Friday, October 24, 2014
28

Putin’s Kampf

BRUSSELS – Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction.

In Western capitals, the response so far has been mixed. The punishments being considered – expulsion from the G-8, for example – would be laughable were the threat to Europe’s peace not so grave. Putin regards the breakup of the Soviet Union as the greatest catastrophe of modern times, and he has sought relentlessly to refashion Russia’s lost empire. If the West intends to be taken seriously, it needs to act as decisively as Putin has.

Putin’s many successes in his imperial project have come virtually without cost. His Eurasian Economic Community has corralled energy-rich states like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan into Russia’s camp. Georgia was dismembered in 2008. Armenia’s government was bullied into spurning the European Union’s offer of an Association Agreement.

Now the greatest geostrategic prize of all – Ukraine – may fall into Putin’s hands. Russia without Ukraine, former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, “ceases to be an empire, but Russia with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” And, because the vast majority of Ukrainians have no desire to join Putin’s empire, we can be certain that the state Putin will lead from this point on will be a highly militarized one, rather like the Soviet Union but without the ruling Communist Party.

Given the scale of Putin’s adventurism, the world’s response must be commensurate. Canceled summits, trade deals, or membership in diplomatic talking shops like the G-8 are not enough. Only actions that impose tangible economic sanctions that affect Russian citizens – who, after all, have voted Putin into power time and again – offer any hope of steering the Kremlin away from its expansionist course.

Which sanctions might work? First, Turkey should close the Dardanelles to Russian shipping, as it did after the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Back then, Turkey closed access to the Black Sea to prevent the US from intervening, though the US, it is now clear, had no intention of doing so. Today, it should close the Turkish straits not only to Russian warships, but to all commercial vessels bound for Russia’s Black Sea ports. The impact on Russia’s economy – and on Putin’s military pretensions – would be considerable.

Turkey is permitted to close the Dardanelles under a 1982 amendment to the 1936 Montreux Convention. Indeed, Turkey could turn Putin’s justification for seizing Crimea – that he is protecting ethnic Russians there – against him, by arguing that it is protecting its Turkic Tatar kin, who, given Russia’s ill treatment of them in the past, are anxious to remain under Ukrainian rule.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu turned his plane around in mid-air this week to fly to Kyiv to offer support to the new interim government. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, no pushover himself, as Putin well knows, should follow up on that gesture of support by immediately closing the straits to Russian shipping – until Putin recalls all troops in Crimea to their Sevastopol bases or to Russia proper. And Turkey should be offered an Article 5 guarantee from NATO should Russia seek to intimidate it.

Second, US President Barack Obama should impose the type of financial sanctions on Russia that he has imposed on Iran for its nuclear program. Those sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy. Similarly, denying any bank that does business with a Russian bank or company access to the US financial system would create the kind of economic chaos last seen in Russia immediately after the fall of Communism. Ordinary Russians should be made to understand that permitting Putin – whose primary claim to leadership is that he ended the penury of the first post-Soviet years – to continue with his imperialist aggression will cost them dearly.

Third, Obama should emphasize to the Chinese their stake in Eurasian stability. Putin may regard the Soviet Union’s disintegration as a tragedy, but for China it was the greatest geostrategic gift imaginable. At a stroke, the empire that stole millions of hectares of Chinese territory over the centuries, and that threatened the People’s Republic with nuclear annihilation, simply vanished.

Since then, Central Asia’s independent states, and even Ukraine, have become important trading partners for China. Russia’s conquests in Georgia greatly displeased China, as was seen at the post-war summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (a regional grouping that includes ex-Soviet countries that share borders with China and Russia). Russia pushed the SCO to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But the SCO balked. The group’s Central Asian members – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – would not have stood up to the Kremlin without China’s support.

Today, however, Chinese President Xi Jinping may need to be less cryptic in his response to Putin’s adventurism. Indeed, the real test of China’s claim that it is a responsible stakeholder in the world community will come soon at the United Nations. Will it back Putin’s clear flouting of international law, or will it back Ukraine’s territorial integrity?

There are other possible punitive measures. Visas can be denied and canceled for all Russian officials. Assets can be frozen, particularly those laundered by oligarchs close to Putin. Only when the pain becomes intolerable, particularly for the elite, will Putin’s kampf be defeated.

The cost of inaction is high. Countless countries, from Japan to Israel, rely on America’s commitment to act robustly against grave breaches of the peace. Moreover, when Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons in 1994, it did so with the express understanding that the US (and the United Kingdom, France, and Russia) would guarantee its territorial integrity. Should Crimea be annexed, no one should gainsay Ukraine if it rapidly re-nuclearized its defense (which it retains the technological capacity to do).

When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.

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  1. Commentedtemesgen abate

    for all intents and purpose,Ukraine is a FAILED STATE.in an interview with Al Jazeera, i found Tymoshenko slippery .she latched the fate of the bankrupt regime in Kiev to some Manichean struggle in geopolitics.she heaped the onus on the guarantors of the Budapest memorandum. i grew up with ``Mogadishu syndrome``. Somalia`s recluse fate since then made it a ``vortex of dark matters`` of sorts.it became an abode of diverse ``islamofascist`` groups.but Russia could arrest EARLY ON the ``inevitable`` slide of its neighbor to such an abyss and a cleavage in sectarian violence.

  2. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    What a shame that a member of a foreign affairs committee uses nazi comparisons. I don't see why the EU should mind Russia to take control on Crimea. In fact a ethnic simplification of remaining Ukraine and a russophob sentiment perfectly plays into European interests in the region.

    But speaking of history I doubt the reading that the seizure of Sudetenland was politically wrong of Chamberlain, given that the Czech state was only an artificial part of an unsustainable after war order of the Austrian empire.

    With Putin the West didn"t respect agreements not to expand NATO over the iron curtain. Now we meddle in their neighbourhood and that quite successful. Give him Crimea and East Ukraine, win West Ukraine for Europe.

  3. CommentedOksana Panchuk

    What is the role of the EU in regards to the Ukrainian crisis? There are certain mechanisms, which might be considered and could be used effectively.

  4. CommentedMazhar Can

    A very provocative article full of warmongering. Most of the ideas enlisted are mere wishful thinking. The Crimea incident once again laid bare the fact the EU has become short of any leverage in handling an international crisis even at her door.

  5. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Charles,

    I'm afraid that any comparisons to the Nazi invasion of the Sudentland is quite over the top, old boy.

    It is transparently known that the U.S. and Europe, for their own ends, have been working to pry Ukraine away from Russian and middle Asia influence and commerce since the end of the Cold War -- and have spent billions doing so.

    One of those ends being, the geopolitical weakening of Russia (an incomparably short-sighted policy game) and another end being the enrichment of European status and territory.

    "Ukraine, give us all your money and we'll protect you -- before Russia can rob you and protect you." -- Signed, the West.

    It IS a game, as I said above, because Russia has not threatened Europe or the U.S. since the founding of the Russian Federation in the late 20th century.

    If Russia had been threatening the West, then it wouldn't be a game, it would be a direct challenge to the Western democracies. But that is not the case.

    Russian leader, Vlad Putin, is simply and profoundly accomplishing two things; One, he is protecting the Russian Crimean people, who seem to genuinely want to be protected and sheltered by Russia and; Two, he has 'outed' the West's plan to stealthily take Ukraine into Europe as part of a larger plan to weaken Russia by (eventually) denying them use of the Black Sea and the Dardanelles.

    It is Cold War era thinking, at best (encircling and strangling the Russian bear) and a reckless provocation, at worst.

    If Vlad Putin carefully manages this, Russia will come out slightly ahead of the West on this one.

    He will have solidified Russian interests in Crimea, it will become part of Russia, the people there will appreciate Russia, and speak openly in the years to come, against the West's plot to take Ukraine by stealth. Also, other parts of Ukraine with substantial Russian-speaking and common Russian culture will appeal to Putin to protect their interests as well. And, he might just do that too.

    The sooner that the Cold War policy set move-on in both the Western democracies and in Russia, the better for everyone. It was a MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) world then, and we should not regress toward that end.

    Because I'm a Westerner and want the West to do as well as is possible to do given the present situation, I would urge our leaders in North America and in Europe, to go softly on the whole Ukraine/Crimean situation, as we are not lily-white clean to start with -- and Vlad Putin is merely doing what we would do, if a similar situation occurred in our hemisphere.

    Cheers, JBS


  6. Commentedsilvio starosta

    From Afganistan on ,all adventures all posible.
    Europe and USA are political dwarfs, Europe since his shameless attitude on Balkans tragedy.
    None of them are free to have a single dead in a conflict, against their public opinion.
    The era of interventions is over, finnish.
    Now the the new protagonists are DRONES-
    This will bring a change. more coward collateral effects everyhere.
    I think that Putin knows very weell his "non limits".
    After this, let me tell that , in the Kiev epysodes and what we are seeing now, things are absolute confuse, Extremists and outsiders are there in the field, ? who support who ?.
    I dont't like Yanukovich, and neither the "paramilitars" or bands of violent extreme right militias.
    Each day we are in presence of absolute economic influence in
    every conflict, is a monopoly.
    Ideology and Politics are absent.
    everithing are submitted to the financial capitalism, that will destroy all the best values before their own auto destruction.
    Nothing will happent in Crimea,-
    I'm tired to go to the theater without knowing who really write the play.

  7. Commentedj. von Hettlingen

    Mr. Tannock compares "Russia's seizure of Crimea" to Nazi Germany's invasion of Sudetenland in 1938. What is so ironic is that President Putin describes the recent development in Ukraine that led to the fall of President Yanukovich's pro-Russian regime as "spread of fascism", although he himself de facto is copying Hitler's quest.
    Mr. Tannock seems to liken President Obama's handling of Syria and Ukraine to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement in the 1930s, by giving Hitler what he wanted to stop him from going to war.
    Indeed parallels can be drawn between the Germans living in the border areas of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, who demanded a union with Hitler's Germany. Today disgruntled ethnic Russians in Crimea urge for a re-incorporation of their territory into the Russian Federation
    The Czechs refused to part with Sudentenland. Hitler threatened war. On 30 September, 1938 in the Munich Agreement - without asking Czechoslovakia - Britain and France gave the Sudetenland to Germany.
    There is no fear that the West will give Crimea to Russia, as Ukraine's territorial integrity is guaranteed by the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. It supports the new government in Kiev to stand its ground. In response Russian troops take over Crimea. The Kremlin is hoping that the situation in Eastern Ukraine gets out of control to justify another invasion.
    Chamberlain was determined to avert another war after having been through World War One. He believed by appeasing Hitler he had assured 'peace for our time'. However in March 1939 Hitler annexed the rest of the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia, with Slovakia becoming a puppet state of Germany. In September 1939 Hitler's forces invaded Poland. Chamberlain responded with a British declaration of war on Germany.
    Obama wants to steer his country ouf of military conflicts after two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing any involvement could morph into a nonstarter. He is seeking diplomatic and economic means to punish Putin, who might get away with impunity after annexing Crimea. For Russia, a weak Ukraine offers them the opportunity to recapture Crimea, which had been part of Imperial Russia since Catherine the Great. It was only due to a twist of fate that it was handed over to Ukraine in 1954, by Nikita Khrushchev.
    As Mr. Tannock has mentioned, the West has a wide range of options to teach Putin a lesson. The abrupt fall of the Russian ruble and the index of the Moscow Stock Exchange is an indication that Russia's economy is vulnearble to crisis. Putin enjoys support due to economic growth. If Russia descends into a recession, he knows what will hapen.

  8. Commentedtemesgen abate

    it is bemusing watching the struts and furies on the media by guarantors of the Budapest memorandum which hedged the Ukrainian independence. the Crimean incident found the grandstands superfluous.

  9. CommentedEdward Ponderer

    It is a complicated game of minorities within minorities, goals and antagonisms, and exploitation on many levels--and a cast of supposed heroes ready to become the next generation of devils--if not the old guard in sheep's clothing already.

    We are in an integrating world, and matters are not as simple (relatively speaking), as in the world of the mid-twentieth century. --Perhaps Europe could simply pay the Ukraine's gas bill to Russia and eliminate that pressure again Ukrainian resistance. Or perhaps we can just all default our bills? We all know the economic problems that national ego games in Europe and elsewhere are causing--and the deeper game of protection of portfolios rising above any concern for the common person on the street.

    There are vast interconnections and consequences for all in our world.

    We really want to rethink the whole picture--get the pieces to connect and multi-pole correct from bottom up, top-down, and across. This will take and emphasis on mutual respect and mutual responsibility. And it going to taking a deep education from within the midst of the present spring trap at higher and lower levels to say. Better we live with each other than we don't live. And then, like a family in a discussion about the dinner table, we openly, honestly discuss whose needs are the greatest, most immediate--what should we really emphasize, and in what true form must we really compromise.

    The parts of the whole who hear must immediately awaken to this. And those still asleep, we can cajole a bit from the sidelines--but when the pain is enough, they'll awaken.

  10. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    Unfortunately for western societies we truly reached the "king without clothes" moment.
    The western bubble is not only close to bursting but has already burst.
    While nicely groomed, "highly educated" and enlightened western politicians are making 'beautiful speeches, using "high rhetoric", sometimes even "scarily threatening" rogue leaders of "developing, or lower level" countries, always keeping their eyes on public polls and listening what CNN and other media says about them, others don't speak, they simply act swiftly and convincingly protecting their self-interest, according to their subjective individualistic, nationalistic vision.
    Additionally while Russian troops are pouring into Crimea, the western public has been more occupied with the Oscars, or the latest sports news, or the usual sexual problems occupying front pages...
    Angela Merkel reportedly asked Obama according to the Daily Telegraph if Putin has lost his grip with reality. I think it is the other way around, we in the western world have lost our grip with reality, we went so deep into this artificial bubble we created that we completely lost our footing.
    I am not saying that what Russia is doing is right, I am not saying China's behaviour with its neighbours is right, I am not saying Israel is right if they decide to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, and any of the Middle East states are right acting as they see fit, and so on, but at least those countries, leaders are still standing with two feet on the ground, in the real world, accepting, even ignoring if they are labelled "bad guys", they try to do the best for themselves according to their self-calculating, subjective world-view.
    Of course in a global world, if everybody only does what they think is good for them regardless of the wider consequences will inevitably lead to disaster.
    But at the moment they have nobody to stop them, to negotiate with, when Kerry or other western politicians strut around "offering their brokering" they think they are in a Hollywood movie, leading others towards a happy ending with totally unrealistic 'scripts", peace proposals.
    In a global world we can only solve problems in an equal, mutual way, since we are all interconnected and interdependent.
    But for that we need equal partners, all standing with two feet on the ground, knowing who we are, accepting that all of us are dirty, sweaty, selfish and egoistic, we all only care for ourselves, "my knife is on your throat and your knife is on my throat, but since we are all on the same sinking boat, let us sit down and start talking".
    Only when we each throw out political correctness, sneaky, covert remote controlled manipulation of others, and stand in the ring man to man, can we work out how to rise above our mutual rejection, mutual hatred and find a common point we can build on in order to avert impending global catastrophe.
    The differences will never disappear, but if we all aim for a common purpose we can cooperate above them.

  11. CommentedMark Herlihy

    How much does the Kremlin pay the trolls who leave the pro-Putin comments on every story about Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine that appears on a serious website?

  12. CommentedRichard Prins

    It doesn't take much effort to see through the false rhetoric of this Mr. Tannock, Tory representative of that other great center of global financialization, aside from Wall Street.

    No reference to the five billion dollars that was used for the Ukraine's opposition to destabilize Ukraine as professed by Mrs. Victoria "eF-The-EU!" Nuland under the guise of "promoting democracy". We are to believe this aggression again comes out of the blue?

    Instead we get another one of those facile references to Hitler (there's always another enemy waiting to be demonized under the guise of screaming appeasement! It wouldn't surprise me if Mr. Tannock used the same argument, while of course foaming at the mouth, about the impending doom from Islamofascists to Europe), as well as once again feeling the need to offer (financial) bullying to others, should they not comply with the dominant narrative (usually set out the US and it's all-too-obedient-poodle, the UK).

    People are all too familiar with their high-minded rhetoric. One only needs to look at the recent history to see them in action. Whether it was in Iraq and Afghanistan (international law & sovereignty, you say?) or with their adventures as brothers in spying (NSA, GCHQ).

    Right-wing "defenders of democracy" like Mr. Tannock are in no position to lecture anyone, let alone should they be in a foreign affairs committee of the EuroParliament. Surely, there are far more capable and brighter minds available for such posts.

  13. CommentedAndrei Sandberg

    Has politics entered Project Syndicate?

      CommentedAndrei Sandberg

      One can't help seeing that some politicians use this normally very informative website to pursue their own agenda. One might ask this before an EU election. It would be preferable to keep this in mind in the future. Thank You and with all due respect to Mr. Tannock.

  14. CommentedPavlos Papageorgiou

    Somehow I doubt it. Russia will annex Crimea and that will be that, as it is a de-facto Russian naval base. It's not in any power's interests to stop that. Blocking the black sea, on the other hand, is likely to lead to war.

    The west can bargain in much more subdued tones, offering Russia continued access to trade in exchange for Ukraine's (ex Crimea) continued independence. Even a trade war is costly and not something the EU will enter lightly.

  15. CommentedROBERT BAESEMANN

    I know next to nothing about Russia or the Ukraine, but I do know that I do not want my sons or anyone's sons and daughters fighting a conventional war in Eastern Europe and Russia. What I would like is a hard nosed accounting of the rights and privileges of Russian speaking Crimeans and Russian citizens residing in Crimea. War on behalf of people who speak a different language, practice a different religion, or maintain citizenship in a different country seems to have plagued my generation. For example, I recall war in Vietnam to protect French speaking Catholics who resided in the south, war in Ireland over the rights of Protestants residing in a Catholic country, and ware in the middle east over the rights of Muslims in Hebrew speaking country where Judaism is the national religion. What I am concerned about here is that Putin does not appear to have any evidence that people in Crimea need the protection of the Russian military. There was substance to the notion that South Vietnamese French speaking Catholics were at odds with North Vietnamese Buddhists. As far as I can tell, there is no such problem in the Ukraine.

    Until recently, Russia was the third largest exporter of grain. Now the Ukraine is the world's largest exporter of grain because drought has caused Russian crop failures. This seems to suggest Putin is motivated by plain old greed which he thinks he can satisfy by force. This really worries me.

  16. CommentedHassan Rizwan

    Mr. Tannock speaks of the developments in Ukraine in hyperbolic terms. It would be comical to act on any of the suggestions made him. The West has heavy baggage on its shoulders in the backdrop of Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the last decade. It simply cannot act with unbending stance against Russia. The only option left here is to act with patience and attempt to do damage control. Europe / US should have been careful before supporting the coup in Ukraine.

  17. CommentedAlexander Shilyaev

    It's just inconceivable how stupid the article is and how wise commentaries are. Readers have shown much more confidence in what is happening in Ukraine and in Russia's govt logic of actions than a member of the European parliament. Unthinkable ignorance!

  18. CommentedRoger McKinney

    A tit-for-tat strategy is great for children, but makes for bad diplomacy. We need to discover Putin's concerns and try to help alleviate them. The idea that Putin is Hitler in 1938 is stupid and arrogant. As others have mentioned, the West has plenty of aggression to answer for in the past two decades. The US attacks on Serbia and invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan set a dangerous precedent.

    There is not government in the Ukraine. The government that was overthrown in a coup was legitimately elected in just 2010 in an election certified by the US and Western Europe. That government offered early elections to the protestors, but they refused and resorted to armed violence. Those occupying Kiev are nothing but armed thugs with no legitimacy.

    The US needs to let Russia control Ukraine until it can hold new elections.

  19. CommentedWilliam John

    ..."most naked example of peacetime aggression" in Europe since 1938? This overlooks the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) from 24 March to 10 June 1999 - perhaps a precedent?

  20. Commentedchale espinosa

    Remember Chamberlains visit Hitler in WWII . Are we on the brink of another war to end all wars. Hope not.

  21. CommentedRichard Potter

    Let's see, is this the same Europe that has continued to slash its defense budgets, year after year, despite US entreaties? Remember what Stalin said when he was told that the Pope was upset with his expansionism? He said, "How many divisions does the Pope have?". I suspect Putin has the same perspective about NATO and the EU at this moment.

    Oh, and let's not forget that, since Pakistan has shown itself to be utterly unreliable with respect to maintaining US supply lines in and out of Afghanistan, Russia has the ONLY safe route out for the withdrawal of our military and its equipment in Afghanistan. That's more leverage than NATO or the EU has, frankly.

    Turkey close the Dardanelles? Watch the Black Sea fleet put to sea and force the issue, all to Putin's advantage. And, if shots are exchanged between Russia and Turkey, how many NATO troops will be airlifted in to support Turkey--none! It is laughable that the EU--which has kept Turkish membership at bay for years--now wants Turkey to carry its water.

    Game over: Putin, game, set and match.

  22. CommentedEric Saunders

    The propaganda at the site is hilarious. Who is this stuff aimed at? Credulous middle-brow liberals who are not wise to US imperialism? Why don't we just go read New Republic or Foreign Policy or the NY Times? This stuff is really only useful for seeing what the lies are.

  23. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    1. US should sent an air carrier to the North Sea and the Mediterranean.
    2. West should supply air surveillance capabilities to Ukraine.
    3. West should be prepared to surrender the Krim to Russia.
    4. Watch Steinmeier, he knows how to talk with Russia.

  24. CommentedMK Anon

    it's good to be threatening, as Mr Tannock does. But in the end, let's not forget Russia has the gas Europe needs, and that it is way more powerfull than Iran on many aspects. It's also an important export market for the western economies.
    A deal must be reached.

  25. CommentedPaul Daley

    This is comical. A lot of advice on what Turkey, the United States and China should do to defend a poorly thought-out and poorly executed EU plan for expansion. The EU has to learn to deal more effectively with major powers on its borders. It can't encourage coups and then call on others to defend those coups.

    The EU should talk to Russia immediately about arrangements for nationwide elections in the Ukraine. If Russia refuses to support such elections, we can talk about further steps. But, for now, let's see what can be done peacefully to develop a government in the Ukraine that everyone can live with.

  26. Commentedhari naidu

    This is a provocative piece of cold war rhetoric's which may or may not belong to 21st century politics of globalization. However it’s coming from a Conservative (UK) MEP with knowledge and background of Ukraine’s denuclearization in 1994…and more.

    First, Obama/Kerry are not strategically prepared to isolate Russia, right now, when Syria and Iran loom large on global diplomatic agenda - as part of Obama’s legacy. Putin’s Russia has been Kerry’s bête noire - ever since Obama abruptly rescinded bombing Syria – because Syria & Iranian cases cannot be resolved without Putin’s acquiescence. So what kind of strategic policy quid-pro-quo is going to be in play right now that Putin has moved his military assets to occupy Ukraine’s Crimea – and will he stop in Crimea?

    Second, when UNSC heard the principal parties in open session. China didn’t speak. Why? People’s Daily is reporting on events in Ukraine objectively – i.e. not taking Putin’s side. Also note Putin’s Eurasian Economic Community (i.e. customs union) proposal includes former members of Russia’s Central Asia (bordering mainland China) and China. If this strategic counter-action against EU & NATO expansion to Russian boarder's is realized by Putin, it will inevitably (have to) include Ukraine because Crimea will be its trading and shipping outpost. But will China relent to Putin’s plans?

    Third, Germany is unlikely to support any protracted military action against Russian occupation in Crimea. Berlin will focus fundamentally on its historical knowledge of Russian neighbor and its current supply of natural gas to Germany and rest of EU. Therefore Berlin’s direct diplomatic negotiations with Putin will focus on finding a compromise solution to Russian military occupation of Crimea. But Putin has the strategic/political leverage and there will have be mutual compromise to satisfy Russian national and security interest.

    Fourth, it’s also likely to force EU, US & IMF to come to the financial rescue of Kiev’s depleted treasury and, thereby, reinforce Ukrainian association with EU. There won’t be any substantial economic sanctions against Russia, as suggested by the MEP, because it’d be counterproductive to resolving the conflict in the Crimea.

    Finally, this is a master chess move by Putin to reassert Russia’s strategic national interest in the Crimea - after the fall of Yanukovich in Kiev – and thereby establish his Eurasian Economic Community.

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