A man sits outside the damaged trade union offices in Odessa. © Getty Images.
Ukraine in Crisis
Undeterred, Putin Presses On

Even as the crisis in Ukraine spins further out of control, polls on the ground ought to give Vladimir Putin some pause if he is considering putting Russian boots on the ground.

Published on: May 5, 2014
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  • NL

    Way to talk around the fact that our proxies burned dozens of people alive in Odessa. Your script doesn’t work anymore after Odessa, Lilia. And even the NY Times couldn’t find any Russians on the ground in Ukraine directing events, but Bild reports there are dozens of CIA and FBI agents in Kiev advising the Maidan government.

    • “our proxies”, “burned… alive”? That’s not what happened in Odessa. A large gathering of soccer fans – they tend to be pro-Kyiv in that part of Ukraine – were attacked by pro-Russian separatists while the police stood by. The separatists mistook the fans for middle-class Maidan supporters. The fans, however, turned out to be tough street fighters. They started encircling the separatists, who took refuge in the Trade Unions building. How exactly it caught fire is not quite clear, but once a building like that starts burning, fumes from the plastic soon become deadly.

      • NL

        Alex, anybody who discusses Odessa and implies the people who died had it coming is contemptible. You know somebody who says things like: ” A large gathering of soccer fans – they tend to be pro-Kyiv in that part of Ukraine – were attacked by pro-Russian separatists while the police stood by. The separatists mistook the fans for middle-class Maidan supporters. The fans, however, turned out to be tough street fighters.”

        Now that we have established that, there are multiple videos online documenting the Odessa fire, and what they show is Ukrainian nationalists ambling around without concern, under no fire save a stray brick here or there, throwing molotovs into the building and receiving no fire in return. Videos like this: http://t.co/EFyEC3dnoq

        But hey, we don’t even need that, because a Ukrainian nationalist on the scene admitted his side started the fire to the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ukraine-army-launches-assault-on-rebel-stronghold/2014/05/02/b1c589e8-be8f-43a1-9927-13310c24b653_story.html

        As if starting the fire wasn’t bad enough, Alex, you are going to have to live with the fact that the people you support stood around applauding, laughing, singing songs, and taking souvenir pictures as people were incinerated before them. You know, like this: http://t.co/bVNPTiGTtP You can’t explain that away, Alex, ever. Those are your boys.

        “the major question is not whether the paramilitaries are from Russia, but whether Russia is providing material support to them”

        I thought the question was little green men, hmm? Notable that you are moving the goalposts, but you have zero evidence of either and after weeks of hysterical fulminating about evil Russia it is time to put up or shut up.

        • “Alex, anybody who discusses Odessa and implies the people who died had it coming is contemptible.”

          It is contemptible that you are erecting a huge straw man. The death of these people is deplorable; however it was the pro-Russian groups that attacked the pro-Ukrainian fans, not the other way round.

          It remains unclear who started the fire. The poisonous smoke spread very quickly so people died before they could be dragged out. Some Maidan activists actually tried to save people in the burning building. Your claim that “the people you support stood around applauding, laughing, singing songs, and taking souvenir pictures as people were incinerated before them” is false. “The people” implies “all of them”, while the truth is that some of the patriotic crowd behaved honorably while others behaved as fans often tend to.

          • NL

            I think people can see very clearly what you are trying to explain away, Alex. This is how “fans” act? That’s how you are minimizing this? “:Nyah nyah, they attacked first!” Are you ten? It’s unclear who caused the fire? Who do you think you are fooling? Is there any limit to what you will support? Disgusting.

          • No, it is not at all clear that the fire was caused by Molotov cocktails thrown from the outside. As the BBC report puts it (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27275383), “It remains unclear how the fire started on the third floor.”

            However there have been reports of separatists firing from the building at the surrounding crowd.

            Putin is an unelected, fascist dictator and a despicable KGB goon. Supporters of Putin’s vicious regime have no business lecturing me on anything whatsoever. I’m going to fight them until Putin goes the way of Ch├ívez or, preferably, of Saddam.

          • NL

            It remains unclear to the willfully blind, Alex. This is supposed to be the Immaculate Conflagration, eh? You hate Putin, so you are going to overlook a little mass murder. There is obviously no point in continuing this.

    • Lyle7

      I see you’re relying on Putin facts.

      • NL

        I see you are relying on empty bluster. I referenced the NY Times; you can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/world/europe/behind-the-masks-in-ukraine-many-faces-of-rebellion.html. The Bild report was deemed worthy of a mention in Le Monde, not exactly a rag: http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2014/05/05/la-cia-et-le-fbi-conseillent-ils-kiev_4411419_3214.html?xtmc=crimea&xtcr=5 Those are “Putin facts”? You Maidan supporters are really tedious with that line.

        • Lyle7

          You’re the one telling people that the U.S. has “proxies” in the Ukraine who are manipulating events, when if there is anyone manipulating events in Ukraine it is Putin. This is plain and obvious to anyone with a working mind.

          • NL

            If it is so plain obvious, provide a single shred of evidence. And these are our proxies. We have clearly chosen sides here. You deny that, do you? And the Ukrainian nationalists are the enforcement arm of the Maidan.

          • Lyle7

            Umm, of course we’ve taken a side. We’re against the autocrat Putin. We aren’t in control of what the Ukrainians are doing though. I don’t know how else to explain it to you man. There is no conspiracy going on.

          • NL

            Do favor me with you expertise, DUDE

        • You have been told already that the NYT report is focused on one unit; in no way is it indicative of the situation in the whole East of Ukraine. I follow Russian and Ukrainian sources and there is no doubt at least some Russians are fighting on the separatists’ side. The Bild report could be referenced by anyone, anywhere – that does not make it true or reliable.

          Besides, I would welcome US and EU military support for Ukraine, as Poles would have welcomed British and French support in 1939. Ukraine is being militarily threatened by Russia, which has a large ground force on its southwestern border. It is not threatened by the US or EU.

  • George Gamble

    I’d be a little hesitant to base an argument on a poll taken by Zerkalo which is partially funded by western NGOs or the Institute of Sociology which is partially American owned. Maybe they are completely on the up and up but unless you have examined and verified the underlying stats of their respondents, I’d be skeptical. This mess has been as much about propaganda by both sides as actual bullets fired. The West does not want to admit its backing a neo-nazi party and that its meddled in order to overthrow the previous government and Russia does not want to admit how powerfully its backing the eastern separatists.

    • This is a false equivalence. The EuroMaidan was primarily an uprising of the middle class, of small businessmen and intellectuals. Naturally they sympathized with the West, as do most educated people in Ukraine and Russia, but there is no evidence of tangible Western support for them. In contrast, Moscow is providing Eastern separatists with heavy weaponry and military advisers.

      • Andrew Allison

        It’s disingenuous to base your argument on “tangible” Western support. There would have been no uprising if the EU had not attempted to draw Ukraine into an association agreement. The encouragement of the pro-Western forces in the absence of the ability or will to provide tangible support was not just stupid, but immoral.

        • What is immoral about a EU association agreement? The EU was Ukraine’s only chance for reform.

          And no, the reason for the (undeniably righteous) uprising was Yanukovich’s unbridled – even by Ukrainian standards – corruption.

          • B-Sabre

            What was immoral was encouraging them in a course of action (no matter how moral that course of action was) and then standing back and not being prepared for the obvious response. The moral failing was on the part of the EU and US.

            In other words, we told them to go play in traffic, and were surprised when they got hit by Vlad’s Zil. Or does he ride in a Mercedes?

          • What was the obvious response? Russia’s invasion of Crimea and military support for Donbass separatists? I don’t think it was obvious at all.

          • Andrew Allison

            There’s nothing immoral about an EU association agreement. What’s immoral is that the EU incited the uprising which was manifestly a result of the government’s turn to the East. And, contrary to your statement, many people (including myself on this blog) anticipated that Putin would not tolerate an EU-associated Crimea.

          • The EU did not incite anything. The uprising was a direct result of Yanukovich reneging on the EU deal he had earlier agreed to, and turning to Russia instead. The EU was Ukraine’s only hope of ever transforming itself into a functional state.

          • Andrew Allison

            Given what has happened since the uprising and subsequent installation of a pro-EU government, there was never a possibility of Ukraine transforming itself into a functional state. Had Yanukovich gone through with the EU deal, it would simply all have happened that much sooner. It was obvious (Google “predictions Crimea”) that Putin would not accept an EU-associated Crimea unless the EU were prepared to defend it. Now, unhappily, the question is how much more of Ukraine will be lost to Russia. What is clear is that the West won’t go to war for Ukraine.

  • Pete

    ‘ …and would resist being forcibly returned to the Soviet ghetto.

    The USSR is long gone, sister. Russia isn’t

    • Only the naive thing the USSR is long gone. Welcome to USSR 2.0.

      • Pete

        Sorry Alex, but Russia does not have the binding international philosophy of communism. As such, the USSR was a global cancer whereas Russia today is merely a local one. Big difference here, chief.

        • Not much difference to denizens of the ghetto, unfortunately.

          • Pete

            Perhaps not, but at least Russia does not plan to extend its ghetto to the entire world as the USSR did.

            And brother. to me and most other Americans, that makes a huge difference.

        • Andrew Allison

          Interesting observation. It may be that Putin is only interested in re-establishing Novorosssiya (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novorossiya), but history suggests that dictator’s appetites tend to increase.

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