Montana Politics

Updated facts about the Crimea:

The situation in Crimea has changed. Much of what I said earlier has become invalid, and several people have been asking my opinion. A new situation is quite clear:

1. Russia’s occupation is no longer within legal bounds. Either they are violating it by sending in troops with no identifying insignia, or else they have a responsibility to defend Ukrainian sovereignty against these illegally armed and unidentified men, under their 1994 and 1997 agreements with Ukraine.

2. The planned referendum on Crimea is not legally binding in the least. Undertaking a referendum while foreign soldiers and heavily armed, unidentified men control the territory is nowhere close to meeting internationally established criteria for a binding plebiscite. Moreover, a plebiscite on joining Russia is a very different thing than a referendum on independence – the Kosovo analogy breaks down on that point. If Russia persists in recognizing it as legitimate and the results as valid, they will be in an inarguable violation of their treaty obligations and the ideology of sovereignty they espoused right up until their invasion of Georgia. Indeed, the US and UK have an obligation as well to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity – we also signed the Budapest Memorandum as nuclear powers encouraging Ukraine to give up its own deterrent.

3. Legality notwithstanding, Ukraine ignores the results of this referendum at its own peril. Ukraine has only a legal right to the territory – if the population wants to leave, and Ukraine cannot militarily hold Crimea, the legality is really a moot point.
My personal opinion is that Russia deserves whatever sanctions they get, and more – they have utterly trampled on international law and their own legal commitments. However, if Ukraine can allow Crimea to go peacefully to Russia or to independence and maintain the rest of its borders, that’s their best option. In pulling Crimea and potentially Donetsk away from Ukraine, Russia is winning the battle but admitting they’ve lost the war – if they thought they could bring Ukraine back to the fold, they wouldn’t remove a million Russians from the Ukrainian electorate.
As for what the US and EU can do – while some liberals choose to believe that our money there accomplishes nothing, this is clearly false. If Ukraine can avoid a debt crisis and maintain the trade favors being offered by the EU, they may well move towards resembling Poland or Lithuania. And a Ukraine that has a Polish standard of living without the Crimea is far better off than one with a Russian standard of living with Crimea.

NOTE: What follows will not illuminate anything about the Ukraine.

I should clear one thing up. I do not support using covert means to destabilize elected governments that continue to hold free and fair elections. This is not the situation in Ukraine – though Yanukovych was elected in a fair election (when his opponents were running the show), he himself has yet to run one. Moreover, while I believe wholeheartedly in supporting non-violent demonstrations against those who run false elections, to the extent that the CIA or other US government agencies were involved what has happened in Ukraine, I think the risk was far too great to justify, and I will stand by that assessment even if the situation ends peacefully. This position of mine is not new – my initial post about Ukraine, before anything happened in the Crimea, maintained the same position, as have all of my comments. Those who claim or imply otherwise, including those who would do so by rather creepily taking screenshots of my Facebook page, are misrepresenting what I’ve said quite clearly. I’ll get to that at a later time, when I have nothing better to do. God willing, I will always have something better to do than engage with them.

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  • you never answered a simple question I asked in another one of your posts: who started the violence in South Ossetia in 2008? Georgia or Russia?

    and here are some more questions. did the opposition follow their own constitution in deposing the elected president of Ukraine?

    do you think there is a legitimate threat to Russian-speaking Ukranians considering the opposition, once seizing power, repealed the law allowing other languages to be used in official state business?

    do you think empowering neo-Nazis will be a net-positive for Ukranians?

    • The resurgence of fascism is very scary. These boys are serious! Fascism worked so well the first time around. Some very good insight in this article and site. Of course, you will find CIA fingerprints all over the original situation too. God the CIA sucks. I wish to God Kennedy could have broken them into a thousand pieces.

      • yes, it is scary. so is the minimizing of that element in the coup that occurred by imperial apologists who can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that it was Georgia who attacked South Ossetia in 2008. I’ll keep it simple with a wikipedia link:

        During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory.[54] Georgia claimed that it was responding to attacks on its peacekeepers and villages in South Ossetia, and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country. However an OSCE monitoring group in Tskhinvali did not record outgoing artillery fire from the South Ossetian side in the hours before the start of Georgian bombardment.[10][55] Two British OSCE observers reported hearing only occasional small-arms fire, but no shelling. According to Der Spiegel, NATO officials attested that minor skirmishes had taken place, but nothing that amounted to a provocation.[56] The Georgian attack caused casualties among Russian peacekeepers, who resisted the assault along with Ossetian militia. Georgia successfully captured most of Tskhinvali within hours. Russia reacted by deploying units of the Russian 58th Army and Russian Airborne Troops into South Ossetia one day later, and launched airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia and military and logistical targets in Georgia proper.

        considering the “facts” claimed in this post is that Russia invaded Georgia, I would suggest to discerning readers of this blog that the rest of what flows from the wolf is suspect. that’s saying it nicely.

        • Reversal of aggressor and victim is an essential propaganda ploy to conceal true nature of situation throughout all of history. Native Americans became “savages” for defending homes, Vietnam actually invaded itself.

        • Lizard, you have ‘learned’ on thing, but without context you’re not actually making any sense of it.

          South Ossetia was not a country. It was recognized as part of Georgia, and is still by every nation except Russia and Abkhazia. In ‘attacking’ South Ossetia, Georgia was exercising its sovereign right to defend its territory. It’s no different than Russia ‘invading’ Chechnya, which they claim to have had every right to do. Therefore, what occurred in Georgia was absolutely in invasion. It was not unprovoked, and I never claimed it was, but it was most certainly an invasion, while Georgia’s action were entirely legal.

          Moreover, Russia’s response was entirely out of keeping with the provocation – Russia gave Georgia no time to withdraw and entered into no negotiations before initiating hostilities, and acted entirely unilaterally.

          • wikipedia:

            South Ossetians declared independence from Georgia in 1990, calling themselves the Republic of South Ossetia. The Georgian government responded by abolishing South Ossetia’s autonomy and trying to re-establish its control over the region by force.[6] The crisis escalation led to the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War.[7] Georgian fighting against those controlling South Ossetia occurred on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008.[8] The latter conflict led to the Russia–Georgia war, during which Ossetian and Russian forces gained full de facto control of the territory of the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast.

            In the wake of the 2008 South Ossetia War, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru and Tuvalu recognised South Ossetia’s independence.[9][10][11][12][13] Georgia does not recognise the existence of South Ossetia as a political entity, including most of the area in its Shida Kartli region.

            sounds nothing like Kosovo, right? (that’s sarcasm)

            • Um…yeah, it’s a lot like Kosovo. Which is why I brought up the Kosovo analogy the very first time I talked about this situation. Russia is essentially using the logic NATO used in Kosovo. Also why I said that both sides were being hypocritical, because neither used consistent logic.

              But South Ossetia is quite a bit different from Kosovo in one crucial dimension – Serbia had over a month to withdraw from Kosovo before it was attacked – the Russian invasion of Georgia was preceded by no such warning.

              However, the US never had a specific legal obligation to defend Serbian sovereignty, nor Russia to Georgia (I don’t think). That’s what makes the Russian occupation of the Crimea a more flagrant violation of international law.

              • would you say Georgia had no obligation to take any grievances regarding this disputed territory to the UN before shelling the capitol?

              • Nope. Unless there is a genocide, no country has the obligation to take an internal dispute to the UN. Especially as South Ossetia is not a UN member – as far as the UN was concerned, there was no disputed territory. The UN charter is very clear on the absolute sovereignty of its member nations except in cases of genocide or if they violate the sovereignty of another state. Did Russia ask for UN permission before attacking Grozny? No. They didn’t have to.

                • Legally, yes. Ethically? I’m not there – I couldn’t tell you if South Ossetian grievances are valid or not. Given that Russia had already undertaken military action against Chechnya using the same arguments, I can tell you with certainty that Russia was not justified in their response.

    • “who started the violence in South Ossetia in 2008? Georgia or Russia?”

      The South Ossetians, who were engaged in armed rebellion against the legal government?

      did the opposition follow their own constitution in deposing the elected president of Ukraine?

      Nope. But, the president had abandoned his duties and was already on his way to Russia by the time he was officially deposed. Also, he did not follow his own constitution in overseeing fraudulent elections in 2012 and 2013. The new government is in control – that’s a fact that must be dealt with. Yanukovych’s party doesn’t even want him back.

      “do you think there is a legitimate threat to Russian-speaking Ukranians considering the opposition, once seizing power, repealed the law allowing other languages to be used in official state business?”

      Oooooh about that, lizard – that law is actually quite recent, and yet before 2010 I didn’t hear of any mass discrimination against Russians. Indeed, before it was passed I was in Kiev, and one of my friends told me it was essentially a ‘Russian on demand’ system – Ukrainians will speak whatever they feel comfortable speaking, but important Russians demand to be spoken to in Russian. This was before it was an official language. The changed law would have been largely symbolic – after all, both Klitshko and Tymoschenko are native Russian speakers (Yanukovych himself said in 2012 he had no opinion on the official language question). Most importantly, however, it would not have affected Crimea in the least, as Crimea has always had special status as an autonomous region.

      But the better part about your misinformation is that the change in law you are referring to was never signed by the president. The Russian times just hasn’t updated with that information since February. He faced pressure not only from Russia and Russian speakers, but also from the government of Lviv and elsewhere.

      • Ever think to address neo-Nazi and CIA ties of NED and other groups involved in the spontaneous uprising? NED is one of many, many front groups, AID another, IMF a de facto destabilizing force for Wall Street. But you’re not even curious, and that is what I find so intriguing about the educated side of the American mindset (forget about the other 90%): You seem to intuitively KNOW where not to look as you form your opinions. That’s remarkable thought control at work.

        • Relevance? And is it relevant to the fact that the claim that Russian has been demoted is patently false? Because if that claim is false, it seems the entire cover story for the Russian intervention is without defense.

          • that, combined with the not implausible possibility that elements within the new government positioned snipers to fire on protesters and police alike.

            you can minimize all the terrible missteps the forces now in charge have made, and demonize all the Russian counter-moves. we clearly have very different lenses through which we see these events.

            I’ll leave it at that for now.

          • Those unknowns, in addition to being highly unlikely, are also irrelevant to the question of what ought to be done now, or whether Russia’s current acts are legal. It’s like me breaking into your house with a gun and, when you complain, accusing you of hacking my computer.

            • Yes – to my knowledge their investigation has concluded that the shootings were performed by the police under orders, and they’ve issued the relevant indictments. You can believe them or not, but their investigation is complete.

                • that’s hilarious. you’re citing the indictment of Ukraine’s ousted president as proof that the question of the sniper has been resolved.

                • No, I’m citing it to show that the new government has carried out an investigation. As neither you nor I read Ukrainian, I don’t think either of us can reasonably assess the validity of that investigation. There’s no amount of investigation the new government could undertake that would satisfy you and other skeptics – your call for an ‘investigation’ into unfounded accusations when one has already been carried out is just shouting about unrelated issues because you’ve lost on the important ones – 1) Ukraine will unarguably be better off in the EU 2) Russia’s actions are illegal and unprecedented, going far beyond even what occurred in Kosovo or South Ossetia. If you can’t argue either of those points, I don’t see how anything else is relevant to what the US ought to do next.

                • you are right, Ukraine will be better off with the EU because then it will no longer be a target for “revolution”. who cares if it takes a showdown between nuclear powers to achieve it, just like it’s better to pay off the mafia than allow your store to get destroyed.

                  but Russia is not acting without precedent. you have to be a true American exceptionalist to not get that, which is clearly what you are.

                • That’s why I never claimed Russia was acting without precedent; Kosovo is essential context here. But it’s also essential to note the very real ways in which this situation is different – the referendum is being held without any outside supervision in a completely media controlled environment with mysterious armed men controlling the province without a UN mandate, in direct contravention of Russia’s explicit guarantee of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. That’s a lot of differences.

                  And Ukraine will be better off in the EU for a lot of reasons. One, it will end this tug of war, but it will receive huge trade benefits, development funds that go to people other than government officials, and strong incentives to maintain democratic rule.

                • By the way, nice mafia analogy, only it works the other way. Ukraine has been trying to placate Russia for a decade – whenever they get out of line, the get hit with gas and trade manipulations, and the threat of worse. It’s worked so far – it destabilized Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Ukraine has finally stopped paying protection money, and Russia is hitting them with everything they’ve got – withholding loans, border harassment, and finally an invasion. If Ukraine weathers this and gets into NATO or the EU, they’ll finally be free of all that.

                • The EU has resource entanglements with Russia the same way the US has resource entanglements with Venezuela – they could hurt us by cutting us off; we could collapse their economy by re-sourcing our oil.

          • No. None of this is relevant. I am trying to understand where you are coming from, how you form your world view. As far as I can tell you have never examined your underlying assumptions. You need to attempt to prove yourself wrong before you can have some assurance you’re on the right path. I don’t see any curiosity in you, but instead parroting.

            Most of us who are in the place we are started out somewhere else, and when there were too many contradictions, got confused and started our own journey, and learned that confusion is a signal that lies are being told. As far as I can tell you’re just a passenger on someone else’s train, more interested in validation than truth. You’re minipogie.

            • No, Mark, I challenged my underlying assumptions. That’s how I got here. That’s what you don’t get. I started out believing a lot of the ‘facts’ that you believe, assuming that the US was in fact the source of most instability and poverty in the world. (If you go back far enough in our archives, you can find me cheering on Chavez, Correa, and Morales). Then I questioned some of those assumptions, and lo, I found that a lot of what I’d been told was complete nonsense, and that a lot of the rest of it lacked adequate nuance. Central and Eastern Europe happens to be where those assumptions started to break down – because talking about how communism really wasn’t that bad, how the US overreacted with containment, how Brzezinski went too far in trying to bring down the Soviet Union – is difficult when you’re talking to people who actually lived under that system, who have actually seen what’s gone on. Before, the EU and NATO were merely theoretical concepts. Comparing Poland and Lithuania to Ukraine, however, showed the very real difference these organizations can make for real people. The contrast between Chavez and Da Silva was similarly illuminating, as it made clear that strident anti-Americanism is, in almost all cases, essentially a cover for domestic failures of democracy or prosperity. Da Silva was certainly no American puppet, but he kept his focus on his own country and in so doing was very successful at bringing people out of poverty. Chavez managed to reduce poverty as well, but the cost has been skyrocketing inflation, a failure to diminish crime,and a severe limitation of civil liberties. As it becomes clear that ‘Chavismo’ is essentially misguided, and sustainable only with oil revenues, Maduro’s constant invocation of foreign demons to cover his own failures has become ever more transparent.

              That’s why I look into the facts of things. Not the narratives strung together on someone’s blog, but the observable and provable facts, and the observations of people in these places who I know and trust. The fact that they frequently disagree with you is not the fault of the facts.

              • Nah. I don’t think you look at much at all. I am not buying a word of this. You’re just trying to stake out a claim. There’s no depth to you. “Communism?” Like there were people running around really believe in that or “capitalism?” No one cares about shit like that. No one cares about “economic development” – in fact, such a concept is frightening, as every zygote has a fair shot at being emperor. No one cares about ordinary people because they are just not that interesting.

                It’s a planet, a game board. A lot of people like to just live on it and have lives. A lot of people like to pretend there is good an evil, and every one of us imagines we are good. And smart.

              • Okay, Mark, go ahead and not buy it. Doesn’t change it. You asked where I get my viewpoint – that’s where. I’m curious, though – where do you get the viewpoint that convinced you that the US was going to nuke Iran last spring? Or that policies with the demonstrated effect of increasing consumption are designed as part of a Malthusian plot to decrease consumption? Because….I mean, maybe stop thinking in ways that make you consistently adhere to idiotic opinions.

              • “As it becomes clear that ‘Chavismo’ is essentially misguided, and sustainable only with oil revenues, Maduro’s constant invocation of foreign demons to cover his own failures has become ever more transparent”

                It’s good be be new every day. That way, history is lost on you. You know NOTHING about Latin America, and it shows.

                Bueno, quieres continuar esta conversacion en espanol?

                How many people from Latin America do you actually know?? Just wondering.

  • PW, the twisting and turning you do to ignore evidence; your defensive incuriosity, render your ‘insight’ on this matter into that of just another member of the bought priesthood, and a low-rent one at that.

    Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

  • Hey buddy can you spare a billion? Why SHORE. Anything for the CRIME ea! GO hits one outta the park with this ed. Good job, GO. And good that the Mizoo Fox Dependent FIRED your arse! You have a much bigger audience now. But then, I knew that paper was a rag-o-crap from the git go.

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