the political spectrum and after three long months the "street" won or as Robert would say the population simply decided they wanted good governance and rule of law in the face of massive corruption/theft and oligarchs.

It is the street he fears the most as he has had his own street in the last two years---he is truly afraid of the flame of the street reaching Moscow.

Today the breakaway Crimea threatened to take the Ukrainian navy over and all gas pipelines and power plants---it is almost like they do not understand globalization these days.

The Ukrainians can go to the international trade court ie WTO and get a ruling on the theft of property and then present a lien against every bank account they can find involving the Crimea and then collect--Russian has already poured 1B in just to pay the salaries and pensions how much more are they willing to provide when they own economy is struggling. If you look at the Russian enclaves of Georgia and Moldavia they are struggling and their economies have literally go backwards.

You are right he did not think it through as he expected the West to roll over as it did in Georgia and Moldavia. He did not sense that his doctrine unleased a serious discussion over international rights and treaties.


Tue, 03/11/2014 - 6:51am

In reply to by Outlaw 09


The political fallout from an annexation of Crimea into Russia is the bit that doesn’t add up in my mind. Putin must realize that the loss of Crimea will trigger an enormous groundswell of central European political will to pull the Ukraine into the EU ASAP. At every turn the international community will make certain that the Russian political-diplomatic class will get “Oh really? But look what you did to the Crimea!” thrown into their collective faces.

‘Remember the Crimea!’ will underscore every Ukrainian, Polish, Baltic, Bohemian, Black Sea State poster, memo, political meeting, church gathering, rock concert, football match, bar fight etc. It defies credulity that he was unaware of the galvanizing effect this would have on Ukranian efforts to go west.

Me thinks there has been a huge FUBAR somewhere else in Russia and he is using the Crimea to try to divert attention away from a domestic shit-storm.If there is no FUBAR elsewhere then Putin is nowhere as clever as many of us supposed him to be.


Outlaw 09

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 2:50pm

In reply to by JPWREL

The EU has started the carrot and stick approach with the next series of sanctions coming right after the Crimea elections.

What is interesting is that the former east bloc countries are forcing Germany and France to address the Russian gas weapon by shifting to Norwegian gas and increased imports from the US---secondly there is a movement afoot to take the Ukraine into NATO especially since Putin had already threatened the Ukraine in 2010 that he would take the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine if they joined---well he has the Crimea so the thinking is the Ukraine is now free to make a decision.

Do really not accept the concept of Russian populated and historically dominated areas for two reasons;

1. The SU after 1945 as a part of the control mechanism for most of the east bloc settled in Russian immigrants who in some if not all cases had little choice---especially the Crimea. The SU thus gained a slowly increasing Russian population in an otherwise non Russia ethnic country and secondly gained Russian as the official language over the existing ethnic languages.

2. Not so sure the countries of say Poland, the Baltic region, Hungary, and the former Czechoslovakia and to an extent the former GDR prior to 1989 would agree with the statement Russian dominated.

Right now Putin fully understands NATOs weaknesses and exploits them like a champ ---Poland is rethinking her military spending/and the US, and the Czech Republic is rethinking the missile defense system and Germany no longer is sure that Russia is a stable long term business and political partner.

The changes induced by Putin will be interesting in the coming years.

Much of NATO’s Cold War capability has already been shed with forces reconfigured for small to medium size expeditionary counter-insurgency and conventional operations. This is particularly true for leading NATO nations such as the UK, USA, France and Germany.

Additionally, the publics of those nations do not have the political will to reignite Cold War spending of scarce resources into rebuilding conventional forces to deter Russia from Russian populated and historically dominated areas. Short-term public opinion is an unreliable guide to whether or not the public will be supportive in the long term, as we have repeatedly learned over the past decade.

Therefore shifting what would amount to insufficient NATO infrastructure to eastern NATO nations would likely be deficient as a deterrence to further Russian moves into its historical territories. This is especially true when the Russians take into consideration that few of the NATO forces have sufficient depth.

Better a solution is primarily achieved by the EU nations engaging with Russia diplomatically using non-military options such as trade and economic sanctions. They have a stronger stake in the issue than the US, which has a tendency to grandstand in such circumstances. In fact, US leadership in this particular situation may be counter-productive and antagonize Moscow enough to defer a reasonable agreement acceptable to EU states.

Ned McDonnell III

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:15pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Thanks to all four or five of you for this interesting discussion. Tuition check is in the mail. I have taken some points from other discussions in the SWJ community (mainly yours, Outlaw) plus some thoughts discussed by a American friend of a British friend; this Yank is on the ground in Ukraine and those thoughts are interesting. Please see comments #2 and #3 following my original essay on which Outlaw and Move Forward set me straight.…
So, please, set me straight again!

Outlaw 09

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 9:29am

In reply to by Ned McDonnell III

Right now I do think Putin is trying to extract himself out of a deep hole and not lose his new found popularity at home.

Why---the Crimea leadership is slowing waking up to the fact that yes they control the Crimea but who controls the water, electricity and gas? The Ukraine does--while the current leader there claims it would be barbarian to use them as a weapons he also stated that he is assuming it will happen as he mentioned he has about 200 electrical generators available for the elections. He did not though mention that it was barbarian to annex itself to Russia while a part of the Ukraine---seems there is a double standard on the term barbarian.

Based on the potential shutdown of utilities by the Ukraine which they can legally do and the fact that the gas threat against the Ukraine is null and void since the two largest gas companies in Germany yesterday said it is not a problem to divert gas to the Ukraine from their suppliers which are not Russian and a slow but steady realization in the EU on just how dependent Russia is on the EU exports and the sanctions would hurt their economy badly--- Russia/Putin has gotten strangely quiet the last day or so.

It will be interesting to see the Russian response to the Friday meeting with the DoS Sec since the German comments from today hit the news and are blunt from Merkel that if there is no movement then on to step two of the EU sanctions and the final and much harder sanctions are behind those.

Merkel has basically buried the German/Russian relationship if Putin does not react by Friday and the Crimea elections go forward if one reads her comments thoroughly--it is the subtleness between the lines that is important to understand and the Russians will understand them.

That is something the US cannot do as the Russia German relationship goes back to the Ostpolitik days. In some ways Germany has always been treaty true with the Russians to a fault and that is what she is throwing back at Putin---he has now left that realm and cannot be trusted and must prove he is interested in actually settling via diplomacy.

She stated there will be not be a physical war, but economically it will hurt and it will not hurt the EU but in the end Russia will be hurt if he continues on the path he is on.

Ned McDonnell III

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 10:41pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09


I hate to be difficult. But I was wondering what you thought of the idea of the USS GHWB task force executing a no-fly zone over Odessa and Mikolayev to contain the snarling bear in the Crimea. The other points are pretty much in the debate already, except for the idea of suggesting that Ukraine be permitted to pursue both possibilities (of the preliminary agreement with the E.U. and participation in the Eurasian Federation...


Outlaw 09

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 3:19am

In reply to by carl

carl---this is a really interesting article in that there have been multiple Russian statements and social media statements that Jews were being attacked in Kiev and in eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian neo Nazi's.

An interview several days ago by the leader of the Kiev Jewish community said he has not heard a single complaint from any of his or eastern Ukrainian members---even the World Jewish Congress asked if he needed protection. And he has not asked the government for any protection measures.

His response was ---Russians stay out and by the way he and his community was extremely active during the Maidann fights and he stated that the neo right fought also with them on the Maidann then he indicated that the neo right were Ukrainians and have never threatened his community before or after Maidann.

So much for a Russian I/O operation.…

Outlaw 09

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 5:04pm

In reply to by carl

carl---go ballistic inside the EU and NATO---then the WH will have a far more serious problem on their hands.

Outlaw 09:

If Putin moves into the Ukraine, other than Crimea, what will the Poles do?

Move Forward

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 1:01am

<blockquote>There is a wide legal and strategic space between the current, minimal extreme of a handful of F-16s and the maximal extreme of moving an entire BCT to Poland. NATO should exploit this fertile middle ground, and America should lead the way.</blockquote>

This and Ms. Davidson's other blog imply that since we are not cutting as many Marines and are adding SOF, that all is well if we make a few gestures here and there. But then you read about Putin's "boomerang" and picture him seizing Pepsico assets that generate $4 billion annually in Russia, not to mention G.E. and Boeing sales. Our European allies have their own economic problems and are unlikely to rearm and reposition the combat force required for a true deterrent.

6 F-15Es make good S-400 target practice offering little more in true stopping power. There is a reason Marines did an OIF end run to the east and Army heavy armor took the more dangerous west approach to Baghdad. Heavy armor handled the Thunder Runs and Objective Peach. Marine armor had trouble at a smaller an Nasiriyah. A LAV-25 and Stryker do little to stop a T-72/80 tank. Nor does stateside heavy armor or an airborne BCT in Italy. Apache helicopters have Longbow fire control radars and radio frequency interferometers to handle heavy armor and radar air defenses unlike the fewer typical higher-flying Cobras and Harriers on an amphib if we place Army Aviation in effective proximity for employment.

Split up that single armored BCT's equipment with 3 Combined Arms Battalions in three different countries and its HQ and most other BCT equipment in the 4th country. Rotate and deploy only half the BCT's Soldiers at any given time. That covers Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. What is the cost of prepositioned Army BCT equipment in these NATO states relative to continuous sailing of amphibs with less stopping power and few survival prospects in the Black Sea? How does an amphib deter Russian power anywhere but in Romania? Try to get Naval, Marine, and Joint airpower to cover the northern NATO states which may force Germany, U.K., and the Dutch to ante up to the east as well.

This article talks about Russian A2/AD and let's face it, it would be somewhat suicidal to send Navy surface ships or amphibs into the Black Sea <strong>if</strong> bullets start flying. In the Pacific it would be very difficult for amphibs to get close enough to Taiwan to land Marines. In contrast, not a single Russian or PLAN ship could get past the narrow opening by Turkey or the first island chain without shortly thereafter being sunk so their fleets are contained. NATO stopping power must exist on the ground with tanks and Bradleys. Anything else is living in denial hoping that SOF, Strykers, and an airborne BCT, or MEU can deter heavier Russian armor. 4th gen airpower cannot effectively target hiding and hugging targets without getting taken out by Russian air defenses. As for our air defenses not yet there, something must defend any THAADS, PAC-3, or ground AEGIS you send to these NATO and first island chain states. Otherwise, Russian and Chinese special forces can take out the air defenses with sniper fire and mortars.

Both the White House and Congressional Republicans should wake up and acknowledge that soft power, sanctions, and sequestration are ineffective solutions in the face of 2014+ world threats. A singular focus on the Pacific with only Marine and SOF groundpower and depletion of NATO heavier armor is not a viable deterrent to future aggression. Nor is deep penetration of nuclear-armed threats with a LRS-B that USAF generals already admit will cost more than $550 million each. Nor is spending $355 billion over the coming years to upgrade triad nuclear arsenals that, God help us, will never get used. A fraction of that total and a smaller number of warheads/missiles/bombs/ICBMs/bombers/subs in each air, land, and sea domain would suffice as a nuclear deterrent.

Madhu (not verified)

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 8:41pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

As an aside, an interesting article in Slate by the WP's Anne Applebaum is called, "The Candidate's Wife: I almost became the first lady of Poland." Thought it might be of interest.

How should the US envision its place within NATO in the 21st century or should it be involved at all? There are treaty commitments which the US should honor but we should think seriously about revisiting this for the future.

This question should come first before talk of expansion ad hoc or its equivalents.

Another aside, from the Guardian, "Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers
Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet tells EU's Cathy Ashton about claim that provocateurs were behind Maidan killings."

Well, there is disinformation and misinformation from all sides for lots of things. Interestingly enough, more than one pro-Syrian intervention piece around here is, um, well, just be careful okay? Some of the pieces were more than advocacy, shall we say.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:27am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Kissinger is a dying breed of people who fully understand history and are able to follow the dots to link small events to large events.

The article is interesting as well as the EU and NATO recent meetings have been interesting in that the former Warsaw Pact members ranging from Czechoslovakia through Poland to the Baltics all scrambled to join NATO simply for the reason we are seeing the Crimea. Yes NATO did not say no their joining which Russia is complaining about, but the reason behind the smaller countries joining was a simple one---potential defense in the face of against what Putin is pulling in the Crimea.

Kissinger makes a point about our decision makers not understanding Russian history and psychology---would make the following observation and apply it as well to US decision makers and politicians---why are you wondering why the new NATO partners are uneasy and are demanding a stronger response against Russia.

This weekend I visited together with a French high school class the former GDR MfS/Stasi headquarters and the GDR MfS/Stasi interrogation prison in Hohenschoenahusen here in Berlin.

Just how many US politicians and decision makers truly understand the security mechanism that was employed by the Russians and then carried on by their individual counterparts in their respective east bloc countries?

If one took the entire files of the MfS/Stasi that were collected on their population from 1951 until 1989 and stacked them upright side by side they would cover a distance of 53 kms---all in handwriting and only 20kms have been fully analyzed

When one understands that mechanism of how a entire population can be controlled via a general spying system, interrogation, and prison system then it is not a wonder why the new NATO members want a stronger response as they remember only too well the "good old days" under the KGB and their own communist security services.

As an example how would US citizens react if they knew 1 individual out of every 1500 were providing security oversight on those 1500 (Russia) or say 1 to 650 in Czechoslovakia or 1 to 400 in Poland and the top position with the GDR of 1 per 160.

We often misuse the term history can teach us many things, but just how is possible that say 25 years ago the GDR had one of the finest oppressive security services in the business with over 200K formal and informal security officers and so few in the US from that period even remember anything about the GDR---one could say the same thing for Russia, or Poland or the Baltic States?

Just how many Americans know that Putin served with the KGB during the cold war in Dresden and how many Americans know that the KGB called the shots in the GDR not vice versa.

There is far more between the lines in Kissinger's comment which I took to be a not to subtle critique in a failure of knowledge about the world around us by our own decision makers and our politicians.

Madhu (not verified)

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 8:32pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Henry Kissinger in the Washington Post:

<blockquote>Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.</blockquote>

That's because 21st century Atlanticists are often advocates for a dated regime, or have, at times, shall we say, conflicting interests.

Madhu (not verified)

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 8:27pm

Foreign Service Journal (2103) - page 21

"Diplomats can overcome suspicions of clientitis by addressing local concerns in terms of U.S. interests and opportunities. It also is wise to be careful with wording, making sure <strong>"we"</strong> always refers to America, not the other country."

Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call (BBC):

Voice thought to be <it>Pyatt's</it>: I think <strong>we're</strong> in play. The Klitschko (Utaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders) piece is obviously the complicated electron here. Especially the announcement of him as deputy minister and you've seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we're trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff."

The BBC helpfully adds:

"The clear purpose in leaking this conversation is to embarrass Washington and foreign audiences susceptible to Moscow's message and portray the US as interfering in Ukraine's domestic affairs."

Well, the US WAS interfering, spending large sums of money to support one candidate over the other. To state that is not to approve of land grabs by Moscow or to mistake propaganda for reality or to create a moral equivalence between spending money and invasions.

The US in its democracy promotion regimen has provided lots and lots of money to internal candidates in various elections.

What does this mean to a representative government, to have outside money in such large amounts go to one party? And yes, the US isn't the only one doing it.

Pat Lang writes on his blog (and he states he was slated to be the CI for CONUS if there had been a nuclear exchange during an 80s exercise - is this correct?) that the escalatory logic is not clear at this time. Others caution that this is an exaggerated concern.

But I fear we are reacting via emotionalism and not in a careful and measured manner. Containment of the Soviet Union took patience and time and we let it play out, which doesn't mean that the EU can't sanction or shouldn't. The US didn't many a time, what happened in Hungary again? What is so different this time?

Madhu (not verified)

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 8:28pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

The Kosovo precedent (wiki):

"This triggered an international debate over whether Kosovo's independence has set a precedent that could apply to other separatist movements or is a special case. The recognition of Kosovo's independence by 108 out of 193 UN states, according to may sources, has given fresh impetus to other separatist movements. Abkhazia and South Ossetia renewed their calls after the recognition of their sovereignty."


"Russian response (Putin): 'Our position is extremely clear. Any resolution on Kosovo should be approved by both sides'....Analysts take this as meaning Russia would come out for independence of de facto independent breakaway regions in the Former Soviet Union."

Madhu (not verified)

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 8:08pm

<strong>An American Atlanticist is someone who can name every major city in Romania but can't find Mexico City or Pittsburgh on a map</strong> - "To Kyle in OZ, and a few words about US foreign policy today", Pundita blog.

From the same post:

<blockquote>I doubt you're ready to believe me but I'll tell you that the studious blindness in Washington about Pakistan is propped up by the enduring influence of the get Russia crowd inside the Beltway (<em>editorial comment from Madhu: it's multifactorial and that is but one factor</em>). The crowd is composed of Atlanticists--who believe European NATO countries are the Middle Kingdom--plus lumpenproletariat such as oil barons, bankers, and Russian oligarchs who don't care about NATO and just want to run Russia again.</blockquote>

Yet European security is important to the US and of greater general significance than Afghanistan.

But where are we today compared to the immediate WWII period when Europe was devastated and facing the threat from the Soviet Union?

Today, the <strong>EU is the largest single economy if treated as a single economy according to Eurostat figures</strong>. A rich collective expecting others to provide it with a security guarantee <em>ad infinitum</em>. Buck-passing that is proving destabilizing because it doesn't face reality; the Russians and others must find a way to deal with one another. It is immoral to expect the rest of the world to return to a kind of MAD between the US and Russia.

The US cannot promise a forever security guarantee in any realistic fashion and it is foolish for member states to plan based on such assumption. Granted, if the EU were to start spending more on defense, it would likely buy fewer US weapons which would hurt American weapons manufacturers, but this is a cost/benefit ratio that is still not in US interests, IMO.

From the NATO website:

<blockquote>The combined wealth of the non-US allies, measured in GDP, exceeds that of the United States. However, non-US allies together spend less than half of what the United States spends on defense....Today, the volume of the US defense expenditure effectively represents 73 percent of the defense spending of the Alliance as a whole.</blockquote>

These numbers can be debated but what is lost in the debate is that a rich economic collective expects another state to guarantee its regional security which is only prolonging the inevitable and partially leading to the events today.

An excellent interview but its advocacy seems to represent a European perspective rather than an American one. Regionally oriented think tanks often suffer from this clientelism.


Sat, 03/08/2014 - 5:07pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw, a question ...

How long are the memories in Germany about the East/West split and do younger Germans equate Russia under Putin with the old Soviet Union. I mean, it seems like the greatest evil in Russia is still Nazi Fascism. Are those memories long gone or was the younger generation weened on stories by their grandparents on how things were before the wall fell?

I mean, the Germans are certainly pragmatic. They know where the majority of their natural gas comes from and I am sure they have other trade interests. Plus I don't see them as keen on the idea of having to bail out another failed economy. But there has to be a sense that Putin can't be trusted.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/08/2014 - 4:40pm

If we look at how Putin is driving this he might in fact have for the first time driven NATO and the Germans into leading the EU in new military and political ways into the 21st century. The tone of Merkel today is getting sharper and more specific towards Putin than in the last days as she is finally accepting the fact that he is not listening to German suggestions on how to dig himself out of the hole he has dug.

This is a core sentence and is being reflected in the current US reactions to Putin---the problem for the WH is that it is on the path of "soft power" and is shying away from ratcheting up the military response out of fear of it escalating.

"They expect the United States to demonstrate its commitment to defending the European security order established in 1989, which was founded on the good faith and credit of the United States as a geopolitical guarantor. This means showing fidelity to the NATO treaty obligations ratified by the U.S. Senate in the event of a future crisis and strengthening the conventional deterrence mechanisms that would help to avoid such a crisis in the first place."

This shying mechanism on the part of the WH leads NATO to hesitate and it is difficult then to get consensus among the 28 members if the US is displaying an unwillingness to play the military card.

This article is also interesting in how the author is viewing the view points of the eastern members of NATO as it was these countries that were pushing for a hard EU/NATO response against Russia--- something the older members did not really want to do.

This was an article in the today NYT that goes to what I have been saying in reference to another article being carried by SWJ---there is more going on with Putin that is coming through in the stream of official comments coming out of Moscow that would led one to assume Moscow never came out of the cold war.…

This is also an interesting article and I am surprised she has not spoken out sooner---goes to the current"soft power" problem with US policy.…