Streetwise Professor

February 19, 2014

Well, at Least He Didn’t Give the Line a Color

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 1:46 pm

Does Obama even listen to what he’s saying?  Today, in Mexico, he spoke on events in Ukraine: “There will be consequences if people step over the line.”

What, just like in Syria?

The main differences between his infamous “red line” remark about Syrian use of chemical weapons and this statement are: (1) Obama didn’t use the word “red”, (2) whereas he specified where was the alleged line was drawn in Syria (use of CW), he doesn’t do so here.  Difference (2) means that no matter how extreme things get in Ukraine, he can always claim that his double secret line (known only to him) wasn’t crossed.  Obama is also going for the double secret (known only to him) consequences.  I might also note Obama’s imprecision on just who “people” might be, giving him even more wiggle room.  Three escape hatches in a ten word statement.  And that’s what this is all about: talking tough while avoiding making any commitment to actually do anything.

Translation for Ukrainians fighting the Yanukovych regime (and Putin): You’re on your own!

Sadly, I think they had figured that out, to their great bitterness, weeks ago.  But they are valiantly battling on, alone except for the support of a few stalwart nations like Poland and the Baltics who know what life is like in the Russian jail of nations.  Speaking of consequences, the result of European and American fecklessness will be a legacy of suspicion and distrust if the opposition indeed thwarts Putin and topples Yanukovych.

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  1. There is a report that 26 members of the Party of Regions flew out of Kyiv last night at midnight on a chartered jet owned by Azarov, who was previously sacked as Prime Minister (technically he “resigned”).

    Azarov, together with his son, owns quite a bit of property and has his wealth centered in Austria.

    Comment by elmer — February 19, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  2. Damn. Just read Obama’s statement, and my first thought was “a whole bunch of chemical weapons”.

    Comment by Ivan — February 19, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

  3. @elmer. Sounds like a new Odessa organization, operating out of Austria. Fitting in many ways.

    @ivan. Ah yes. Good times. Good times. Who can forget them? The “whole bunch” escape clause.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 19, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  4. Re “legacy of suspicion”: as Stanislaw Jerzy Lec said, it is indecent to suspect when you are sure…

    Comment by Ivan — February 19, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

  5. The color was yellow. Or the line is invisible. Or we will talk about immigration reform. Or Biden will say something that doesn’t even parse. A direct quote from the next presser:

    ” About our Ukrainian Policy……….Look, there’s a pink unicorn!

    While we make fun of the French, at least they had Louis Le Grand, while we have Obama the Emetic.

    Comment by Sotos — February 19, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

  6. @sotos-can you imagine Yanukovych trying to figure out WTF Biden is telling him, especially after it’s translated? Message transmitter: incoherent in his native language. Message recipient: mouth breathing ex-con. Translator in the middle. Yeah, that works.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 19, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

  7. Reminds me of the Chappelle Show/Charlie Murphy skit about “habitual line steppers.”

    Except this isn’t comedy.

    Comment by MB3 — February 19, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

  8. Run away, run away

    Comment by pahoben — February 19, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  9. from Ukraine, from a husband and wife team:

    At 6:30 Ulya [note – doctor] called me from her MedPunkt in KMDA that sotni anounced the Berkut were attacking. At first it was thought to be an over reaction because it was the vodomet [note – water cannon] that moved forward. About an hour later they moved forward up to the barricades shooting, rubber bullets at the sotni. They returned fire launching cocktails & rocks. Berkut launched their own cocktails at the sotni and then lobbed them at the conservatory. I saw a guy on the balconey there who fired a shot gun into the Berkut.

    The Berkut retreated en masse abandoning their lines as well as the VVshnyky. Sotni on the barricades dove over and counter attacked. It was total chaos on their side of the line, or so it seemed. Several VVshnyky were captured & taken behind the stage for safety. A large group of them surrendered on Khreshatyk in the direction of Europa Ploshcha [note – Square] . All sotni moved forward down Khreshatyk, retaking Ukr Dim [note – Ukrainian House, a building]] and moved down to Hrushevskyj, rebuilding the barricades.

    Other groups of sotni moved up Institutska [note – Institute Street], retaking Zhovtnevyj Palats [note – October Palace]. Then, snipers on top of Hotel Ukrayina started shooting at the sotni with sniper rifles & kalashnikovs. The sotni moved forward to Khreshatyk Metro station [note – subway station – all subways have been closed in Kyiv] exit where a group of snipers started shooting sotni. Most of the Berkut left in buses to Maryinskyj Park. But the snipers behind Hotel Ukrayina were picking off sotni one at a time.

    I helped pull some fallen sotni into the lobby of Hotel Ukrayina. The first one was dead on arrival, he was shot in his right eye, but the doctors tried to save him, injecting him with adrenaline & doing CPR. He was Устим Володимирович Голоднюк, з Барача, Тернопільський область 1994 рік народжений, належав до сотні <>. The medics then called me over to help tend to another wounded man, Володимир, із селища недалеко від Львова (забув як називається). He was shot in the arm, leg (bullet went through his thigh) and back; we carried him out the hotel down to Institutska on a plank to a waiting car to take him to hospital. He just arrived last night. He was alive when he left & able to talk but in serious pain. Medics gave him a pain shot (presumably morphine). We brought in a few more wounded, all gun shot wounds to the legs, chest, buttocks. Wounds were 4-5 cm diameter, some with exit wounds.

    In total, 12 died or were brought in DOA into the lobby. Medics and doctors were heroically giving CPR & injecting adrenaline to save their lives but to no avail. There were 20+ wounded (I lost count after 20).

    Oleksandr Sych, Volodymyr Pankevych and Yuriy Surotyuk were here in the lobby. Surotyuk left and went out into the sniper fire, no helmet, no vest & was was helping carry a wounded member of the sotni into the lobby. Sych & Pankevych were doing the same.

    Sych did an interview with Paul from the Globe & Mail. He suspects, and admits that he has no concrete evidence for this, that there were probably a few people on the Maidan that were armed with rifles, hunters for example. And the Berkut are only trained to attack unarmed people, explaining why they literally ran from the Maidan. The VVshnyky were simply stunned & didn’t know what to do (they were falling over one another as they retreated and ran in different directions) but when they saw the Berkut running for their buses, most of them ran too. The snipers on top of the Khreshatyk Metro were most likely in place yesterday because the windows on the side of Hotel Ukrayina that faces Bankova have been shot out. Yet, he also suspects (and Mikey Ratushny confirmed this theory when he called me to remain within the confines of the Maidan) that they could have set this up to simply run away to lure the sotni to follow them thereby thinning the number of people on the Maidan and making themselves easy targets. Clearly, Yanukovych wants to spill as much blood as possible, probably to show Putin that he’s committed to re-Sovietize Ukraine.

    Four BTRs from Ternopil (painted red+black & blue+yellow are on their way to Kyiv along with 12 buses ( Ulya’s cousin from Ternopil just called her). [[[note – highways outside of and into Kyiv have been blocked, but people have been breaking through despite the cordons]

    Liashko (Radical Party) announced from the stage that the “Narodna Rada” will hold a meeting in the parliament, and promises that no one will storm the area. He’s calling on the non-aligned to join the Oppo & pleaded with the moderate members from the Party of Regions to join them. (Fits with the KYK talking point memo from Ron quoting Bohoslovska).

    Right now, no wounded are being brought in at MedPunkt Hotel Ukrayina. Ulya reports that all is quiet at the KMDA too. Barricades are being built on Hrushevskyj, although when I was there, there were VVshnyky walking down from the KabMin toward the barricade that they built. I have not heard any gun shots in the past hour. The meeting between the EU ambassadors & Yanukovych was cancelled.

    There is a tense calm on the Maidan. They are cleaning the Maidan & even brought in new tents to build, once the clear the debris around Stella. There is also a group going through the debris trying to collect spent shells for evidence.

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 9:09 am

  10. from Ukraine:


    Confirmed with eyewitness reporter that in addition to Berkut that retreated en masse were members of Alpha who were lined up along the top of the hill further up on Institutska beside Hotel Ukrayina. When the protestors were chasing the Berkut, Alfa started shooting the members of the sotni who were first up the street, basically picking them off one by one. After the Berkut made it to their buses and past Bankova, Alfa followed suite. They would stop every so often to shoot the Maidanivtsi. The VVshnyky were disoriented and ran in various directions, some down behind Zhovtnevyj Palace to Hrushevskyj.

    Just returned from Hrushevskij street. There are no VVshnyky or Berkut on Hrushevskyj street. Up by the KabMin there are empty buses. The windows to the KabMin are barricaded with furniture and a few windows are open on the higher floors, from which rifle muzzles are visibly sticking out. Only three VVshnyky are out guarding the front doors, but there are rows of buses that are all empty.

    Members of parliament, more accurately members of the Narodna Rada & the parliament are in the Verkhovna Rada building as we speak. Not clear if they began a session or not.

    All the barricades have been rebuilt.

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  11. ignoramus imbecile lardass lunkhead Yanusvoloch is in talks with European ministers (the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland).

    So what does he do? He interrupts the talks to call ——- Putler.,75477,15300590,Po_nocnym_ataku_na_Majdan__Sa_zabici_i_wielu_rannych_.html

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  12. In Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine, people are laying down on railroad tracks to prevent troops and weapons (12 “wagons” or railroad cars) from being shipped into Kyiv.

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 10:18 am

  13. The most curious, in this Obama’s statement, I find the word “people”. As it not only hides what he will do and when, which is a usual thing in this kind of blah-blah. But it also puts under question on which side he is. Especially that it is much easier to interpret People as “people of Ukraine”, rather then People as “Yanukovich family”.

    Comment by arthur — February 20, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

  14. criminal thug rats are leaving Ukraine in private chartered jets

    There are eye witness reports that a number of Regionaly and their families are getting out while the going is good. Rows of expensive vehicles were seen driving up to the small Zhulany airport near Kyiv, escorted by armoured security vehicles from which many suitcases and strong boxes werebeing transferred under the supervision of expensively fur-coated ‘fancy women’ and armed security staff. Rats fleeing from the burning ship? Are some of those fleeing responsible for the events above?

    Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak, and his deputy Ihor Kaletnyk and their families are allegedly amongst the rats fleeing….Minister of Revenues Klimenko may have flown out from Donetsk….Rybak’s refusal to permit voting in parliament on Tuesday sparked the appalling violence that day. How disgusting is this…Do they not have a sense of responsibility to do their utmost at their countries moment of greatest need?

    Instead of voting, the Bolshevik Regionnaires are leaving Ukraine

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

  15. Interior troops surrender en masse to Euromaidan

    Thursday, February 20, 2014, 12:50

    Soldiers who serve in the internal troops of the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MIA) are surrendering en mass to the Euromaidan activists, the Ukrainian News reports.

    Currently, about 100 prisoners were taken from behind the barricades at the October Palace.

    The protesters are trying to refrain from beating them. The prisoners are being escorted to the tent labeled “the commandant’s office in Kyiv.”

    Currently, the protesters have driven all security forces from Independence Square (Maidan) and from the barricades on Instytutska Street.

    The surrendered are only ordinary soldiers. Officers have not been observed.

    The original news in Ukrainian (with photo) is on the Ukrainska Pravda website:

    Comment by elmer — February 20, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

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