Saturday, May 9, 2015

More in the Annals of Bad Saideman Predictions, Ukraine Edition

I wrote this last year with the, um, semi-accurate title: Why Crimea is Likely Limit of Greater Russia.  I basically argued that Greater Russia might not go much further than the annexation of Crimea, yet Russia's aggression continued with the influx of Russian forces into Eastern Ukraine to "support" the separatists there.  Ooops.  Guess I was wrong.

I asserted that Russian nationalists might not want to add hunks of Ukraine beyond Crimea because these hunks would be harder to digest as they are more diverse, would represent even further drain on the Russian economy, and so on.

How could I get this wrong?  Well, actually, I might not be.  Creating frozen conflicts to disturb, distract, and undermine neighbors ain't irredentism but is a frequently tactic in the Russian tool box: Abkhazia, Transnistria (opportunistic thanks to principal-agent problems in mid-1990s Russian military), South Ossetia.  As far as we can tell, Russia's aims towards Eastern Ukraine is not union/annexation but messing with Ukraine's stability.

Of course, this is cold comfort to Ukraine, but might provide the Baltics with a smidge of relief--that Russia may not be trying to re-create the old borders of Russia/Soviet Union pre-1991.  Putin may want to salami slice away at the Baltics, mostly to disrupt NATO, but that is a bit different than Russia borrowing from Saddam Hussein's 1990 strategy of overrunning their territories.

It is up to my readers to figure out if this is an artful artless dodge or a reasonable assessment of my prediction last winter. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the 20-odd years I've lived in Russia, I've never heard a Russian mention Crimea without mentioning that was always part of Russia and ended up in Ukraine thanks to some stupidity from Khruschev when Russia and Ukraine were part of the same country.

Russians have always considered Ukrainians to be basically the same as Russians, similar to the way many Americans think Canadians are the same. That is not true of the Baltics.