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Topic: US-Russia (Read 15281 times)
U.S. had plans to nuke the moon
Reply #100 on:
November 28, 2012, 09:33:22 PM »
From the article:
It was a top-secret plan, developed by the U.S. Air Force, to look at the possibility of detonating a nuclear device on the moon.
It was hatched in 1958 - a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a nuclear arms race that would last decades and drive the two superpowers to the verge of nuclear war. The Soviets had also just launched Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite. The U.S. was falling behind in the space race, and needed a big splash.
Goldman: Russia thinks we are wrecking the world on purpose
Reply #101 on:
April 02, 2013, 07:41:58 AM »
The Russians Think We’re Wrecking the World on Purpose
Posted By David P. Goldman On March 19, 2013 @ 1:09 pm In Uncategorized | 189 Comments
“In Russia, most analysts, politicians and ordinary citizens believe in the unlimited might of America, and thus reject the notion that the US has made, and continues to make, mistakes in the [Middle East]. Instead, they assume it’s all a part of a complex plan to restructure the world and to spread global domination,” writes Fyodor Lukyanov on the Al Monitor website today. Lukyanov, who chairs Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, laments what he derides as a “conspiracy theory.” Nonetheless, he reports, President Vladimir Putin and the Russian elite think that the United States is spreading chaos as part of a diabolical plot for world domination:
From Russian leadership’s point of view, the Iraq War now looks like the beginning of the accelerated destruction of regional and global stability, undermining the last principles of sustainable world order. Everything that’s happened since — including flirting with Islamists during the Arab Spring, U.S. policies in Libya and its current policies in Syria — serve as evidence of strategic insanity that has taken over the last remaining superpower.
Russia’s persistence on the Syrian issue is the product of this perception. The issue is not sympathy for Syria’s dictator, nor commercial interests, nor naval bases in Tartus. Moscow is certain that if continued crushing of secular authoritarian regimes is allowed because America and the West support “democracy,” it will lead to such destabilization that will overwhelm all, including Russia. It’s therefore necessary for Russia to resist, especially as the West and the United States themselves experience increasing doubts.
It’s instructive to view ourselves through a Russian mirror. The term “paranoid Russian” is a pleonasm. “The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards. A deadly miscommunication arises from this asymmetry. The Russians cannot believe that the Americans are as stupid as they look, and conclude that Washington wants to destroy them,” I wrote in 2008 under the title “Americans play monopoly, Russians chess.” Russians have dominated chess most of the past century, for good reason: it is the ultimate exercise in paranoia. All the pieces on the board are guided by a single combative mind, and every move is significant. In the real world, human beings flail and blunder. For Russian officials who climbed the greasy pole in the intelligence services, mistakes are unthinkable, for those who made mistakes are long since buried.
From a paranoid perspective, it certainly might look as if Washington planned to unleash chaos. The wave of instability spreading through the Middle East from Syria is the direct result of American actions. I wrote yesterday in Asia Times Online:
Syria’s Sunni majority started an insurgency against the minority Alawite government of Basher al-Assad in response to the ill-named Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa. America’s abrupt dismissal of its long-ally Hosni Mubarak and the ascendancy of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood emboldened Syria’s long-suffering Sunni majority to stake its claim to power. Like Mubarak, the Assads suppressed the Muslim Brothers, but far more viciously, leveling the Sunni town of Hama in 1982 with casualties estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000.
Western policy thus provoked Syria’s civil war. The prospect of a Sunni fundamentalist regime in Egypt under American patronage, the emergence of the ”Sunni Awakening” in Iraq during the Petraeus ”surge”, and the victory of Western-backed Sunni jihadists over Libya’s Gaddafi, gave Syria’s Sunnis little choice. America’s fecklessness with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, moreover, gave Saudi Arabia and Turkey strategic reasons to fund and arm various branches of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.
In this tightly scripted tragedy, America’s blundering provided the impetus for each step, except, of course, for the blundering of the European Union. The Europeans forced Assad to undertake agricultural reforms among the conditions for a new trade treaty, forcing tens of thousands of small farmers off their land in the Sunni Northeast of the country, into tent cities around Damascus.
Iran responded to the Sunni insurgency in the obvious way, by sending Revolutionary Guard regulars as well as its Lebanese-based Hezbollah auxiliaries into Syria to fight for its ally, the Assad regime. Iran’s involvement prevents the loosely organized insurgent coalition from toppling a minority regime.
The depleted ranks of the regular Syrian army will be replenished with Iranian soldiers or surrogates. The Alawite regime will continue to commit atrocities in order to convince its own base as well as the Syria’s Christian, Kurdish and Druze minorities that they must fight to the death because Sunni vengeance would be horrible. Saudi Arabia will continue to filter jihadists and weapons into Syria and Turkey will continue to provide logistical support.
Could the Americans really have been such idiots?, the Russians ask. Of course we could. George Bush and his advisers actually believed that we were going to bring democracy to Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. The Russians understood matters differently. Fyodor Lukyanov writes:
In the summer 2006, when then-President George W. Bush came to St. Petersburg for a summit of the “Big Eight,” an interesting dialogue took place between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference. Bush drew attention to the challenges posed by democratic freedoms, especially freedom of the press, in Russia — and then noted that things had gotten much better in Iraq. Putin immediately responded, “Well, we really would not want the kind of democracy they have in Iraq.” The room filled with applause, and not everyone heard Bush’s response: “Just wait, it’s coming.” What Bush had in mind was increased stability in Iraq, but it sounded more ominous: you’ll see, democracy will be brought to you as well…
If the Russians sound mad, consider this: there is another substantial body of opinion that sees an evil conspiracy behind American blundering in the Middle East, and it votes for Ron Paul and Rand Paul. I am not suggesting that Sen. Rand Paul is a paranoid, I hasten to clarify: I have never met the man and don’t presume to judge his state of mind. But his popularity stems in no small measure from conspiracy theorists who think that the U.S. government really is planning to criss-cross the continental United States with killer drones and pick off American citizens on their home soil. A lot of the same people think that America invaded Iraq on behalf of the oil companies (who would make a lot more money if Iraq were zapped by space aliens) or by the Israelis (who never liked the project from the outset). A fair sampling of such paranoia gets posted on the comments section of this site.
Thus we have the strangest pair of bedfellows in modern politics, the Russians and the rubes. Try to explain to them that George W. Bush was a decent and well-intentioned man without a clue as to the consequences of his actions, and they will dismiss it as disinformatsiya. Tell them that the New York Times and the Weekly Standard both believed in the Arab Spring as the herald of a new era of Islamic democracy, and they will see it as proof of a conspiracy embracing both the Democratic and Republican establishments. How, the paranoids ask, could two administrations in succession make so many blunders in succession? It stretches credibility. I wish it were a conspiracy. The truth is that we really are that dumb.
Article printed from Spengler:
URL to article:
Kasparov: Shared Enemies does not mean shared values
Reply #102 on:
May 13, 2013, 07:06:45 PM »
By GARRY KASPAROV
When Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Moscow on Tuesday to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, the announced list of topics included finding "common ground" on Syria. It also mentioned antiterror cooperation in light of the Russian origins of Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers. It is very unlikely Mr. Kerry found common ground on either subject.
The humanitarian catastrophe in Syria is of no concern to Mr. Putin, as is clear from the Kremlin's support for the murderous Assad regime. Mr. Putin also seeks to stoke the instability that helps keep the price of oil high. The similar pattern of Russian interference in Iran and Venezuela is no coincidence. Energy revenue is what keeps Mr. Putin and his gang in power and therefore oil prices are always his top priority.
Terror would seem to be a more likely area for U.S.-Russian collaboration, especially regarding the virulent brand of Islamist extremism that has been bubbling over in Russia's southwestern Caucasus region since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet the Kremlin's cooperation on the Islamist threat has been remarkably selective.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waits for Russia's President Vladimir Putin before their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
Soon after the suspects' names in the Boston bombing became known, the Russian security services announced that they had warned the FBI about the elder Tsarnaev, Tamerlan, in 2011. But what about during and after Tamerlan's visit to Russia's North Caucasus in 2012? That's when he reportedly was indoctrinated and trained by radicals in Dagestan.
Why were there no communications in 2012 from the FSB (the successor of the KGB) about a suspected radical, an American no less, training in the hottest of Caucasus terrorist hotbeds and then returning to the U. S.? It is beyond belief that the extensive police state that monitors every utterance of the Russian opposition could lose track of an American associating with terrorists.
Tamerlan reportedly met with Makhmud Mansur Nidal, a known terror recruiter, and William Plotkin, a Russian-Canadian jihadist. Both men were killed in Dagestan by the Russian military just days before Tamerlan left Russia for the U.S. If no intelligence was sent from Moscow to Washington, all this talk of FSB cooperation cannot be taken seriously.
This would not be the first time Russian security forces seemed strangely impotent in the face of an impending terror attack. In the Nord-Ost theater siege by Islamist Chechens in 2002 and the Beslan school hostage attack by Chechen and other Islamist radicals in 2004, it later came to light that there were FSB informants in both terror groups—yet the attacks went ahead unimpeded. Beslan was quickly used by Mr. Putin to justify shredding the last vestiges of Russian democracy by eliminating the election of regional governors.
With such a track record, it is impossible to overlook that the Boston bombing took place just days after the U.S. Magnitsky List was published, creating the first serious external threat to the Putin power structure by penalizing Russian officials complicit in human-rights crimes. Practically before the smoke in Boston cleared, Mr. Putin was saying "I told you so" and calling for cooperation.
Secretary Kerry's visit validated every Putin instinct. The Russian president kept the American waiting in a hall for three hours—no doubt impressing Mr. Putin's cronies. On Wednesday, Mr. Kerry was allowed to meet with a small group of Russian human-rights activists whose activities have been under assault as the Putin government cracks down ever harder on free speech and all forms of opposition.
But the meeting avoided mention of the two most significant developments in Russian human rights: the Magnitsky List and the dozens of protesters arrested at a political protest in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow a year ago. Mr. Putin is creating a new generation of political prisoners, with show trials unseen since Joseph Stalin, and Mr. Kerry goes to Russia to find common ground? As for Syria, the day after Mr. Kerry left, the Journal reported that advanced Russian S-300 antiaircraft missiles were headed to Syria.
Islamist terror is a genuine threat that will continue to take Russian and American lives unless it is met with a strong response. But having a shared enemy does not mean having shared values. Respect for human life and individual rights are the most potent weapons the civilized world possesses and where any discussion of common ground must begin. The Putin regime's dubious record on counterterrorism and its continued support of terror sponsors Iran and Syria mean only one thing: common ground zero.
Mr. Kasparov, a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal, is the leader of the Russian pro-democracy group United Civil Front and chairman of the U.S.-based Human Rights Foundation.
Re: US-Russia - Putin 'infuriated' by Obama's 'bored kid' "slouch" quip
Reply #103 on:
August 29, 2013, 09:27:57 AM »
After all the trouble Nobel Prize winner Pres. Obama and then Sec Clinton went to, resetting relations with a gag gift that actually translated "overcharge", the 'tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility to disarm after my reelection' US President went out of his way to rip him personally in a recent press conference. I was listening live and it sounded planned and scripted.
“I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he's got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid at the back of the classroom,”
Russian president Vladimir Putin was "infuriated" by President Obama's joke that he looked "like the bored kid in the back of the classroom," according to a Kremlin official quoted anonymously by the New York Times.
What harm can a little ad hominem Presidential rip to a world audience do...
Russian news service Interfax is citing military sources as saying Moscow is dispatching an anti-submarine ship and a cruiser to the Mediterranean. Interfax says the moves are being made due to the "well-known situation" there -- referring to the Syria crisis.
Reply #104 on:
August 29, 2013, 10:28:26 AM »
Russia's View on the Possible Syria Intervention
August 29, 2013 | 0849 Print Text Size
Russia's View on the Possible Syria Intervention
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a news conference on Syria on Aug. 26. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia has emphasized its opposition to a military intervention in Syria at the U.N. Security Council, but a U.S. operation in Syria could actually benefit Moscow. The Russian and Chinese envoys to the United Nations walked out of the Security Council meeting in New York on Aug. 28 after U.S. Permanent Representative Samantha Power called for immediate action in Syria. The United Kingdom also submitted a draft resolution to the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France -- that called for "authorizing all necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria, including an armed operation in the country.
Russia has long used its relationship with the Syrian regime against the West, particularly the United States. Despite warnings from the West, Moscow has supplied the Syrians with weapons and provisions during their two-year conflict. Russia's plan has long been to use its ties to Syria to prevent the West from going too far in areas that truly affect Russia, including issues that involve former Soviet states.
Russia's position at the Security Council is that it does not want to vote on the option for intervention in Syria without having seen the U.N. inspectors' report on whether the regime used chemical weapons. With the U.N. experts in Syria until Aug. 31, no one has seen what the investigation has uncovered. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said, "Certain states are ready to use force even before U.N. experts make public the results of their investigation. Our country will be committed to international law."
Limits to Russian Support for Syria
For Russia, Syria is a bargaining chip, not a country that affects Russia's primary interests. While Russia supports the regime in Damascus, its support does not extend to militarily defending the regime should the West move to intervene. Russia does have a military presence in Syria at the port of Tartus, but it is not willing to put its own military personnel at risk in defense of Damascus. Nor has Russia shown any inclination to move its military or air defense systems, such as the S-300, to Syria in recent days.
With a possible U.S. military intervention closing in, if Russia wanted to raise the risk level for a U.S. operation then its window to act could already be closed. In addition, Russia does not want to attempt a military reply in Syria, as it did in 1999 in Kosovo, and risk looking foolish. In the Kosovo War, Western countries ignored Russia's opposition to military intervention and took measures before a U.N. Security Council decision. In response, Russia deployed 200 airborne troops to the Kosovar capital, Pristina, to head off the NATO troops' arrival. However, French and British troops limited Russian troops to the airport, embarrassing Moscow. Of course, Russia in 1999 was far weaker than Russia today, but the uncertainty of trying to militarily aid Syria is not worth the risk for Moscow.
In addition, Russia may use Syria as leverage with the West, but it will not support the Syrian regime to the point that it would break relations with key Western partners such as the United Kingdom or France, which are part of the U.S. intervention plans. Moscow's relationships with London and Paris have grown more important in recent months following a string of energy and economic deals. At a time when cracks in the Russian economy are starting to show, Russia will not alienate those European partners -- especially not for Syria's situation.
Russia is attempting to turn the situation to its favor in other ways. First, the Moscow media campaign is in full swing. Russia is stressing how brash the United States would be if it moved toward a military operation without Security Council support or before the U.N. investigation is complete. In Russian Deputy Premier Dmitri Rogozin's words, the United States is behaving as if it were a "monkey with a hand grenade."
In turn, the Russians are promoting themselves as pragmatists when it comes to Syria. Russia will continue this spin going into next week, when it will host the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, which U.S. President Barack Obama will attend. Another reason for its commitment to diplomacy thus far is that Russia wants to ensure that the world's leaders will still attend the summit.
Ultimately, Russia would benefit if the United States became bogged down in another domestically unpopular military intervention in the Middle East. Even if it went with a limited and quick military intervention, the United States would have a difficult time handling the post-war situation and the intervention's ramifications across the region. Russia used earlier opportunities, when the United States was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, to strengthen its country and reassert its influence in its region. Russia's re-emergence continues today in the former Soviet states and Europe, so having Washington preoccupied in the Islamic world gives Russia more room to work.
But a U.S. intervention in Syria also presents an opportunity for Moscow and Washington to work together after the military campaign, thawing the current cold between the two. The United States has given signs that even if it does intervene, it does not aim to break the regime in Damascus. Russia has close ties with many elites in the regime and could be in a position to try to negotiate a diplomatic option to extricate Bashar al Assad from the situation.
For the United States and Russia, tensions have been worsening in recent months over a series of issues, including Russia's decision to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Russia's resurgence in Europe and the two sides' differing views on Syria. Although it would seem to make relations even worse if the United States ignored Russia's opposition to a military intervention in Syria, it would clear one major disagreement from the table in the long term while presenting an opportunity for the two to work together. Then again, such opportunities have come and gone in the past with both sides unwilling to break the standoff.
Read more: Russia's View on the Possible Syria Intervention | Stratfor
Putin's letter to Baraq
Reply #105 on:
September 06, 2013, 08:13:44 PM »
This post makes my day
Reply #106 on:
September 07, 2013, 07:12:36 AM »
I really am laughing "out loud".
Keep it up and I may be able to survive three and a quarter more years - though I don't know about the country.
At least if we were going to have a nerd as CiC it should have been an IT/CEO stud like a Gates, or Ellison. Then we could have had a "Revenge of the Nerds 3" with them beating the heck out of Putin.
Stratfor: Putin's Bluff
Reply #107 on:
September 13, 2013, 03:30:15 PM »
Syria, America and Putin's Bluff
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 04:07 Print Text Size
By George Friedman
In recent weeks I've written about U.S. President Barack Obama's bluff on Syria and the tightrope he is now walking on military intervention. There is another bluff going on that has to be understood, this one from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin is bluffing that Russia has emerged as a major world power. In reality, Russia is merely a regional power, but mainly because its periphery is in shambles. He has tried to project a strength that he doesn't have, and he has done it well. For him, Syria poses a problem because the United States is about to call his bluff, and he is not holding strong cards. To understand his game we need to start with the recent G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Putin and Obama held a 20-minute meeting there that appeared to be cold and inconclusive. The United States seems to be committed to some undefined military action in Syria, and the Russians are vehemently opposed. The tensions showcased at the G-20 between Washington and Moscow rekindled memories of the Cold War, a time when Russia was a global power. And that is precisely the mood Putin wanted to create. That's where Putin's bluff begins.
A Humbled Global Power
The United States and Russia have had tense relations for quite a while. Early in the Obama administration, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up in Moscow carrying a box with a red button, calling it the reset button. She said that it was meant to symbolize the desire for restarting U.S.-Russian relations. The gesture had little impact, and relations have deteriorated since then. With China focused on its domestic issues and with Europe in disarray, the United States and Russia are the two major -- if not comparable -- global players, and the deterioration in relations can be significant. We need to understand what is going on here before we think about Syria.
Twenty years ago, the United States had little interest in relations with Russia, and certainly not with resetting them. The Soviet Union had collapsed, the Russian Federation was in ruins and it was not taken seriously by the United States -- or anywhere else for that matter. The Russians recall this period with bitterness. In their view, under the guise of teaching the Russians how to create a constitutional democracy and fostering human rights, the United States and Europe had engaged in exploitative business practices and supported non-governmental organizations that wanted to destabilize Russia.
The breaking point came during the Kosovo crisis. Slobodan Milosevic, leader of what was left of Yugoslavia, was a Russian ally. Russia had a historic relationship with Serbia, and it did not want to see Serbia dismembered, with Kosovo made independent.
There were three reasons for this. First, the Russians denied that there was a massacre of Albanians in Kosovo. There had been a massacre by Serbians in Bosnia; the evidence of a massacre in Kosovo was not clear and is still far from clear. Second, the Russians did not want European borders to change. There had been a general agreement that forced changes in borders should not happen in Europe, given its history, and the Russians were concerned that restive parts of the Russian Federation, from Chechnya to Karelia to Pacific Russia, might use the forced separation of Serbia and Kosovo as a precedent for dismembering Russia. In fact, they suspected that was the point of Kosovo. Third, and most important, they felt that an attack without U.N. approval and without Russian support should not be undertaken both under international law and out of respect for Russia.
President Bill Clinton and some NATO allies went to war nevertheless. After two months of airstrikes that achieved little, they reached out to the Russians to help settle the conflict. The Russian emissary reached an agreement that accepted the informal separation of Kosovo from Serbia but would deploy Russian peacekeepers along with the U.S. and European ones, their mission being to protect the Serbians in Kosovo. The cease-fire was called, but the part about Russian peacekeepers was never fully implemented.
Russia felt it deserved more deference on Kosovo, but it couldn't have expected much more given its weak geopolitical position at the time. However, the incident served as a catalyst for Russia's leadership to try to halt the country's decline and regain its respect. Kosovo was one of the many reasons that Vladimir Putin became president, and with him, the full power of the intelligence services he rose from were restored to their former pre-eminence.
The United States has supported, financially and otherwise, the proliferation of human rights groups in the former Soviet Union. When many former Soviet countries experienced revolutions in the 1990s that created governments that were somewhat more democratic but certainly more pro-Western and pro-American, Russia saw the West closing in. The turning point came in Ukraine, where the Orange Revolution generated what seemed to Putin a pro-Western government in 2004. Ukraine was the one country that, if it joined NATO, would make Russia indefensible and would control many of its pipelines to Europe.
In Putin's view, the non-governmental organizations helped engineer this, and he claimed that U.S. and British intelligence services funded those organizations. To Putin, the actions in Ukraine indicated that the United States in particular was committed to extending the collapse of the Soviet Union to a collapse of the Russian Federation. Kosovo was an insult from his point of view. The Orange Revolution was an attack on basic Russian interests.
Putin began a process of suppressing all dissent in Russia, both from foreign-supported non-governmental organizations and from purely domestic groups. He saw Russia as under attack, and he saw these groups as subversive organizations. There was an argument to be made for this. But the truth was that Russia was returning to its historical roots as an authoritarian government, with the state controlling the direction of the economy and where dissent is treated as if it were meant to destroy the state. Even though much of this reaction could be understood given the failures and disasters since 1991, it created a conflict with the United States. The United States kept pressing on the human rights issue, and the Russians became more repressive in response.
Then came the second act of Kosovo. In 2008, the Europeans decided to make Kosovo fully independent. The Russians asked that this not happen and said that the change had little practical meaning anyway. From the Russian point of view, there was no reason to taunt Russia with this action. The Europeans were indifferent.
The Russians found an opportunity to respond to the slight later that year in Georgia. Precisely how the Russo-Georgian war began is another story, but it resulted in Russian tanks entering a U.S. client state, defeating its army and remaining there until they were ready to leave. With the Americans bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, no intervention was possible. The Russians took this as an opportunity to deliver two messages to Kiev and other former Soviet states. First, Russia, conventional wisdom aside, could and would use military power when it chose. Second, he invited Ukraine and other countries to consider what an American guarantee meant.
U.S.-Russian relations never really recovered. From the U.S. point of view, the Russo-Georgia war was naked aggression. From the Russian point of view, it was simply the Russian version of Kosovo, in fact gentler in that it left Georgia proper intact. The United States became more cautious in funding non-governmental organizations. The Russians became more repressive by the year in their treatment of dissident groups.
Since 2008, Putin has attempted to create a sense that Russia has returned to its former historic power. It maintains global relations with left-wing powers such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba. Of course, technically Russia is not left wing, and if it is, it is a weird leftism given its numerous oligarchs who still prosper. And in fact there is little that Russia can do for any of those countries, beyond promising energy investments and weapon transfers that only occasionally materialize. Still, it gives Russia a sense of global power.
In fact, Russia remains a shadow of what the Soviet Union was. Its economy is heavily focused on energy exports and depends on high prices it cannot control. Outside Moscow and St. Petersburg, life remains hard and life expectancy short. Militarily, it cannot possibly match the United States. But at this moment in history, with the United States withdrawing from deep involvement in the Muslim world, and with the Europeans in institutional disarray, it exerts a level of power in excess of its real capacity. The Russians have been playing their own bluff, and this bluff helps domestically by creating a sense that, despite its problems, Russia has returned to greatness.
In this game, taking on and besting the United States at something, regardless of its importance, is critical. The Snowden matter was perfect for the Russians. Whether they were involved in the Snowden affair from the beginning or entered later is unimportant. It has created two important impressions. The first is that Russia is still capable of wounding the United States -- a view held among those who believe the Russians set the affair in motion, and a view quietly and informally encouraged by those who saw this as a Russian intelligence coup even though they publicly and heartily denied it.
The second impression was that the United States was being hypocritical. The United States had often accused the Russians of violating human rights, but with Snowden, the Russians were in a position where they protected the man who had revealed what many saw as a massive violation of human rights. It humiliated the Americans in terms of their own lax security and furthermore weakened the ability of the United States to reproach Russia for human rights violations.
Obama was furious with Russia's involvement in the Snowden case and canceled a summit with Putin. But now that the United States is considering a strike on the Syrian regime following its suspected use of chemical weapons, Washington may be in a position to deal a setback to a Russia client state, and by extension, Moscow itself.
The Syria Question
The al Assad regime's relations with Russia go back to 1970, when Hafez al Assad, current President Bashar al Assad's father, staged a coup and aligned Syria with the Soviet Union. In the illusion of global power that Putin needs to create, the fall of al Assad would undermine his strategy tremendously unless the United States was drawn into yet another prolonged and expensive conflict in the Middle East. In the past, the U.S. distraction with Iraq and Afghanistan served Russia's interests. But the United States is not very likely to get as deeply involved in Syria as it did in those countries. Obama might bring down the regime and create a Sunni government of unknown beliefs, or he may opt for a casual cruise missile attack. But this will not turn into Iraq unless Obama loses control completely.
This could cause Russia to suffer a humiliation similar to the one it dealt the United States in 2008 with Georgia. The United States will demonstrate that Russia's concerns are of no account and that Russia has no counters if and when the United States decides to act.
The impact inside Russia will be interesting. There is some evidence of weakness in Putin's position. His greatest strength has been to create the illusion of Russia as an emerging global power. This will deal that a blow, and how it resonates through the Russian system is unclear. But in any event, it could change the view of Russia being on the offensive and the United States being on the defensive.
Putin made this a core issue for him. I don't think he expected the Europeans to take the position that al Assad had used chemical weapons. He thought he had more pull than that. He didn't. The Europeans may not fly missions but they are not in a position to morally condemn those who do. That means that Putin's bluff is in danger.
History will not turn on this event, and Putin's future, let alone Russia's, does not depend on his ability to protect Russia's Syrian ally. Syria just isn't that important. There are many reasons that the United States might not wish to engage in Syria. But if we are to understand the U.S.-Russian crisis over Syria, it makes sense to consider the crisis within in the arc of recent history from Kosovo in 1999 to Georgia in 2008 to where we are today.
Read more: Syria, America and Putin's Bluff | Stratfor
Senator Barasso of WY
Reply #108 on:
September 15, 2013, 08:15:14 PM »
By John Barrasso
When the Obama administration announced its "reset" of relations with Russia in 2009, Americans never expected that it would include making Vladimir Putin the de facto U.S. ambassador to Syria in 2013. Yet the Russian president has in effect taken over U.S. diplomacy with the Bashar Assad regime in Damascus.
The most recent evidence came this weekend with the announcement in Geneva that Secretary of State John Kerry had reached a "framework" deal brokered by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Syria's chemical weapons. Assad is supposed to provide an accounting of all his chemical weapons within a week, international inspections begin in November, and Syria's stockpiles of the weapons must be removed or destroyed by next summer.
Most experts on chemical weapons say the timetable is unworkable. But ridding Syria of chemical weapons is not the point. The Kerry-Lavrov agreement is simply a Russian delaying tactic on behalf of its Syrian ally—a tactic we've seen before.
On May 7, amid reports that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Obama administration joined the Russians in announcing plans for an international conference to help end Syria's civil war. Within two weeks, Moscow was supplying Assad with advanced cruise missiles.
Moscow's military support of the Assad regime is one of the main reasons that more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the current conflict. On the political front, the Russians have vetoed every attempt by the United Nations Security Council to do something to bring about an end to the civil war. For example, on Feb. 4, 2012—one day after Syrian forces slaughtered 250 of their own citizens—Russia vetoed a resolution that would have condemned the violence there. This was after Russia had weakened the resolution so that it included no sanctions. Mr. Putin's government even voted against a nonbinding resolution that expressed "grave concern at the continuing escalation of violence."
It is extremely unlikely that Russia is suddenly now going to cooperate with the U.S. on Syria. It is downright naïve to think that Mr. Putin will do anything that President Obama asks him to do without exacting a huge price in return. We have also seen this before. For more than four years, the Obama administration has capitulated to Mr. Putin's demands and accepted his rebukes.
It began with the New START treaty on arms control signed in April 2010. U.S. negotiators limited our missile defense deployments, reduced our delivery systems and hampered our ability to monitor Russian missile production plants. In return, Russia gave up little to nothing of value: The U.S., for example, allowed limits on missile delivery vehicles requiring us to make unilateral reductions, as Russia was already well below the limits.
Later, in March 2012, a microphone accidentally picked up President Obama telling Dmitry Medvedev that following his re-election he would have "more flexibility" to grant the Russians further concessions on missile defense. Mr. Medvedev memorably replied: "I will transmit this information to Vladimir."
Russia's actions in Syria are not the only reasons to distrust Mr. Putin. Moscow has opposed attempts by the U.N. in November 2011 to increase sanctions against Iran for its illicit nuclear program. The Russians voted against a December 2011 resolution that expressed only tepid concerns about repression in North Korea. And Russia continues to refuse to extradite the fugitive Edward Snowden, who stole U.S. national-security secrets.
Meanwhile, the human-rights situation in Russia continues to deteriorate. The country is consistently ranked among the world's most corrupt and least free.
Moscow is not even complying with a commitment to eliminate its own chemical weapons. A State Department assessment in January reported that Russia has provided an "incomplete" list of its chemical agents and weapons to be destroyed. It has also missed deadlines to convert former chemical-weapon production plants. Why would we expect Moscow to help enforce similar restrictions against Syria?
Assad is fighting for survival and has no interest in surrendering his chemical weapons voluntarily. Russia wants Assad to stay in power and will not do anything to risk his position. Nor will Mr. Putin need to do so, since the Kremlin has bent the Obama administration to its will before.
Secretary of State Kerry himself has dismissed the plan he is now pursuing. On Monday last week, he said that the U.S. could ask Assad to turn over his chemical weapons, "but he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done." That assessment is likely to prove correct. But Russia and Syria cynically seized on Mr. Kerry's words and now are feigning an effort to prove that it can be done.
Based on the experience of the past four years, the Russians, like the Iranians, are well aware that pretending to go along can buy time until the Obama administration becomes distracted with another issue. The U.S. should be prepared for the diplomatic effort on Syria to fall flat and have more effective alternatives ready.
The president needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a coherent, realistic Syria policy—one that does not rely on Russia's cooperation.
Dr. Barrasso is a Republican senator from Wyoming.
Re: Senator Barasso of WY
Reply #109 on:
September 16, 2013, 10:11:55 AM »
"The president needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a coherent, realistic Syria policy—one that does not rely on Russia's cooperation."
Sen. Barrasso does a very nice job of articulating what we all seem to know about the Russians and this non-solution to a problem that we just elevated to the level of deciding the course of human history.
Russia, poised for failure
Reply #110 on:
September 19, 2013, 05:29:23 PM »
From the article:
On the surface, Russia seems to be a nation on the march. Last week, Russia's larger-than-life president, Vladimir Putin, strong-armed the United States into accepting his plan for dealing with Syria's chemical weapons. There are signs Putin is preparing to expand Russia's role in Iran and its nuclear program, which successive American administrations have failed to shut down.
But today's appearance of strength hides growing weakness that could do more damage to American interests than any mischief Russia can cause today. Russia is fast approaching a monumental transformation, one that promises to be as profound as the collapse of the U.S.S.R. 20 years ago. The result could spell the end of the nation as we know it
Stratfor: New Dimension of US policy towards Russia
Reply #111 on:
February 13, 2014, 10:04:54 AM »
New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 04:13 Print Text Size
By George Friedman
The struggle for some of the most strategic territory in the world took an interesting twist this week. Last week we discussed what appeared to be a significant shift in German national strategy in which Berlin seemed to declare a new doctrine of increased assertiveness in the world -- a shift that followed intense German interest in Ukraine. This week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, in a now-famous cellphone conversation, declared her strong contempt for the European Union and its weakness and counseled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to proceed quickly and without the Europeans to piece together a specific opposition coalition before the Russians saw what was happening and took action.
This is a new twist not because it makes clear that the United States is not the only country intercepting phone calls, but because it puts U.S. policy in Ukraine in a new light and forces us to reconsider U.S. strategy toward Russia and Germany. Nuland's cellphone conversation is hardly definitive, but it is an additional indicator of American strategic thinking.
Recent U.S. Foreign Policy Shifts
U.S. foreign policy has evolved during the past few years. Previously, the United States was focused heavily on the Islamic world and, more important, tended to regard the use of force as an early option in the execution of U.S. policy rather than as a last resort. This was true not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also in Africa and elsewhere. The strategy was successful when its goal was to destroy an enemy military force. It proved far more difficult to use in occupying countries and shaping their internal and foreign policies. Military force has intrinsic limits.
The alternative has been a shift to a balance-of-power strategy in which the United States relies on the natural schisms that exist in every region to block the emergence of regional hegemons and contain unrest and groups that could threaten U.S. interests. The best example of the old policy is Libya, where the United States directly intervened with air power and special operations forces to unseat Moammar Gadhafi. Western efforts to replace him with a regime favorable to the United States and its allies have not succeeded. The new strategy can be seen in Syria, where rather than directly intervening the United States has stood back and allowed the warring factions to expend their energy on each other, preventing either side from diverting resources to activities that might challenge U.S. interests.
Behind this is a rift in U.S. foreign policy that has more to do with motivation than actual action. On one side, there are those who consciously support the Syria model for the United States as not necessarily the best moral option but the only practical option. On the other, there are those who argue on behalf of moral interventions, as we saw in Libya, and who see removing tyrants as an end in itself. Given the outcome in Libya, this faction is on the defensive; it must explain how an intervention will actually improve the moral situation. Since this faction also tended to oppose Iraq, it must show how an intervention will not degenerate into Iraq-type warfare. That is hard to do, so for all the rhetoric, the United States is by default falling into a balance-of-power model.
The Geopolitical Battle in Ukraine
Russia emerged as a problem for the United States after the Orange Revolution in 2004, when the United States, supporting anti-Russian factions in Ukraine, succeeded in crafting a relatively pro-Western, anti-Russian government. The Russians read this as U.S. intelligence operations designed to create an anti-Russian Ukraine that, as we have written, would directly challenge Russian strategic and economic interests. Moreover, Moscow saw the Orange Revolution (along with the Rose Revolution) as a dress rehearsal for something that could occur in Russia next. The Russian response was to use its own covert capabilities, in conjunction with economic pressure from natural gas cutoffs, to undermine Ukraine's government and to use its war with Georgia as a striking reminder of the resurrection of Russian military capabilities. These moves, plus disappointment with Western aid, enabled a more pro-Russian government to emerge in Kiev, reducing the Russians' fears and increasing their confidence. In time, Moscow became more effective and assertive in playing its cards right in the Middle East, giving rise to the current situations in Syria, Iran and elsewhere.
Washington had two options. One was to allow the balance of power to assert itself, in this case relying on the Europeans to contain the Russians. The other was to continue to follow the balance-of-power model but at a notch higher than pure passivity. As Nuland's call shows, U.S. confidence in Europe's will for and interest in blocking the Russians was low; hence a purely passive model would not work. The next step was the lowest possible level of involvement to contain the Russians and counter their moves in the Middle East. This meant a limited and not too covert support for anti-Russian, pro-European demonstrators -- the re-creation of a pro-Western, anti-Russian government in Ukraine. To a considerable degree, the U.S. talks with Iran also enable Washington to deny the Russians an Iranian card, although the Syrian theater still provides the Kremlin some room to maneuver.
The United States is not prepared to intervene in the former Soviet Union. Russia is not a global power, and its military has many weaknesses, but it is by far the strongest in the region and is able to project power in the former Soviet periphery, as the war with Georgia showed. At the moment, the U.S. military also has many weaknesses. Having fought for more than a decade in the core of the Islamic world, the U.S. military is highly focused on a way of war not relevant to the former Soviet Union, its alliance structure around the former Soviet Union is frayed and not supportive of war, and the inevitable post-war cutbacks that traditionally follow any war the United States fights are cutting into capabilities. A direct intervention, even were it contemplated (which it was not), is not an option. The only correlation of forces that matters is what exists at a given point in time in a given place. In that sense, the closer U.S. forces get to the Russian homeland, the greater the advantage the Russians have.
Instead, the United States did the same thing that it did prior to the Orange Revolution: back the type of intervention that both the human rights advocates and the balance-of-power advocates could support. Giving financial and psychological support to the demonstrators protesting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to reject a closer relationship with Europe, and later protesting the government's attempt to suppress the demonstrations, preserved the possibility of regime change in Ukraine, with minimal exposure and risk to the United States.
Dissatisfaction with the German Approach
As we said last week, it appeared that it was the Germans who were particularly pressing the issue, and that they were the ones virtually controlling one of the leaders of the protests, Vitali Klitschko. The United States appeared to be taking a back seat to Germany. Indeed, Berlin's statements indicating that it is prepared to take a more assertive role in the world appeared to be a historic shift in German foreign policy.
The statements were even more notable since, over the years, Germany appeared to have been moving closer to Russia on economic and strategic issues. Neither country was comfortable with U.S. aggressiveness in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Both countries shared the need to create new economic relationships in the face of the European economic crisis and the need to contain the United States. Hence, the apparent German shift was startling.
Although Germany's move should not be dismissed, its meaning was not as clear as it seemed. In her cellphone call, Nuland is clearly dismissing the Germans, Klitschko and all their efforts in Ukraine. This could mean that the strategy was too feeble for American tastes (Berlin cannot, after all, risk too big a confrontation with Moscow). Or it could mean that when the Germans said they were planning to be more assertive, their new boldness was meant to head off U.S. efforts. Looking at this week's events, it is not clear what the Germans meant.
What is clear is that the United States was not satisfied with Germany and the European Union. Logically, this meant that the United States intended to be more aggressive than the Germans in supporting opponents of the regime. This is a touchy issue for human rights advocates, or should be. Yanukovich is the elected president of Ukraine, winner of an election that is generally agreed to have been honest -- even though his constitutional amendments and subsequent parliamentary elections may not have been. He was acting within his authority in rejecting the deal with the European Union. If demonstrators can unseat an elected president because they disagree with his actions, they have set a precedent that undermines constitutionalism. Even if he was rough in suppressing the demonstrators, it does not nullify his election.
From a balance-of-power strategy, however, it makes great sense. A pro-Western, even ambiguous, Ukraine poses a profound strategic problem for Russia. It would be as if Texas became pro-Russian, and the Mississippi River system, oil production, the Midwest and the Southwest became vulnerable. The Russian ability to engage in Iran or Syria suddenly contracts. Moscow's focus must be on Ukraine.
Using the demonstrations to create a massive problem for Russia does two things. It creates a real strategic challenge for the Russians and forces them on the defensive. Second, it reminds Russia that Washington has capabilities and options that make challenging the United States difficult. And it can be framed in a way that human rights advocates will applaud in spite of the constitutional issues, enemies of the Iranian talks will appreciate and Central Europeans from Poland to Romania will see as a sign of U.S. commitment to the region. The United States will re-emerge as an alternative to Germany and Russia. It is a brilliant stroke.
Its one weakness, if we can call it that, is that it is hard to see how it can work. Russia has significant economic leverage in Ukraine, it is not clear that pro-Western demonstrators are in the majority, and Russian covert capabilities in Ukraine outstrip American capabilities. The Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service have been collecting files on Ukrainians for a long time. We would expect that after the Olympics in Sochi, the Russians could play their trump cards.
On the other hand, even if the play fails, the United States will have demonstrated that it is back in the game and that the Russians should look around their periphery and wonder where the United States will act next. Putting someone in a defensive crouch does not require that the first punch work. It is enough for the opponent to understand that the next punch will come when he is least expecting it. The mere willingness of the United States to engage will change the expectations of Central Europe, cause tensions between the Central Europeans and the Germans and create an opening for the United States.
The Pressure on Russia
Of course, the question is whether and where the Russians will answer the Americans, or even if they will consider the U.S. actions significant at all. In a sense, Syria was Moscow's move and this is the countermove. The Russians can choose to call the game. They have many reasons to. Their economy is under pressure. The Germans may not rally to the United States, but they will not break from it. And if the United States ups the ante in Central Europe, Russian inroads there will dissolve.
If the Russians are now an American problem, which they are, and if the United States is not going to revert to a direct intervention mode, which it cannot, then this strategy makes sense. At the very least it gives the Russians a problem and a sense of insecurity that can curb their actions elsewhere. At best it could create a regime that might not counterbalance Russia but could make pipelines and ports vulnerable -- especially with U.S. help.
The public interception of Nuland's phone call was not all that embarrassing. It showed the world that the United States, not Germany, is leading the way in Ukraine. And it showed the Russians that the Americans care so little, they will express it on an open cellphone line. Nuland's obscene dismissal of the European Union and treatment of Russia as a problem to deal with confirms a U.S. policy: The United States is not going to war, but passivity is over.
Read more: New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia | Stratfor
Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 10:08:42 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reality bitch slaps Baraq again
Reply #112 on:
February 20, 2014, 12:05:39 PM »
U.S. Feels Putin's Sharp Elbows in Ukraine
Obama Learning Moscow Will Go to Great Lengths to Protect Interests in World Hot Spots
By Julian E. Barnes and Carol E. Lee
Feb. 19, 2014 7:32 p.m. ET
Why are people protesting in Ukraine? Why has the conflict turned deadly? What are the geopolitics of the conflict? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
For the Obama administration, the fires burning in Ukraine represent a new international crisis, but one resulting from an all-too-familiar source of consternation: Vladimir Putin.
In hot spots around the world, President Barack Obama repeatedly has encountered the sharp elbows of Mr. Putin: He has buttressed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, offered a lifeline to Iran and embraced a controversial Egyptian commander as the country's future leader.
Mr. Putin gave asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has been leaking American surveillance secrets, and test-launched a new missile.
Similarly now in Ukraine, Washington is struggling to come to terms with the fact that Moscow under Mr. Putin is willing to spend a great deal to protect its interests and oppose U.S. goals. Mr. Putin pressured the Ukrainian government to abandon a free-trade deal with the European Union and forced President Viktor Yanukovych to choose aid from Russia over closer ties to the West.
Administration officials have defended their dealings with Mr. Putin, arguing that in some cases—such as international talks over the Syrian civil war and Iran's nuclear program—Russia's core interests have coincided at least partly with U.S. aims.
"American presidents, understandably for strategic reasons, want to forge a relationship with Russia that goes beyond Cold War paradigms," said Damon Wilson, a former Bush administration official now at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.
"But inevitably, they are dragged back to the reality that they are dealing with an interlocutor that isn't prepared to be a partner in that effort," Mr. Wilson said.
The realization that Moscow views the world in terms of "us or them" has been slow to dawn on the Obama administration, but is becoming more apparent to White House and national security officials, foreign-policy experts say.
The administration gave Moscow "every favorable interpretation, every benefit of the doubt" in its first years, said Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
But Mr. Obama has begun to change.
"Even in the administration, they are beginning to understand this is not a question of Putin's mood," Mr. Aron said. "This is the geostrategic framework that Putin operates. This is how he understands re-establishing Russian greatness."
Rebuilding Russia's position on the world stage and its dominance in countries formerly part of the Soviet Union have been a key part of Mr. Putin's agenda. Despite U.S. insistence that geopolitics isn't a "them-or-us," zero-sum game, Mr. Putin has made it clear he doesn't agree.
"If you look at Russian foreign policy it is a negative agenda," said Mr. Wilson of the Atlantic Council.
"The issue is restoring Russian influence by checking American power," Mr. Wilson said.
Asked to comment on the relationship between Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama, Russian officials pointed to an interview Mr. Putin gave to Russian media and the Associated Press in September.
"President Obama was not elected by the American people to be pleasant to Russia, neither was your humble servant elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone," Mr. Putin said in the interview.
"We work, we argue, we are humans, and sometimes someone can get irritated. But I would like to repeat myself: I believe that global common interests are a good foundation for finding solutions together," Mr. Putin said.
Obama administration officials reject the idea that Mr. Putin is gaining the upper hand, noting the problems faced by the governments of Syria and Ukraine—both allies of Moscow.
"Neither of those situations advance Russia's interests in any way," a senior administration official said. "If anything, these and other events demonstrate that people want democracy, they reject corruption, and they want individual opportunity and integration into the global economy."
Still, U.S. officials expressed dismay Wednesday that Moscow has operated in secret in Ukraine while accusing the U.S. of meddling there. "They have not been transparent about what they've been doing in the Ukraine," a senior State Department official said. "And we would completely reject that it is we who have been interfering."
The U.S. took its first concrete steps against 20 Ukrainian officials Wednesday by imposing visa bans.
However, U.S. options beyond diplomatic pressure are seen as strictly limited and some government officials caution against courses of action that may not resolve the crisis.
"All that does is make you look impotent," said another U.S. official. "What can you do that will really make a difference in what is going on there? I am not sure anyone has identified anything."
Since Mr. Putin resumed the Russian presidency in 2012, relations between the two nations have been tense.
That culminated in the summer with Mr. Obama's decision to back out of a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin during a trip to Russia. The two instead met on the sidelines of an international summit, a meeting that came at the height of the dispute over Mr. Snowden and as Mr. Obama prepared for possible military strikes on Syria.
Still, some experts believe Mr. Obama must get more directly involved.
"The president has to be willing to get involved, get his hands dirty and be willing to engage with Vladimir Putin, " said Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Putin interested in a second Cold War?
Reply #113 on:
February 24, 2014, 11:40:41 AM »
Reply #114 on:
March 05, 2014, 09:12:15 AM »
On this day in 1946 Winston Churchill delivered his Iron Curtain Speech at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri:
And 37 years later, Baraq Hussein Obama stated his doctrine
Reply #115 on:
March 05, 2014, 09:58:31 AM »
reporter bites hand that feeds her
Reply #116 on:
March 07, 2014, 04:36:35 AM »
On Today's Program
Gutsy or crazy? Another Russia Today anchor with a death wish: Rips Putin, quits
on air In a scathing rebuke of the propagandist TV network Russia Today, a news
anchor ripped the state-controlled news outlet and tendered her resignation - live
on air. This comes on the heels of another RT anchor strongly criticizing Russian
intervention in the Ukraine. Given how many Russian journalists have
‘mysteriously’ died after criticizing Putin, these anchors have great courage.
Check out the resignation and Glenn's reaction HERE
Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 04:59:08 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: reporter bites hand that feeds her
Reply #117 on:
March 07, 2014, 08:58:17 AM »
At a minimum, she might want to start running a Geiger counter over her food.
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on March 07, 2014, 04:36:35 AM
On Today's Program
Gutsy or crazy? Another Russia Today anchor with a death wish: Rips Putin, quits
on air In a scathing rebuke of the propagandist TV network Russia Today, a news
anchor ripped the state-controlled news outlet and tendered her resignation - live
on air. This comes on the heels of another RT anchor strongly criticizing Russian
intervention in the Ukraine. Given how many Russian journalists have
‘mysteriously’ died after criticizing Putin, these anchors have great courage.
Check out the resignation and Glenn's reaction HERE
Russia threatens to withdraw from arms treaties
Reply #118 on:
March 14, 2014, 08:19:31 AM »
As Russia and the West continue to trade threats over the Ukraine crisis, the Russian Defense Ministry has raised the stakes by saying it is considering halting foreign inspections of its strategic nuclear arsenal. If it followed through on the threat, Moscow would be in clear violation of the New START arms control agreement. To this point, most of the threats or enacted measures over the Crimea standoff have centered on economic reprisal, not anything that could affect security. Russia certainly has concerns about New START and other weapons treaties with the West, but it has no intention of withdrawing and rekindling an arms race it may not be able to afford.
Russia has threatened in the past to break or withdraw from New START or the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which differs from New START in that it bans ground-based intermediate-range missiles (500-5,500 kilometers, or 300-3,400 miles) of the nuclear and the conventional sort. As early as November 2011, then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev threatened to withdraw from New START, which was signed in April 2010, over differences with the United States regarding the U.S. anti-ballistic missile plans in Russia's periphery.
Not Just Politics
Russia has genuine concerns about the arms control agreements. One issue -- also a worry for the United States -- is that the treaties do not apply to third-party states such as China. Given the massive nuclear advantage that Russia and the United States both have over the rest of the world, this is not yet a serious concern as it relates to New START. (China's rapid military rise and lack of transparency about its military programs, including its nuclear forces, are admittedly increasingly worrisome for Moscow and Washington.) Russia also maintains a large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons that can be used against conventional threats within its borders without needing to employ its strategic arsenal.
On the matter of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, or INF, it is important to remember that the agreement limits the deployment of all land-based intermediate-range missiles, whether deployed with a conventional or nuclear warhead. This has put both Russia and the United States at a serious disadvantage when it comes to China and its large and growing supply of intermediate-range missiles. Citing that threat, in 2007 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed terminating the INF treaty; the United States refused. There is still reason to believe the Russians are sufficiently concerned over the limitations of the INF deal that they have sought to circumvent or even break it. Specifically, there have been allegations in Western media that the Russians have tested the RS-26 ballistic missile to intermediate ranges. More alarming reports say Russia is developing a ground-launched cruise missile in clear violation of the INF treaty.
As far as the United States is concerned, the limitations of the INF treaty are problematic but necessary to avoid an arms race with Russia in an era of budget cuts. In the Western Pacific, China relies extensively on its arsenal of land-based intermediate-range missiles as part of the country's counter-intervention strategy. With its anti-ship ballistic missiles or cruise and ballistic missiles, China can sink enemy ships, strike bases and crater runways in its immediate vicinity. Since Japan has no land-based cruise or ballistic missiles and the INF agreement restricts the U.S. arsenal, the United States relies disproportionately on air- and sea-launched missiles, with all their associated limitations.
U.S. BMD Efforts in Europe
Click to Enlarge
For Russia, despite its numerous concerns, withdrawing from the INF treaty, or especially New START, would probably trigger another arms race with the United States that Moscow may not be able to afford. It is doubtful whether Russia, which already has a substantial military modernization program underway, has the resources needed to build a sizable arsenal of intermediate-range missiles while also expanding its strategic nuclear triad. Such an effort would at least disrupt Russia's other military priorities.
An even greater concern for Russia -- one that is voiced quite often -- is that the arms control treaties limit Russia's offensive capability at a time when the United States is developing its anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe. Considering the sheer number of delivery systems still allowed by New START and the technological immaturity of anti-ballistic missile systems, Moscow's fear is largely groundless for now. Considering the possibilities of rapid investment and technological progress down the line, however, it is easy to understand Russia's long-term worries. The Russians cannot keep pace with the Americans in terms of funding missile defense technology.
Weighing the Costs
Although the Russians are displeased with New START and especially the INF treaty, they know the consequences of withdrawing from the treaties could make matters worse. Moscow is already investing heavily in modernizing its strategic nuclear strike force through new and improved land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear ballistic missile-equipped submarines. The Russians also recognize that they are at a conventional disadvantage against NATO and China. The modernization of the strategic nuclear force, in conjunction with a fairly aggressive nuclear doctrine, allows Moscow to ensure continued deterrence against potential threats.
Moreover, the trust accumulated over decades of arms control agreements would be severely damaged if Russia were to unilaterally withdraw from the treaties. The Russians, like the Americans, do not want to return to a world of high tension and risk of nuclear war.
Still, the Russians have considerable incentives to raise the possibility of withdrawal from the treaties as leverage in negotiations with the United States, particularly as they attempt to drive Washington toward talks on the neutralization of states in the Russian periphery such as Ukraine and Georgia. At the same time, however, Moscow will be careful not to take its threats too far. Indeed, shortly after the initial threat of withdrawal from New START, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said that all inspection missions in Russia will proceed as normal.
In fact, by September 2011, Russia was already in full compliance with the warhead and delivery vehicle limitations of New START while the United States was not. (Obligations must be met by February 2018.) The INF deal is on shakier ground than New START, but the same consequences of withdrawing would apply. While Moscow could one day withdraw from the treaties, it would do so only if it felt its national security was threatened by the agreements, not as a means of retaliation.
Read more: Russia Threatens to Withdraw From Arms Treaties | Stratfor
US-Russia: Walter Russell Mead - Putin's Mask Comes Off, Will Anybody Care?
Reply #119 on:
March 16, 2014, 05:23:53 PM »
Very insightful, IMHO.
Advantage: Russia Putin: The Mask Comes Off, But Will Anybody Care? - Walter Russell Mead
Russia appears to be deliberately fomenting more violence in Ukraine, possibly in advance of an invasion. Putin is no Hitler, but Hitler would recognize his moves.
Violence is spreading throughout Ukraine on a course that looks exactly like conscious and deliberate Russian preparation for a wider war. Without telepathic powers it is impossible to know what is going on in the mind of the one man who can control developments in Ukraine, but overnight the chances of additional Russian military action against its helpless neighbor appeared to grow. On Friday in Donetsk conflict between pro-and anti-Russia groups left one man dead and 26 injured. Now in Kharkiv two more are dead in a similar way as clashes spread through the city. Pro-Russian groups, including it is said ‘rent-a-mob’ demonstrators bussed in from Russia, seem to be behind the violence.
Moreover, there were scattered signs today that the next step is already upon us. Unconfirmed reports from local sources claim Russian troops landed in the Kherson region today—and were repelled. The story is starting to get picked up by news agencies, but rumors run rife at times like this. If true, it would mark the first direct military action by Russia outside Crimea and would be a major escalation of the most serious European international crisis since the Yugoslav wars. Here’s how the FT is reporting it:
Ukraine’s foreign ministry described the events as a “military invasion by Russia” and called on Russia to “immediately withdraw its military forces from the territory of Ukraine”.
“Ukraine reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia,” the ministry added in a statement.
If that is what is happening, and the preponderance of evidence suggests that it is, Putin appears to be following the Adolf Hitler strategy manual pretty much to the letter.
Putin is no Hitler, and from the standpoint of power he isn’t even a Brezhnev. Still, his actions in Ukraine have been following Adolf’s playbook pretty closely. Adolf wanted to tear up the Treaty of Versailles. Putin is attempting to rip up the post-Cold War settlement in Europe and Central Asia. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia is much weaker than its opponents, so it can’t achieve its goal through a direct military challenge against its primary enemies. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia must be clever until it grows strong, and it must play on its enemies’ hesitations, divisions and weaknesses until and unless it is ready to take them on head to head.
“Keep them guessing” is rule number one. Nobody was better than Hitler at playing with his enemies’ minds. For every warlike speech, there was an invitation to a peace conference. For every uncompromising demand, there was a promise of lasting tranquillity once that last little troublesome problem had been negotiated safely away. He was so successful at it (and Stalin, too was good at this game) in part because his opponents so desperately wanted peace. French politicians like Leon Blum and British leaders like Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were as hungry for peace (it was the Depression after all, and both countries had suffered immensely in World War One) as Barack Obama and Francois Hollande are today. Commendably and properly, they wanted to fix their domestic economies, create a more just society at home, repair their infrastructure and cut their defense budgets. They were not in the mood for trouble overseas, and so a cold blooded con man found them to be easy marks.
Putin has played on western illusions very successfully for a very long time. Remember all those ‘experts’ (many, alas, in government service) who thought that the Medvedev presidency represented a real shift in Russian politics? How shocked and disappointed people were when Putin stepped smoothly back into the top job? It is the oldest trick in the book: bait and switch. Humiliate John Kerry by making him cool his heels for three hours in the Kremlin, and then dangle hope of a cooperative relationship. Hold out a ‘helping hand’ when the Obama administration has gotten itself into an embarrassing predicament over its Syria red line, then kick Uncle Sam in the teeth at Geneva.
There was never a good reason to believe any of Putin’s talk of peace and cooperation. After the Cold War, America and its allies jammed NATO expansion down Russia’s throat. The European Union worked to expand right up to Russia’s frontiers while making it crystal clear that Russia could never be a member. Putin is no Hitler, but neither is he a Konrad Adenauer, determined to accept defeat and to cooperate wholeheartedly in building his country’s future within the lines drawn by the victors. And the US made Adenauer’s Germany a much better offer than it made Putin’s Russia. You would have to be living in what the Germans call das Wolkenkuckkucksheim, cloud-cuckoo-land, to believe that a man like Putin would passively accept the post-Cold War order.
But cloud-cuckoo-land is exactly where many westerners live, in a resolutely post-historical world where foreign policy is about development, human rights, non-proliferation and trade. If Putin tells us he lives there too, we are hungry to believe him. We don’t want to live in a difficult world. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were having a fabulous time in cloud-cuckoo-land back in the 1930s and many of them clung to their illusions until the last possible moment. We want to live in a stable and secure world order but we don’t want to make the sacrifices world order requires—and so we will gaze deeply into the eyes of anybody who is willing to tell us what we most want to hear.
Hitler’s situation was like Putin’s in another way. Like Russia now, Germany in the 1930s was weaker than its western opponents, but its leader had much more power to change course. Hitler’s Germany was an opportunistic predator; it could move quickly, change direction on a dime, and lay plans in secret. His western opponents ran democratic governments where everything moved very slowly, secrets were regularly published in the press and big foreign policy moves were telegraphed well in advance. Hitler used what he had, and took advantage of his supreme personal power and control of the press to make Germany a much more aggressive and dynamic international actor than his lazy, contented and slow-moving opponents. Hitler could move at speed that made his rivals’ heads spin and frequently left them gaping in flat footed amazement at his quick strikes and rapid changes of course. He knew that surprise was one of his chief advantages and he used it to the hilt.
President Putin is not a stupid man. He knows that Russia faces stronger but slower moving opponents. He knows that deception, misdirection and surprise are among his most effective tools. We must expect him to use them often and to use them well. The west ended up looking utterly flatfooted and clueless as Putin moved into Crimea just as it did in 2008 when he moved into Georgia. That is the way Russia wants it.
This use of surprise, by the way, can be very far reaching. Hitler stunned the west by signing his famous non-aggression pact with Stalin, dividing eastern Europe between them. He then surprised Stalin again by attacking him in June of 1941. For people like Hitler and, in his very different way, Putin, blitzkrieg is a tactic for diplomacy and not just for war. We would be total fools not to suppose that Putin and his closest associates are looking for game changing diplomatic moves that would spoil America’s day.
Putin is using another one of Hitler’s favorite methods in Ukraine: turn your ethnic minorities in other countries into a Trojan horse— whether or not that is what those people actually want. Hitler did this with the Sudeten Germans in what is now the Czech Republic. The FT again:
Russia said on Saturday it was looking at requests for help from civilians in Ukraine, a statement which appeared to resemble those made two weeks ago in justification of its military incursion into Crimea.
“Russia is receiving numerous requests for protecting civilians. These requests will be given consideration,” the foreign ministry said. It added a string of claims that Ukrainian militants and mercenaries were threatening civilians, which could not immediately be verified.
There is nothing here that couldn’t have been taken directly out of Adolf’s Guide for Aspiring Hegemons.
Using another instrument that Putin shares with the German, a well tuned, centrally controlled and well funded state propaganda machine with international outlets, you then elevate the ‘mistreatment’ of that minority into a major issue. You scream and rant and rave, demand redress, and fill the airwaves with your warnings and your laments. You can always organize at least some of them to march and wave flags. When the other country’s police (or, better yet, angry counter-mobs) respond, you raise the temperature. Oppression! Murder! Genocide!
It worked for Hitler in the Munich crisis, and it is exactly the card Putin has played in Crimea and perhaps will play in other parts of the ex-Soviet space. After using the German minority in Czechoslovakia as a tool, Hitler gave the west a brief respite (more soft talk about peace) before turning to his next target: Poland. Once again, it was the German minority that gave him his opening. Polish thugs were trampling on their rights. Their protests were being crushed by heartless barbarians. Babies were being ripped from their mothers’ wombs by bloodthirsty Polish mobs. Whatever.
Again, it was Hitler’s propagandist Goebbels who taught the world an important lesson: when you lie, go big. This has been exactly what Russian propaganda over Ukraine has done. And if it works here, we can expect to see the same kind of thing tried elsewhere: in Central Asia, perhaps, when Putin decides the time has come to reunite the Russian motherland with the gas and oil wealth of countries like Kazakhstan. The Baltic republics, already familiar with Putin’s play of the Russian minority card, are braced for more trouble, and well they should be.
This is why the latest news from eastern Ukraine is so ominous: in the Adolf Hitler playbook, stirring up ethnic strife is something you do when the time has come to intervene. If Putin’s plan was to send troops into eastern Ukraine, we’d see Russian speakers in the streets protesting, sometimes with violence, and demanding ‘protection’. “Defending Russian nationals from fascist mobs when the Ukrainian government is unwilling or unable to do so” is just the kind of fig leaf Putin needs; as of today, he’s got it.
But when dealing with a calculating player who has read people like Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, studied under the grandmasters of the old KGB and knows how Adolf did it, we shouldn’t be too confident that we know what’s coming next. Deception, disinformation and disguise are vital to Putin’s kind of foreign policy, and it is very much in his interest to keep us off-base and baffled as much as he can. With that caveat, it’s worth noting what the three likeliest alternatives are.
First, the violence could be a preparation for an invasion that has already been decided in the Kremlin. This is unlikely to happen before the referendum in Crimea — Russia won’t want to upstage its own propaganda spectacle. Let a thumping majority (however acquired) vote for annexation, and then more violence takes place in eastern Ukraine… then boom. More riots, more incursions, more referendums.
Second, it could be that no invasion is intended or wanted at this time. Instead, Russia wants both to demonstrate its power to create crises inside Ukraine and to make the country as ungovernable as possible. A number of western commentators have been consoling themselves with the ‘Putin is trapped’ approach to Ukraine, but looking at the west’s situation the trap may be on our end. We are the ones who now have some kind of obligation to keep Ukraine’s corrupt and incompetent government alive and to keep its chronically lame, oligarch-dominated economy from withering away. We are also the ones who will be blamed if (when) economic miracles fail to occur.
We can also be blackmailed. Are we going to pay Gazprom’s outrageous gas bill for Ukraine, or are we going to let the country freeze in the dark next winter? If the West has taken on the role of paymaster and protector of the Ukrainian state, do we expect Putin to make this any cheaper or easier for us?
Meanwhile, unrest in the east can make Ukraine a much, much more expensive and difficult client for the west — and also increases the nervousness in the Baltic republics and former Warsaw Pact countries. Putin may think that a destabilized Ukraine where he can stir the pot at will is a pretty good thing for Russia — and he can quietly wait to see what develops as he plans his next steps. If nothing else, Ukraine’s is going to make people in places like Kazakhstan pay a lot more attention to Russia’s wishes than before. Let Ukraine simmer and flip your Soviet reconstruction focus to the east. The west didn’t lift a finger to protect Ukraine; the Kazhaks and others will feel very much left alone in a small room with a large bear.
Third, it’s also possible that Moscow is moving opportunistically. It may not have a long term plan, but sees the advantages of stirring things up in eastern Ukraine. Scaring Ukraine and the west is a good thing in itself. And who knows— it may turn out that further opportunities develop.
Any one of these scenarios is plausible, and any one of them offers Putin the prospect of a clear, prestige-enhancing win. The second two look like the smartest plays from the Kremlin’s point of view, but the west would be foolish to assume that Putin calculates the odds in the same ways we do.
We must hope that western leaders finally wake up to the nature of the opponent they face. Putin, I say again, is no Hitler. He isn’t as powerful as Hitler and he isn’t as evil as Hitler. Compared to Stalin, he’s a choirboy. But he’s a smart and able adversary of the west who believes that world politics is a zero sum game. He believes that Russia can only survive and thrive by reconstituting a great power between China and Germany, and that this can only be done by rolling back the post-Cold War expansion of western power across the old Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union.
Dealing effectively with Putin doesn’t require a new Cold War. American foreign policy doesn’t have to become, and shouldn’t become Russo-centric. But unless we take counsel with our allies and put the kind of intellectual and political energy into blocking Russian moves that Russia puts into thinking them through and making them, the world will become a significantly uglier place and it will be much harder to get some important things done.
The biggest cost to Putin of his Crimean adventure may not be the western sanctions, but rather the way that his Ukraine policy makes it harder for him to go back to gulling a complacent west. Not that he won’t try. Once he’s taken as much of Ukraine as he thinks he can get at this point, he is likely to launch a peace offensive, aiming to separate the Germans and the other Europeans from the Americans and let time weaken the outrage that now rolls through the west. Unfortunately, there will be people who are ready to be gulled yet again, but the quick vision the world has seen of the real nature of Putin’s policy and his ruthlessness will make at least some of the people harder to fool once more.
Moscow's stock exchange goes up 3.7% on Obama's speech
Reply #120 on:
March 18, 2014, 11:23:30 AM »
Barack Obama ordered the first round of sanctions Monday against Vladimir Putin's inner circle in response to the weekend's referendum in Crimea -- just as Putin recognized Crimea's independence and began steps to annex it. "We are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine," Obama said in a statement. "We're making it clear that there are consequences for their actions." More will come, too, he said, if Russia doesn't back down. "Further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world." Unfortunately, the pitifully weak sanctions had the opposite of the desired effect: Moscow's stock exchange rose 3.7% as Putin's men laughed at Obama.
Sec Treasury Paulson says Russians proposed bear raid in 2008
Reply #121 on:
March 18, 2014, 01:49:59 PM »
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result 2.0
Reply #122 on:
March 19, 2014, 12:42:23 PM »
More bear raids to come?
Reply #123 on:
March 19, 2014, 12:59:09 PM »
Putin Invades, Obama Dismantles
Reply #124 on:
April 09, 2014, 11:30:31 AM »
Putin Invades, Obama Dismantles
The U.S. rushes to obey a nuclear arms treaty while Russia cheats.
April 8, 2014 7:20 p.m. ET
John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that "Russian provocateurs" had infiltrated eastern Ukraine in order to foment "an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis." Also on Tuesday, the Pentagon announced steep cuts to U.S. nuclear forces, four years ahead of schedule, in accordance with the 2010 New Start treaty with Russia.
At this point in Barack Obama's Presidency we should be used to the mental whiplash. But we still feel concussed.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Getty Images
So let's slow down and follow the thread. Russia has seized Crimea and has 50,000 troops as a potential invasion force on the border with eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin is also abrogating the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Kiev agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal—at the time the third largest in the world—in exchange for guarantees of its territorial integrity from Russia, the U.S. and U.K. That memorandum has now proved to be as much of a scrap of paper to the Kremlin as Belgium's neutrality was to Berlin in the summer of 1914.
The Kremlin is also violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bans the testing, production and possession of nuclear missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles. Russia has tested at least three missiles—the R-500 cruise missile, the RS-26 ballistic missile and the Iskander-M semi-ballistic missile—that run afoul of the proscribed range limits.
The Obama Administration has suspected for years that Vladimir Putin was violating the INF Treaty, which supporters hail as the triumph of arms control. The Russians were boasting of their new missile capabilities in open-source literature as far back as 2007. Yet as defense analysts Keith Payne and Mark Schneider noted in these pages in February, "since 2009, the current administration's unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on the Russian INF Treaty noncompliance."
Atlantic Council senior fellow Adrian Karatnycky on the origins of renewed pro-Russian protests. Photo credit: Getty Images.
At a minimum, Congress should call on Rose Gottemoeller, confirmed last month as under secretary of state for arms control over strenuous objections from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, to explain what the Administration knew, and what it disclosed, about Moscow's INF violations when she negotiated New Start.
Ms. Gottemoeller has been publicly noncommittal on this point, perhaps because she knew New Start would never have won a two-thirds Senate majority if Russia's INF cheating had been widely known. The episode reminds us of why people like former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl were right to oppose the ratification of New Start.
Which brings us to the Administration's announcement on cutting U.S. nuclear forces to levels specified by New Start four years before the treaty's 2018 compliance deadline. The news comes a few days after Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists reported that "Russia has increased its counted deployed strategic nuclear forces over the past six months." Yet at the same time America's stockpile of warheads and launchers has declined.
Mr. Obama has dismissed Russia as a regional power, but he is maneuvering the U.S. closer to a position of absolute nuclear inferiority to Russia. The imbalance becomes even worse when one counts tactical nuclear weapons, where Russia has a four-to-one numerical advantage over the U.S.
To the surprise of defense analysts, the Pentagon will make the sharpest cuts in the submarine and bomber legs of the nuclear triad, while mostly preserving the silo-based Minuteman ICBMs. This means that the U.S. will maintain a stationary, and vulnerable, nuclear force on the ground while largely dismantling what remains of our second-strike capability at sea and in the air. A crucial part of deterrence is convincing an adversary that you can survive a first strike. It does not help U.S. security to dismantle the most survivable part of the U.S. arsenal.
It's fashionable in the West to dismiss this as "Cold War thinking," but it appears that Vladimir Putin hasn't given up on such thinking or he wouldn't be investing in new nuclear delivery systems.
Cold War or no, recent events are providing daily reminders that the great-power rivalries of previous centuries are far from over. They have also offered the grim lesson that nations that forsake their nuclear deterrent, as Ukraine did, do so at considerable peril. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 the Senate refused to ratify Jimmy Carter's SALT II Treaty. Any serious response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine should include a formal and public U.S. demarche about Russian cheating on the INF treaty, while promising to withdraw from New Start if the cheating continues.
Nuclear arsenals aside, the timing of Mr. Obama's nuclear dismantling couldn't be worse as Mr. Putin contemplates his next moves in Ukraine and sizes up a possible Western response. Someone said recently that Mr. Putin plays chess while Mr. Obama plays checkers, but that's unfair to the noble game of checkers.
Reply #125 on:
April 15, 2014, 12:37:12 PM »
Putin Acts, Obama Assesses
Is the American President still interested in his job?
April 14, 2014 7:16 p.m. ET
The White House on Monday said there was "overwhelming evidence" that Russia is stirring the unrest in eastern Ukraine, but President Obama hasn't yet decided if further sanctions are warranted. That's how the Associated Press put its dispatch from Washington on the crisis in Ukraine, and the juxtaposition is a perfect summary of the current state of U.S. foreign policy.
Vladimir Putin uses Russian special forces to cow a neighbor and steal territory, while Mr. Obama agonizes about what to do.
"We are actively evaluating what is happening in eastern Ukraine, what actions Russia has taken, what transgressions they've engaged in," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we are working with our partners and assessing for ourselves what response we may choose." This is from the same President who has been saying for weeks that any further Russian transgressions into Ukraine would be met with harsh sanctions. Mr. Putin must laugh out loud when he reads this stuff.
Meanwhile, the government in Kiev is getting the message that it had better fend for itself and has begun to meet one of the offers from Mr. Putin that it can't refuse. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said he is now open to a national referendum that would grant greater autonomy to regions of the country. Mr. Putin wants to hive off eastern and southern Ukraine into what would essentially be a Russian protectorate and leave Kiev with a rump state. The U.S. has refused to send Ukraine lethal military aid, and Kiev may be looking to sue for peace to avoid an outright invasion.
We know Mr. Obama didn't run for President to engage in great power politics, but it is still part of the job description. Is he still interested in doing his job?
Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 12:39:17 PM by Crafty_Dog
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