For John, BLUF: You think? And they didn't need the Chicago machine to do it. Nothing to see here; just move along.
As we know, Russia annexed Crimea, taking it from Ukraine, under the theory of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) a doctrine so highly touted by US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers. Over at Forbes on Monday, we find this article, "Putin's 'Human Rights Council' Accidentally Posts Real Crimean Election Results".
As you may recall, the official Crimean election results, as reported widely in the Western press, showed a 97 percent vote in favor of annexation with a turnout of 83 percent. No international observers were allowed. The pro-Russia election pressure would have raised the already weak vote in favor of annexation, of course.Could this just be propaganda from Ukraine? Absolutely, but it could also be fact, and the revised numbers would tend to conform more closely to our own experiences. This was, after all, a snap election. An 83% turnout might be possible, but not likely. And, after an annexation it is possible the people are both wary and weary.
Yesterday, however, according to a major Ukrainian news site, TSN.ua, the website of the President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights (shortened to President’s Human Rights Council) posted a report that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to this purported report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout of Crimean voters was only 30 percent. And of these, only half voted for the referendum–meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.
One of the things this points to is that President Putin may well have bitten off more than he can chew with his taking of Crimea.♠ Of course that doesn't mean that he will stop his efforts to swallow more of Ukraine. And not without reason. A significant part of Russia's defense industry is in Ukraine.♥
As a note, I don't think the US Administration is yet playing this badly. We are not in position to do much to aid Ukraine and the American People are not interested in another war at this time. Europe is bound up in economic problems and the fact that they get a lot of their energy from Russia.♦ The action to show support for actual NATO nations and to help Ukraine in small ways seems to be paying off.
Regards — Cliff
♠ There is this item early on in the crisis from The Washington Post. Yes, there are some downsides to this adventure, long term.
♥ At this link is a short assessment of how Ukraine provides military supplies to Russia, including this paragraph: "While Russia may survive without Ukraine's cheese, candy and railroad cars, goods it has banned over the years during trade disputes, arms are different. It would struggle without the 400 Ukraine-made engines it imports every year for its military helicopters or the $10 million it pays Ukraine to service its intercontinental ballistic missile system."
♦ Well, and decommissioning nuclear power plants isn't helping.