This amounts to a diplomatic hand grenade, lobbed directly at Brussels. EU sanctions against Russia will expire in March unless renewed by the unanimous decision of member states, giving Greece an effective veto. Amid a breakdown of the ceasefire in East Ukraine, and intensifying Western claims of Russian aggression, the US is exerting enormous pressure on “our European colleagues” to renew, and even tighten, sanctions against Russia. Has Syriza found the leverage it needs to secure serious debt-restructuring?

The question of Russian sanctions renewal will loom extremely large over the upcoming row over keeping Greece in the eurozone. Syriza has carefully laid the groundwork, voicing early support for the annexation of Crimea last March, then accusing the EU of “shooting itself in the foot” with sanctions and pointing to “neo-Nazis” within Ukraine’s Western-backed government.

Just before topping the Greek poll in European parliamentary elections last May, Syriza’s high command met in Moscow with pro-Putin politicians subject to EU travel bans. In September, Syriza’s MEPs voted against the European Parliament’s ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Then last week, Tspiras announced that his new defence secretary is the leader of Greek Independents, Panos Kammenos – who last year stated that his party “publicly supports President Putin and the Russian government who have protected our Orthodox brothers in Crimea”. Oh, and Syriza’s manifesto also calls for Greece to leave Nato.

Do they really have a veto over sanctions? If so, how much debt is that worth?

92 thoughts on “Ouch”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    Do they really have a veto over sanctions? If so, how much debt is that worth?

    It is worth a lot more to Putin than to Merkel.

    Do they have a veto? It wouldn’t be a surprised. No reason why all the other countries of Europe can’t impose them as individual countries. No doubt that will drive the EU bureaucrats insane because it would show the weakness of the EU and the strength of the nation state.

  2. If the EU was a sensible, pragmatic organisation, run for the benefit of its citizens, there would be no sanctions against Russia.

    The sanctions that there are are causing lower growth and the loss in jobs in the EU, with Germany being the main loser.

    Both sides, the EU and Russia, are intervening in Ukraine to the detriment of that country. The worst such case was the support by the EU of a coup against an elected (though corrupt) government.

    Both sides, in other words, are as bad as each other.

    Still, if the EU was competent and well-run, there probably wouldn’t be a single currency, and if there was, Greece wouldn’t be in it.

    So, it is very difficult, given the track record so far, to forecast what new levels of lunacy the EU project is capable of in the service of The Grand Project.

    So, maybe Syriza will get what it wants after all.

  3. @soarer,

    The sanctions are in the long-term interests of the EU’s citizens. In much the same way sanctions against pre-war Nazi Germany would have been in the interests of those citizens, had anyone had sufficient spine and testicles to apply them.

  4. Do Syriza think Greece would be better off as Russia’s plaything, rather than the West’s? This seems unlikely, particularly given Russia’s limited funds.

    Strategically speaking, Greece is the gateway to the eastern Mediterranean. Neither Europe nor NATO can afford to lose her to Russia. But that leaves her well-placed to make demands.

  5. The mess made by the EU and US continues to deepen then, or expand, or whatever the term is. The striking thing about neoconservative policy is it never works, and yet they never learn that it never works. We have no valid reason for these sanctions, had no valid reason to be supporting a coup d’etat in Ukraine, and really need to learn to mind our own damned business for once.

    And no, it’s nothing like Germany in the 1930s.

  6. @IanB,

    We’ve a megalomaniac politician, apparently one who can’t be deomcratically removed from office, who wants to re-establish the grandeur of the former empire, which means invading and annexing bits of neighbouring countries on the pretext of protecting his ethnics there.

    No, nothing like Germany 1938 at all.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    Andrew M – “Do Syriza think Greece would be better off as Russia’s plaything, rather than the West’s?”

    I think they do. After all, if they were sensible they would not be Communists. Moreover the habits of a lifetime are hard to break. They joined the Communists because they loved the Soviet Union and hated the West. The Soviet Union has gone but the hate has not.

    “Strategically speaking, Greece is the gateway to the eastern Mediterranean. Neither Europe nor NATO can afford to lose her to Russia. But that leaves her well-placed to make demands.”

    Russia had bases in Syria. It didn’t matter much. It would be nice to keep Russia out of the Med, but it would be better to keep them out of the Black Sea – Crimea needs to be returned to Ukraine.

    Ian B – “The mess made by the EU and US continues to deepen then, or expand, or whatever the term is.”

    Hardly made by the EU and the US. It is unlikely they even influenced it much.

    “We have no valid reason for these sanctions, had no valid reason to be supporting a coup d’etat in Ukraine, and really need to learn to mind our own damned business for once.”

    Russia is ripping up the entire basis of post-War diplomacy that borders are inviolate and are not changed by tanks. It is a big deal. We have reason for a lot more than those sanctions. The coup may be another matter but it doesn’t matter now. We are where we are and there can only be one possible solution to this – Russia needs to get out of Ukraine and give the Crimea back.

    “And no, it’s nothing like Germany in the 1930s.”

    Yeah. We were prepared to defend ourselves, in the end, then.

  8. Sigh. The coup forced Putin’s hand, and was deliberately ignited by the Western powers looking to humiliate him- and it backfired. The idea that they could get away with pushing NATO up to the Russian border and denying Russia the Crimea and Sevastopol was hopelessly naive, and now we have the results of that armchair Risk playing by the neocons.

    Putin is a thug and a gangster, but he isn’t Hitler.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “The idea that they could get away with pushing NATO up to the Russian border and denying Russia the Crimea and Sevastopol was hopelessly naive”

    Really? So former colonial masters have a veto right over their former colonies? They are entitled to decide what alliances their colonies may or may not enter? They have a right to take whatever military bases they like?

    Do tell. In what sense is Ukraine’s independence, and hence right to choose what policies to follow, is limited by a Russian veto?

    “Putin is a thug and a gangster, but he isn’t Hitler.”

    Yet.

  10. It would be nice to keep Russia out of the Med, but it would be better to keep them out of the Black Sea

    It would be nice to do a lot of things, but the question is whether you can actually do them; and of course the answer here is “no”. You can no more keep Russia out of the Black Sea than Japan could keep the USA out of the Pacific.

    Russia needs to get out of Ukraine and give the Crimea back

    The Crimea is historically Russian land and was only given symbolically to the Ukraine by Kruschev when they were both welded together by the USSR- which the Communists thought would last forever.

  11. In what sense is Ukraine’s independence, and hence right to choose what policies to follow, is limited by a Russian veto?

    Reality, dear boy. Every nation cares who they share a border with; it is not dissimilar to an independent Scotland aligning with a rival and potential enemy power of England.

    This was an attempt by the EU and US to realign geopolitical power blocs, expanding our own. It was inevitably going to force a Russian response and the Russians guessed, rightly, that we wouldn’t back up our adventurism with military force. And that is why we are where we are.

  12. “Do Syriza think Greece would be better off as Russia’s plaything, rather than the West’s?”

    Well, go back 20 years and the answer is “YES”.

    Add a bit of dewy-eyed nostalgia for that time and the answer may still be the same.

  13. he coup forced Putin’s hand, and was deliberately ignited by the Western powers looking to humiliate him- and it backfired.

    Absolute bullshit. The coup came about because the incumbent government rejected an EU proposal to join in a trade agreement. Having had 20 years of utterly disfunctional successive Ukrainian governments consisting largely of pro-Russian gangsters in leather jackets or incompetents bent on petty infighting, all the while being largely dependent on Russia for economic growth, a trade agreement was the first tiny step in possibly enabling Ukraine to grow its economy and break away from perpetual rule by Russian-style gangsters in leather jackets. The proposal was rejected because it would mean the end of Ukraine being a dumping ground for crap Russian goods and the last thing Russia wants or needs is a Ukraine which can trade and prosper with the EU.

    So those people who wished for an end to Russian-style gangster rule (having lived under it for 20 years) kicked out the bloke who had rejected their best opportunity for doing so. Putin saw the confusion as an opportunity to make a land grab of a region he thinks ought to belong to Russia, initially denying being there, and then reverting to flat out lies regarding security and strategic importance along with woolly and inaccurate historical revisionism to justify it.

    Nobody “forced” Putin to annex Crimea and send an army into Eastern Ukraine.

  14. The Crimea is historically Russian land and was only given symbolically to the Ukraine by Kruschev when they were both welded together by the USSR- which the Communists thought would last forever.

    Fine. So let’s open talks on south Sakhalin, the Kurils, Kharelia, Kaliningrad, Altai, Abkhazia, and a whole host of other regions which are not historically Russian but were taken either by force or handed over as symbolic gestures. Ah no, such talk is outlawed in Russia.

  15. The coup was pushed from behind by the usual method these days of NGOs fronting for Western interests, while the boots on the ground were flat out neo-Nazis. The Yanks boasted of pumping huge amounts of money into their “pro-democracy” front groups. The result was a violent and murderous seizure of power, in a country with an election just a year away. Why didn’t they wait for the election? Because they wouldn’t have won it, is why.

    As I said, whatever idealism you may have, the reality was that Russia was going to have to react. And react they did.

  16. This was an attempt by the EU and US to realign geopolitical power blocs, expanding our own.

    One of the most depressing things about this subject, and certain others, is the number of people who rightly think the western governments are a bunch of corrupt, lying scumbags and so automatically assume that the propaganda pumped out by the Kremlin must be true and swallow it wholesale.

    Russia had its way with Ukraine for 20 years! And look at the state of it! How much longer should Russia have been given, eh? And interesting to note that a trade agreement – something you are normally a fan of – is now seen as an attempt to realign geographical blocks. (Spare me the Nato bollocks: Russia is already neighbouring Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania and is in the process of re-routing all its gas through Turkey. Nato was never an issue, but a handy excuse to get useful idiots in the west to swallow the Kremlin narrative.)

  17. The coup was pushed from behind by the usual method these days of NGOs fronting for Western interests, while the boots on the ground were flat out neo-Nazis.

    This coincides exactly with the narrative coming from the Kremlin. It differs considerably from the accounts of Ukrainians who were there.

  18. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “You can no more keep Russia out of the Black Sea than Japan could keep the USA out of the Pacific.”

    I am not sure that is true. We shall see.

    “The Crimea is historically Russian land and was only given symbolically to the Ukraine by Kruschev when they were both welded together by the USSR- which the Communists thought would last forever.”

    So what? The law is what it is. The facts are what they are. Crimea belonged to the Ukraine. Not Russia. In the same way that Berwick on Tweed belongs to England.

    Not that Crimea was historically Russian land. It was part of the Russian Republic from 1920 to 1954. Prior to that it seems to have been part of Ukraine.

    Ian B – “Reality, dear boy. Every nation cares who they share a border with; it is not dissimilar to an independent Scotland aligning with a rival and potential enemy power of England.”

    Reality does not say that Ukraine cannot join whatever political alliance it likes. Putin does. So what if Scotland did? Ireland did in WW2. Churchill thought about taking some ports back but he did not. Are you saying that in fact Britain had the right to take Cork and insist on a friendly government in Dublin?

    “This was an attempt by the EU and US to realign geopolitical power blocs, expanding our own. It was inevitably going to force a Russian response and the Russians guessed, rightly, that we wouldn’t back up our adventurism with military force. And that is why we are where we are.”

    The EU and the US have been incredibly slow to do any such thing. They could have and they should have earlier on. But they don’t want to fight with Russia. Ukraine wanted ties with the West. The West can hardly deny them forever. Putin did spot weakness. That is a problem.

    You do not seem to think Ukraine is an independent country. Care to spell out what aspects of Ukrainian sovereignty are held by Russia?

  19. Fine. So let’s open talks on…

    Tim N, the thing here is I’m not talking idealistically. I’m talking pragmatically, which is what you have to do with international geo-whatever. Putin is a selfish pragmatist. It’s no use discussing high ideals in his regard. Considering that our own actions were not about high ideals anyway, but a simple attempt at expanding power, we must look at our own side’s actions pragmatically too.

    The Neoconservative strategy has a long history, now, of meddling in other countries that just doesn’t work. Putin’s response did work (for him). That’s the bottom line. Russia has the Crimea back, ensuring its access to the Black Sea, and a buffer zone as well. So that’s one point to Putin, and nul points to the US/EU. Again.

  20. Russia has the Crimea back, ensuring its access to the Black Sea, and a buffer zone as well.

    Huh? Russia was always in the Black Sea. Russia has the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, and it is both large and busy. What happened was that at the breakup of the Soviet Union the Russians inherited the Soviet fleet which was based in Sevastopol, which is part of Ukraine. And in the chaos and economic collapse, there was no money or will to move the fleet to Russian territory and so Russia and the Ukraine entered an agreement whereby Russia would rent the base for a fee. So in the 20 odd years that have passed since the Ukraine went its own way, Russia never bothered to invest the money and effort to move its Black Sea fleet to Novorossiysk, or any other Black Sea port. Yet they had no problem hosing billions on Sochi, also on the Black Sea, to host the Winter Olympics. And then in 2014 they decided the port was so vital to their strategic interests that they had to invade the Ukraine to secure it.

    Can I ask, are you as badly informed on all topics you comment on as you are on this one? Because I do like your contributions and think you’re pretty smart and well informed, but that’s usually on the basis that you’re talking about stuff I don’t know about. But if this is any guide, you’re just rabbitting stuff you’ve read online. I hope this isn’t representative.

  21. Churchill thought about taking some ports back but he did not. Are you saying that in fact Britain had the right to take Cork and insist on a friendly government in Dublin?

    None of this has anything to do with rights. I have no doubt that had the British government thought it worth it, they would have taken back those areas at least temporarily during the war. Which is why of course at the start we attempted to invade Scandinavia.

    You do not seem to think Ukraine is an independent country. Care to spell out what aspects of Ukrainian sovereignty are held by Russia?

    Back with reality, like all countries that are relatively small and weak, it’s as independent as the major powers care to allow it to be. Which is harsh, but how things actually work. Just as Iraq and Afghanistan found out how independent they really were when the USA took against them.

  22. And yes, I get the point that Putin has been pragmatic and got what he wanted. If you’d ever done business in Russia you’d notice they whole country has form in this area. They’re the sort of people who would steal £20 from their mother’s purse, lie about who took it, and come away thinking “Russia 1, Mum 0”. And this is exactly what they’ve done here: it’s not clever, it’s simply a short-term tactical move made in isolation to any coherent strategy or long-term outlook, and they are rightly paying the price for it in sanctions. This move is no more pragmatic than swiping the £20 from mum’s purse when she’s sleeping.

  23. How would I know?

    Ask yourself this:

    1) Did I know anything about Crimea and its history, Ukrainian politics since independence, Russian geography regarding whom and what it borders, and Russian politics under Putin since 2008 *before* this situation hit the papers in 2014?

    2) Are the opinions I now hold based almost entirely on the second hand opinions of others I have read online, and if I’m being honest, I haven’t done much due diligence on them as to whether they are reliable sources or not?

    The answer will then be self-evident.

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Putin is a selfish pragmatist. It’s no use discussing high ideals in his regard.”

    How do you know?

    Ian B – “None of this has anything to do with rights. I have no doubt that had the British government thought it worth it, they would have taken back those areas at least temporarily during the war. Which is why of course at the start we attempted to invade Scandinavia.”

    You present a case against the West and for Putin in highly emotionally charged terms. You cannot sit back and so how pretend that this is an objective argument. So you think no countries have any rights but what the Great Powers grant them? International law is so much rubbish?

    We did not try to annex any part of Scandinavia.

    “Back with reality, like all countries that are relatively small and weak, it’s as independent as the major powers care to allow it to be.”

    So you think it is a Russian colonial possession? Notice that you argued that Russia had a *right* to do what they did. Now you seem to have backed off that. The major powers have decided that Ukraine has a right to its own territory. Just one of them disputes that and they may change their minds in the end.

    So explain to me what is wrong with sanctions? There is, it seems, no right or wrong here. Just what we can get away with.

    “Which is harsh, but how things actually work. Just as Iraq and Afghanistan found out how independent they really were when the USA took against them.”

    America went into Afghanistan with the full support of the legal, existing government of Afghanistan. Both of them refused to sign the sort of treaties America wanted and now the Americans are gone. Explain to me in what sense are they not fully independent?

    What is with Libertarians and these sort of Sixth Form Trot arguments?

  25. What is with Libertarians and these sort of Sixth Form Trot arguments?

    I don’t know, but there is no shortage of them who are quite happy to admire Putin and defend his regime’s actions.

  26. To answer your question – yes they have a veto. See here.

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/eufacts/download/EX.3.CFSP.pdf

    “…..whilst ESDP decisions were previously made by member states in the Council of the European Union (each state had a veto), the Lisbon Treaty increased the use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV), reducing the number of areas in which the veto is used. Crucially, decisions on military or defence issues must still be unanimous.

    …….The use of QMV in CFSP increased under the Lisbon Treaty, but member states retain the right to veto all EU foreign policy decisions and strategies….”

  27. Tim N,

    I’ve watched quite a lot of Ukrainian porn if that’s any help.

    You do realise my reply was a joke, right?

    SMFS-

    I don’t think I’ve implied rights anywhere, and if I did, I didn’t mean to. I’ve talked all the way through this thread about pragmatic international power politics. It’s you doing the sixth form trot stuff about rights and international law.

    I’m sure we’ve many times discussed here that “international law” is merely the imposition of the preferences of powerful nations on weak ones. It cannot ever be anything else, really.

    One power moves against another power. The other power responds. That’s what happens in the real world. This mess was caused by armchair theorists in the USA, particularly, with an absurd and unrealistic view of how their actions will pan out- whether in a succession of chaotic wars in the Middle East, or this little escapade. They tried to drag us into a war with Syria as well, remember. Dangerous, naive, fools.

  28. So explain to me what is wrong with sanctions? There is, it seems, no right or wrong here. Just what we can get away with.

    Because there’s no good reason for them. No doubt some of the dreamers think that they will topple Putin and then a glorious liberal democracy (of the kind we are abandoning in the West, funnily enough) will arise in Russia but, yeah, best of luck with that.

  29. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “I don’t think I’ve implied rights anywhere, and if I did, I didn’t mean to. I’ve talked all the way through this thread about pragmatic international power politics. It’s you doing the sixth form trot stuff about rights and international law.”

    You are not. You have repeatedly used highly emotive language to denounce the West and to show Putin as a victim of Western aggression. You said that we are out to humiliate him. How is that pragmatic? It is actually Chomsky-lite.

    “I’m sure we’ve many times discussed here that “international law” is merely the imposition of the preferences of powerful nations on weak ones. It cannot ever be anything else, really.”

    Sure. But no, not really. Law is enforced by a community. There is a community of nations. We have all agreed since World War Two that borders may not be changed by tanks. Putin is flying in the face of that. This is not what the powerful nations want, it is what all nations want. Or say they want. The alternative is too serious to contemplate.

    “One power moves against another power. The other power responds. That’s what happens in the real world.”

    But that is not how you described it. You went for the “poor little Russia, forced to rape their way across Europe once more” route.

    “This mess was caused by armchair theorists in the USA, particularly, with an absurd and unrealistic view of how their actions will pan out- whether in a succession of chaotic wars in the Middle East, or this little escapade.”

    I am not sure that is true. I know people have been boasting of pouring money into elections, but I don’t think that is likely to have much effect.

    “They tried to drag us into a war with Syria as well, remember. Dangerous, naive, fools.”

    And better for all if we had gone in. But we, and by we I mean the media, the Left and Rand Paul, are happier with hundreds of thousands of dead Arabs rather than dozens of dead Westerners. I am not sure who is being naive here.

    Ian B – “Because there’s no good reason for them. No doubt some of the dreamers think that they will topple Putin and then a glorious liberal democracy (of the kind we are abandoning in the West, funnily enough) will arise in Russia but, yeah, best of luck with that.”

    There is an absolutely good reason – politics, it seems you think, is all about zero-sum power games. We need to force Russia out and take what we like so we are stronger and Russia is weaker. This is not a moral issue, you say although your language says otherwise, it is just power politics.

    I don’t think anyone dreams of removing Putin and no one thinks Russia is about to become democratic. But both would be nice.

  30. We have all agreed since World War Two that borders may not be changed by tanks.

    Unless they’re American ones.

    But we, and by we I mean the media, the Left and Rand Paul, are happier with hundreds of thousands of dead Arabs rather than dozens of dead Westerners.

    Well I must admit, I certainly am. You are yourself entirely free to go and join whichever bunch of crazy Arabs you think are slightly less crazy than the others. Send postcards.

  31. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Unless they’re American ones.”

    No American borders have been changed by tanks since WW2. Nor have the Americans changed any borders by tanks since WW2. They have not even allowed Israel to legally change a border with tanks since 1949.

    “Well I must admit, I certainly am.”

    And yet it is really a choice of fighting them there or fighting them here. A return to colonial rule is really the only solution.

  32. Well, to be fair, the Americans don’t bother changing borders. They just change governments. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran (twice) and so on and so forth.

  33. SMFS-

    And yet it is really a choice of fighting them there or fighting them here. A return to colonial rule is really the only solution.

    Fighting who? They wanted us to go and topple Assad so another Islamist government could take over.

  34. Well, to be fair, the Americans don’t bother changing borders.

    No, they don’t, do they? They don’t annex others’ land either. Funny, that.

    They just change governments. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran (twice) and so on and so forth.

    As did the Soviets, but they stopped short of annexing territory post-WWII. Declaring war is not viewed the same as appropriating territory, for very good reasons.

  35. Good job we’ll have the 77th (Twitter) Brigade to sort him out.

    You know, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that this meme is 15 Psy Ops Groups swan song operation before they are absorbed into 77 Bde. Because having a Bde to “do Twitter” is so obviously nuts it must be an attempt to create another 1* post / a pointless waste of money / some general or politician’s brilliant idea to be relevant in C21 etc.

    And they can just carry on doing what they do, with significant extra resource, a 1* Head of Profession, and, hopefully, enemies as clueless as the British media.

  36. They wanted us to go and topple Assad so another Islamist government could take over.

    Again: wrong. The revolt against Assad started in response to similar revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya as part of the Arab spring. The Arab spring was started not by CIA agents, but by the Egyptian government dicking with the price of flour which caused the price of bread to increase. The revolt against Assad got serious when the Syrian security services arrested a group of children and teenagers and beat the shit out them, before releasing them covered in blood, bruises, and injuries. It was at that point the population started taking up arms in numbers.

    The position of the west was that with Assad losing control of vast swathes of the country, there was every chance a group of nutters could swarm into the vacuum. The best of a list of bad options (there were no good options) was to intervene, remove Assad, and attempt to install as best a government as they could find from the opposition. This option was rejected by the British electorate and we chose to stand by and do nothing. The result is ISIS filled the void.

    Of course, you may choose to believe the CIA started the Aran spring and kicked off a revolution against Assad and created the unfavourable conditions in Syria and then tried to go to war in order to….well, who knows? But it’d be up there with “Putin’s hand was forced” over Crimea for accuracy.

  37. So, it’s wrong if you take part of a country. But fine if you take all of it. Okay.

    No, you appear to think invading, occupying temporarily, and then leaving is the same as annexing. It isn’t.

  38. Its tag-team time again eh?

    So what are you serving up TN and SMFS?. That Putin is out to restore the “soviet empire”. Using the astonishing resources that are available to him? A clapped out economy which survives by selling raw materials? An economy so “strong” that these sanctions are indeed biting hard. Their credit is now just above junk bonds is it not? A declining population of drunks? A system so corrupt that companies trying to do business there are in danger of having their assets and property seized on the ruling hoodlums whims? On this basis the new Adolf/Uncle Joe is trying to re-take Eastern Europe? Which is full of millions who I am sure would rather die than return to the lives they had under the old socialist tyranny or even the new Gangsta-crap. And younger generations who have known prosperity such as socialism could never dream of–they are all going to be made to submit to the tyranny of numbnuts Russian gangsters are they? By the power of the incredibly dangerous Shirtless Wonder ? This figure who threatens Europe such that we must fight him today or fight him Tomorrow. Listen to yourselves lads. Yeah–he is a danger to his own people and a nasty piece of work. The new Overlord of Europe? Not outside of a comic book.

    Now as to who started this mess–well you can understand the Ukraine being sick of Russian gangsters. That’s why that whole Orange caper of a few years ago kicked off. But their new hero turned out to be as big a dick as the crew he was supposed to replace. And by their own admission the Yanks pissed 5 billion they really don’t have buying influence there. Why if not for “regime chance”? They fucked up Iraq and are busy fucking up Syria and Libya –with help from those opposed to them. Kennedy did not allow the soviets to put their missiles in Cuba–why should Putin–in his weakness and fear, cos that is what it is–not try to stop USEU influence spreading on his own borders. Not saying he is even justified or has a “right” to do so–but it should hardly be unexpected that he would.

  39. “Of course, you may choose to believe the CIA started the Aran spring and kicked off a revolution against Assad and created the unfavourable conditions in Syria and then tried to go to war in order to….well, who knows?”

    It would be totally consistent with the rest of the much-heralded “smart diplomacy” of the Obama adminstration 😉

  40. TN–By what right–or even common sense— does the US Federal Tyranny decide what regimes take over what nations? They did nothing about the socialist puke Assad family’s godawful antics for decades. And when ordinary Arabs kicked off ( starting with some bloke setting himself on fire in Tunisia) Obama’s idiots decide Assad Jr must go–and as with all their activities it all went predictably shit-shaped from that point on. Common-sense should have told them that large numbers of muslim militants (esp in Syria–remember Daddy Assad and the Hama siege?) would seize their chance to replace a very bad lot with an even worse one. So now the Yanks are having to keep Asshat in power. And always at a huge cost in human lives. Fucking brilliant.

  41. I don’t believe the CIA started the Arab Spring, though I thought it kicked off in Tunisia IIRC. Whatever.

    The point I was making was that the practical outcome of toppling these strongmen is you get something worse. As with our grand escapade in Libya. There simply was no merit to the idea of toppling Assad. The only people who are feasibly going to fill the vacuum will be Islamist nutters. This is no good for anyone. Unless you’re an idealist who thinks despite every previous disaster, the same strategy is going to work this time.

    Like many Britons, I am sick to death of committing our blood and treasure in the cause of disaster.

  42. Surreptitious Evil – Because having a Bde to “do Twitter” is so obviously nuts it must be an attempt to create another 1* post / a pointless waste of money / some general or politician’s brilliant idea to be relevant in C21 etc.

    All of the above? I look forward to the Army joining Tumblr. Should be good for a laugh.

    Seems they want to replicate Israel’s legion of paid internet trolls:

    The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages. “It enables us to engage with an audience we otherwise wouldn’t reach,” said an Israeli army spokesman.

    It has been approached by several western countries, keen to learn from its expertise.

    During last summer’s war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, the IDF and Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, tweeted prolifically, sometimes engaging directly with one another.

    “We r gonna kill u. LOL!”

    Of course, psy-ops is all well and good. But you need force to be able to back it up. Even the TV Licencing people don’t rely solely on sending out threatening junkmail.

    The regular British Army will soon be small enough to fit into Wembley Stadium – with about 8,000 seats to spare for the away supporters.

    The MoD employs nearly 70,000 civilians. Maybe we could threaten Putin with a division of office workers.

  43. Listen to yourselves lads.

    I am, and I’m not hearing what you think I’m saying. I never said Putin is a new overlord of Europe: if I have, quote me. But I do think if some opposition is not shown now – meaning, sanctions – then the borders of Estonia and possibly Lithuania may be threatened, and a push to Odessa on the cards. I doubt he’ll go into Poland or further west, but I think imposing sanctions now in order to stave off a potential threat to the independence of Estonia a worthy response.

    They fucked up Iraq and are busy fucking up Syria and Libya –with help from those opposed to them.

    Oh yes. The CIA is behind everything. I forgot.

  44. By what right–or even common sense— does the US Federal Tyranny decide what regimes take over what nations?

    You might want to take this up with somebody who is says they have such a right. For my part, I was merely correcting Ian B’s factual mistakes in saying American tanks change borders, and highlighting his error in thinking invasions are viewed the same as annexations.

  45. The point I was making was that the practical outcome of toppling these strongmen is you get something worse.

    Only the west was not trying to topple Assad because he was a bad man and they wanted him out. They were trying to topple him because he was fast losing control of his country, a dangerous vacuum was forming, and there was a belief that he used chemical weapons against those who were against him.

  46. “TN–By what right–or even common sense— does the US Federal Tyranny decide what regimes take over what nations?”

    Because the present US administration looks at the next news cycle and the next opinion poll, and not really much further.

    So actions taken or not taken are calculated on the basis of immediate domestic political expediency, and little else.

    Which is why the last 6 years have to a large degree seen the decline of the post-cold-war Pax Americanis.

  47. Never said the CIA was behind the Arab spring. If they had been it would have been bungled and it would have fizzled out double quick. But the Fedicks tried to take advantage of the situation to —I’m not sure what they were trying to do and I don’t think they were either. It always was massively unlikely that some sort of free/decent countries would spontaneously emerge from the mess (given all the evil elements at play in the mid-east) so stirring the boiling pot was never a good idea.

  48. I have no idea what the CIA were or weren’t doing in Libya, and can well believe they were fucking things up whatever they were up to. And quite possibly in Syria too. But as I said, the west was looking to intervene in Syria *after* Assad was losing control for the very reason that a vacuum would be filled by lunatics, and to intervene was the least bad of a list of very bad options.

    But what has this got to do with applying sanctions against Putin? They don’t hurt us, and they do hurt him, and regardless of any double standards or previous CIA fuckups, allowing Russia to annex Crimea without so much of a squeak is seriously inadvisable if you know anything about Russians and how they work: they will continue to push until they meet some resistance. We have lost Crimea, probably East Ukraine, the sanctions IMO are aimed at keeping the Baltics and Odessa. What exactly is the objection here, aside from a daft belief that it was all the west’s fault that Putin simply had to annex Crimea and invade the Donbas?

  49. And if we don’t really care over which countries and regions Russia holds sway, why did we fight the Cold War again? If you see no good reason why Russia shouldn’t rule over the Baltics and swathes of East Europe, then come out and say it. For my part, I think Russia is a depraved fuckup of a country destined to remain 50-100 years behind the rest of Europe on most measures, the less influence it has anywhere the better. Ukraine, and the rest of Europe, would be far better without Russian influence.

  50. Russia–ie the Russian state– certainly should not rule even over Russia –never mind anywhere else. The problem is that what –God help us–“our” clowns are doing about this (and so many other situations). Russia should not be invading anywhere–but it is not our business. You and I are not Ukranians. And if it is to come to some sort of showdown between Ukrainians who want the West and those who don’t (it maybe there are none of those–maybe it is all plains-clothes Rus agitating–but I doubt it) we have no business there. Shall we get involved in another war? Is our meddling going to make things better? Given the ever-declining competence and suspect motives of our own “leaders”?

  51. I’ll not hold my breath on Greece being able to veto further sanctions. The EU system of governance tends to have more than one way to skin a cat.

    Are there ways in which a member state can be temporarily excluded from the voting process if they are not abiding by the rules?(esp. fianancial ones) Does the representative for foreign policy have enough authority to renew the existing sanctions without a new vote?

  52. “But I do think if some opposition is not shown now – meaning, sanctions – then the borders of Estonia and possibly Lithuania may be threatened”

    Article 5 – We always have to mean it, no matter what.

    And for what it’s worth – looking at the geography and the countries surrounding Russia that have already joined – you don’t have to have a particularly active imagination to understand why Putin might not want all of Ukraine to also join that club? Or why he might otherwise be tempted to take steps to create a buffer if the pressure was ratcheted up? That’s not to support in any way, simply observe.

  53. Russia should not be invading anywhere–but it is not our business. You and I are not Ukranians.

    Okay, then why did we bother fighting the Cold War? If everyone was happy with Moscow ruling over Poland, the Baltics, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany then we could have saved ourselves a lot of blood and treasure by adopting the same stance as a lot of British unions.

    Shall we get involved in another war? Is our meddling going to make things better?

    Nobody is saying we should get involved in a war. We’re implementing sanctions. Sanctions which hurt Putin but don’t hurt us. What is your objection here?

  54. And for what it’s worth – looking at the geography and the countries surrounding Russia that have already joined – you don’t have to have a particularly active imagination to understand why Putin might not want all of Ukraine to also join that club?

    For sure. Russia is genuinely paranoid about being surrounded and invaded based on their history. But what they fail to appreciate is lots of other countries have also been surrounded and occupied, not least by Russians (e.g. Poland and the Baltics). Russia’s paranoia and ignorance of history shouldn’t be used as an excuse for aggression against its neighbours. The Poles have far more to fear from Russia than vice versa.

  55. The soviets were a clear threat to all of us not just occupied East Europe.

    The sanctions are hurting them. But the Germans are also suffering. However the worst may be yet to come. If the petrodollar can be ousted as the world’s reserve currency (no–not by Putin alone but he is dealing with China and the other BRICS–all of whom are sick of the Fedicks throwing their weight around) then the consequences for the West are likely to be severe.

  56. The soviets were a clear threat to all of us not just occupied East Europe.

    They were only a threat to us because we opposed them. Why did we not just cut a deal and say “Hey, the occupation of Eastern Europe is your business, nothing to do with us. In return, kindly point those ICBMs away from London”?

    But the Germans are also suffering.

    Hang on, we’re supposed to overlook Ukranian suffering being shelled because we’re not Ukrainians but worry about the fortunes of German businessmen?

    However the worst may be yet to come. If the petrodollar can be ousted as the world’s reserve currency (no–not by Putin alone but he is dealing with China and the other BRICS–all of whom are sick of the Fedicks throwing their weight around) then the consequences for the West are likely to be severe.

    Have you been reading ZeroHedge? The dollar’s role as the global currency is akin to Churchill’s description of democracy: the worst option, except for all the others. Putin never quite understood that a reserve currency is something adopted freely by millions of people, and not something decided in a smoke-filled room by a shadowy cabal of global financiers. This is why he came out with the laughable suggestion that the rouble “should” become a reserve currency, he honestly believed it was something decided by a committee somewhere. Truth is, nobody trusts the rouble not to collapse – hell even Russia’s own politicians, let alone the population, didn’t trust the rouble not to collapse. And collapse it duly did. So if not the dollar, what other currencies? The Euro? With Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal still on board? No chance. The Yuan? A look at the number of Chinese shifting their money abroad will give you an indication of how much confidence they have in their own systems. Brazil? Please, it’s largest corporation Petrobras is mired in the biggest corporate corruption scandal in the country’s history.

    So yes, Iran, India, and Russia could create their own international payment system to challenge the dollar, just like they could create their own smartphones to challenge Apple, OS to challenge Microsoft, and aircraft to challenge Boeing. But for reasons that are quite easy to identify they can barely get traffic lights working properly. It is their own sheer incompetence that is preventing them from gaining independence from the US banking system, but if they were even half competent they’d not need to in the first place.

    No, I don’t think we need to be giving the Russians free reign in Ukraine because of reserve currencies.

  57. Russia’s paranoia and ignorance of history shouldn’t be used as an excuse for aggression against its neighbours

    I think it was 2007 when the Estonians tried to move a statue of a Soviet soldier from a main square in Tallinn to a war cemetery. The neo-Soviets responded with a DDOS attack against the entire .ee domain. Shows how much they really value their neighbors’ independence.

  58. The EU system of governance tends to have more than one way to skin a cat.

    True enough, Gareth. A couple of years back when the Czechs held the EU presidency, the government collapsed which would have led to the spector of the icky (in the Brussels Class’ minds) Vaclav Klaus hosting EU summits. So they quickly stitched up a means of preventing that. And when the Austrian elections of 1999 led to Jörg Haider joining the government coalition, you can bet the Brussels Class tried to exclude him as much as possible.

  59. @ Ian B and Tim Newman and …
    Since WWII borders have been changed armed force (in at leasty one case by tanks).
    In each case the Chinese Communists have been the driving force. They have annexedvpart of the Him,alayas from India, they have stolen Tibet from its people, they backed the North Vietnamese invasion of the south, the backed the North Korean invasion of the south.
    Those who believe in the religion of Marxist-Leninism are so sure that history must vindicate them that they care nothing for the scolding of the petty bourgeois who care about frontiewrs and laws.

  60. I think it was 2007 when the Estonians tried to move a statue of a Soviet soldier from a main square in Tallinn to a war cemetery.

    Yup, Russia went apeshit and accused the Estonians of ingratitude over their liberation from the Nazis, perhaps forgetting that the USSR had annexed them prior to the Nazis showing up.

  61. Russia’s paranoia and ignorance of history shouldn’t be used as an excuse for aggression against its neighbours.

    I don’t disagree at all with your broad sentiment re agression etc – but I’m not convinced you actually meant that!

    Ignoring former attempted invasions of Russia; just a generation ago, the entire region comprised members of the Warsaw Pact. Now pretty much all of those (Pact) countries surrounding Russia on its western border, except Belarus and Ukraine, the largest two countries acting as a buffer directly to the west, are firmly part of the (former enemy) NATO club.

    “The Poles have far more to fear from Russia than vice versa.”

    Any such “fear” on Russia’s part would (obviously) not be from “Poland” or any other immediate small neighbours!

    I’ll repeat, this is not to support, simply to observe.

  62. I don’t disagree at all with your broad sentiment re agression etc – but I’m not convinced you actually meant that!

    No, I meant it: Russia’s historical ignorance is staggering. They seem to have entirely forgotten that they occupied the Baltics before they were occupied by the Nazis, for example. And Molotov-Robbentrop? Never happened as far as they’re concerned.

    Ignoring former attempted invasions of Russia; just a generation ago, the entire region comprised members of the Warsaw Pact. Now pretty much all of those (Pact) countries surrounding Russia on its western border, except Belarus and Ukraine, the largest two countries acting as a buffer directly to the west, are firmly part of the (former enemy) NATO club.

    Yes, and rather than being paranoid about invasion they should stop and ask themselves why a group that were formally in a defensive pact with them should now be on the other side. And if they were smart and honest they’d understand that none of these countries wanted to be in the Warsaw Pact in the first place and their main concern is aggression from Russia. But Russians never ask themselves this, they are content with a bizarre combination of imperialistic dreams and childlike hurt at not being “respected”.

    Any such “fear” on Russia’s part would (obviously) not be from “Poland” or any other immediate small neighbours!

    Sure. They’re convinced the US wanted to put a naval base in Sevastopol. Fuck knows why the US would want a base there, but that’s the narrative. But if Nato wanted to put pressure on Russia, or invade, they’d start with the enclave at Kaliningrad. But this hasn’t even come up in anyone’s wildest dreams, yet we’re supposed to believe Russia is afraid of a full-on invasion via Ukraine? Nah, I’m not buying it. They want more land because they think more land is better than less land, akin to Victorian-era colonialists.

  63. TN: “They were only a threat to us because we opposed them. Why did we not just cut a deal and say “Hey, the occupation of Eastern Europe is your business, nothing to do with us. In return, kindly point those ICBMs away from London”?”

    You answer your own point. Their ambitions were global. Not a case of ignore them and they ignore us.

    As for money–what you say is half true. The fact the worlds political porkers have fucked up everything everywhere does not mean that the dollar is invulnerable. And America owes the most–esp to the Chinese. Yes they can default–and will have to at some point–but when it comes there will be hell to pay. It can’t be avoided forever and maybe Putin and the BRICS don’t have the power–but it only took the failure of one Austrian bank to bring 1929 on so even the attempts of second-stringers might produce more bitter fruit than anybody anticipated.

    “Hang on, we’re supposed to overlook Ukranian suffering being shelled because we’re not Ukrainians but worry about the fortunes of German businessmen?”

    Don’t give a monkeys about German anything but it is far from clear who started what shooting. The downed airplane saga still has no clarity. Given the fact that “our” side are as much a bunch of liars as the Russians I don’t know who kicked of the violence.

    Also how is this to be resolved? Putin can’t back down now and survive and most Russians polled approve of his actions.

  64. “Of course, you may choose to believe the CIA started the Aran spring and kicked off a revolution against Assad and created the unfavourable conditions in Syria and then tried to go to war in order to….well, who knows?”

    An Aran spring? Sounds a bit ghastly, fashion is fashion.

  65. Given the fact that “our” side are as much a bunch of liars as the Russians I don’t know who kicked of the violence.

    Well, that’s where I think you’re going wrong (and where most people are going wrong). Our side lie their arses off, but to nowhere near the extent the Russians do, especially on this issue. They lied and lied and lied about having any men in Crimea, and then said “Hey, what a clever move we made!” Their whole disinformation campaign relies on people in the west not being able to decide who is telling the truth and thus giving the Russians the benefit of the doubt. That’s why they refused to allow access to the Malaysian black box, so that people in the west could say “Oh, there’s no clarity” and give them a free pass. Sorry, but you’ve swallowed their hook, line, and sinker.

  66. Our side lie their arses off, but to nowhere near the extent the Russians do, especially on this issue.
    The nub of the matter is that we’re being asked to believe an EU that’s undermined Europe’s nation states and made itself impervious to democratic oversight (e.g. Lisbon Treaty). And to trust the most dishonest and corrupt US administration in that nation’s modern history (e.g. You can keep your health plan). And they’re both incompetent, because, as Ian B says, Putin was never going to give up Sevastopol without a fight (it being his warm water port, he already had a strong military presence there, so didn’t ‘lie’ about it).
    The Malaysian black box is irrelevant – it just shows the plane being destroyed. We need the warhead type used (from the debris field) and the space radar data showing launch point and weapon profile.

  67. And they’re both incompetent, because, as Ian B says, Putin was never going to give up Sevastopol without a fight (it being his warm water port, he already had a strong military presence there, so didn’t ‘lie’ about it).

    Sorry, who was asking Putin to give up the Russian base in Sevastopol? Not in a single moment of 20 years of independence has Russia not being able to access the base or continue the lease been suggested, not once. And as I said, but few wish to acknowledge it, Russia already has a large and busy port on the Black Sea only they couldn’t be bothered moving their fleet there because it was easier to rent Sevastopol. So spare me yet more Kremlin propaganda about having no choice but to invade Crimea to ensure access to the Black Sea fleet.

    The Malaysian black box is irrelevant – it just shows the plane being destroyed.

    Then why did they not allow unfettered access to the wreckage? If it’s irrelevant, why squirrel it off to Moscow and get thugs to “protect” the site and rummage through it?

  68. he already had a strong military presence there, so didn’t ‘lie’ about it

    And this? Please. Russia has a naval base in Sevastopol and so wasn’t lying when they said the soldiers without insignia attacking Simferopol airport weren’t Russian?

    How is it that people are able to identify when western governments are being duplicious but swallow anti-western propaganda wholesale?

  69. @TN
    Not in a single moment of 20 years of independence has Russia not being able to access the base or continue the lease been suggested.
    What matters here is what the other guy (Putin) thinks. Which is that cutting the Russians off from Sevastopol was the sole objective of the Western-sponsored coup. It surely wasn’t to enable the West to reap the riches of the Ukrainian economy.
    Russia already has a large and busy port on the Black Sea only they couldn’t be bothered moving their fleet there. They probably didn’t move because a) it cost too much, and b) if they did move they’d leave a potentially hostile base right next door. Same reasoning we’ll use if the Scots kick Trident out of Faslane.
    They lied and lied and lied about having any men in Crimea Now you agree they did have men there.
    Then why did they not allow unfettered access to the wreckage? Because they did not control the wreckage, it was in a war zone. And the BB had no useful information other than confirmation of the precise time of the destruction.

  70. What matters here is what the other guy (Putin) thinks. Which is that cutting the Russians off from Sevastopol was the sole objective of the Western-sponsored coup.

    All that matters are figments of Putin’s imagination? Hell of a basis on which to base European security.

    They probably didn’t move because a) it cost too much

    Seriously? Russia can blow an estimated 50bn on the Sochi winter olympics but the upgrading Novorossiysk to take the Black Sea fleet is too costly?

    if they did move they’d leave a potentially hostile base right next door. Same reasoning we’ll use if the Scots kick Trident out of Faslane.

    What, England will invade Scotland? Heh.

    Now you agree they did have men there.

    Huh? They had navy personnel in a base in Sevastopol. They also had men in Simferopol airport. At no point did I deny the presence of either.

    Because they did not control the wreckage, it was in a war zone.

    The militia controlling the area is armed, supported, and most likely commanded by the Russian military. This is beyond dispute by all but the most ardent of Kremlin supporters.

    And the BB had no useful information other than confirmation of the precise time of the destruction.

    Then why take it to Moscow? But I’ve asked you this already, haven’t I?

  71. The EU s expansion of power has been more subtle but also much more effective than poor old Putin’s timid efforts. Will the world be more peaceful when there is a regime in Brussels with an army drawing on a population of 300 million?

  72. Then why take it to Moscow?
    It probably wasn’t. The plane crashed on July 17 and six days later on July 23 a Hampshire paper reported: The boxes arrived in Farnborough on Wednesday morning, a day after being handed over to the Malaysian authorities by pro-Russian rebels on Tuesday.

    I guess we’ll never agree on the need to see the world as our enemies do. That’s normal military practice and makes us stronger. Maybe in this case it would have prevented us starting a low level war with an insecure and fragile nation that has the capability to wipe us all out.

  73. @bnig “invading and annexing bits of neighbouring countries on the pretext of protecting his ethnics there” – i don’t think it was a pretext, I suppose he is entirely honest in his wish to look after his own people.

    It is entirely possible to do things for a stated reason and that reason not be a pretext.

  74. So Much for Subtlety

    john77 – “In each case the Chinese Communists have been the driving force. They have annexedvpart of the Him,alayas from India, they have stolen Tibet from its people”

    Unfortunately for the Tibetan people, everyone has always recognised Tibet as part of China so they didn’t invade in that sort of legalistic sense. Nor have they annexed any part of the Himalayas. Actually the Chinese side insists on the illegality of the Colonial border but are willing to accept it. The Indians also agree on the illegality of the colonial border and so insist on territory on the Tibetan side of that border. But so far have been too incompetent to take any of it.

    “they backed the North Vietnamese invasion of the south, the backed the North Korean invasion of the south.”

    They did indeed. But the North claimed they were doing regime change, not border change. Then the government of the South voted to be re-incorporated into the old motherland etc etc

    “Those who believe in the religion of Marxist-Leninism are so sure that history must vindicate them that they care nothing for the scolding of the petty bourgeois who care about frontiewrs and laws”

    The map of the world in the Soviet Union had no borders. They genuinely thought they would rule the entire world one day.

  75. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Well, to be fair, the Americans don’t bother changing borders. They just change governments. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran (twice) and so on and so forth.”

    So to be fair, your sub-Chomsky-ite nonsense is crap. They have not changed the government of Afghanistan even once. Nor have they in Iran. I assume you are referring to the over-throw of the first Shah of that dynasty in WW2? And Mossadegh? They claimed credit for the second but they probably didn’t do it. Mossadegh had made himself thoroughly unpopular with everyone.

    And seriously, you’re defending the good old days under Saddam now?

    Ian B – “Fighting who? They wanted us to go and topple Assad so another Islamist government could take over.”

    They wanted us to go and topple Asad. Unfortunately it looks like the Islamists will take over either way. But that is not what they wanted.

    And yet unfortunately we are still in the same position. We need to defeat the Islamists. We will have to go back and rule these countries are colonies in the end, like it or not. The question is how many bombs in Rome and Paris will we put up with first.

  76. This is real politik. NOt student politics. Not church of England bishops or never-will-be labour pols pronouncing on matters they know little about. This is tanks, guns, people dying, livelihoods ruined.

    Sanctions are for the former. In the game that Putin’s playing, if you don’t, credibly, have a big stick he’s not going to listen.

    Putin has decided that whatever sticks the West is waving about there is no chance of them using them, and is taking steps to clear up what he regards as his own back yard.

    I don’t support what he’s doing of course. I think he’s a loathsome bastard. But he’s doing what politicians do when they are essentially unconstrained.

  77. Sanctions are for the former. In the game that Putin’s playing, if you don’t, credibly, have a big stick he’s not going to listen.

    The sanctions aren’t causing him to change direction, but they are certainly hurting him, badly. Not in terms of popularity, but they are seriously crippling his budget.

    I think he’s a loathsome bastard. But he’s doing what politicians do when they are essentially unconstrained.

    Indeed. Which is why I’m glad his budget is fucked, imagine what he’d be doing if he was still awash with money.

  78. Not that Crimea was historically Russian land. It was part of the Russian Republic from 1920 to 1954. Prior to that it seems to have been part of Ukraine.

    That’s “seems to have been” in the sense of “wasn’t”. Crimea was annexed by Russia in 1783 and ruled as the main part of the “Taurida Governorate” (Taurida means Crimean) until the Revolution. Before the annexation it was ruled by Tatars as the Crimean Khanate, attached to the Ottoman Empire. Following the annexation, the population changed from mostly Tatar to mostly Russian. It’s never been mostly Ukrainian.

    Russia is ripping up the entire basis of post-War diplomacy that borders are inviolate and are not changed by tanks.

    There’s a country (recognized by most of the UN) in the Balkans called Kosovo. The decisive military force which separated it from Serbia was NATO bombing. Neither Serbia nor Russia has ever agreed to its creation as an independent country.
    __

    I don’t mean to defend Putin. But it does seem to me that the West decides which of its principles matter on a case-by-case basis.

  79. So Much for Subtlety

    PaulB – “That’s “seems to have been” in the sense of “wasn’t”. Crimea was annexed by Russia in 1783 and ruled as the main part of the “Taurida Governorate” (Taurida means Crimean) until the Revolution.”

    Well yes and no. But it is nice to see you have found Wikipedia:

    The Taurida Oblast was created by a decree of Catherine the Great on 2 February 1784. The center of the oblast was first in Karasubazar but was moved to Simferopol later in 1784. The establishment decree divided the oblast into 7 uyezds. However, by a decree of Paul I on 12 December 1796, the oblast was abolished and the territory, divided into 2 uyezds (Akmechetsky [Акмечетский] and Perekopsky [Перекопский]) was attached to the second incarnation of the Novorossiysk Governorate.

    Novorossiysk governorate is what most people would call southern Ukraine. And yes, the Russians did abolish one level of government, leaving Crimea answering directly to Moscow in most things. But that doesn’t mean it was part of Russia.

  80. Are you standing by your ridiculous claim that Crimea was “part of Ukraine” before 1920, on the basis that for less than 6 years around 1800 it was included in the Novorossiysk Governorate?

  81. So Much for Subtlety

    PaulB – “Are you standing by your ridiculous claim that Crimea was “part of Ukraine” before 1920, on the basis that for less than 6 years around 1800 it was included in the Novorossiysk Governorate?”

    I didn’t claim that it was part of Ukraine. I said it seems to have been. And yes, I am standing by my claim that it seems to have been because it seems to have been. It certainly was not part of Russia proper.

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