inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #101 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Wed 16 Apr 14 13:17
    
To my mind it shows why we should be very careful about being over
optimistic about getting too deeply tied in with the interrum gov't in
Kiev until some of these internal dynamics in Ukraine sort themselves
out.  Back in the 1990s there was a lot of debate about these issues -
some scholars, like John Mearsheimer argued Ukraine should have kept
its nuclear weapons in the first place.  In my experience in watching
that process peripherally while doing this stuff in Brussels and
writing on Russia and post-Soviet military issues for NATO, that the
Ukrainians mainly used the issue of whether they would have nukes or
not as leverage to get aid from the west.  The strategic command of the
nuclear weapons on their territory was always Russian - and there was
also a treaty at the break of the USSR that ceded Russia responsibility
for control over nuclear weapons in the newly independent states. 

There were reports that the Ukrainians were, at the time, looking to
crack the access codes on the nuclear weapons, but by then they had
gien up the ones that could have deterred Russia and mainly, if I
recall rightly, had long-range weapons for strategic purposes, but they
were obliged to restore those to strategic command of Russia - they
held out for a long time trying to leverage a securirty guarantee, and
to get money.  In the end, they got a declaration of common respect for
sovereignty once they gave up the nukes.  Russia has violated that -
but there is no treaty obligation that requires us to enforce that
element of the agreement.

That said, I think Ukraine would find itself in serious intenrational
isolation if it did go nuclear, and I see no real interests in them
doing that under the current status.  I'm more concerned that there are
elements in the Ukrainian parliament that are *very nationalistic* and
if the economic assistance isn't there to stabilize Ukraine that once
they get to elections, outcomes could happen that we don't like.  Thus
the administration is wise to be reluctant to get too involved in
supporting an interrum government and instead focusing on a
constitutional deal, neutrality, and an eye towards elections - if and
when they are held.  Those are important principles that we say we also
stand for.

So, Ukraine *could* do this - but so could a lot of countries.  I
would imagine that if they did, they would lose a lot of western
sympathy, lose out on aid and loans, and risk serious provocation of
Russia - so hard to see a logic to it at this stage.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #102 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Wed 16 Apr 14 13:24
    
I would also add that one of the truly dangerous legacies of our
embrace of the doctrine of preventive war regarding the acquisition of
weapons of mass destruction is that it undermined that basic premise
that such actions required legitimacy, via the UN Security Council. The
US did have a legal resolution in 1441 from fall 2002 on Iraq, but
failure to secure a second resolution specifically authorizing force on
Iraq, while not waiting for weapons inspectors to issue a final report
or giving them more time, set a dangerous precedent.  So future great
powers who might do the same, would likely point to the American
precedent on that kind of posturing - whether its fair or not, likely
that would be how Russia would view Ukraine in this circumstances.

Again, its important to note that Ukraine's joining the NPT was
important in 1994 - at the same time, the treaty that locked in the
breakup of the USSR also did cede control of strategic weapons and
assets (including the Black Sea Fleet) to Russia.  So the legalities on
this get complicated.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #103 of 133: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Thu 17 Apr 14 00:01
    

Speaking of precedents, what about the anarchy that toppled the former
Ukraine government? 

It seems to me these pro-Russians taking over public buildings are
simply following the same strategy.

Like of all the havoc that has resulted -- can't help but wonder if
they would of been better off waiting for the next election, and taking
a different slower tact in getting the changes they wanted in place.  
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #104 of 133: Igor Karpov (karpov) Thu 17 Apr 14 00:22
    
Sorry, who should wait for the elections?
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #105 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 02:09
    
The people in Kyiv and elsewhere waiting for elections? Yanukovych was
moving towards eliminating them or making them irrelevant with new
laws passed basically outlawing opposition to his regime. 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/17/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Attack on Ukrainian army base in the southeast city of Mariupol
overnight, 3 dead. 

<101>; the message is that a country should give up its nukes, but any
security  guarantees made as part of such an agreement would not be
enforced by anyone if violated. Hardly an inducement for any such
future agreements.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #106 of 133: Igor Karpov (karpov) Thu 17 Apr 14 02:15
    
>>Yanukovych was moving towards eliminating them or making them
irrelevant with new laws passed basically outlawing opposition to his
regime.<<

Really? A new lie was born...
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #107 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Thu 17 Apr 14 05:06
    
I'm pretty sure that the deal was that Yanokovich would remain
interrum president, but then there would be elections.  That said, what
he was doing up to the point before that was certainly a problem to be
sure.  

On the nukes - its important to note that the 1994 agreement was *not*
a security guarantee.  It was a promise by the external forces not to
interfer in Ukrainian sovereignty - a security guarantee implies it
would be upheld via some mechanism and this was not that.  It is also
more technically problemmatic because Ukraine did not actually "have"
nuclear weapons to give up.  The treaty they all signed that brought
the USSR to collapse in late 1991 give Russia command and control of
all Soviet nuclear weapons and other strategic asses - and we wanted
that so as to ensure their safety as much as possible.

Ukraine, however, held out on signing the nuclear non-proliferation
treaty, until this deal - both in looking for commitments to its
security, but frankly, also as leverage for economic assistance.  I
think the real failure then was not coming through with meaningful
economic assistance after that fact.  

There are already problemmatic precedents relative to these kinds of
negotiations.  For example Libya voluntarily gave up its nuclear
program in 2003 - to our surprise as we didn't know about it, allowed
inspectors in,gave up info on the AQ Khan network out of Pakistan, etc
- 8 years later we were engaged in a regime change war against him. 
Did Iran make its calculations based on that?  They could have - Indian
leaders said after the first Iraq war that the obvious lesson was you
don't take on America unless you have nuclear weapons.  So the
proliferation issue is, I think more complicated.  I think that the
commitment to Ukrain's sovereignty - which every state in the UN has
anyway - was important and has been violated - but I don't think it has
legal implications - it could have strategic implications, but each
case is different - and in the case of Iran, economic sanctions are
giving it incentives to negotiate.

BTW - if interested here is a fairly lengthy interview I did today
(last night) for Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the NATO role
in this crisis: 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-17/stakes-get-higher-in-russia-and-ukraine-
stand-off/5397876


...and a backgrounder and quotes I gave for this column at the Chicago
Tribune: 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-oped-chapman-0417-20140417,0,
6375282.column
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #108 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 10:16
    
Regardless of what is being hallucinated in Washington, the Russian
government has little "incentive" to negotiate.

Regarding Yanukovych's authoritarian steps before his overthrow, see 
http://www.dailybattle.pair.com/2014/ukraine.shtml 
which has a list of articles (a short intro by me), in particular see
the articles by Mark Ames and Timothy Snyder. 

Stories today, UNCONFIRMED FULLY, that pro-Russia militants are
handing out leaflets to people leaving Passover services telling Jews
to register with the new regional government, signed by the
self-proclaimed head of this new government. (CNN)
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #109 of 133: Igor Karpov (karpov) Thu 17 Apr 14 10:29
    
<jstrahl> Now you have some idea how the propaganda machine of the
Maidan works.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #110 of 133: Angie Coiro (coiro) Thu 17 Apr 14 11:49
    
>> Relax, Ukraine is Not Ordering Its Jews to Register

BY JULIA IOFFE @juliaioffe

Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill:
apparently, the People's Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over
the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new
"authorities," or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid
out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One
local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel,
who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international
scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and,
today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers
as "grotesque." 

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as "a provocation," which
it clearly is. "It's an obvious provocation designed to get this exact
response, going all the way up to Kerry," says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor
of Russia in Global Affairs. "I have no doubt that there is a sizeable
community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one
of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the
pro-Russian groups in the east." <<

More at
<http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117415/relax-ukraine-not-ordering-its-jews-
register>.

Meanwhile - in Geneva, Putin has agreed to a de-escalation plan:

<http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-ukraine-russia-us-eu-diplomacy-
20140417,0,5148567.story>

On the face of it, encouraging. Your thoughts, Sean?
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #111 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Thu 17 Apr 14 13:22
    
I would follow Julia's reporting on this - she is very good.

Deal - no surprise.  I'm pleased to see the OSCE observer element
which is very important and very good news - they do great work at
monitoring and local confidence building - its the best tool we have in
the region for conflict resolution in addition to this great power
kind of concert diplomacy.  As to the basic dynamics, I think we have
to watch what Putin does - not what he says - either at home or in
Geneva via Lavrov.  However, all parties have continued interests in
de-escalating this.  It seems there is also an agreed framework for
advancing autonomy - and likely much more private going on here that
isn't public - likely a reaffirmation of Ukrainian neutrality, which
woudl come up in the constitutional bargaining but has already been
signaled by the German foreign minisnter i.e. no NATO membership for
Ukraine.  Still, a lot can go wrong on the ground here - but far better
it be OSCE monitors going in than Ukrainian forces or Russians - these
are immediately actionalable things and will be important tests of
Russia's sincerity.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #112 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Thu 17 Apr 14 13:27
    
I also think this its important to be skeptical about this - gaurded
optimism, but the pressure on Putin will need to remain - afterall, the
annexation of Crimea remains a gross violation of international law. 
In someways ramping up the other parts, and then ramping down, takes
the pressure off the Crimea thing - and I think its clear we've already
indicated even Ukraine can live with that, but the principle has to
remain stated that Russia has acted in a rogue way and that there
continue to remain long-term costs to that - while also making clear
that we can and will work with Russia where interests align.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #113 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 14:26
    
Putin today also announced he has the Russian parliament's approval to
send troops into Ukraine to "guard the interests of Russian speakers."

Nothing has been advanced which threatens Putin in the least in any
credible way. What "pressure"? Being hit by wet noodles?
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #114 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 14:33
    
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-17/so-much-deescalation-kiev-says-milita
ry-operation-east-ukraine-continue


Russia Today reports that the government in Kyiv (OK, RT uses "Kiev")
states the operation in eastern Ukraine will continue.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #115 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Thu 17 Apr 14 15:31
    
I usually use Kyiv myself actually, but have been writing so much
reverted back to old habits.  I would think that their operation in
eastern Ukraine will continue, as their presence is also an upfront
deterrent to Russia's forces over into Russia.  It remains very
possible that Russia could continue to seek a land-bridge to Crimea. 
And, Putin's language today for his domestic audience was different
than that of Lavrov in Geneva.  Still, that is not new, really, and
doesn't mean a deal isn't still in the works.  And, I definitely
disagree that there is no pressure on Russia.  The pressure is mainly
internal - their ability to project military power is very constrained;
 and the capital flight out of Russia is severe and they know it;  and
external - in that while Putin seems to be reveling in setting the
tactical agenda, the overwhelming balance of power is stacked against
him, and if it ever does get to a further stage on sanctions it will
spell serious if not grave consequence for his people.  The Russians
fear overstretch, want "buffer zones", and also seek to advance a
projection of power to overcome deep internal weaknesses.  This isn't
new - its a long tradition actually.  So while I agree that the western
resonse is limited, I think we have to look at this in a long-term
term framework.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #116 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 17:41
    
In the short-term, the EU has no substitute for Russian gas. There is
no long-term in terms of immediate energy needs. On a highway in the
Mojave Desert, if you only have 10 miles worth of gas in your car's
tank, it doesn't matter that there are gas stations 50 or even 20 miles
away, as one learns by driving across it.:-)
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #117 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Thu 17 Apr 14 21:43
    
Just a recap re the anti-semitic leaflets story: apparently was done
only at one synagogue, by three masked men, the alleged signatory
stated this was not even his handwriting or his self-selected title.
Both sides are accusing each other of doing it as a disinformation op
so as to smear the other side. Kerry is a total fool for making a big
deal of it.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #118 of 133: Igor Karpov (karpov) Thu 17 Apr 14 22:05
    
I don't think he's a fool, he just desperately needed anything like
this...
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #119 of 133: Is Russia as a Christian country and race being attacked by liberals? (jonsson) Fri 18 Apr 14 01:54
    

I'd like to see Ukraine with better governance but doubt if the
molotov-adrenalin-fist-fight-methods now underway will result in the
best outcome. 

Is there any functional roadmap for a better world east of the EU's
current borders other than violent overthrows, Nato bases and EU
membership?

Do Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania today really provide a model for a
better situation for the general population east of the EU borders?

Is there any progressive thread of discourse in Russia pointing to a
saner future for Russia?  

What are the Gorby types up to these days?
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #120 of 133: Sean Kay (seankay11) Fri 18 Apr 14 06:01
    
Ironically, that question about a saner future for Russia would most
likely - over time - come up *if* Russia continues with its overstretch
and deepens its isolation from the world - that is to my thinking the
ultimate constraint on Putin because in 6 months to a year, he could
end up looking like he was the guy who drove Russia into a deep ditch -
and I think he is very shrewd enough to know that.  Thus why he would
ultimately seek a way out at whatever moment he feels he has peaked. 
But, we shall see.

As to the Jewish issue in eastern Ukraine - SECSTATE Kerry's team
should have researched this better.  But it was also a signal that both
sides have a responsibility for tamping down a lot of this subtext
narrative.  Much more aggregious, I think, is CNN who ran it as
breaking news, give it all kinds of attention, only to then have their
reporter come on and completely debunk the story from on the ground. 
Our media doesn't need to be a part of some local jerk's effort to play
mindgames with the world.  They should do their homework.  Worse,
because if it happens again, people might not pay so much attention...
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #121 of 133: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 18 Apr 14 10:51
    
CNN, FOX...  I feel that these guys are never going to work from the
point of view that irresponsibly riling viewers up could do harm to
people on the other side of the globe, and to the US, too. I think the
only reasonable way to describe them is as sensation-sellers who will
always fan the flames, and have no shame.  Is that too cynical?  Can
media giants play a responsible role in tamping things down?
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #122 of 133: Igor Karpov (karpov) Fri 18 Apr 14 10:59
    
If it's any consolation to you, Ukrainian media is even worse.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #123 of 133: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Fri 18 Apr 14 11:19
    

> sensation-sellers who will
> always fan the flames, and have no shame.  Is that too cynical?

Too cynical? No way. It's sadly accurate in my experience.

For that reason, I avoid TV news outside of sometimes watching parts of
PBS NewsHour. I also have cut way back on obsessive paying attention to
printed news (we still get a daily paper) and online news. There are a
few online sources that are better but in general the function of "news"
reporting is to sell advertising and that means getting people all riled
up full of fear, anger and frustration and obsessed about following every
"breaking detail" of a story.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #124 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Fri 18 Apr 14 11:51
    
CNN is STILL pushing the "anti-semitic leaflets" story, as of the last
hour. 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-18/ukraine-de-escalation-voided-pro-russ
ia-milita-refuse-vacate-occupied-buildings

The commander of the pro-Russia militia in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin,
has stated his group will not go along with the Geneva deal, won't
vacate any buildings till the government in Kyiv vacates all public
buildings and resign. Pushilin wants an independence referendum by May
11. 

And Transdnistria's Russian leadership is calling for the annexation
by Russia of that region, which broke away from Moldova in  1992 and
has Russian  troops stationed in it.
  
inkwell.vue.476 : Sean Kay, The United States Confronts New Challenges in Ukraine and Russia
permalink #125 of 133: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Fri 18 Apr 14 11:53
    
Russian foreign minister Lavrov has also stated that Russia reserves
the right to send troops into Ukraine, though "we'd rather not do it."
  

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