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Streetwise Professor

March 27, 2014

Obama Speaks. Putin Smiles.

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:21 pm

Obama has given two major sets of remarks about Ukraine, one set on teleprompter, the other off.  Like Tolstoy’s unhappy families, each was appalling in its own way.  It is hard to say which is worse.

The off-teleprompter remarks were delivered at a press conference.  The statement that garnered the most attention, and rightly so, was Obama’s assertion that Russia was a mere regional power that is not a threat to the US, and invaded Crimea out of weakness.

Where to begin?

Part of the problem is the man’s preternatural pettiness.  He denigrated Russia in  part because he will not, cannot, concede that Romney might have been closer to the truth than he was when the Republican candidate named Russia as our number one national security threat, and Obama responded with a snarky “the 80s called and want their foreign policy back.”  A bigger man would have given Romney his due.  But that would be a different man than Obama.

But the bigger problem is the substance.  First, I would be the first to acknowledge that Russia’s military is decrepit and its ability to project power beyond the Eurasian landmass is limited.  But the Eurasian landmass is pretty damned big, and Russia’s region includes many areas of vital interest to the United States.

Second, Russia has many other sources of power that transcend those of a mere regional power (like Brazil, say).  Most obviously: It has nukes.  It has a UNSC veto.  It has extremely effective asymmetric capabilities, notably cyberwarfare (conducted in large part through private and criminal elements that work for Russian intelligence out of a combination of patriotic and mercenary motives) and intelligence.  (Snowden, anyone?)

Moreover, Putin’s anschluss, and the threatened moves beyond Crimea (not just Ukraine, but reasonably feared in any country with substantial Russian speaking minorities, which includes countries formally allied with the US) upset the entire international order.  Not just the post-World War II and post-Cold War settlements, but the principles of international order stretching back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.   Turning a blind eye to revanchism and irredentism threatens to unleash similar forces on every continent.  The chaos and disorder that would result would present a profound challenge to stability, and the interests of the United States.

Obama appears to believe that it is beneath a stronger power to confront weaker ones.  But what is the point of strength and power, if they cannot be deployed against peer adversaries because that would be too costly, and they cannot be deployed against weaker ones because that’s unsporting?

Indeed, if Obama’s diagnosis is correct, and Russia is a weak power (put aside whether the weakness is the motivation for Putin’s aggressiveness, as Obama claims), given the stakes there is a compelling case to deploy American power (mainly economic, financial, and political, rather than military) to squash the weak upstart.  Because that would contribute to tranquility throughout Eurasia, and pour encourager les autres.

The formal speech in Belgium was a disaster in different ways.  Obama gave a treacly tribute to the bravery of Maidan, and then basically said: “sorry, people, you’re on your own!  Good luck!  We wish you the best!”  He laid out a rather compelling case that Putin’s challenge to the international system threatened dire consequences far beyond Ukraine, but despite this he threatened no measures beyond the oft-repeated gradualism of escalating financial consequences: how many historical examples are required to demonstrate that such gradualism, so appealing in the faculty lounge and think tank, is actually an encouragement to hard men like Putin?

Disgustingly, Obama conceded many of Putin’s arguments, most notably that Russia has special rights in Ukraine due to the longstanding historical relationship between the countries.  This is to make modern Ukrainians subordinate to Russia because their forebears provided a patina of civilization to Muscovite thugs, and then suffered centuries of subjugation at the hands of these thugs which at times lapsed into genocide.  Yes, the Holodomor was truly the epitome of a special relationship, no?

If anything, the historical relations between Ukraine and Russia provide a compelling case to defend Ukraine against further Muscovite predations, rather than an excuse to consign the country to Putin’s tender mercies.

The speech put more emphasis on what the US won’t do, than what it will.  Obama repeated three times that the US will not engage in any military response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.  I’m sure Putin got that message, and smiled.

Obama emphasized a desire for continued diplomacy, and de-escalation.  Both of which Russia has already rejected, repeatedly.  (Look at the picture of Lavrov meeting with the Ukrainian FM.  I am sure The Tarantula would have preferred an appendectomy without anesthesia to that meeting.) This is political onanism of the most embarrassing sort.

But there’s more! Not only did Obama conspicuously put Ukraine outside the American security perimeter, he also slammed the door on Georgia, saying that it was not on a path to membership in Nato.  Given that Georgia is one of Putin’s biggest bêtes noire, you may rest assured that Putin is going to take this as an invitation.

In sum, the speech signaled a supine attitude that will embolden Putin.  Obama appears robust only in comparison to the Europeans, who would have to stiffen considerably in order to become mere boneless wonders (to quote Churchill’s devastating critique of Stanley Baldwin).

Some have claimed that Obama’s speech was tough, both on the Russians and the Europeans.  The markets deemed otherwise.  Gazprom was up.  Sberbank was up.  Rosneft was up.  Micex was up.  The Ruble was up.

And no wonder. Last week’s encouraging expansion of sanctions have been followed by . . . nothing.  Except empty threats to do more: that’s all Obama’s speech contained.  It is clear that there is no appetite in western capitals for aggressive action against Russia, even though it would be possible to crush the Russian economy.

Need convincing? German firms are making pilgrimages to Moscow.  German politicians are loud in their criticism of sanctions, and bend over backwards to rationalize Putin’s conduct.

Just why did we defend these people for 60 plus years, anyways?  They are obsessed with Snowden and the thought that the NSA might be perusing their Amazon purchases.  Never mind that a thugocracy is on the march.  It’s so much easier for the Germans to criticize the US than Russia.  The US doesn’t fight back.

Speaking of NSA, one of the companies that paid homage to Putin in his court was Siemens, a notoriously corrupt firm. Former CIA director James Woolsey said we spy on European companies precisely because of their corruption.  Perhaps some kompromat or prosecutions are in order.

Obama appears to be deferring to German wishes.  Specifically, I smell Merkel’s influence over the Georgia remarks.  Why did Obama have to mention Georgia at all, let alone to throw it very publicly under the bus?  Then recall that Merkel has been adamant over excluding Georgia from integration into Nato on any time frame.

Russian troops are massing on Ukraine’s borders.  Russia’s most capable formations, its paratroops (VDV) and Guards armored/mechanized units are assembled there.  But don’t worry! Russian defense minister Shoygu assures that these troops are only there for maneuvers.  And the drunk who is our SecDef believes him:

At the Pentagon, there remains confidence in the assurances provided to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu that the Russian troops amassing on the border with Ukraine were there only for exercises.

“[Shoygu] told me that they had no intention of crossing the border into Ukraine,” Hagel said at the Pentagon this week.

Can we really be this stupid?  (Don’t answer that.  The question was totally, totally rhetorical.)

Just why, pray tell, need the Russians conduct maneuvers with 50K of their best troops on a sensitive border? And given that Putin repeatedly lied about his intentions in Crimea, why should we believe Shoygu-especially since there are serious doubts that Shoygu is in Putin’s decision making clique?

In sum, in his various remarks, Obama has revealed that he has many, many cheeks, and is willing to turn them all.  To Putin, anyways: not to Romney or other Republicans. Putin will take this as an invitation, and take all that he can.  If he isn’t stopped now-and rolled back, actually-he will continue to press.  The necessity of confrontation will not be eliminated, just deferred.

 

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66 Comments »

  1. The dislocation of russian troops suggests they are planning a blitz-krieg type of incursion with their elite Kantemirovsky tank division destined straight to Kiev. Although it could be a distraction maneuver too, as Ukraine has their single tank T-84 brigade in Chernihiv, presumably to protect Kiev. Thus leaving eastern borders more vulnerable.
    In any way the only reason why putler might still be considering to invade or not mainland Ukraine is not the threat of reaction of the West. It’s the fact that in most cases blitz-krieng wars inevitable lead to a protracted conflicts including guerrilla warfare and growing casualties. Which might damage his own reputation in russia and the ability to explain the war to russian people.
    http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/russian-blitzkrieg-from-north-and-east-north-u-s-intel-on-ukraine-is-lagging-behind/

    Comment by arthur — March 27, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

  2. Actually which way putler choose for invasion depends on what he would try to achieve. The reason why he might want to take Kiev is to reinstall Yanukovich as president and have the whole Ukraine as a puppet state. The reason he might opt for eastern Ukraine regions is to organize ocupendums (occupational referendums) in russian speaking areas of Ukraine to join them to RF. I think currently he keeps both options open.

    Comment by arthur — March 27, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

  3. “First, I would be the first to acknowledge that Russia’s military is decrepit and its ability to project power beyond the Eurasian landmass is limited.”

    Yes, but as Putin has been throwing money at the military for years, the number of non-decrepit units in his army must have increased since the Georgian war of 2008. The Russian general staff has probably several different invasion plans, developed over years or even decades if you count from 1991. A Blitzkrieg attack like the one outlined by Arthur above is a possibility, although grim and frightful and near-impossible to imagine.

    Yanukovich is scheduled to speak in Rostov on the Don today. What if he asks (“formally requests”, as the “legitimate president”) Putin to “restore the constitutional order” in Ukraine?

    Comment by Alex K. — March 28, 2014 @ 12:42 am

  4. The Russian military is only decrepit in relation to the US military, compared to the underfunded Ukrainian military it is a deadly threat.

    Comment by Andrew — March 28, 2014 @ 6:57 am

  5. @Alex K & @Andrew. As I have written extensively over the years, the problem with the Russian military is a software/meatware problem, not so much a hardware problem. Demographics and draft dodging and dedovshchina mean that the military has extreme difficulty getting and training sufficient personnel. Even VDV units have large contingents of conscripts. With the one year service term, these soldiers are rawer than raw for virtually the entire term of their service, and there is continual churn, with new raw troops replacing troops who are not quite raw, but are still very much on the rare side. Indeed, Felgenhauer (I think) points out that this is a consideration in Putin’s planning: last year’s draft cohort is leaving the service in a few weeks, and a new cohort is coming in.

    Yes, the Russian military has improved since Georgia 2008, and is better than the Ukrainian military. Both are very low bars to clear.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 28, 2014 @ 7:24 am

  6. That is true indeed SWP, I just mean that the Ukrainians are facing a real uphill struggle if the POTS (President of the Surrender?) does not do anything to assist.

    Comment by Andrew — March 28, 2014 @ 7:26 am

  7. @Andrew. You are exactly right. But hey, POTS is offering a catering service to Ukraine: 25K MREs. Unbelievable. That’s more insulting than offering nothing.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 28, 2014 @ 7:34 am

  8. Please @Andrew and Perfesser, it is POTUS, President of the Unconditional, Uncontested, pick your own UN, Surrender.

    Secondly both are in terrible shape, but the offense is more difficult and logistically it is much more difficult to support a full invasion: border clashes are one thing but a deep penetration (+20km)against a motivated enemy – even one that just stands in place is quite another.

    Comment by Sotos — March 28, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  9. The satirical newspaper The Onion has a great “editorial” by Putin thanking everyone for being “real cool” about his invasion. Most people do not follow Russian or Ukrainian politics, and are unsure of what is actually the best course of action to take. But they are deeply unhappy about how Obama is leading the United States during this crisis. Popular media still seems reluctant to outright criticize the President directly, but on this issue and others, indirect criticisms are piling up fast.

    In case of an actual invasion, everything depends on the resistance put up by the Ukrainians. A repeat of the tepid non-resistance in Crimea will lead to a huge Russian victory. A staunch resistance that leads to heavy Russian casualties will probably be seen as a defeat even if Russian forces occupy some Ukrainian territory. Surprise at the Russian incursion of Ukraine and hope that Western pressure would remove them explains much of the weak response by Ukraine in Crimea, but an invasion in the rest of Ukraine now has to be resisted for the provisional government to retain any legitimacy.

    There is almost no news on the actual changes in Ukrainian military deployment since Crimea. I know units have moved, but haven’t read anything substantial about how Ukraine would respond to a second invasion. Not sure if that means Ukrainian measures are still insufficient, or just typical silence on military details.

    Comment by Chris — March 28, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  10. Get this: a self-described “legitimate president” calls for separatist referenda in the country he claims to be the president of. Conveniently, the TASS seems to have been the only witness to those statements. And you thought Snowden’s “interviews” were straining credulity.

    I suspect Yanukovych wishes he could stand trial in Ukraine, where there is not even a death penalty. Or he wished, as the case may be.

    Comment by Ivan — March 28, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  11. Back in 2006-2007 Felgenhauer predicted a crushing defeat for Russia at the hands of Georgia. FWIW, the Red Army was more professional in 1941 than in 1945.

    Why fight anyway? Let Svoboda blow up the gas pipelines, institute economic sanctions against Russia. Retaliate by evicting the million or so Ukrainian guest workers (most from Western Ukraine, mind you). Discontinue nuclear fuel deliveries. That’s 50% of Ukraine’s electricity (WTF did Ukraine ever need so much gas anyway?!) and Western fuel rods are incompatible. Maidan of the nervous system disrupted the sowing of crops (although the more Russophobic Western commentators have already blamed it on the “Russian threat”, anticipating another Holodomor no doubt).

    tldr; Ukraine’s South and East will fall into Russia’s lap at this rate like Crimea did. Incidentally, the only parts of Ukraine that have any economic value. (Donbass is a bit of a dump, however. The easily-accessible coal seams have long been exhausted.) I’m sure the Germans will be happy to finance Poland’s new Kresy.

    Comment by So? — March 28, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  12. These crocodile tears over Ukraine are rather puzzling. Ukraine’s identity was manufactured by Austrians to counter Russian Pan-Slavism. Since “Ukrainians” lived in the countryside, a country hillbilly substrate was used. We all know that only cities create real culture. No can do in the Ukrainian case, because Ukrainian city culture is Russian and Polish. So this whole Ukrainian nationalism business is manufactured atavism. Instigated by Austrians, perpetuated by Sovoks (“indigenization”). The Ukrainian revolutionaries continuously slip up and switch to Russian when arguing. Because Ukrainian to Russian is what Ebonics is to English.

    P.S.
    I forgot that it’s all about Democracy, and anyone against Moscow is automatically a good guy.
    P.P.S
    Russia without Ukraine is a backwater (see Muscovy before 1654 and after 1991). Ukraine without Russia is a complete non-entity (see Ukraine before 1654 and after 1991).

    Comment by So? — March 28, 2014 @ 11:08 pm

  13. @ So?

    “Ukraine’s identity was manufactured by Austrians to counter Russian Pan-Slavism.

    Can you name a few Austrians who manufactured Ukraine’s identity?

    “We all know that only cities create real culture.”

    Dostoyevsky and co. would disagree. Are you anti-Slavic or something?

    “Since “Ukrainians” lived in the countryside, a country hillbilly substrate was used.

    Finns, Balts, Czechs, and Slovaks were also rural peoples whose cities were populated by Swedes, Germans, Germans/Jews, and Hungarians/Jews respectively. Hmm…Poles too, to a large extent. Their culture was based on the rural nobility, not on the largely Jewish or German city-folk.

    Comment by AP — March 28, 2014 @ 11:32 pm

  14. Whatever patina of civilization Ukrainians might have managed to put on Muscovite thugs has been largely polished away by the bolsheviks, as is so amply demonstrated by “So?” and other sovok specimen on this blog. The only vestige of that patina is the uncontrollable urge to try and invent some civilized-sounding explanation for their behaviour so obviously controlled by primitive reflexes. We find them exactly as Marq de Custine left them: “They are much less interested in being civilized than in making us believe them so… They would be quite content to be in effect more awful and barbaric than they actually are, if only others could thereby be made to believe them better and more civilized.”

    Comment by Ivan — March 29, 2014 @ 1:36 am

  15. So? shows the usual face of ‘great Russian’ racism.

    Considering that the Russian plan in Georgia was to roll from the Roki tunnel to Tbilisi by lunchtime, and depose Saakashvili, they failed miserably.

    The Georgians came unstuck when they withdrew according to the ceasefire negotiated by France, which obligated both sides to withdraw to pre conflict positions, the Russians kept on attacking anyway.

    And So? spare us the bullshit about Russian conscripts vs Georgian professionals, Russia used all it’s kontrakti for it’s invasion, not conscripts. The majority of Georgian troops in the conflict zone were reservists with minimal training.

    Despite the overwhelming Russian advantages in manpower and matériel the Georgians still gave the Russian army a bloody nose.

    The majority of the Georgian professional troops were flown back from Iraq and deployed to defend Tbilisi, the Russian army showed little desire to attack them, but instead found it much easier to attack civilians in Gori and South Ossetia in the east, and in Poti Senaki, Zugdidi, and Samtredia in the west. The usual Russian disease of looting, vandalism, rape etc ensued.

    Comment by Andrew — March 29, 2014 @ 2:39 am

  16. Dostoyevsky and co. would disagree. Are you anti-Slavic or something?
    That 19th century Romanticism is old hat. I’d rather believe Gorky and Bunin (reading the latter was the only time in my life a book made me physically ill).

    Finns, Balts, Czechs, and Slovaks were also rural peoples whose cities were populated by Swedes, Germans, Germans/Jews, and Hungarians/Jews respectively. Hmm…Poles too, to a large extent. Their culture was based on the rural nobility, not on the largely Jewish or German city-folk.
    No surprises there. The Romans civilized the Germans. The Germans civilized the rest. But a Czech living in the city, speaking Czech instead of German, will contribute to Czech culture. But a Ukrainian living in the city becomes Russian. The languages are that close. Hence all the contortions of Ukrainian nationalism to differentiate from Russians. Hopak, hick hairstyles (khokhol, that thing on Timoshenko’s head) and other country cosplay. It’s city vs country, and country always loses. Always. While Russia modernised, the Polish szlachta engaged in Turkic cosplay
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarmatism . Worked well for them, did it not?

    Comment by So? — March 29, 2014 @ 6:15 am

  17. Whatever patina of civilization Ukrainians might have managed to put on Muscovite thugs has been largely polished away by the bolsheviks

    Ukrainians, being peasants, never had a civilization by definition. Because no peasants anywhere ever had a civilization. Hopak, moustaches, khokhols are not civilization.

    …We find them exactly as Marq de Custine left them…

    Favourite author of all butthurt limitrophes.

    Comment by So? — March 29, 2014 @ 6:19 am

  18. So? shows the usual face of ‘great Russian’ racism.

    Considering that the Russian plan in Georgia was to roll from the Roki tunnel to Tbilisi by lunchtime, and depose Saakashvili, they failed miserably.

    The more insignificant a nation, the more ludicrous and grandiose its history. For a good laugh, read some Arab sites. They invented everything and were bigger than Rome. Or Ukrainian ones, where they claim to be a “civilization” 10,000 years old. According to Poles, they won every battle in 1831 (yet somehow managed to lose). In your case, a stunning defeat is a victory against all odds. All those abandoned tanks (“бежали робкие грузины”) must have been Russian propaganda. The highway to Tbilisi was wide open. That’s the difference between (stupidly) magnanimous Russians and the vindictive West. When savages have the nerve to attack Americans, the unspoken rule is to inflict 10 times the casualties. Can’t do it in regular time and the natives are already fleeing? No problem! Just kill them as they flee. So that their children’s children would shudder at the mere thought of challenging you next time. That’s how you learn them! You should have been given your highway of death. You wouldn’t be spewing your deluded garbage now. Fortunately for you, Russians are softies.

    Comment by So? — March 29, 2014 @ 6:39 am

  19. “That 19th century Romanticism is old hat.

    Sure, but it’s where all nationalisms and national stories come from. Russian no less than Ukrainian, or Polish.

    “But a Czech living in the city, speaking Czech instead of German, will contribute to Czech culture.”

    Sure. How about an Irishman speaking English in Dublin? Does he contribute to Irish culture?

    “But a Ukrainian living in the city becomes Russian. The languages are that close.

    You never heard of Lviv?

    “It’s city vs country, and country always loses.

    If this were true there would be no Finland, Czechia, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, etc.

    “The more insignificant a nation, the more ludicrous and grandiose its history.”

    This is applicable to Russians claiming to be Rus (Rus were, of course, Scandinavians who used Russians’ Slavic ancestors as export commodities in the slave trade with the Arabs and the Greeks). Romanians and Italians claiming to be Romans. Etc.

    Comment by AP — March 29, 2014 @ 7:24 am

  20. “The more insignificant a nation, the more ludicrous and grandiose its history.” – Good point: “third Rome” comes to mind LOL

    Comment by Ivan — March 29, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  21. @So surely spares no effort to enhance the sense of Ukrainians nationalism. Way to go, keep up the good work in this difficult times for the Ukrainian nation. With foes like this, who needs friends :)

    Comment by Dixi — March 29, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  22. Actually So? It is amusing how the Russians claimed to have captured so many tanks, but then claimed the Georgian army had been ‘completely rearmed’ after a few months, when no new equipment was purchased.
    In reality much of the equipment the Russians claimed to have captured was not Georgian at all. Little difference between a Georgian T72 and a Russian one.

    You claim Russia is magnanimous? You really are a fine example of Russian filth. Tell that to the civilians that were killed by Russia, you POS.

    Comment by Andrew — March 29, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  23. > Yanukovich is scheduled to speak in Rostov on the Don today. What if he asks (“formally requests”, as the “legitimate president”) Putin to “restore the constitutional order” in Ukraine?

    Well, since according to Ukrainian Constitution and international law, Yanukovich hasn’t been impeached properly and remains the President of Ukriane, he has a full right to ask the international community – including Russia and NATO – to bring troops into Ukraine, temporarily occupy Kiev, restore the legitimate president, conduct new Rada elections, and help him arrest the criminals and disband their paramilitary forces. A thorough investigation and the trial of the snipers in Maidan should be conducted, with international investigators present. The presidential elections should be conducted in Febru/ary 2015, as mandated by the Constitution. After that, the law requires RF troops to leave (unless the Rada votes to keep them for a while, like the US troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq) and to give Crimea back to Ukraine.

    Comment by vlad — March 30, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  24. > Yes, the Russian military has improved since Georgia 2008, and is better than the Ukrainian military. Both are very low bars to clear.

    If Ukraine and Russia go to war, Russia can expect almost half of Ukraine’s soldiers and officers to defect to the Russian side.

    As far as a potential military conflict between NATO and RF goes, Russia is prepared to suffer tens of thousands casualties. EU and USA aren’t. A serious clash between NATO and RF, with large casualties, will result in a dismissal of Western leaders by their constituencies, while Putin will enjoy an increase in domestic support.

    If a man will stand for his own land,
    He’s got the strength of ten.

    And if we’d only learn the lesson,
    It could even be a blessing,
    He and me might disagree,
    But we needn’t go to shooting again.

    And if soldier boys in every land say:
    “Hell no, we won’t go!” (“what did you say?”)
    “Hell no, we won’t go!” (“say it again!”)
    “Hell no, we won’t go!”

    /Pete Seeger (1970)/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9NggDZOjL4

    Comment by vlad — March 30, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

  25. >> “But a Ukrainian living in the city becomes Russian. The languages are that close.

    > You never heard of Lviv?

    Exactly right. Stalin committed international crimes in 1939-40 when he annexed the Baltics and West Ukraine – including Lviv). Luckily, the Baltics have regained their independence in 1991. But the annexation of West Ukraine continues.

    It is paramount on all freedom-loving people to insist that West Ukraine be given back to Poland, although I would wholeheartedly support a referendum for West Ukraine’s independence. As an independent nation, West Ukraine will finally be free to worship its WWII heroes like OUN, UPA and the SS Galicia division and to be ruled by their followers. Under Polish rule, a country that fought against Hitler, these heroes would be declared mass murderers and genocidists.

    http://sokil.ck.ua/upload/192959_04022012_58.jpg

    Comment by vlad — March 30, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

  26. > This is applicable to Russians claiming to be Rus

    The second and last capital of Rus was Kiev, after the Novgorod princes moved Rus capital from the Russian city of Novgorod to the Khazar village of Kiev.

    When Rus is re-united after 22 years of separation, the capital should be moved from Moscow back to Kiev. Novgorod cannot be the capital because it’s too small.

    Comment by vlad — March 30, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  27. @Vlad

    Elsewhere you asked:

    “I have constantly asked here if anybody disagrees that Yanukovich’s removal was unconstitutional and that he continues to be the legitimate President of Ukraine. Nobody expressed their disagreement. Either everybody agrees with me, or people missed my posts…So, let me ask again, and you, AP, personally: do you agree that Yanukovich’s removal was done against the Constitution of Ukraine? And what does this say about the legitimacy of the current junta’s vs. Yanukovich?”

    Your question implies that Yanukovch’s “impeachment” by the Rada was an isolated act. It is like asking, “was the Soviet invasion of East Prussia legal” without considering the events that preceded it. In reality, after legitimately winning the free and fair election of 2010, Yanukovich then illegitimately and illegally took control of the parliament, reshuffled the courts, got himself additional powers that he did not have when he was elected, and in this way took total control over the country. Given the total legal nihilism that Yanukovich created, whether or not some action by the Rada was constitutional (and let me tell you that it was not) is irrelevant. Winning an election once doesn’t entitle someone to become a dictator, and the people – prevented from doing so legally – have the right to overthrow such a would-be dictator.

    Now, setting aside the “impeachment” – “In the event that a President is incapable of committing his/her duties as President, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada becomes the acting president until a new president is elected.” Yanukovich fled the country, protected neither by the police nor by the army, despised by the majority of the people, and was rejected even by his own political party. He is obviously no longer capable of committing his duties as president. So the Rada has chosen an acting president until the election of May 25th.

    “The second and last capital of Rus was Kiev”

    The last legitimate (that is, pre-Mongol) ruler of Kiev was the Galician Prince, Daniel.

    When Rus was still a centralized state it was run by Scandinavians, who treated the Slavs whom they ruled as slaves for export. So if you want to really recreate Rus, reverse the results of the battle of Poltava. Or World War II – Germans are closer to Scandinavians than are Russia’s or Ukraine’s modern elites.

    “It is paramount on all freedom-loving people to insist that West Ukraine be given back to Poland, although I would wholeheartedly support a referendum for West Ukraine’s independence. As an independent nation, West Ukraine will finally be free to worship its WWII heroes like OUN, UPA and the SS Galicia division and to be ruled by their followers.

    Actually Poland was obligated under the settlement that granted them Galicia to hold a referendum in 1939 (of course they probably would not have done so, even if they had not been invaded). The Soviets actually did have a vote, which was no less legitimate than the one that recently occurred in Crimea, and the Galician people elected a People’s Assembly which voted to join the Ukrainian SSR.

    BTW, your dream of Ukrainian nationalism being confined to Galicia is over now. Kiev, the so-called “mother of Russian cities” is firmly nationalistic too. Svoboda actually did better in Kiev than it did in most non-Galician western Ukrainian regions. It is too late to quarantine Galicia. Does it hurt Russians, to be rejected so strongly by their “mother?” This hurt may explain their particular hatred of Ukrainian nationalism, Bandera (who, though horrible by modern standards, was unremarkable by the standards of the 1930s and 1940s), etc.

    Comment by AP — March 30, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

  28. One of my colleagues is from Karkhiv, let’s just say he says the anti Russia (the state, not people) feeling is very high there.

    Nobody that he knows who are under 50 is at all keen to be part of the Russian federation under Putin.

    His comnent ‘in Ukraine I can say what I like in Russian, in Russia I’d have to stay silent’ saya it all.

    Comment by Andrew — March 31, 2014 @ 5:57 am

  29. According to numerous polls the pro-Russia, pro-Ukraine cutoff is about age 50 in Ukraine. The Russian choice is the choice of pensioners and people soon to become pensioners. The country’s future prefers Europe. This was for the customs Union vs. EU, not outright annexation (where numbers in favor of Russia are much lower).

    Comment by AP — March 31, 2014 @ 7:56 am

  30. “As I have written extensively over the years, the problem with the Russian military is a software/meatware problem, not so much a hardware problem.” – SWP

    No arguing with this. My guess is Moscow will increasingly recruit residents of depressed areas and/or unproductively employed males (such as security guards) while Central Asian (and Ukrainian, if Kyiv falls to Putin) immigrants will be taking their place in the Russian hinterland.

    Comment by Alex K. — March 31, 2014 @ 9:31 am

  31. - Why Crimea?
    - Becausovo!

    Comment by vlad — March 31, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

  32. AP> Yanukovich then illegitimately and illegally took control of the parliament, reshuffled the courts, got himself additional powers that he did not have when he was elected

    Reshuffled the courts and getting themselves additional powers is what all politicians around the world try to do when they come to power. What limits them is the Constitution.

    So, are you saying that Yanukovich definitely violated the Constitution when he “reshuffled the courts” and “got himself additional powers”? Please provide the details: his specific acts and the texts of the laws that these acts violated.

    > People have the right to overthrow such a would-be dictator.

    Only if he cancels elections or commits fraud in the next elections. The next elections are by Constitution scheduled for 11 months from now. There was no reason why the people couldn’t wait for 11 months before voting Yanukovich out and signing the agreement with EU. What difference does it make whether Ukraine will be admitted into the EU 90 years from now or 90 years and 11 months from now?

    > “In the event that a President is incapable of committing his/her duties as President, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada becomes the acting president

    That refers to the case when the President is incapable due to illness. Yanukovich had to escape from Kiev because the armed Maidan ultra-nationalist and criminal
    Right Sector units were in control in Kiev and went after him. This is the same reason why Kerensky escaped St Petersburg during the Russian October revolution.

    Yanukovich is perfectly healthy and capable and willing of executing his duties. He even wrote several addresses to his people. What prevents him from ruling Ukraine is the new junta.

    Yanukovich is now “government in exile”. From 1945 to 1991, the United States recognized the governments in exile for the Baltic states, so it must recognize Yanukovich as the president of Ukraine in exile.

    > The last legitimate (that is, pre-Mongol) ruler of Kiev was the Galician Prince, Daniel. When Rus was still a centralized state it was run by Scandinavians, who treated the Slavs whom they ruled as slaves for export. So if you want to really recreate Rus, reverse the results of the battle of Poltava. Or World War II – Germans are closer to Scandinavians than are Russia’s or Ukraine’s modern elites.

    I do want to recreate Kievan Rus (plus the Siberian and Novorossian territories it later annexed) with the capital in Kiev or Odessa, but I fail to see the importance and relevance (to this desire) of your trivia about birthplaces of Kievan princes, Poltava battle, WWII, Germany, ethnic and racial proximity, slavery etc. I no longer tolerate demagoguery.

    Comment by vlad — March 31, 2014 @ 12:46 pm

  33. I meant “ethnic proximity between Scandinavians, Germans and Anglo-Saxons”. Ethnic proximity within Rus peoples is, of course, relevant, although very far from paramount.

    Comment by vlad — March 31, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

  34. Linguistic, religious and cultural proximity taken together, are, of course, paramount.

    Comment by vlad — March 31, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

  35. “I do want to recreate Kievan Rus (plus the Siberian and Novorossian territories it later annexed) with the capital in Kiev or Odessa, but I fail to see the importance and relevance (to this desire) of your trivia about birthplaces of Kievan princes, Poltava battle, WWII, Germany, ethnic and racial proximity, slavery etc. I no longer tolerate demagoguery.

    History rather than mythology, my friend. Rus was a trade-based state run by Scandinavians who didn’t mix much with Slavs, at least not for most of the period of time when it was a united country. Rather, they used the Slavs as sources of goods such as honey or furs, or even sold those Slavs as Slaves. The Rus sold so many Slavs as slaves that the Arab word for the Volga was “Slave highway.” Typical example: when Ingvar of Kiev was killed by Slavic Drevlians while trying to extort trade goods from them, his wife Helga avenged his death by slaughtering the entire Slavic settlement. Nineteenth century Ukrainian and Russian Romantics created some nice stories about Rus being an ancient Ukraine or an Ancient Russia. Helga is St. Olga, a “Russian” or “Ukrainian” princess, depending on the story you happen to like. The reality is that both ethnic groups only developed after Rus was gone (just as Romanian, Spanish, etc. nations developed after the Roman Empire had ceased to exist). Ukraine is the child of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia is the child of Muscovy-under-the-Golden-Horde.

    Relevance? Russians use this fake romantic story to claim some sort kinship with Ukrainians. They were all “Rus.” Well, they were, in the sense that Incas and Mayas were all once “Spaniards.” The spectacle of Russians invading Kiev to unify “Rus” is as ridiculous as Peruvian Indians invading Puerto Rico to unify “Spain.”

    So looking at actual history rather than your grandiose Russian myths, the closest approximation to recreating Rus would not be a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but a German victory and rule over the eastern Slavs during World War II. Erich Koch as the new Rurik.

    Comment by AP — March 31, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

  36. “Yanukovich is now “government in exile”. From 1945 to 1991, the United States recognized the governments in exile for the Baltic states, so it must recognize Yanukovich as the president of Ukraine in exile.

    The Baltic states’ governments were in exile due to Soviet tanks marching in from abroad, not a native overthrow. Yanukovich’s situation is comparable to that of the Shah of Iran, Idi Amin, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Juan Peron after 1955, etc. etc.

    Nice try, though.

    “Reshuffled the courts and getting themselves additional powers is what all politicians around the world try to do when they come to power. What limits them is the Constitution. So, are you saying that Yanukovich definitely violated the Constitution when he “reshuffled the courts” and “got himself additional powers”? Please provide the details: his specific acts and the texts of the laws that these acts violated.

    You missed the first part – took control of the parliament.

    Going back to 2010. In the parliamentary elections the people voted strictly for parties, not for individuals. The results were Party of Regions, Communists, and Lytvyn’s bloc had a combined 222 votes, Tymoshenko plus Our Ukraine had 228 votes. Soon after coming to power, Yanukovich (who has control over the courts and prosecutor’s office) managed to get over 250 votes for his side, to depose Tymoshenko from the post of PM, and to ram through a bunch of laws opposed by the parties who had actually won the last parliamentary election such as ratifying the Black Sea fleet extension, the language laws, granting itself an additional year in office, etc. This was unconstitutional – the unelected MPs were bound to represent the parties whom the people voted for, and not to vote against those parties.

    Article 81 of Ukraine’s Constitution stated:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine#Article_81

    The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:

    6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.

    Where a People’s Deputy of Ukraine, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), fails to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or exits from such a faction, the highest steering body of the respective political party (electoral bloc of political parties) shall decide to terminate early his or her authority on the basis of a law, with the termination taking effect on the date of such a decision.

    ::::::::::::

    So, Yanukovich’s majority in parliament was unconstitutional and illegal, and all laws and ratifications it passed were thus illegitimate. And this included the electoral reforms that enabled Yanukovich’s party to retain control over the parliament in 2012 despite having lost the popular vote by a healthy margin.

    Would there have been an uprising had the victors of the parliamentary election controlled the parliament? Probably not. When the majority get completely shut out of the political process they take matters into their own hands. Particularly when sparked to do so by controversial, unpopular actions.

    The other thing that Yanukovich did was give himself a lot of extra powers than he had when the people elected him. This was not done by an election or referendum, nor by a legitimately elected parliament; thus it was not an expression of the people’s will directly or indirectly. It was done by a Constitutional Court after Yanukovich had pressured various members to resign, and after he placed a local judge from his hometown of Yenakievo (the one who had fixed his earlier convictions for assault) in charge of the court.

    ::::::::::::::::::

    Moreover, since when is Russia an arbiter about what is or is not constitutional in Ukraine? Did China have a right to invade America and install Al Gore because it disagreed with how the US Supreme Court interpreted the election counting? An absurd idea – Russia decides something in Ukraine is unconstitutional so Russia invades in order to enforce Ukraine’s constitution. If Yanukovich’s impeachment was unconstitutional its own courts can decide.

    Comment by AP — March 31, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

  37. AP> The Baltic states’ governments were in exile due to Soviet tanks marching in from abroad, not a native overthrow. Yanukovich’s situation is comparable to that of the Shah of Iran, Idi Amin, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Juan Peron after 1955, etc. etc.

    Were any of these people democratically elected and scheduled for another election in 1 year, like Yanukovich?

    Vlad>> So, are you saying that Yanukovich definitely violated the Constitution when he “reshuffled the courts” and “got himself additional powers”? Please provide the details: his specific acts and the texts of the laws that these acts violated.

    AP> You missed the first part – took control of the parliament.

    You missed my question: Please provide the details: his specific acts and the texts of the laws that these acts violated. In particular, what exactly did he do to “take control of the parliament” and which laws exactly did he break by doing so?

    > This was unconstitutional – the unelected MPs were bound to represent the parties whom the people voted for, and not to vote against those parties.

    Please provide the legal details.

    > his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.

    I don’t understand. Are you saying that Yanukovich failed to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties? Hasn’t he always been part of the Party of Regions, which was highly represented in Rada?

    > So, Yanukovich’s majority in parliament was unconstitutional and illegal

    Please cite the Constitution to that effect.

    And where does Article 81 talk about “majority in parliament”?

    > Moreover, since when is Russia an arbiter about what is or is not constitutional in Ukraine?

    Well, the USA and all other countries decide whether a foreign government is legal or illegal. In fact, the USA freely uses military force to replace the foreign leaders whom they don’t like or consider illegal. I am sure we can find many-many dozens, if not hundreds, of such examples in Latin America, as well as Kosovo, Haiti, Grenada, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria (to come soon), etc. etc. I am not saying that the USA chose the wrong side to support in Korea and Vietnam, quite the opposite, but this certainly involved a decision as to which of the two governments to recognize and to support militarily.

    So, why not Russia? As I understand, Yanukovich has called on all governments – including Russia – to help him remove the illegal junta, but NATO countries not only ignored his plea but on the contrary, sided with the junta and, using threats, prevented Russia from marching into Kiev, arresting the criminal junta and all others who broke the Ukrainian Constitution, restoring Yanukovich, and then leaving once President Yanukovich puts his appointees to head the police, military and security forces and brings the criminals to trial/justice.

    Comment by vlad — April 2, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  38. All the supporters of Maidan with whom I have exchanged opinions about the unconstitutionality of the removal of Yanukovich, tell me that this was a revolution. But if so, every country has the full right to recongnise or not this revolution. And every citizen of Ukraine also has this right. There is no law saying that every citizen of Ukraine must recognize a coup/revolution and obey the junta that grabs the power as the result thereof, is there? But there surely must be laws declaring coups/revolutionsillegal.

    Moreover, if revolutions are legal, then the people in Crimea, Donbass and other East Ukrainian countries have the legal right to stage their own revolutions (actually, counter-revolutions, don’t they? Every citizen and region has a full right not to recognize a revolution and to fight to negate its effects. The Russian saying goes: Клин клином вышибают. Like cures like. You live by the sword – you die by the sword. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    > If Yanukovich’s impeachment was unconstitutional its own courts can decide.

    By law, courts and judges appointed by an illegal junta, have no right to decide cases. If you want the Constitutional and Supreme Courts to decide whether Yanukovich’s impeachment was unconstitutional, then the judges must be those who were constitutionally and legally appointed prior to the coup, and not the illegal judges appointed by an illegal junta.

    Comment by vlad — April 2, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

  39. Correction:

    All the supporters of Maidan with whom I have exchanged opinions about the unconstitutionality of the removal of Yanukovich, tell me that this was a revolution. But if so, every country has the full right to recongnise or not this revolution. And every citizen of Ukraine also has this right. There is no law saying that every citizen of Ukraine must recognize a coup/revolution and obey the junta that grabs the power as the result thereof, is there? But there surely must be laws declaring coups/revolutions illegal.

    Moreover, if revolutions are legal, then the people in Crimea, Donbass and other East Ukrainian regions have the legal right to stage their own revolutions (actually, counter-revolutions, don’t they? Every citizen and region has a full right not to recognize a revolution and to fight to negate its effects. The Russian saying goes: Клин клином вышибают. Like cures like. You live by the sword – you die by the sword. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    > If Yanukovich’s impeachment was unconstitutional its own courts can decide.

    By law, courts and judges appointed by an illegal junta, have no right to decide cases. If you want the Constitutional and Supreme Courts to decide whether Yanukovich’s impeachment was unconstitutional, then the judges must be those who were constitutionally and legally appointed prior to the coup, and not the illegal judges appointed by an illegal junta.

    - See more at: http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=8312&cpage=1#comment-124537

    Comment by vlad — April 2, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

  40. “Please provide the details: his specific acts and the texts of the laws that these acts violated. In particular, what exactly did he do to “take control of the parliament” and which laws exactly did he break by doing so

    I already did. You ought to read more carefully. I will repost it for you:

    Going back to 2010. In the parliamentary elections the people voted strictly for parties, not for individuals. The results were Party of Regions, Communists, and Lytvyn’s bloc had a combined 222 votes, Tymoshenko plus Our Ukraine had 228 votes – a parliamentary majority. According to the constitution parliament members were not allowed to leave their parties (because the people did not vote for individuals in parliamentary elections but only for parties).

    Soon after coming to power, Yanukovich (who had control over the courts and prosecutor’s office) managed to get over 30 parliament members from Tymoshenko’s party to switch parties. With these additional votes, Yanukovich deposed Tymoshenko from the post of PM, rammed through a bunch of actions opposed by the parties who had actually won the last parliamentary election such as ratifying the Black Sea fleet extension, the language laws, granting itself an additional year in office, etc.

    This was unconstitutional – the unelected MPs were bound to represent the parties whom the people voted for, and not to vote against those parties.

    Article 81 of Ukraine’s Constitution stated: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine#Article_81

    “The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:

    6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction. Where a People’s Deputy of Ukraine, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), fails to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or exits from such a faction, the highest steering body of the respective political party (electoral bloc of political parties) shall decide to terminate early his or her authority on the basis of a law, with the termination taking effect on the date of such a decision.”

    So according to the constitution, as soon as someone tried to switch parties he would be expelled from parliament by the party he left. Instead, the party-switchers voted Tymoshenko out of office and installed Yanukovich’s man as PM.

    By violating the constitution in this way, Yanukovich usurped (unelected) power over the parliament. His parliamentary majority was the direct result of this illegal party switching. He ruled over Ukraine not as an elected president with limited powers, furthermore limited by an opposition parliament, but as an unelected despot with illegitimate total control over the entire government. Someone who seizes power illegally (which is what he did when his party took over the parliament) can expect to lose it illegally.

    ::::::::::::::::

    AP> The Baltic states’ governments were in exile due to Soviet tanks marching in from abroad, not a native overthrow. Yanukovich’s situation is comparable to that of the Shah of Iran, Idi Amin, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Juan Peron after 1955, etc. etc.

    Were any of these people democratically elected and scheduled for another election in 1 year, like Yanukovich?

    Irrelevant. As we see, people thrown out by coups and revolutions do not have recognized governments in exile, unlike invaded nations. Although Peron was indeed elected and reelected.

    “Well, the USA and all other countries decide whether a foreign government is legal or illegal. In fact, the USA freely uses military force to replace the foreign leaders whom they don’t like or consider illegal. I am sure we can find many-many dozens, if not hundreds, of such examples in Latin America, as well as Kosovo, Haiti, Grenada, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria (to come soon), etc. etc.

    Sorry, crimes by one nation are not justification for crimes by another.

    “Moreover, if revolutions are legal, then the people in Crimea, Donbass and other East Ukrainian regions have the legal right to stage their own revolutions (actually, counter-revolutions, don’t they? Every citizen and region has a full right not to recognize a revolution and to fight to negate its effects. The Russian saying goes: Клин клином вышибают. Like cures like. You live by the sword – you die by the sword. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Well, by this logic, every Russian citizen has had the right to rebel against various governments since 1917.

    Comment by AP — April 3, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  41. > This was unconstitutional – the unelected MPs were bound to represent the parties whom the people voted for, and not to vote against those parties.

    Did Tymoshenko complain to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts? What exactly did these courts say in their decision that this is legal?

    AP>> The Baltic states’ governments were in exile due to Soviet tanks marching in from abroad, not a native overthrow. Yanukovich’s situation is comparable to that of the Shah of Iran, Idi Amin, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Juan Peron after 1955, etc. etc.

    V> Were any of these people democratically elected and scheduled for another election in 1 year, like Yanukovich?

    > Irrelevant.

    What? You compared the freely elected President of democratic Ukraine, who stands for an election in February 2015, to dictators who came to power undemocratically and forbade elections. And the fact that Ukraine is a democracy is “irrelevant”?!

    Look, if in the February 2015 elections will be plagued by significant fraud, then the people do indeed have the right to protest and even to dismiss the President by force, if necessary. This already happened once: in the Orange Revolution. Peacefully.

    But why did the Maidowns refuse to wait for another 11 months in order to gain power democratically?

    > Well, by this logic, every Russian citizen has had the right to rebel against various governments since 1917.

    That’s certainly true. The White forces and Petlyura had a full right to rebel against the Bolshevik revolutionary junta and to start the Civil War in 1918. And the Western countries had a full right to send their military to fight on the White side. I wish they had won…

    So, let me ask you: did your hero Petlyura have the right to fight for Ukraine’s independence from Soviet Russia? Was his declaration of independence legitimate? If yes – you have just provided the last nail into the coffin of your position on Crimea’s independence.

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  42. That’s the difference between democracies like Ukraine and dictatorships like Shah’s Iran: in a dictatorship, a revolution is legitimate and the only way to change the ruler, while in democracies revolutions are illegitimate, because the choice of leaders is decided by voting.

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  43. “That’s the difference between democracies like Ukraine and dictatorships like Shah’s Iran: in a dictatorship, a revolution is legitimate and the only way to change the ruler, while in democracies revolutions are illegitimate, because the choice of leaders is decided by voting

    Good point. In Yanukovich’s Ukraine, after he won the election that Yushchenko the democrat presided over, the elected parliament was flipped so that the election losers gained control, this illegitimate nondemocratic parliament then passed electoral reforms that enabled the ruling party to retain control over parliament despite losing the popular vote by a healthy margin. This parliament also passed a special law that prevented the frontrunner (who was leading in polls by double digits) form running for president because he had spent too much time abroad, in Germany. And, the president was given additional powers with no referendum or special election, for the people to support or deny such extra powers.

    Thank God the revolution occurred when the dictatorship was caught by surprise, off balance, before it had a chance to prepare for the scheduled 2015 election.

    “So, let me ask you: did your hero Petlyura have the right to fight for Ukraine’s independence from Soviet Russia? Was his declaration of independence legitimate? If yes – you have just provided the last nail into the coffin of your position on Crimea’s independence.

    Petliura represented the parties who won the election of 1917 in Ukraine. The Crimean referendum was the work of the Russian Unity Party, that had won 4% of the vote in the Crimean elections and which came to power in Crimea with the Russian army. Do you feel the difference?

    But if the people of Crimea had voted in a secessionist majority party that then conducted, without the Russian Army, a free and fair referendum as the separatists in Quebec have tried to do (and which may happen in Scotland) then I would support the result, with territorial provisions (i.e., if majority-Tatar areas want to stay in Ukraine, let them and divide the province).

    Comment by AP — April 3, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

  44. “if majority-Tatar areas ”

    I should have written, minority-Russian. Tatars are up to 30% or so in some regions of Crimea but not a majority.

    Comment by AP — April 3, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

  45. > This parliament also passed a special law that prevented the frontrunner (who was leading in polls by double digits) form running for president because he had spent too much time abroad, in Germany.

    Well, if this new law is constitutional, then they had a full democratic right to pass this law. If you don’t like this – just wait for the next presidential elections in February and reverse it.

    If you are saying that it is unfair that the Party of Regions gained majority in the Rada, then this could have been cured by immediately holding new Rada elections, in which surely the Maidan side would surely win, right?

    BTW, don’t other countries like the USA and in Europe also have residence requirements? I mean, if you live in Germany, can you run for US presidency?

    In any case, this law that prevented some candidates from running for president is certainly less objectionable than the way the new junta deals with opponents. For example, ex-governor Dobkin, a presidential candidate, was arrested on charges that he publicly expressed the desire for Ukraine to be a US-style and Germany–style federation, with regions (like US states) having higher rights.

    > And, the president was given additional powers with no referendum or special election, for the people to support or deny such extra powers.

    Does hte Constitution require such referendum?

    BTW, you “forgot” to answer my previous question about legality. Let me repeat it:

    >> Did Tymoshenko complain to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts? What exactly did these courts say in their decision that this is legal?

    > Petliura represented the parties who won the election of 1917 in Ukraine.

    So, if Crimea holds parliamentary election, then you would you support the decision of this new parliament to secede from Ukraine, right?

    What you are saying is that referendums are illegal, but parliament decisions are perfectly legal, right?

    > And, the president was given additional powers with no referendum or special election

    Wait, didn’t you just write that referendums are illegal?

    The Crimean referendum was the work of the Russian Unity Party, that had won 4% of the vote in the Crimean elections and which came to power in Crimea with the Russian army. Do you feel the difference?

    No. What difference is there how many votes the authors of a referendum got in a previous election? As far as referendums go, the important question is: did the referendum decision represent the will of people, or was the fraud so large that, if not for fraud, the 97% vote for independence would have turned out to be less than 50% or whatever threshold is for such decisions?

    Do you believe that less than 50% (or even 70%) of Crimean adults want independence, especially given that the power in Kiev just went to an illegal revolutionary junta, with 30% of the government posts (including vice-premier, defence minister and, as I suspect, posts in the national security and police, given to right-wing espousing the slogan: “Moskaley na nozhi!” (slaughter ethnic Russians with knives!”). Didn’t Yarosh, the gangster from the neo-nazi “Right Sector”, a party that has declared war on the current government, receive the post of vice-minister of SBU security?

    > But if the people of Crimea had voted in a secessionist majority party that then conducted, without the Russian Army

    You are forgetting that:

    1. the power in Ukraine was grabbed by an illegal junta

    2. it is illegal in Ukraine not only to hold independence votes and referendums, but illegal to call for federalism and greater autonomy for regions.

    3. A man – Dobkin – has been arrested by the junta on charges of advocating greater autonomy for regions.

    How would the new junta (or, for that matter, president Yanukovich) allow MPs commit a major crime of voting for independence of Crimea from Ukraine?

    > then I would support the result, with territorial provisions (i.e., if minority-Russian areas want to stay in Ukraine, let them and divide the province).

    Well, would you also allow minority-Ukrainian regions like Dnepropetrovsk to hold such referendum? What about minority-Ukrainian districts in the Kiev region?

    But sure, the minority-Russian districts in the Crimea region should be given the right to hold referendae as to whether to go with Russia or Ukraine. BTW, soon after the Tatar districts return to Ukraine, they will switch from their activities against Russian-speakers to fighting Ukraine for independence, giving Ukraine its own Chechnya.

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

  46. Russia wants war! Look how close they put their country to NATO/US military bases!

    http://borgdrone.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/russia-wants-war.jpg

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  47. > This parliament also passed a special law that prevented the frontrunner (who was leading in polls by double digits) form running for president because he had spent too much time abroad, in Germany.

    Do you mean Klitschko? That sounds like a very curious story. Please provide references for me to read.

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

  48. > This parliament also passed a special law that prevented the frontrunner (who was leading in polls by double digits) form running for president because he had spent too much time abroad, in Germany.

    Never mind. I looked up this story myself. What I don’t like is intellectual dishonesty:

    http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/171794.html

    Parliament passes law that could prevent Klitschko from running for president

    The UDAR faction in parliament has said it believes that the adoption of a law introducing amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine concerning the accounting and registration of taxpayers (No. 2054A) is a provocation against faction leader Vitali Klitschko.

    “Amendment No. 76 [introduced by Batkivschyna MP Ihor Brychenko] is directed against Vitali Klitschko. It’s absolutely clear… that were there grounds for denial of registration,” UDAR MP Viktor Chumak told reporters on Thursday.

    An Interfax-Ukraine reporter said that the law supports the amendment according to which “if a person has the right to permanent residence in a foreign country, such a person is considered to be one that does not live in Ukraine.”

    ———————————————-

    That is, it was not Yanukovich’s party but the opposition party Batkivschyna, the party of Tymoshenko, that introduced this bill. And it’s obvious why: Klitschko is going to take lots of Tymoshenko votes, while taking very few Yanukovich votes. In other words, Klitschko would have defeated Tymoshenko in the first round and then compete against Yanukovich in the run-off elections.

    Comment by vlad — April 3, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

  49. > This parliament also passed a special law that prevented the frontrunner (who was leading in polls by double digits) form running for president because he had spent too much time abroad, in Germany.

    Never mind. I looked up this story myself. What I don’t like is intellectual dishonesty:

    Good. Then you will appreciate the full story:

    http://ukrainianweek.com/Politics/92941

    SURPRISING HASTE

    The first red flag in the scandal was the haste with which the government pushed through amended draft law 2054a. On October 8, 337 MPs approved the basic government-sponsored document. On October 23, it was returned for review to the VR Tax and Customs Policy Committee (Tax and Customs Committee) before the second reading next day –it now had numerous amendments.

    Lawyers barely had time to analyze it before it was handed out to MPs on October 23. As a result, most legislators had no idea that they were now voting for something different from the draft law they had passed in the first reading two weeks earlier.

    READ ALSO: Verkhovna Rada amends Tax Code to keep Klitschko out of presidential race

    Then, VR Speaker Volodymyr Rybak put the whole bill up for vote instead of each amendment, including the notorious tax amendment, individually. The opposition went into an uproar but that did not help. Rybak signed it on the same day and immediately sent it to Yanukovych. So it’s more than likely that it will be signed and enacted.

    UDAR’s MP Oksana Prodan who is member of the Tax and Customs Committee now insists that the tax amendment was never discussed at the committee meeting. In her appeal to Prosecutor General on this she wrote that “the comparison table with changes in the draft law presented to parliament for the October 24 vote was not the one that was considered at the committee meeting.”

    A PROVOCATION?

    The scandalous amendment was sponsored by Batkivshchyna’s Ihor Brychenko. Obviously, this alerted UDAR MPs, fueling suspicion of a secret plot to kick Vitaliy Klitschko out of the election race, given that he is currently the major obstacle on Arseniy Yatseniuk’s path to the second round. In response to this, Yatseniuk claimed in parliament that the fact of Brychenko’s submission of the amendment was falsified. Brychenko himself said that he did not sponsor any amendments to the draft law. He even confused the document number, referring to it as 2045, not 2054a.

    According to The Ukrainian Week’s source, however, Ihor Brychenko did sponsor the amendment. He tried to recall it on the morning of October 24 but failed. Vitaliy Khomutynnyk confirmed this in parliament, saying that Brychenko had submitted 31 amendments, then “expressed the desire to recall some of them”. After the close of the day’s session, Yatseniuk confirmed this, too. He told reporters that he and Brychenko had spoken to Rybak at 9 a.m. that day and that Rybak had promised not to put the amendment up for the vote.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::

    So despite a Tymoshenko MP proposing the law, it was passed by Yanukovich’s party and signed by him. The Batkivshchyna MP introduced the ammendment, then asked to rescind it. Are you sure you like intellectual honesty?

    :::::::::::::::::::::::

    >> Did Tymoshenko complain to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts? What exactly did these courts say in their decision that this is legal?

    > Petliura represented the parties who won the election of 1917 in Ukraine.

    So, if Crimea holds parliamentary election, then you would you support the decision of this new parliament to secede from Ukraine, right?

    If it holds free and fair elections and a pro-independence party wins, then yes.

    What you are saying is that referendums are illegal, but parliament decisions are perfectly legal, right?

    No, I did not say all referendums are illegal. Ones proposed by a party with a 4% mandae from voters, held under Russian guns, with total media control and no oversight are however.

    > And, the president was given additional powers with no referendum or special election

    Wait, didn’t you just write that referendums are illegal?

    Didn’t you state that you dislike intellectual dishonesty?

    The Crimean referendum was the work of the Russian Unity Party, that had won 4% of the vote in the Crimean elections and which came to power in Crimea with the Russian army. Do you feel the difference?

    No. What difference is there how many votes the authors of a referendum got in a previous election? As far as referendums go, the important question is: did the referendum decision represent the will of people, or was the fraud so large that, if not for fraud, the 97% vote for independence would have turned out to be less than 50% or whatever threshold is for such decisions?

    Sorry, a fraudulent referendum is invalid.

    Do you believe that less than 50% (or even 70%) of Crimean adults want independence, especially given that the power in Kiev just went to an illegal revolutionary junta, with 30% of the government posts (including vice-premier, defence minister and, as I suspect, posts in the national security and police, given to right-wing espousing the slogan: “Moskaley na nozhi!” (slaughter ethnic Russians with knives!”). Didn’t Yarosh, the gangster from the neo-nazi “Right Sector”, a party that has declared war on the current government, receive the post of vice-minister of SBU security?

    My beliefs are irrelevant here. There was no legitimate free and fair referendum. We can guess – maybe reasonably so – that the same side would win. But an illegitimate fake referendum is as good as no referendum at all. There is no difference between a fake vote and the Russian army simply declaring that Crimea is now Russian and you stating that most adults in Crimea support them anyways so it’s no big deal.

    As for my irrelevant speculations – I suspect it would win, but by an uncomfortably small margin. And the Russians know this – otherwise why fake it, if they are confidant of such an easy victory? I suspect Sevestopol would easily vote for union with Russia, but northern regions with Russian minorities would not. If Crimea can secede from Ukraine, why can’t Tatar and Ukrainian inhabited regions secede from Crimea? Especially since Tatars are actually the natives.

    “Well, would you also allow minority-Ukrainian regions like Dnepropetrovsk to hold such referendum? What about minority-Ukrainian districts in the Kiev region?

    Dnipropetrovsk is 79.3% Ukrainian. If a Russian separatist party was voted into power in Dnipropetrovsk and wanted a referendum sure I would support that. It would, of course, never happen, because pro-Russian separatism is unpopular in Dnipropetrovsk.

    Perhaps for pure arguments’ sake, you have a habit of taking reasonable points to ridiculous extremes, in a silly and vain attempt to discredit the reasonable point. So, an isolated Tatar village in Crimea that happens to be surrounded by Russian-inhabited territory, or a Russian neighborhood in Kiev, shouldn’t secede.

    Are going to insist on playing silly games instead of engaging in an honest conversation?

    Comment by AP — April 3, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

  50. AP, there is a chance that your wish of having Donetsk and Lugansk exit Ukraine may be coming true: there is a counter-revolution brewing, demanding the restoration of law, order, democracy and Constitution, and the American-style federalism. And since the junta has no intention of giving up power, this counter-revolution will follow Maidan’s example: people will keep on demonstrating for months until their demands are met.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 2:31 am

  51. AP, since we’ve spent almost a decade arguing over Tyahnybok and Svoboda, let me ask a question that I haven’t yet: would you be glad if Tyahnybok came to power?

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 2:37 am

  52. “Pussy Riot” heroically come to the defence of the Ukrainian junta and organize a Maidan-style riot. A pussy riot that is:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t31.0-8/10005833_730185443687830_7940621390861010323_o.jpg

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 3:04 am

  53. AP,

    > But if the people of Crimea had voted in a secessionist majority party that then conducted, without the Russian Army, a free and fair referendum as the separatists in Quebec have tried to do (and which may happen in Scotland) then I would support the result

    > If a Russian separatist party was voted into power in Dnipropetrovsk and wanted a referendum sure I would support that.

    What “referendum”? What “Scotland”? What “Quebec”? In the civilized world separatism is not only allowed but celebrated. In the “new Ukraine” saying the word “separatism” carries a life sentence:

    http://vesti.ua/strana/46418-rada-usilila-nakazanie-dlja-separatistov

    Рада ввела пожизненное заключение за сепаратизм

    The Ukrainian Rada passes the law mandating 5 to 10 year imprisonment for “separatism”.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 3:17 am

  54. I meant “a 5 to 10 year sentence”

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 3:19 am

  55. And here is how your beloved “Svoboda” behaves in the Rada:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeTlJPVbKyo

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 4:08 am

  56. The “black shirts” in action in the Parliament.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 4:10 am

  57. Text of the new amendment about “separatism”:

    https://scontent-a-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/t1.0-9/1978720_10203706345247575_4045136327622003542_n.jpg

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

  58. The new “president” of Ukraine admits to a state crime:

    https://scontent-a-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/t1.0-9/1463573_703692063005776_5720795612398323078_n.jpg

    “Using weapons against the government is not politics. It’s a crime.”

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  59. @Vlad

    “AP, since we’ve spent almost a decade arguing over Tyahnybok and Svoboda, let me ask a question that I haven’t yet: would you be glad if Tyahnybok came to power

    Of course not. Why would I be? You think that I like him because I defend him from ridiculous accusations that he is a Nazi?

    And why is Svoboda “beloved” by me? I state that Yanukovich is no Stalinist. Does that mean I “love” Yanukovich?

    “What “referendum”? What “Scotland”? What “Quebec”? In the civilized world separatism is not only allowed but celebrated. In the “new Ukraine” saying the word “separatism” carries a life sentence”

    Since Ukraine was invaded by Russia and a piece of it was illegally grabbed by it, pro-Russian separatist activity is understandably and correctly viewed differently than it was a few months or years ago. Don’t blame the current government’s nationalism for it – Yushchenko and Tymoshenko didn’t ban separatism; they weren’t dealing with an invasion. So, thanks to Russia’s actions, Ukrainian citizens can’t legally call for separatism anymore. Ukraine has become more like the USA than like Canada.

    Comment by AP — April 8, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  60. AP, that’s not the issue. The issue is that the separation referendums in East Ukrainian cities that you are proposing, cannot happen because anybody who proposes one, will be immediately thrown in jail for 5 to 10 years. This leaves only one way out: (counter-)revolution. The same kind as Maidan that brought the power to the junta.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

  61. AP, let me go on the record: “Svoboda” is not Nazi, nor neo-Nazi. It is a fascist, virulently anti-semitic, xenophobic, chauvinistic party, whose three leaders have done the following:

    1. Tyahnybok – the Leader – glamorized UPA’s “struggle” against Jews in WWII, claimed that the Ukrainian government is owned by the “Russian-Jewish mafia” and called for the prosecution of Jewish organizations and their leaders.

    2. Mykhalchischin – Svoboda’s chief ideologue and MP – is a follower of Nazi ideology, who published a book of translations of Goebbels and other Nazi works, and who founded “the Joseph Goebbels Foundation”.

    3. Farion – Svoboda’s ideologue and MP – she and she and her supporters came to the Moskal city of Odessa and staged a march demanding: “Slaughter Moskals with knives!”, protected by police from retribution from the locals:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCCH1BTLFro
    Приезд Фарион в Одессу Москалей – на ножи!

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 10:26 pm

  62. Interestingly, back in the Soviet times Farion became one of the youngest members of the Communist Party at the age of 24 and was a Party functionary in her college. She persistently denied this fact, until irrefutable evidence forced her to admit that she had been lying. Only when the Communists lost in 1991, did she switch to the winning camp of anti-Communists. She is a poster child for your definition of “sovoks” and my definition of “scum”.

    В апреле 1987 года лаборантка И.Фарион стала кандидатом в члены КПСС и получила парткарточку № 08932425, а через год, 15 апреля 1988 была принята в члены партии (Государственный архив Львовской области, фонд П-92, опись 2, дело 258).[10][11][12]. Как утверждает бывший преподаватель Львовского университета Геннадий Атаманчук, читавший курс лекций на филологическом факультете, Ирина Фарион в вузе была членом партбюро факультета (единственная студентка на факультете, которая была членом КПСС[13]) и вышла из партии лишь после провала августовского путча ГКЧП[14][15]. Сама Фарион, которая долгое время лгала[16] о своей непричастности к коммунистической партии, в ноябре 2013 года под грузом собранных журналистами доказательств признала своё членство в КПСС, однако заявила, что вышла из неё в 1989 году[17].

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

  63. In my opinion, the following is the best solution to the current crisis:

    Russian-speaking regions in East Ukraine and Novorossiya should hold referendums, asking: “Do you recognize the current government in Kiev, or do you consider it unconstitutional and illegal?”. Those regions, where the latter is chosen by the majority, should form their own “Constitutional Republic of Ukraine” (CRU) with both Ukrainian and Russian as official languages. CRU should not join Russia but may choose to enter Customs Union and SHAS. The rest of Ukraine will be a monolithic country, ready for NATO.

    We’ve seen many instances of “double” countries: US and Canada, Austria and Germany, two Congos, Iraq and Kuwait, Kosovo and Albania, Norway and Denmark, Serbia and Montenegro, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium, North and “regular” Ireland, China and Taiwan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Colombia and Panama, Greece and Cyprus, France and Monaco, Italy and San Marino, Moldova and Romania, etc. etc.

    BTW, the current country of Trasdniestria is actually an independent Ukrainian state and should join CRU. Crimea should take a vote whether to remain in Russia or join CRU.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  64. Not to mention two Koreas.

    Comment by vladislav — April 8, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

  65. @ Vlad,

    “The issue is that the separation referendums in East Ukrainian cities that you are proposing, cannot happen because anybody who proposes one, will be immediately thrown in jail for 5 to 10 years. This leaves only one way out: (counter-)revolution. The same kind as Maidan that brought the power to the junta.

    Well, the first step would be to elect parties that would support separation without explicitly calling for it, and to move forward from there. Besides, 200 people seizing an empty building is not a popular revolution.

    “AP, let me go on the record: “Svoboda” is not Nazi, nor neo-Nazi.

    Good.

    It is a fascist, virulently anti-semitic, xenophobic, chauvinistic party

    Fascist – here is its platform:

    http://en.svoboda.org.ua/about/program/

    No mention of Jews at all (so much for “virulently antisemitic”). It seems no more authoritarian or nationalist than mainstream Israeli parties such as Likud and Avigdor Lieberman’s party, whose leader serves as Israel’s foreign minister.

    Here is Ukrainian Jewish leader Josef Zissels:

    “I think that, throughout the world, there are plenty of people who are more anti-Semitic than Tiahnybok and parties that are far more anti-Semitic than Svoboda. I deal with this issue professionally; I was commissioned to conduct a large sociological study of this topic. In reality, there are anti-Semitic elements in Svoboda, and we have been tracking them for more than 20 years, from the time when the party was still called the Social-national Party of Ukraine. There is less and less anti-Semitic rhetoric. For example, of the 37 Svoboda party member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, only six or seven have ever uttered anti-Semitic statement in the last 20 years. There is nothing directly anti-Semitic in Svoboda’s [party] program, neither anything directly xenophobic, although the seeds of xenophobic elements are there. Unlike members of parliament from the Jobbik party in Hungary and Ataka party in Bulgaria, MPs from Svoboda have not uttered anything anti-Semitic from the parliamentary podium. Not a single statement.”

    So mildly antisemitic? Certainly. More so than any mainstream American party? Of course. “Virulently” antisemitic? Of course not. Although this might be true of Russia’s allies Jobbik in Hungary and Ataka in Bulgaria, who are on your side when it comes to Ukraine.

    ::::::::::::::

    I do agree with you that Farion is an opportunistic scum.

    ::::::::::::::

    As for breaking up Ukraine – it is silly to break up a country simply based on different voting preferences. Should America split up into “red” and “blue” countries? An acute period of instability is also not a time for such things. However, if after things settle down, in local and parliamentary elections the people of these regions do vote for parties that support such a referendum – I would not be opposed. As a first step, let’s see whom the people vote for in the May 25th presidential election, by region. Local elections (including for mayor of Odessa) are also scheduled May 25th.

    Comment by AP — April 9, 2014 @ 7:34 am

  66. @ Vlad

    You like to use the word “Junta” to refer to the new Ukrainian government. It reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld always referring to Iraq’s government as a “regime.” At least he was accurate. Do you even know what a Junta is? The standard meaning is that it is a government of military men, as existed in many South American countries during the Cold War, Greece in the late 1960s, or in interwar Poland after Pilsudski’s death.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junta

    Military-led government:
    Military junta (a government led by a committee of military leaders)
    The ruling council of a military dictatorship

    Comment by AP — April 9, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

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