Monday, March 03, 2014


"Military experts say the way Russia moved against its neighbour shows all the signs of an operation prepared meticulously over a number of weeks, with the participation of the FSB, the successor of the Soviet Union’s KGB security service, where Mr Putin and many of the most influential members of his administration started their careers. “You don’t whip up a military manoeuvre with 150,000 troops just like that. You don’t ship 2,000 air assault troops with all their equipment in a jiffy,” says Johan Lybeck, an economist who served as a military intelligence officer specialising in Russia in the Swedish armed forces during the cold war. “Note also that the Russian Black Sea Fleet has received support from the Baltic Fleet and after all it takes a few days to steam from there to here. This was all planned to take place just after the end of the Olympics in Sochi.” When unidentified armed men seized the building of the regional parliament in Crimea last week, there was little understanding what was happening. Only on Saturday morning did Moscow make things official. The government said it had assured Sergey Aksyonov, the Russia-friendly new regional prime minister appointed by the gunman-guarded parliament, of its support. Russia said he had asked for help following an attempt by gunmen sent from Kiev to seize the region’s interior ministry, an incident which local police and residents said never happened. Mr Putin swiftly proceeded to ask – and receive – parliamentary authorisation for deploying troops in Ukraine. Meanwhile, groups of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine organised protests against the central government. Sources familiar with the Russian security services and military believe that FSB agents have been working in Ukrainian cities for at least several weeks to prepare for what played out over this last weekend. “They probably played a role in setting up some of those pro-Russian militias in Crimea, and they certainly had a big hand in organising the pro-Russian demonstrations and anti-Maidan rallies,” says a foreign diplomat in Moscow who handles his country’s liaison with the Russian security services".
Kathrin Hille, "Russia watchers say military manoeuvre was long in the making". The Financial Times. 2 March 2014, in
"What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything happening in the senate? Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today. What laws can the senators make now? Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early, and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader. He has even prepared a scroll to give him, replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas? Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts, and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds? Why are they carrying elegant canes beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today and things like that dazzle the barbarians."
Constantine Cavafy, "Waiting for the Barbarians." Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherra. (1992).
The invasion and occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian forces, on purely spurious and bogus grounds akin (in their bogusness if nothing else) to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939, is without a doubt the greatest crisis, in geopolitical terms in Europe in the twentieth-first century (the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, does not count inasmuch as: a) it was a war between a giant power and a pigmy; b) it was fought outside of Europe, strictly speaking). A crisis, which shows up, once again that not only the European Union has the diplomacy of a eunuch, but even the Americans, who should know better have barely shown themselves much better, empty rhetoric aside. Something which the able, but long-winded American Secretary of State, Senator Kerry seems to be past-master of. The facts of what occurred, post-facto as related in the Financial Times, speaks for themselves. Much if not all of events that we have witnessed in the past week, were all orchestrated by Moskva. Putin, baulked in his bid to have the entire Ukraine fall into his lap as a vassal state, endeavored to grab as much as the rest of the country as possible. First Crimea, then perhaps parts of the mostly Russian-speaking East as some future point in time. Having of course carte blanche with Saturday's decision by the Russian upper house of parliament to give Putin the power to employ troops in the entirety of the country. At that point in time of course, if Russian forces did indeed try to invade the rest of the country, it could very well be that Ukrainian forces will resist causing the commencement of a full-scale, bloody and perfectly needless military conflict. What is to be done to be done to avoid this potentially catastrophic event? Simple: the time for appeasement, the time of soft words and the wagging of fingers in the direction of Moskva has to come to an end. The time has arrived for a policy of deeds and not mere words. To clearly and openly show Grazhdanin Putin that while he may indeed have grabbed Crimea he will find holding it, a difficult and expensive proposition. The Western powers should: i) move troops (not American troops obviously) to positions in the Baltic states, to and to the eastern borders of Poland; ii) a sizeable military assistance package, with a large scale military assistance advisory team to match, should be dispatched to Kyiv immediately; iii) Ukraine should be given all the special intelligence on Russian troop movements and signals intelligence that it might need; iv) Russia should be suspended from the G-8 summits; v) a wide sway of Russian officialdom, and pro-regime businessman and individuals should be banned from traveling to Western Countries; vi) assets of as many Russian companies and individuals should be seized and frozen. With the concomitant trade sanctions enforced; vii) Ukraine should be given a very large aid package (thirty to forty billion dollars) and admitted to a special status programme with the European Union; viii) Georgia should be admitted to NATO, as should Moldova. Finally, the Americans & NATO should now proceed to install in both Slovakia and Poland parts of its missile shield programme. In short, Matushka Russia should be made to, pay very heavily for its Crimean folly. Will the Western powers, especially the Europeans have the will to follow through on the above type of policy? I for one am not in the least hopeful as my many recent remarks on the subject have seem to show. As the American analyst Tim Judah, has written just yesterday:
"Putin’s inner circle no longer fear the European establishment. They once imagined them all in MI6. Now they know better. They have seen firsthand how obsequious Western aristocrats and corporate tycoons suddenly turn when their billions come into play. They now view them as hypocrites—the same European elites who help them hide their fortunes. Once Russia’s powerful listened when European embassies issued statements denouncing the baroque corruption of Russian state companies. But no more. Because they know full well it is European bankers, businessmen and lawyers who do the dirty work for them placing the proceeds of corruption in hideouts from the Dutch Antilles to the British Virgin Islands. We are not talking big money. But very big money. None other than Putin’s Central Bank has estimated that two thirds of the $56 billion exiting Russia in 2012 might be traceable to illegal activities. Crimes like kickbacks, drug money or tax fraud. This is the money that posh English bankers are rolling out the red carpet for in London. Behind European corruption, Russia sees American weakness. 1 ".
One may hope, but one should not be very optimistic on this score. With I am afraid very dangerous consequences for European stability to follow on the folly and greed of the Western powers.
1. Ben Judah, "Why Russia No Longer Fears the West." Politico. 2 March 2014, in; See also: Nick Robinson, "Ukraine: UK rules out Russia trade curbs?" The BBC. 3 March 2014, in


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