Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucia Russian annexation of Crimea

Men in Cossack uniforms standing guard outside the regional Parliament in Crimea on Friday ahead of the referendum (Source: NY Times)

Last week, an article from The Telegraph (UK), on sanctions to be imposed upon Russia if Crimea is annexed:
Russia risks a wave of capital flight and a shattering economic crisis as the West prepares a package of sanctions over the seizure of Crimea.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spelled out the danger for Russia in a speech that silenced pro-Kremlin voices in her own coalition and left no doubt that Europe is now fully behind the US on punitive measures.

“If Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, that will not only be a great catastrophe for Ukraine. It will cause massive damage to Russia, both economically and politically,” she said. “None of us wants it to come to this, but we are determined to act. Let me be absolutely clear; the territorial integrity of Ukraine is not up for discussion.”

The West has threatened visa bans and an asset freeze on individuals as early as Monday unless Russia steps back from the brink on the annexation of Crimea. This now looks certain since Russian troops are continuing to dig in across the peninsula before this Sunday’s vote on secession. “It can get ugly fast if the wrong choices are made, and it can get ugly in multiple directions,” said John Kerry, US Secretary of State.

The US and the EU will escalate to “additional and far-reaching” measures if the picture deteriorates, a likely outcome since Ukraine’s premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk has vowed to resist any loss of sovereign soil.

Russia has threatened to retaliate with “symmetrical sanctions” but Tim Ash, from Standard Bank, said it is a one-sided contest that Moscow cannot win. “Russia is facing the entire West. Its economy is already very weak and this could end up being as bad as 2008-2009, when GDP contracted by 9pc,” he said.

Russia cannot suspend oil and gas exports without cutting off its own source of foreign revenue. Any such move would destroy its credibility as a supplier of energy, accelerating Europe’s long-term switch to other sources.
Will Russia cut off the gas?  She has threatened to do so to the Ukraine, but not to Europe ... so far.

Source: CNBC
Europe is highly dependent on Russian gas, and the worry is that in any escalation over the Crimean crisis, the gas could be turned off.  Over the last few years, Europe has been more focused on an alternative supply of energy, but these things move slowly. Last week, Poland announced that all gas sourced from shale in Poland would be tax-exempt for a number of years in order to incentivise it's production to reduce her own dependance, which is currently 60% of all imported gas.

We now know that the "referendum" will most likely result in overwhelming to join Russia.  Well, no wonder when it was being framed in Russia vs Nazis, as in the billboard below:

Billboard explains how Crimea referendum is being framed: Russia vs. the Nazis (Source: Washington Post)
New Zealand, like just about every single other country in the world will not recognise the results of the "referendum":

New Zealand will not recognise the result of today's referendum on the status of Crimea, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says.

"This referendum has been organised hastily, under the threat of force, and without any prior efforts to consult or negotiate a settlement consistent with the Constitution of Ukraine," he said.

And, the joke of the day from a Russian news source that cannot be accessed at this point (the server is overloaded or down or something):

Crimean referendum at 'gunpoint' is a myth - intl observers.  From the RT blog (a Russian blog).

Note the other article which I thought was ironic: Gunmen storm Crimea Hotel full of reporters on eve of referendum

That's how this whole thing is operating - Russia is insisting we all believe her version of events.  Well, that's not going to happen, not with the internet.  The message cannot be controlled to the extent that everyone will just go along with an expansion of Russia at the cost of neighbouring countries.

6 comment(s):

Andrei said...

We will have to disagree on the Lucyna - for most Crimeans voting to go with Russia was a no brainer.

Three times the constitutionally elected Government of Ukraine made deals to defuse this crisis offering to form a "unity" Governments with the opposition until such time as elections could be held in an orderly manner and three times these deals were sabotaged - even worse the smoking gun exists that shows the hand of the American State Department behind this sabotage in one of the cases.

The West made a play for Ukraine, failed and has now plunged the country into civil war in its clumsy, hamfisted attempts to advance its own agendas and now the people of Ukraine will suffer the consequences.

Ukraine is not a natural nation, biggest mistake it ever made was to separate Ukrainian SSR from Russia in the first place but given it did it should have been allowed to develop as a Nation without Western politicians fiddling in its internal affairs.

Its finished now one way or another - I just hope that its death doesn't involve a major European or World War, the potential for that is there

William Stout said...

While some spout 1930's Soviet rhetoric, the sad truth is that Putin accomplished a fait accompli. He saw what was coming, he prepared
for the eventuality, and when the light was green, he moved. The West didn't
stand a chance. It was like taking candy from a baby. If you didn't see this
coming when it was announced that there would be a public referendum, you
weren't paying attention. Some time ago, I posted on this blog regarding Libya that Obama would act all tough, threaten loudly, and then would shut up and sit down. He did exactly that, and Putin was paying attention.

He witnessed the weakness of the American President and the inaction of NATO. He saw that the U.S. and NATO were not of one mind. He knew that they would not stand up to him militarily. The Ukraine is so far away, and we really don't want to waste lives in their defense, do we? It is not pleasant to witness the West return to the mentality of Neville Chamberlain, and his brand of appeasement. The last time that we did that, 150 million perished.

Now Vladimir has the moral high ground, and a pretext for moving in more Russian forces. It will not stop there. His eye is set firmly on Eastern Ukraine,
and keeping it as a Russian satellite. While he would prefer to take it without
bloodshed, he will most certainly resort to violence to take it if necessary.
And he knows that the West won't do anything about it. Oh sure, they will write him harshly worded letters, they will attempt to pass U.N. resolutions, and they will whine and moan. But at the end of the day, they will shut up, and sit down.

His hand may no longer be over the ICBM launch control, but it is most certainly on the gas main, and he will let the Ukrainians freeze in the depths of winter to bring them to their knees. He has done it before, and he will do it again. This time however, he may allow Western Europe to freeze as well in an effort to forestall hostile diplomacy or retaliate. And before you say that Russia wouldn't do that, recall that they allowed millions to starve when Stalin took their food. That is one of the reasons why the Tatars were relocated, and why Russian immigrants replaced them. It is difficult to overcome a hard set hatred. Best to move it out to some remote location in the U.S.S.R., and forget about it. Now there are just 250,000 Tartars in the Crimea, and they are very worried right now. Justly so, in my opinion.

I remember the Cold War because I lived through it. I recall that only strength is respected by the Russians, and that weakness is despised. At this point in history, the West is bankrupt both financially and morally, and there is little strength left in it anymore. The poison of the left has done it's job, and rotted the heart of freedom. Now it would seem that it is also robbing the Ukraine
of freedom indirectly as well. I have said it before, and I will say it again.
We are the lesser sons and daughters of far greater sires.

If the West had any guts at all we would offer NATO membership to Ukraine,
and if accepted, dare Putin to move another inch.

Andrei said...

If the West had any guts at all we would offer NATO membership to Ukraine,
and if accepted, dare Putin to move another inch.

And what better way to kick of the third world war.

What do you suppose would happen if the Russian Federation spent billions of dollars de stabilizing Mexico, if prominent members of the Duma appeared in Mexico city giving rabble rousing speeches to "protesters" who were occupying Government buildings and then when they had succeeded in toppling the Government immediately recognized its successor.

D'ya think that the US military might get involved and secure strategic US interests in Mexico?

This is all hypocritical BS

William Stout said...

That's a rather nice myth that you have crafted for yourself. This is all America's fault. None of it has anything to do with a failed government that was subservient to mother Russia. Putin had no hand in bringing about the instability. Forgive me, but you sound like an old style Soviet apologist. Further, you state that a people have no say in their own affairs and should be subservient to a hostile government. That is tyranny. You denigrate freedom as just so much "tosh," while you extol the value of Putin and his heavy handed tactics, and when there is the mention of the West standing up for the people of Ukraine, you bristle.
There is something rotten in Denmark, if you will forgive my candor. You can ignore the corruption found in the public office holders of the Ukraine, you can ignore the marching orders given to the Ukrainian government by Putin, and you can ignore the fire started by the failed government that you support. But you cannot ignore the desire of a people who are only seeking the freedom to choose for themselves.
I will say no more on this topic.

Andrei said...

I don't support Viktor yanukovych's Government William

I recognize for better or worse it was democratically elected and that it if violent methods were used to remove it Ukraine would descend into civil war - which is what is happening, of course.

This is a replay of the Yugoslav wars if we don't prevent it and the only one who can prevent it is Russia

Ukraine historically is the strip of land west of the Dnieper occupied by the Poles 400 years ago in the time of the Polish Lithuanian commonwealth. The Poles never held Crimea ever.

The Poles lost it 400 years ago during a Cossack rebellion though the cities in the far west retained Polish characteristics and became eventually part of the Austro Hungarian empire.

The East that was never Polish was called Little Russia (Малороссия) but this didn't include Crimea which was always separate.

T'was the Communists that put the whole lot together and called it Ukraine

mjaew said...

While I cannot support Putin's moves to annex the Crimea, one fact that does muddy the waters is in very recent times Ukraine had the Orange Revolution. If my memory serves me right after that Revolution a pro-Western President was elected after the disputed second round of 2004 and then it lost re-election in a subsequent election in 2010. Both elections were close.

On that basis, it is wrong for a democratically elected government to be overthrown, even if that Government is corrupt. Indeed it the previous Government (of Yanukovych) was corrupted and dangerous. Likewise, when the pro-Western Government 'had its turn', it was rejected by a plurality of the population in 2010, when the Ukraine returned to the pro-Russian Presidential administration.

Having been involved in the Ukraine first hand in another way I can say with a high degree of confidence that corruption is a big problem in recent years.

What I am also concerned about is the broader picture. While I do not like to match Scripture with news stories, we [Christians] all ought to be looking at what the Bible says about Russia. Ezekiel 38 and 39 are a good start. Isn't it more profitable to be aware of what is to happen in the future, rather than argue the rights and wrongs of men?


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