Why Putin Will Get Everything He Wants in Crimea

Not strictly speaking arms control law related – though obviously everything is interconnected – my dad apprised me of an article that I do think pretty well sums up the international relations situation relative to Russia’s activity in Crimea. See it here.

My favorite quote from the article, which I think is spot on in its assessment, is this:

When it comes down to it, the few diplomatic carrots that the West is willing to offer or withhold from Russia have only as much value as Putin is willing to assign them. His ability to not give a shit exceeds the West’s capacity to do anything he gives a shit about. The fact is that Russia cares a lot more about Crimea than anybody else does — except for Ukraine.

I’ve thought from the beginning that there are very few levers that the US and the West realistically can pull, and even fewer that they prudentially should pull, to influence Russia on these facts. It’s for this reason that I have thought from the beginning that the US and the West should mostly stay out of this situation. There is no genocide or other mass violation of human rights occurring that might morally demand our involvement. This is just a power play by a state that, in that region, is by far the most powerful actor. It is indeed the 2008 Georgia situation all over again. Like then, we have known from the start that we will not choose to match power with power on the ground in order to deter Russia from doing what it wants. And as the article points out, having a working relationship with Russia is too important to too many other things that we might actually, realistically accomplish for good in the world, to risk weakening it on this issue.

As I’ve said before, prudent and effective foreign policy requires knowing what cards you have to play, and playing them in the smartest way possible. Overplaying your hand is a mark of bad foreign policy, and is something that the US does not infrequently.

(* * Just a quick disclaimer to say that my approval of the main thrust of this article does not extend to its description of the details of the Iran situation * *)


11 Comments on “Why Putin Will Get Everything He Wants in Crimea”

  1. Don Bacon says:

    This time is different (from Georgia). The US State Department, mainly in the person of necon Victoria Nuland, using violence and subterfuge has managed to install a neo-fascist cabal as the “government” in Kyev.

    Russia under Kruschev gave Crimea to Ukraine fifty years ago with the understanding that it would keep its warm-water port and its now autonomous province of Crimea tied to Russia. The new cabal in Kyev threatens that key security interest of Russia.

    Crimea will go to Russia, probably. The big question is what will happen in the eastern/southern parts of Ukraine, which are industrialized with a large ethnic Russian population, given that the US-installed Kyev cabal is anti-Russia (and anti-Jew, etc.).

    So the US has initially gotten its way, but yes, Putin holds four aces in this matter and the US has no good options. You don’t play nice with others, you get burned.

  2. yousaf says:

    Very similar thesis as to Steve Walt’s: US/NATO/EU is confusing its power with interests (“giving a shit” etc.):


    NATO has lots of power but little interest in Crimea. Russia has significant power and a lot of interest.

    and see:




    Also why the new govt is probably worse than the one illegally toppled:


    for insightful overview, hard to beat:


    and deep-dive:



    Bottom line USG officials like Victoria Nuland should be more careful before handing out sweets in protests against governments legally elected, no matter how repulsive to the West. The guy had 12 months left before fresh elections — would it have been possible just to wait and vote him out of office?

    BTW, does anyone have deep insight into the workings of the National Endowment for Democracy?

    • Don Bacon says:

      The NED was created in 1983 by Congress “to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts and now has a presence in more than 100 countries.”

      The US uses the tax-exempt NED to overthrow governments. Here is an article on the “Arab Spring.”
      A timeline & history: One year into the engineered “Arab Spring,” one step closer to global hegemony.

      The US government version–
      When the Arab uprisings erupted across the region in early 2011, the NED quickly shifted its focus [sic] toward supporting political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The NED was also one of the first donors to fund the establishment of civil society organizations in Benghazi once Libyan opposition and the Transitional National Council had taken control of the city.

      Click to access FY2013-Budget-Report-web.pdf

      A Philip Giraldi article–
      Uncle NED Comes Calling

      The NED was a supporter of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the new “Prime Minister” of Ukraine, as seen here in a photo of “Yats” (as State’s Nuland referred to him in Nuland’s infamous F**k the EU intercepted cell phone call)– (Yats on R., with two other thugs)

      and as seen here
      Open Ukraine — Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation

      Nuland herself claimed in December that the US had spent $5 billion since the 1990s on “democratization” programs in Ukraine.

      • yousaf says:

        Thank you. Great.

      • Don Bacon says:

        Here’s Oleh Tyahnybok, the guy on the left in the above photo with neocon Nuland, in a more formal pose.

        and here’s a photo of Senator McCain with Yats and the fasciist thug Tyahnybok.

        Tyahnybok heads the Svoboda Party in Ukraine, which was censured recently by the European Parliament–

        The European Parliament. . .Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party;

  3. Johnboy says:

    Yes, the article (and especially that quote) sums it up pretty well.

    Which begs the question: what was a State Dept flunky like Victoria Nuland doing sticking her nose into this business from The Very Beginning?

    Is the USA so ego-centric that it thought that Uncle Sam – and only Uncle Sam – gets to act, while everyone else just sits on the sidelines and gapes in amazement at all the action?

    Here is a Bear.

    It’s not a teddy-bear: it’s very obviously one of those big, mean, rip-you-limb-from-limb kinda bear.

    Oh, goodie, here’s a stick lying next to that bear.

    Give the stick to Nuland, she’ll know exactly what to do with it…….

    What a brilliant idea. Utterly fan-f**king-tastic, Vicky.

    And here’s your report card for your last assignment: even the (f**k the) EU could have handled this better.

  4. yousaf says:

    Putin aint crazy — there are good reasons to suspect NATO/EU/USG:


  5. Don Bacon says:

    Putin of course disagrees that NATO ships should replace Russian Navy ships at the black Sea port of Sevastopol. That’s not crazy by any measure.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    Ukraine nuclear map. (It gave up its nukes in 1996.)

  7. yousaf says:

    Linking Ukraine aid to Iran sanctions? — only the US Congress can come up with such master-strokes of Foreign Policy:


    Meanwhile State is busy also floating Georgia-joining-NATO balloon:


    A colleague pointed out this piece showing private & govt srcs of funds backing Ukranian coup:


    This appears to be getting interesting — will P5+1 survive?

  8. Don Bacon says:

    Game, set, match to Putin (prospectively). The USA has agreed to Russian terms of settlement, including “constitutional reform” which includes a federalized, neutral Ukraine “while taking into the account the interests of all regions of Ukraine.”

    But the neo-Nazis in Kyev (also McCain is there) haven’t been a part of this. Perhaps the visiting US senate delegation under McCain will convince them? Not.

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