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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dicey In The Crimea

For John, BLUFA good Olympics and now war. : President Vladimir Putin is feeling his beans.

From The New York Times, "Putin Asks Russia’s Senate to Use Military Force in Ukraine".  The Old "Get them to Invite You In" trick:
SIMFEROPOL Ukraine — As Russian-backed armed forces effectively seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Saturday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia requested that the Russian Senate authorize him to use military force in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin’s request, largely a formality, signaled publicly for the first time the Kremlin’s readiness to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and it served as a blunt response to President Obama, who just hours earlier pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Even as Mr. Putin submitted his request to the Senate, formally called the Federation Council, it was clear that forces allied with Moscow were largely in control of the disputed peninsula.

Just a few hours earlier on Saturday morning, the newly installed, pro-Russia prime minister of Crimea declared that he had sole control over the military and the police in the disputed peninsula and he appealed to Mr. Putin for help in safeguarding the region.

President Obama has been trying to warn off President Putin, as reported here.
Obama warns of 'costs' to Russia intervention in Ukraine, 'concerned' by reports of military movement
Here is the beginning of the Fox report:
Obama spoke Friday amid reports that suspected Russian soldiers had landed at a military base in the Crimean peninsula. Officials told Fox News they see "evidence of air and maritime movement into and out of Crimea by Russian forces." Obama said the situation is fluid but warned Russia against intervening. "We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine," Obama said.  "It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people."

Obama's statement comes as his administration is expressing growing concern over Russian intentions in Ukraine.  Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a blunt warning Friday to Moscow against military moves in the country's southern Crimea region that could further inflame tensions.

Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop "provocations" in Crimea and pull back military forces from the peninsula.

Turchynov stepped in as president after Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev last weekend.

The question now is what next.  A Soviet Russian seizure of the Crimea may be one thing—Russians coming to the aid of ethnic Russians, one could say.  What, however, if Putin goes further?  What if he tries to take all of Ukraine?  What if Ukraine military forces resist?  (What if Russians forces prove to be incompetent?)

It is Europe and not the US Desert Southwest, so the European nations need to be taking the lead, but we need to be supportive.  If we do nothing it will be seen as a strong signal by China that we are a paper tiger and they will possibly move to seize some of those disputed islands and maybe give North Korea a free hand in being more aggressive.  That would all be bad.  Inaction could lead to war in such a case.

On the other hand, do we wish to send forces to Ukraine, right on the border of a nuclear armed nation?  There goes the defense dividend and hope for calm relationships in Europe.  And, will we engage in lots of fracking so we can make up for Russia cutting off gas exports to Central Europe?  On the other hand…  We should be careful about counting on economic interactions to keep the peace.  That idea died in 1914.  A hundred years ago.  Funny, isn't it.

As an aside, while most people blame Germany for World War One, I blame Russia.  Russia was the one who had to mobilize to protect their Serb brothers and from there the trains just started rolling, toward the frontiers.  Then it was all down hill.  I would like to be National Security Advisor Susan Rice's official note taker at this point.  It must be pretty interesting.

UPDATE:  Revealed: The forgotten treaty which could drag the US and UK into WAR with Russia if Putin's troops intervene in Ukraine.

A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin's troops cross into the country.

Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine - agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Regards  —  Cliff

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