Tag: Ukraine

Toward a European War

Over the last week, Russia has been slowly dropping the pretense and invading the Ukraine with active troops, tanks and artillery pieces. Many of these soldiers, as with the earlier incursion into the crimea, are pretending to be rebels, which is technically a war crime.

As has been pointed out, the Ukraine is not the limit of Putin’s ambitions. He has claimed that he will rescue all ethnic Russians who are “threatened” which means the baltic states and Poland could be on their target list.

The West is finally responding. The plan is to deploy troops to the new NATO bases in Eastern Europe as well as to provide military aide to the Ukraine. I would suggest that reviving missile defense would be another good step.

This sets up the potential for a wider war. But it’s something we are obligated to do under the NATO treaty. We’ll just have to hope that the prospect of tangling with an actual military force is enough to give Putin some pause.

Airplane Downed in Ukraine

I’ll pop up from my week off the internets to open a thread on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was apparently shot down over the Eastern Ukraine today, possibly by Russian separatists. I’m not ruling out anything at this stage. We’ll have to see what comes out of this investigation. I’ll just note that I’m puzzled as to why the separatists would shoot down a passenger plane that was just passing 33,000 feet over their area. But given Putin’s attempts to blame the Ukraine for this, it’s looking bad for the separatists.

Stay tuned. This could go a lot deeper than we think.

Getting Real in the Ukraine

So the Ukraine’s murderous Russophile prime minster was driven out of Kyiv last week. Earlier today, the Ukraine parliament elected the opposition leader as PM. Everyone has been wondering what Russia is going to do now that they don’t have to pretend to be (sorta) nice for the Olympics.

I think we’re finding out:

Dozens of armed men seized the regional government administration building and parliament in Ukraine’s southern Crimea region Thursday and raised the Russian flag in a challenge to the Eastern European country’s new leaders.

Crimea, with its ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership in Kiev after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster Saturday.

The incident, coming a day after Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine’s doorstep, has raised fears about the push and pull of opposing allegiances in a country sandwiched between Russia and the European Union.

Ed Morrisey has more, including a now clear alliance between Ukraine’s ousted PM and Putin.

I don’t think Putin is going to do a full-on invasion of the Ukraine. A nation of 44 million people is a lot to handle, even for him. But I do think we’re going to get something like the 2008 South Ossetia War, with Russian military forces “assisting” the ethnically Russian Crimea to “independence” from the rest of the Ukraine, following by an ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians. The end result will be to give Russia effective control of the Black Sea but with the Ukraine less divided and firmly in the European sphere of influence.

There’s not a lot we can do about that, short of a massive and extremely dangerous war. I suspect we’ll protest and maybe send a carrier out there. But any real pushback would have to come from Europe and … that ain’t happening.

Totalitarians Are All The Same

Two political flashpoints have erupted in the last few days. The first is in the Ukraine, where the President launched a violent assault on protesters, resulting in at least 26 people being killed and probably over a thousand injured. A truce might be coming into place. The second, to one’s surprise, is Venezuela, where Chavez’s heirs are arresting opposition leaders, beating protesters and silencing the press. Tonight there are reports of murder in the streets.

In the Ukraine, the protests are because the President has been cozying up to Russia and distancing himself from the EU, which most of the people vehemently oppose, having long memories of brutal Russian oppression. He has also, in the last few weeks, been desperately trying to silence the protests against his policies. In Venezuela, the issues are deeper:

Inflation has rocketed to more than 55 per cent, there are widespread blackouts and the staples of life are increasingly scarce. This, despite the fact that Venezuela is the most oil-rich country in the world. Crime is so rife in the big cities that many vulnerable Venezuelans are reluctant even to venture outside anymore. The murder rate in Caracas is 122 per 100,000 residents – higher even than Baghdad (as a Cuban friend of mine quipped last year, at least proper dictators like Fidel Castro keep the streets safe).

The response by the authorities to the protests has merely highlighted once again the government’s unwillingness to tolerate dissent. Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor and one of the protest organisers, has had an arrest warrant issued against him and videos have emerged of students being pistol whipped and kicked by armed policeman. As if taking its cue straight from the Soviet playbook, the government has blamed a “fascist upsuge” for the violence and “saboteurs” for the disintegration of the economy.

(You really should read that last link, where James Bloodworth takes his fellows liberals to task for refusing to acknowledge that goatfuck that was and is Chavezism.)

The striking thing about these brutal crackdowns is that they are being implemented by democratically-elected leaders. It’s a stark reminder that democracy, by itself, is no guaranteed protection against tyranny and oppression. As I have said many times, the most important part of a democracy is what happens between the elections. We’re being reminded of that now in the Ukraine and Venezuela.

Oppressors like to paint themselves in various colors — fascism, communism, socialism, etc. Some of them even paint themselves as defenders of democracy. But in the end, no matter what hair-brained philosophy they cling to, they are the same color: blood red.