Pay Attention


Read what Putin said. Watch what he does. Don’t play stupid.

On another note:

Last one:

I ran out of room in that last tweet so replace US Congress with Russian Parliament or Duma and you’ve got a winner from Slate.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • I found this article by Mary Mycio on Slate to be more useful than The New Yorker article. She outlines why it will be difficult for Russia to control the Crimea. The peninsula is arid and with little industry other than tourism. It is dependent for water and electricity from Ukraine across the isthmus. Both resources can easily be shut off, and as it is Crimea gets water only a few days a week. Stalin had ejected the Tatars from the Crimea and populated it with Russian soldiers. It is largely a home for retired military from the Russian army, but Ukraine has invited back 300,000 Tatars to resettle. They, along with a sizeable Muslim population, are not happy to be thrown into the Soviet Union redux.

    The question of who has how many battle tanks and fighter aircraft is important, especially at this early stage of a lightning takeover by paramilitary and actual Russian military travelling incognito. But in the long run, what we learned from Afghanistan and Iraq is that asymmetrical warfare can position a guerilla movement in at least a stalemate position against a traditional army. The three questions for Putin are, 1) how much of Ukraine must he take over to have control of electricity and water supplies for Crimea, 2) how does he protect the massive natural gas pipeline network in Ukraine that is Russia’s transmission mechanism for gas exports to Europe, and 3) what secret offensive and defensive strategies does the Russian army have at hand that will eliminate a guerilla/terrorist campaign by Muslims, Tatars, and Ukrainians, if things come to that?

    If he doesn’t have an answer to at least these questions, he and his army might not have enough time to improvise answers, especially when it comes to fighting a guerilla war, for which there might not be an answer.

    • I think you’ll find that it isn’t just a matter of the Crimean penninsula; that the entire eastern half of Ukraine, which is where almost all of the industry is, is heavily populated with Russian-speaking people who are more closely tied to Russia than they are to Europe. The Tartars/Muslims are about 10% of that population.

  • It is not clear from the New Yorker or any of the other essays how Russia will play this scenario out. What is clear is that the (now) ex-President was a kleptomaniac who kept himself pampered in the privileges of luxury. But, wait…do we not see in this New Yorker narrative some of the same excesses as the USA has in its Forbes 400 (or whatever the number); the so-called “golden toilet” indulgences found throughout Y’s compound? If his ouster is justified by headlining the self-granting of privileges that suggest a crooked leader, then what about all those items below noted and many, many more like the private zoo and how the list pretty well describes the Western billionaires’ toys as well. Read it and realize that if graft denied ordinary Ukranians fairness and shared prosperity, what does that list suggest the wealth imbalance in the West and USA in particular does to the American Middle Class with so much absurd trinkets of extreme wealth concentrated in the 1-to-5% here? So, some media in showing the Yanukovych princely appointments suggest that like Tito (and so many others) such people should be justifiably chased from office. Is the media also suggesting hedge fund managers and wildly over-compensated CEOs and other senior execs in the West should be treated similarly? Hardly; never to happen. Duh. They are ALL psychopaths who just never have enough irrespective of their impact on the vast bulk of the citizenry. It would just be lovely to see the connection made between Yanukovych the oligarch and our own mega-capitalists instead of the you-wouldn’t-find-such-excesses in the West.

    From the New Yorker piece:

    “Just a few days ago, this horrendous scenario of invasion and war, no matter how limited, seemed the farthest thing from nearly everyone’s mind in either Ukraine or Russia, much less the West. As it happens so often in these situations—from Tahrir Square to Taksim Square to Maidan Square—people were taken up with the thrill of uprising. After Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the coverage moved to what one might call the “golden toilet” stage of things, that moment when the freedom-hungry crowds discover the fallen leader’s arrangements and bountiful holdings—the golden bathroom fixtures; the paintings and the tapestries; the secret mistress; the lurid bedrooms and freezers stocked with sweetmeats; the surveillance videos and secret transcripts; the global real-estate holdings; the foreign bank accounts; the fleets of cars, yachts, and airplanes; the bad taste, the unknown cruelties.

  • Yanukovych has a record and did time in Soviet prisons for robbery and assault, and I’ve heard various comments about him using hard case prison slang in public speeches to impress as to what a serious, tough guy he is. Tons of people in powerful positions in the old USSR territories who are like slick-backed versions of the Russian Mob in behaviour or action – along with an endless trail of corruption.

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