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Insane in the Ukraine, OR, Not So Chicken Kiev?

JoeUserJoeUser Forum SantaRegistered User regular
So there is some stuff going on in Eastern Europe these days, and I thought we could talk about it!

ukra-MMAP-md.png


What happened?

Back in November, the the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, unexpectedly cancelled a trade deal with the European Union. Right after that, Russian promised to loan Ukraine $15 billion and give it discounts on gas. Many people saw this as Russia trying to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence.

So then protests started in Kiev, the capital. In response, the government passed anti-protest laws, and things escalated from there, with some protesters dead. Not long after, Yanukovych fled the country for Russia, and a new Ukrainian government was formed.


So everything is good, right?

No! Russia, which has a naval base in Ukraine, was not pleased with these events. In eastern Ukraine is an area called Crimea, which is made up of mostly ethnic Russians, who favor closer ties with Russia. Russian troops have entered Crimea, technically to "protect" the ethnic Russians there. In response, the EU and the US have imposed sanctions, and here we are!

Is Ukraine Weak?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzLtF_PxbYw

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    GundiGundi Serious Bismuth Registered User regular
    So is Putin crazy... or stupid? Because most people seem to agree that completely throwing away any goodwill Russia's managed to build up recently with the international community (Which, admittedly isn't that much.), threatening Russia's economic arrangements with the rest of Europe and in particular Ukraine, and potentially sparking a full blown war with Ukraine (That Russia would win but it'd be costly and also far more likely to actually get the rest of the world properly involved.) to protect the safety of naval bases which most people don't think were ever under any real threat to begin with was... really dumb.

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Putin is a strongman and an authoritarian bullshit artist like most of the post-Communist Eastern Bloc leaders, and he's starting to realize that he fucked up and isn't quite sure how to extricate himself.

    "w-well we voted to invade and I said we totally were gonna b-b-but those aren't our troops in Crimea"

    Meanwhile the Potemkin Village that is the Putin Economic Recovery starts to implode under the mere threat of sanctions.

    When your only trump card is energy exports, it's hard as fuck to play it while also deriving more than half your public spending from energy revenues. Especially when the U.S. just became a gas exporter again, unshackling Western Europe from Gazprom.

    Dongs Galore on
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    JoeUserJoeUser Forum Santa Registered User regular
    Oh, and the Crimean parliament voted to join Russia, and they've set a referendum for March 16.

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Meanwhile by failing to open fire, the Ukrainian Army has screwed him out of any pretext to openly invade whilst refusing to actually vacate their bases, which Putin evidently hadn't banked on.

    Putin is actually pretty godawful at just about anything when he can't get his way by fiat of overwhelming power - see: the economy, foreign relations, social policy, electoral politics

    Dongs Galore on
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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    but he took a shirtless photo once 11/10 best world leader so badass

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    RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    You kinda need to understand the Russian Mindset, and Putin's in particular. The collapse of the Soviet Union lead to a lot of economic turmoil and poverty, and a perceived loss of power and influence on the world stage. Putin himself has said it was the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century. Nostalgia for the USSR is quite prevalent: A "Greatest Russian" Poll a few years back pegged Stalin at (I think) Number 3 - ironic because he was from Georgia.

    What Russia wants is respect, but I would hazard that fear will do in a pinch. Most of the Western USSR and Warsaw Pact have integrated with the EU and/or NATO, lifting them away from Russia's sphere of influence. The two major outliers are Belarus and Ukraine. Belarus is quite firmly in Russia's corner, entering into that economic union Russia's trying to set up, but Ukraine is not.

    I journey into speculation now, but the new Government's pro-EU stance left Putin nervous, because he thinks they might also join NATO, and having that much of Russia bordering NATO* is intolerable, because they see NATO as a US-led measure to limit Russian influence, which it kinda was back in the day.

    My belief is that the ideal situation for Putin would probably have been Yanukovych or someone with a philosophical affinity with him steering Ukraine back into closer ties with Russia, and by his constant hammering of how "illegitimate" the current government is, I think their intent was to try and bully Ukraine into reversing the course. Seizing the Crimea on its own is not a really attractive prize because it is in considerable need of investment that Brussels could have picked up the tab, so there has also been a fair bit of propaganda in Southern and Eastern Ukraine, which while not as densely Ethnically Russian as Crimea still has a sizeable chunk. There is speculation he'd be willing to spark a civil war so East Ukraine either secedes from the west or joins Russia outright, although my gut would be the former: Russian and Soviet doctrine from the end of WW2 has been to have a lot of buffer states lying between it and the West, to take the hit while the motherland mobilizes. That was one of the main reasons for the Warsaw Pact.

    Of course we can all agree that his stated reasons for intervention and the baffling denial that Russian troops aren't in the wider Crimea are blatant falsehoods, and this referendum which translates to "heads I win tails you lose" will not be recognised by anybody, but it misses something important: Putin doesn't care. He wants Russia to be strong. To drop a cheesy line however, I don't think having to actually deploy troops to get what you want is an act done from a position of strength.


    *Latvia and Estonia are both EU and NATO members and border Russia, while Poland and Lithuania encircle the Kaliningrad Exclave. I think that sticks in his maw already.

    RMS Oceanic on
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    JoeUserJoeUser Forum Santa Registered User regular

    AP reporter: Warning shots fired, foreign military observers barred from entering Crimea.

    waiting for more details

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    HunterHunter Chemist with a heart of Au Registered User regular
    I personally would have went for the Crimea River joke in the title, but not bad.

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    JoeUserJoeUser Forum Santa Registered User regular
    Huh

    Republican senators tell Fifa Russia must be kicked out of 2014 World Cup
    Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

    The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week.

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    Mortal SkyMortal Sky queer punk hedge witchRegistered User regular
    Republicans giving a damn about football. Huh.

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    PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    Russia gave an assurance of Ukraine's sovereignty and existing borders in 1994 upon Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Did you know: according to a clause in their December 2013 treaty, China is bound to give military assistance to Ukraine if they come under threat of nuclear attack

    Dongs Galore on
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    The Otaku SuppositoryThe Otaku Suppository Bawstan New EnglandRegistered User regular
    I'm really loving the horrible editorials I keep seeing in the papers from whom I can either assume are pro-Russian shills or ignorant savages who say we need to stay out of the Crimean crisis because "Russians and Ukrainians are basically the same people for all intents and purposes". JFC, I don't know of a quicker way to start a fight.

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    RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I'm really loving the horrible editorials I keep seeing in the papers from whom I can either assume are pro-Russian shills or ignorant savages who say we need to stay out of the Crimean crisis because "Russians and Ukrainians are basically the same people for all intents and purposes". JFC, I don't know of a quicker way to start a fight.

    Calling a Glaswegian English is my go to explanation for how much of a faux pas that is.

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    Mortal SkyMortal Sky queer punk hedge witchRegistered User regular
    Calling a Persian an Arab will do it pretty quickly too.

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    GundiGundi Serious Bismuth Registered User regular
    Of course we can all agree that his stated reasons for intervention and the baffling denial that Russian troops aren't in the wider Crimea are blatant falsehoods, and this referendum which translates to "heads I win tails you lose" will not be recognised by anybody, but it misses something important: Putin doesn't care. He wants Russia to be strong. To drop a cheesy line however, I don't think having to actually deploy troops to get what you want is an act done from a position of strength.
    But even if this leads to everything Putin seems to want from this, i.e. a more pro-Russian Ukraine or a civil war in which the Pro-Russian far eastern half of Ukraine secedes or is annexed outright by Russia, Russia's position from this debacle seems unarguably worse than before. Crimea itself is only particularly valuable for strategic reasons. Eastern Ukraine would be significantly more valuable but a.) There's not really any guarantee that a civil war is going to blow up anytime soon, especially since I suspect that with the occupation of Crimea the new government in Kiev is going to be getting quite a bit more support from the US and western Europe than they would have otherwise, and b.) Russia would probably have to fight an actual war to get control of eastern Ukraine (As opposed to just dropping tons of soldiers into the area and daring the Ukrainians to shoot.) and at that point I have to ask "Is it actually worth it?"

    This also jeopardizes Russia's and Ukraine's economically interdependent relationship. The new government isn't pro-Russian as was the previous government, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't have attempted to maintain cordial relations with Russia for practical reasons. Ukraine has always been dependent on Russia for several reasons, and that wouldn't have changed overnight regardless of what any Ukrainians might like. Assuming this blows over Ukraine might end up still trying to be cordial to Russia for practical reasons, but I imagine they're going to be looking for ways to cut the economic ties between the two countries.

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    Baroque And RollBaroque And Roll Every spark of friendship and love Will die without a homeRegistered User regular
    Question for RMS

    How much would you say access to Sevastopol has to do with all this?

    2dtr87s.png
    SteamID: Baroque And Roll
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    DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    There is something humorous about all of the Russian troops taking the patches off of their uniforms and then running around Crimea. "we aren't Russian soldiers! We would have patches if we did!"

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    Mortal SkyMortal Sky queer punk hedge witchRegistered User regular
    Also I'm totally calling that the current Kiev government is going to be ousted by their own people pretty soon, because they're a half step (a goose step?) from being literal actual fascists

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    TallahasseerielTallahasseeriel Registered User regular
    Mortal Sky wrote: »
    Also I'm totally calling that the current Kiev government is going to be ousted by their own people pretty soon, because they're a half step (a goose step?) from being literal actual fascists

    Yeah I mean literally hanging up pictures of Hitler is certainly a step away from being a fascist.

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    The Otaku SuppositoryThe Otaku Suppository Bawstan New EnglandRegistered User regular
    Question for RMS

    How much would you say access to Sevastopol has to do with all this?

    When in doubt, remember that Russia will always do anything to get a warm water port.

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Question for RMS

    How much would you say access to Sevastopol has to do with all this?

    access to Sevastopol is literally the only reason for any of this

    I guarantee you Putin gives exactly zero percent of a shit about the Russians in the Crimea

    Dongs Galore on
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    RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Question for RMS

    How much would you say access to Sevastopol has to do with all this?

    [Disclaimer: I am no Eastern European expert, just someone who's been following the situation with interest, so don't be surprised if I get it wrong]

    I think the strategic implications was definitely a factor, albeit not an all-consuming one. In previous centuries Russia has had difficulty obtaining a "Warm Water" Port - a port whose waters remain unfrozen all year round - that allows access to the global trade routes. Even Sevastopol is not flawless, as WW1 showed that it is at the mercy of whoever controls the Bosphorus straights (i.e. Turkey). I think its importance lessened a little when Königsberg was given to the USSR and renamed Kaliningrad after WW2, but rather than move from one port to the other, they made heavy use of both, and why not?

    There are other ports on the Black Sea, but none that are currently capable of housing the fleet Russia has stationed there, and it's more centrally located, allowing for more flexible deployment options. I don't know if Russia got nervous that Ukraine would unilaterally chuck the agreement over Sevastopol. My instincts still point to the wider political goals taking precedent over direct strategic concerns.

    To coin a Bushian argument, there is also speculation of another motive for it: That Crimea joining Russia would give Russia the rights to the oil and gas fields in the Black Sea that are currently in Ukrainian territorial waters. I dunno how much credence I give this compared to the wider goal, but it would lessen the pain of having to dump money into the region.
    Question for RMS

    How much would you say access to Sevastopol has to do with all this?

    access to Sevastopol is literally the only reason for any of this

    I guarantee you Putin gives exactly zero percent of a shit about the Russians in the Crimea

    While I agree with your last point, that Ethnic Russians are mainly a tool to be used to further his aims, no matter how Sudetenisch* this makes him look, I still assign more importance on preserving and expanding Russian political influence than the port itself.

    *This is a comparison I can make without the spectre of Godwin: Putin's stated reason for intervention bears a striking resemblance to the Sudetenland Crisis, that Ethnic Origin and identity take precedence over National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity. I'm not the only one to notice:
    putler.jpg

    RMS Oceanic on
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    Fire TruckFire Truck I love my SELFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Ok, so, Putin is awful, granted. Russia wants to absorb Ukraine to maintain a buffer against Europe, and its motives are about as far from altruistic as you can get, granted.

    The fact remains that one of the three major political parties behind the protests is openly neo-nazi, that the first act of a bunch of protestors after Yanokovich was ousted was to hang a number of white supremacist flags (including, interestingly, Confederate flags) in government buildings. This is not simply a case of big old Russia stomping some protests. Those nationalist protestors, many of them, are asserting their national identity not just against Putin's Russia, but also against the fact that Russia was the country that defeated Nazi Germany in WWII. Naziism is seen by many in the new government as the way to assert their independent identity.

    Fire Truck on
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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    Honestly, that's secondary when weighed against the legal, moral and strategic imperatives of preventing Russia from carrying off a blatantly illegal landgrab

    Moreover, if the West fails to help and the Crimea splits off, then all it will do is cement the Neo-Nazis' power and popularity as the party of revanchism and national pride. If we help, we stand a better chance of influencing the government in favor of the ones we actually like.

    Dongs Galore on
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    BrainleechBrainleech 機知に富んだコメントはここにあります Registered User regular
    JoeUser wrote: »
    Huh

    Republican senators tell Fifa Russia must be kicked out of 2014 World Cup
    Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

    The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week.

    Fifa ha ha ha ha
    Really you would better asking Putin for cookies than a favour from Fifa


    The thing I find really scary is Ukraine's army is really fence sitting

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    and considering Ukraine were the victims of their very own holocaust at the hands of Communist Russia in the 1930s I'm not sure you can blame them for recalling the Nazis as the good guys

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    PiptheFairPiptheFair Frequently not in boats. Registered User regular
    The Ukrainian army is playing it exactly how they should

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    PiptheFairPiptheFair Frequently not in boats. Registered User regular
    Ukraine did not have the best time in the first have of the 1900s

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    Dongs GaloreDongs Galore Registered User regular
    Brainleech wrote: »
    JoeUser wrote: »
    Huh

    Republican senators tell Fifa Russia must be kicked out of 2014 World Cup
    Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

    The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week.

    Fifa ha ha ha ha
    Really you would better asking Putin for cookies than a favour from Fifa


    The thing I find really scary is Ukraine's army is really fence sitting

    Ukraine's Army is doing the smartest thing they can by refusing to open fire on the Russians. If they shoot, Putin will immediately declare an intervention to stop the massacre of "local self-defense militias," whereas if they abandon their positions the Russians won't need to intervene at all.

    By just sitting in their bases and daring the Russians to shoot them they're getting the best of all possible worlds.

    Afaik the Ukranian Army itself is relatively loyal (they refused to come down on the protestors, which makes them de facto an ally of Kiev and not Yanukovych), it's the Navy which has been defecting.

    Also this is a kind of interesting episode between the surrounded Ukranian troops and the not-Russians, where the Ukranians marched out unarmed carrying their regimental flags and dared the Russians to shoot them down.

    At 1:00 the Ukranian soldier demands "Will you shoot at the Soviet flag?", which is a hell of an interesting appeal to their common history.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRvdmmwoeQE

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    RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited March 2014
    The Far-Right Parties you mention make up about 13% of Parliament: Not insignificant, but also not the sole voice of the new government. Their popularity has been in part due to a backlash against Yanukovych's perceived corruption, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in the next elections.

    They are a legitimate concern, as are any far right party, but in a representational electoral system (Ukraine uses mixed party), the fringes will be represented more often than in First Past the Post systems like the UK or US. Unfortunately their mere existence has been fuel for the Russian Media, who even before the revolution were painting the entire protests as facists and Neo-Nazis. As DG said however, I think Russia really made their views much less significant by this unilateral action.
    Brainleech wrote: »
    The thing I find really scary is Ukraine's army is really fence sitting

    Are they fence sitting? From what I've seen apart from that one Admiral apparently defecting - and I'm still not sure that was not at implied gunpoint - Ukraine's armed forces have responded to Kiev's requests. What they haven't done is launch an offensive, which right now is the best move: Georgia made the first move in South Ossetia, and this was enough for Russia to justify a response. Ukraine's military have so far not given Russia any pretense to attack the mainland.

    RMS Oceanic on
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    ButtcleftButtcleft Registered User regular
    Brainleech wrote: »
    JoeUser wrote: »
    Huh

    Republican senators tell Fifa Russia must be kicked out of 2014 World Cup
    Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

    The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week.

    Fifa ha ha ha ha
    Really you would better asking Putin for cookies than a favour from Fifa


    The thing I find really scary is Ukraine's army is really fence sitting

    I'm surprised Republicans acknowledge not-'mericuh football as a thing that exists.

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    PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    Part of Svoboda's strategy has also been to distance itself from its originally more blatant neo-Nazi background, while still retaining the support of hardcore nationalists and neofascists. Interestingly, Svoboda also supports accession to NATO.

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    RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Part of Svoboda's strategy has also been to distance itself from its originally more blatant neo-Nazi background, while still retaining the support of hardcore nationalists and neofascists. Interestingly, Svoboda also supports accession to NATO.

    And the EU as well, which for a European Far Right party is practically unique.

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    DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    I find the thing with the different factions of a country's armed forces taking different sides in a conflict very interesting. I mean, it is horrible that it is actually happening, or starting to happen, but it is intriguing, especially compared to the thing in the USA of viewing the whole military as one giant organism.

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Uriel wrote: »
    Mortal Sky wrote: »
    Also I'm totally calling that the current Kiev government is going to be ousted by their own people pretty soon, because they're a half step (a goose step?) from being literal actual fascists

    Yeah I mean literally hanging up pictures of Hitler is certainly a step away from being a fascist.

    No silly, you've got it all wrong. They're hanging them as reminders of what NOT to do...

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    JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    if putin were a Civ 5 character, he would be the really annoying one

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Buttcleft wrote: »
    Brainleech wrote: »
    JoeUser wrote: »
    Huh

    Republican senators tell Fifa Russia must be kicked out of 2014 World Cup
    Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

    The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week.

    Fifa ha ha ha ha
    Really you would better asking Putin for cookies than a favour from Fifa


    The thing I find really scary is Ukraine's army is really fence sitting

    I'm surprised Republicans acknowledge not-'mericuh football as a thing that exists.

    They know they're powerless because no-one on the planet takes them seriously at all, but they want to look like they're doing something against Putin to their constituents. It also draws a tenuous link between the "commie soviet Ruskies" and "fairy pretend football for wusses and queers" that will put a smile on said constituents collective dials. "Gat-danged reds should just play a real mans sport and there wouldn't be any of this aggression because they'd get it all out on the field."

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