Streetwise Professor

March 17, 2014

What’s Next for Putin? The Comfy Chair?

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 11:33 am

The US’s “sanctions” against 7 Russian officials are a pathetic travesty.  The only thing more pathetic is that the Euros omitted the two most important names (Surkov and Rogozin) from their list.

These completely ineffectual measures, which impose no real costs on the real decision makers, or on Russia, will only embolden Putin, rather than deter him.

The administration says that these are the most comprehensive measures imposed on Russia since the end of the Cold War (which is duh-obvious since none have been imposed since the end of the Cold War), and intimates that this is part of a strategy of gradual escalation.

First: yeah, gradual escalation worked out so well for LBJ and McNamara.  Hard men, like Ho Chi Minh and Putin, see “gradual escalation” as a confession of weakness.

Second: what’s the next step in l’escalier? The Comfy Chair?

This is beyond feckless.  Victoria Nuland said “F*ck the EU” because of its pusillanimity in Ukraine.  By her logic, “F*ck the US” is completely appropriate.

To give you an indication of how devastating these “sanctions” were, Russian stocks rallied around 5 percent on the news.

Several of the “targets” took to Twitter to express their disdain.  For instance, Rogozin the Ridiculous said something I agreed with for the first time ever.

Relatedly, Russia has laid down its conditions for Ukraine.  These essentially involve Russia dictating Ukraine’s constitutional order.  Specifically, Russia demands a return to the February 21 agreement, and an imposition of a federal structure on Ukraine, in which regions would have substantial autonomy.  Autonomy which would, no doubt, allow these regions to follow Crimea’s example and vote to join Russia.

If I were Ukraine, I would say: You first.  You call yourself the Russian Federation.  If a true federal structure is so great, Russia should give its various republics and autonomous regions true autonomy, including the right to vote themselves out of the RF.  Sauce for the goose and all that.

Unfortunately, based on the administration’s utter fecklessness and pusillanimity so far, I would imagine that Obama and Kerry will give (or already have given) Ukraine the same advice that Bobby Knight related to Connie Chung years ago.

Surkov certain sees things in a similar light.

Obama is notoriously the most thin-skinned president in recent memory.  Yet Russians mock him repeatedly, without eliciting any reaction, except for maybe “thank you sir, may I have another?”

Usually appeasers eventually wake up when it becomes apparent that their appeasement has only encouraged the object of the policy to take more, more, more.  Carter woke up.  Even Chamberlain eventually woke up.

Obama and the Euros?  Still lost in their dreams, while Putin inflicts a nightmare on the borders of NATO and the EU.



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  1. Let me give a simpler explanation by example: Crimea.

    You wrote:

    > AR Crimea 41.0

    The population of Crimea is about 4% of that of all of Ukraine. Thus, if a poll had 2032 respondents in all of Ukraine, the number of respondents in Crimea was about 80 people. And you trust the results of this poll of 80 Crimeans? But the Gallup poll with the sample size of 1000 is “too small” for you?!

    Comment by vlad — March 29, 2014 @ 2:58 am

  2. Vlad,

    “Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007 with approximately 1,000 residents, aged 15 or older, in each country. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.”

    So, this study does not explain where in the country those 1000 people came from. They could have all been from Kiev. Or they could have all been from major cities. For some reason I suspect that a poll not focused on Ukraine wouldn’t send people into villages.

    Thank you for the link to Gallup’s website. It provides details that the study itself did not provide. If the same general methodology was used in Ukraine as described, this means that 1000 people were divided into 24 oblasts, or a sample of 42 people per oblast (this number may be even lower for less populated oblasts). If it is furthermore divided into rural vs. urban, this would be let’s say 30 urban and 12 rural people per oblast. Very impressive.

    You make a good point about the low numbers in the survey involving union with Russia. Its results should indeed be viewed with caution. But still, a random sample of about 85 people per oblast is much better than one involving 42 people per oblast, don’t you think?

    As for this massive study involving 22,400 people.

    I suggest you use googletranslate from Ukrainian into Russian (results are less cumbersome than into English).

    I noticed while rereading it that the study was also conducted in 2002 with over 30,000 people. Similar results.

    The organization conducting the mass study is the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

    Here is an article about them:

    I suspect they know much more about Ukraine than does an international organization such as Gallup.
    So two studies involving collectively over 50,000 people, vs. the one Gallup study with 1,000 people.

    Your conspiracy theory involving Kuchma, the jet being shot down, and supposed lies on polls is interesting but seems like an attempt to avoid obvious facts that are uncomfortable to you: that Ukraine is about evenly split between Russian and Ukrainian speakers, and is not mostly Russian speaking.

    Comment by AP — March 29, 2014 @ 8:01 am

  3. > So, this study does not explain where in the country those 1000 people came from. They could have all been from Kiev.

    No, they couldn’t. I give up on trying to explain the concept of probabilities to you.

    Let’s go back to discussing the important NON-mathematical issues. 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?

    Comment by vlad — March 29, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

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