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Ukraine Meltdown
Putin Plows on as West Watches

Even as European leaders convened in Brussels over the weekend to decide that they would finally decide on how to expand sanctions in a week’s time, Russian-backed militants were rolling back Ukrainian military gains on the ground. The Financial Times:

Ukraine’s pro-western president accused Moscow of waging “direct and unconcealed aggression” amid signs that his country’s army had lost ground to Russian-backed separatist forces in the industrial eastern regions.

“Direct and unconcealed aggression has started against Ukraine from the side of our neighbouring country,” Petro Poroshenko told journalists on Monday.

“This has changed the root of the situation in the zone of battles . . . with it our fighting structures are now facing new and more difficult circumstances,” he added.

Putin has made his open, naked and total contempt for the strategic intelligence and the political will of the West’s leaders impossible to ignore. 

The only question is whether he is right. Sadly, it is not easy at this point to find hard evidence proving him wrong.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Obama’s weakness continues to encourage strategic overreach by the Authoritarian governments around the world. This will not change until a new President takes office, as occurred when the weakling Jimmy Carter was replaced by Ronald Reagan.

    • Corlyss

      But honestly Jack do you see anyone on our horizon who exhibits the kind of deep thinking that Reagan exhibited in his speeches and writings long before he was elected president?

      • rheddles

        Do you see a Lemuel Boulware ready to support the time for that deep thinking?

        • Corlyss


          • rheddles

            Lemuel Boulware was the VP for personnel at GE who sent Ronald Reagan on the trips to all the GE plants for speeches. It was during this period that Reagan watched the Democrat party leave him and during which he had lots of time to let his political thoughts germinate. A good read is here.

            And he was the creator of Boulwarism, the labor practice of making your best offer first and then not budging. The government thought that was failing to negotiate in good faith so they outlawed it creating plenty of labor strife in the 50’s.

            You must be younger than I thought.

          • Corlyss

            I’m 68. I missed a lot of what happened in the 50s. We were in Italy from late 51 to summer 55 and when we returned I was completely fascinated with TV, which wasn’t common when we left the states. Didn’t look up until the Little Rock stand-off – we used to live in Ft. Smith. So the book and your comments are new to me. Thanks.

    • Martin Johnson

      It’s only “overreach” when it doesn’t work–so far I would just call it “aggression”.

  • lukelea

    Putin has made his open, naked and total contempt for the strategic intelligence and the political will of the West’s leaders impossible to ignore.

    You could say the same thing about the West’s contempt for the strategic intelligence and the political will of Russia. Do we know nothing about realism and reasons of state?

  • Corlyss

    Putin ain’t ‘tupid. He knows full well that the risible spectacle presented by the civilized nations is designed to look good for their electorates while not materially disadvantaging their economies. As long as optics dictate equivocations the West will not do anything that Putin need worry himself about. Putin knows exactly what he wants and what he risks in getting it.

  • BobSykes

    Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? The US was prepared to go to war with the USSR in order to prevent the placement of nuclear-tipped IRBM’s in Cuba. It regarded such missiles as an existential threat. Russia is prepared to go to war to prevent the Ukraine from joining NATO. It regards a Ukraine aligned with NATO as an existential threat.

    The fact is that no major power allows neighboring minor powers freedom of action. The minor power must conform itself to the interests of the major power. In case you think only Putin does this, you should remember the long history of US interventions into the internal affairs of Central American and Caribbean countries, which began in earnest with the Spanish-American War and continues to this very day.

    International relations are based on brute force. Russia will get its way in the Ukraine because it has super force and better potential sanctions against the West, and because it is strongly motivated. The US/EU/NATO combine will back down because it must.

    Putin has already indicated the settlement: a non-aligned Ukraine, protection for ethnic Russians, acceptance of Crimean annexation, and payment of Ukrainian debt to Russia. This is all eminently reasonable, and it will be the final settlement. US/EU/NATO delusions about law and fairness and borders will not matter.

    • SongDog

      All of the above could have been said, and doubtless was, about the Munich agreement in 1938. What the oh-so-even handed analysts miss is the heady effect of successful conquest on the autocrat behind it all, so they slumber on in the conviction that this capitulation will be all that Herr Hitler wants.

    • Tom Billings

      “This is all eminently reasonable, and it will be the final settlement.”

      “final settlement”, …just like every other empire builder (rebuilder, in this case). Putin has already threatened the Baltic States, and spoken in meetings about retaking Finland, as reported by Yeltsin’s last Foreign Minister befoe Putin took over.

      We blew our future with Russia in January of 1993, when the new administration round-filed a Treaty that was 6 months from being signed. That treaty was to replace the ABM Treaty with a US-Russian Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS), and give Russia a high status in the world through association with us in a high-tech project that would make useless arsenals of small numbers of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Round-filing that treaty insulted so many in Russia’s military that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of them, allowing the “Great Russia” faction to grow in the Kremlin, eventually with Putin at its head. All attempts at repairing that, from ISS to the “reset button” have been useless.

    • Martin Johnson

      No one has been talking about Ukraine in NATO. This all started as a question of Ukraine strengthening some economic ties with the EU, but actual membership was many years off, if ever. NATO, never a peep. If Putin only cared about NATO, there were plenty of other ways, and plenty of time, to make Russia’s concerns known.
      As for your last paragraph, I have to agree with SongDog–you have no realistic basis for thinking that Putin or Russia would stop at that point. There are plenty of other things they would like to change and success at one will most likely breed more attempts at the others. Which is not to say don’t talk, but don’t be stupid, either.

  • SClanding

    I think those paying attention understand now exactly what the American President meant when he told Putin’s minister to wait until after the election when he would have more flexibility.

    Now we know….

  • Rick Caird

    Weakness beget more adventures by enemies. Think JFK and the Cuban missile crisis.

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