Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crimea River

Russian aggression in the Ukraine is as bad as it appears. This is an invasion of one sovereign state by another. The ethnic Russian speaking Ukrainians living in Crimea are not in physical danger from the Ukrainian government, so Russian "explanation" that their actions are justified to ensure the safety of those citizens should not be taken seriously. Imagine if Mexico invaded southern California to "protect" the Spanish speakers from the evil Californian government. Imagine Quebec invading Maine to "protect" American francophones. It makes absolutely no sense. Russia has no legitimate justification for what they have done, other than pursue their own greedy desire to control that strategic area in the Northern Black Sea.

Russia is making our European allies feel nervous. Just as the United States has military bases in foreign countries, so do Russia, United Kingdon, Turkey, France, Japan, India and a handful of othersRussians have have a Navy in the Black Sea for decades, and have even had Navy basis in the Ukraine for just as long. It appears that recently they have been over stepping their limits since the Ukrainian president was given the heave-ho. 

Only someone living in an episode of Dr Who would support a strong military response to Russia for doing something that makes our European allies nervous. The Russian military is too strong. Russia is too rich. Crimea is too far away.The US military are still licking our wounds from military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the Iraq War, Afghanistan, Sudan - and all the crap we pull to ensure control of our oil supplies, US credibility lives in the mind of Republican think tanks, not in the real world.


Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union only five years after the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  Under the authority of the former Soviet Union, the Russians covered up the large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, poisoning thousands of Ukrainians. This fact probably has nothing to do with the current Ukrainian crisis, but certainly gives us one of many reasons why resentment lingers, and predominately Western Ukrainians do not trust Russians. 

Ukrainian presidents tend to come into two groups: those who back relationship with Russia and those who back relationship with Europe. File that fact in the back of your mind as it will be useful later.

Ukrainian economy is one of the most repressed in Europe because they cannot easily export their goods to Europe. The inefficient legal framework remains highly vulnerable to political interference, and corruption further undermines the fragile rule of law. Ukrainian  economic freedom score is 49.3, making its economy the 155th freest in the 2014 Index. Ukraine is ranked last out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is lower than the world average. In other words, it really sucks to be a Ukrainian. 

Submarine Cables

 The Ukranian government is trying to borrow $4 billion in international capital markets, in part to help service $3 billion owed to the International Monetary Fund and $2 billion owed to Russia’s VTO Bank. It also has allowed Chevron and Shell to prospect for gas in the Black Sea. Ukraine has well-developed agricultural and industrial sectors, but dependence on steel and steel-product exports makes it vulnerable to global financial turmoil and Russian pressure. Its geo-strategic location provides a vital energy transit route from Russia to Western Europe. The Ukraine appears to have access to submarine cables. The important thing to know is that Russia is an economic powerhouse. They supply oil and gas to most of Europe. Russia controls pipelines traversing the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia and then to European refineries. Russian oil companies like Lukoil and Gazprom roll in the big rubles.

Ukranian president Victor Yanukovych was in office from 2010 until he flew the coop to Russia. Last year, Yanukovych promised to sign a A comprehensive free trade area between Ukraine and the European Union, which will be formed as part of the Association Agreement, will help open the European market for Ukrainian goods within the first year of the agreement taking effect, Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov said.

"The average rate of customs duties in Ukraine will halve for goods from the EU, from 4.95 percent to 2.42 percent, whereas the customs rate on Ukrainian goods in the EU market will shrink by 16 times, from 7.6 percent to 0.5 percent," the Prime Minister said at a Cabinet of Ministers meeting on September 18, 2013.
Azarov said that 90 percent of Ukrainian goods would be subject to the changes within the first year of the agreement coming into effect.

November 21, 2013,  CNN reported Yankovych suspended talks with the European Union.

December 12, 2013 USA Today reported Yanukovych promised to sign the agreement with the European Union. Yanukovych was scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a potential strategic partnership on that date. In a major "fuck you" to his countrymen, the president decided not to sign the deal. The European partnership would have improved the economy and made it easier for Ukrainians to sell their goods. The little thing Putin doesn't like is that the deal would have created closer political ties with Western Europe. Putin wants the Ukraine to be closer to Russia than Europe. Needless to say, the Ukrainians are pissed off.


In an attempt to soften the Ukrainian people Yanukovych flew to Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and slash the price Kiev pays for its gas. It is as if these two groups think that only slavs can or "should" solve slavic problems. Russia is committed to fighting in every way to retain influence in its post-Soviet periphery. Crimea represents a broader vision of Russian interests and national security, one that it is demonstrably not respectful of the national sovereignty and self-determination. The fact is - Ukraine is a sovereign nation. 

JANUARY 28, 1014  Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych left the country. Tuesday, amid a political crisis fired by violent protests on the country's streets. Parliament overturned all of the anti-protest laws pasted by Yanukovych. Right now the Ukrainian government have control of the Ukraine, except for one problem - the Russians invaded them. the United States Republicans like Mike Rogers is quick to seek out any way of blaming Obama for Putin's actions. When it comes to Republicans, they never fail to find a way to blame Obama. While they are at it, they may as well blame Obama for the Chernobyl disaster as well. 

Wednesday, March 5th, a United Nations special envoy was forced to abandon a mission in Crimea by masked Russians. As time ticks, the situation continues to worsen.

Few Americans know this, but the Russians have had a permanent Navy outlet in Crimea for many years. Just like the Americans have their military bases in Germany, South Korea and other countries - Russia also has their military bases. It is called the Black Sea Fleet. Believed to have been founded by Prince Potemkin on May 13, 1783, with its principal base, the city of Sevastopol,Ukraine. The major shipyard is located in Mykolaiv (today in Ukraine). The Black Sea Fleet defeated the Turks in 1790, fought the Ottomans during World War I, the Romanians during World War II, and Georgia during the 2008 South Ossetia war. The division of the fleet in 1997 became the basis of the Ukrainian Navy. When the US was talking about striking Syria for chemical warfare, Russia sent ships from Sevastopol, Ukraine into Syrian waters. Their purpose was to intimidate the US from taking any action on Syria, and encourage Syria to solve their own problems internally. 

The US and several other nations propose an embargo on Russia. These are good ideas, worth doing, but are not likely to stop Russian leaders from doing what they want in Crimea.The problem with economic embargo is that we must rely upon European nations to cooperate in order to make it effective. Europe has a huge trade with Russia, as such, sanctions will not hurt the Russians that much. Remember ladies and gents, it's all a game of chess. 

Additionally, while the US should do things like refuse to send a high level delegation to the upcoming Paralympics in Sochi and even expel Russia from the G8, this amounts to little more than kicking Russia out of our country club. In case anyone didn't get the 411 - Putin doesn't give a shit. 

Neither US credibility nor US security is at stake in Ukraine. The fact is, the only threat Russia poses to us is that they make our allies feel insecure. We might not like what they are doing, but we are not directly hurt by it. 

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