Friday, February 28, 2014

Instant Ukraine Reaction

Lots of news and speculation about Ukraine right now with Russian-looking troops appearing at two airports and other stuff going down.  It appears that Putin may be playing a similar strategy with Crimea as Russia did in Abkhazia and South Ossetia--provide troops and other muscle to a separatist effort that is pretty much designed in Moscow.  Lovely.

What can we do?  Not a whole lot.  When the US blustered a bit yesterday, I tweeted thusly:

NATO never made a commitment to defend Ukraine, which is a good thing since it would have been incredible... in the sense that it would not be believed.  I have long argued against NATO membership for either Georgia or Ukraine precisely because there would little that the US/NATO could do in a crisis such as this (plus the Georgians might just use the security implied by the alliance to provoke Russia).

So, we can and should give diplomacy a chance, especially with the Ukrainians seeking to make noise at the United Nations.  But with Russia as a permanent member of the Security Council, that is not going to go very far.

We simply do not have the assets or the interests to make much of a difference.  Yes, this will deeply impact relations with Russia.  Russia may find more balancing behavior by those near and far (Stephen Walt was right about "offensive intentions" no matter how hard that stuff is code).   The spirit of Sochi apparently didn't last that long, did it?

The big question now will be the usual one--who in Ukraine will be willing to use force: the Russians or Ukrainians?

The only thing for sure is that no one is being fooled by the "armed men" who may not have any flags on their uniforms and vehicles.

1 comment:

SAO said...

The vehicles have license plates, which conform to the format of Russian license plates for military vehicles. The license plates have region codes, for the ones I decoded, I got "North Caucasus Military Region" (why I think they were mobilized to protect Sochi).

You can get an app, Vse kody regionov that will decode the license plates of Russia and Ukraine. You need to put in vse kody regionov in Russian at the PlayStore, or translate "All Codes of Regions" into Russian and translate your results. It's doable since the results aren't essays.