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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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March 12, 2014 - 4:05 pm

This might be a signal that Vladimir Putin intends to take all of Ukraine by force. Before moving on to reconstitute the Soviet empire.

In a call with Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tarter people, Putin reportedly dismissed his concern that a referendum scheduled to be held this weekend in Crimea, which would decide whether the territory should be annexed to Russia, would violate the terms of a 1994 treaty with Western nations guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty.

According to Dzhemilev, Putin also said that it was debatable as to whether Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, acquired in 1991, was even legal.

The world could be moving into extremely dangerous times. Suppose that the claim above is true and Putin said what is reported. Prior to its dissolution in 1991, the USSR included a number of countries which have since become independent.

Soviet_Union_Administrative_Divisions_1989

Those include Ukraine and the Baltic States — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — among others. Ukraine suffered massively under Soviet rule; Stalin intentionally starved millions of them during the 1932-33 famine. Ethnic Ukrainians mostly want nothing to do with Russia now. After the USSR’s fall, the Baltics joined NATO to enjoy protection from post-Soviet Russia as quickly as they could, and they are NATO members now. NATO has also included several countries that were forced into the Warsaw Pact, including Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. NATO’s expansion has moved the West’s borders right up through what was the old Soviet Union’s borderlands up to Russia itself, a fact that Putin openly bristles at. Russian foreign policy over the last 300-odd years, Soviet era and otherwise, can be boiled down to obtaining warm-water ports and keeping a buffer between itself and Europe’s central, more powerful states and the United Kingdom. Ukraine, the Baltics and the Warsaw Pact satellite states in eastern Europe were that buffer during the Soviet era. The Soviets effectively moved Russia’s frontier all the way to Berlin; the post-Soviet era has erased that buffer and moved the border back to Russia’s own frontier. NATO is a defensive alliance, but KGB man Putin has never seen it that way.

Putin was not in power when the Soviet Union fell apart, and is not a signatory to the documents by which it was dissolved and the Commonwealth of Independent States was formed. Mikhail Gorbachev was in power as the USSR’s general secretary, and Boris Yeltsin took power as president of Russia after the USSR’s death. Putin may therefore see that entire sequence of events as illegal, mainly because he wasn’t there, and something to be overturned.

Putin has already said that the USSR’s fall was a geopolitical catastrophe. He has already taken strides to create the Moscow-centric Eurasian Union, which comes into full in 2015. If Putin truly believes that the dissolution of the USSR itself was illegal, he is implying that all of Ukraine and the Baltics, as well as several other currently independent countries, belong to Russia and/or a reconstituted Soviet Union, and that he would be within his rights to invade and conquer them. Every independent nation that borders Russia and/or was once incorporated in the Soviet Union should greet this with great alarm.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, and the West would not be directly obligated to defend it should Russia move to seize all of it. But the West is not completely off the hook: The 1994 Budapest Memo calls for respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and Putin has already violated it by seizing Crimea. The US and UK signed that document to reassure Ukraine. What should our allies make of Obama’s ineffective response and the UK’s obvious cravenness?

Let’s look at things from Putin’s point of view. The United States currently has an inexperienced president, is war-weary and debt-ridden and often fails to see eye to eye with its allies in Europe and Asia. Its Congress is currently bitterly divided, but that may change in November — but that Congress will be unified under the Republicans, so the American government will remain divided. Its military has been slashed and faces more force reductions. Its economy is stagnant. Its heavy industry has been whittled away for decades as jobs in that sector have been shipped overseas. Europe has not taken military matters seriously for decades, preferring to live under America’s protection. The UK is far from the global power it once was, and neither is Germany. On the Asian wing, South Korea remains preoccupied by North Korea and while Japan possesses one of the best funded self-defense forces in the world, its military lacks reach. For Vladimir Putin, who has already gotten the best of Barack Obama and seen to it that Obama’s red lines fade quickly, there may be no better time than this one to undo the catastrophe of the Soviet Union’s fall, if that’s what he is inclined to do.

h/t Ace

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Nothing in the old Soviet Union was legal, or illegal. At best, it was extra-legal, because there was no rule of law. The law was whatever the guy who controlled the most troops, said it was.

As an ex-KGB man, Putin knows that. For him to talk about legality is a sham, and meaningless.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and his fellow travellers also probably thought the dissolution of the USSR was illegal, or at least unfair to the poor, misunderstood Soviets. Let's just not put those missiles in Poland or the Czech Republic. They won't ever need to defend themselves from the Russians. Reset, Reset...Overcharge. Oops.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That Putin - he's such a hoot. I suppose he thought that Stalin's takeover of those eastern European nations was legal? Mr. Putin: I think your logic circuits are a bit flawed.

37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Bryan Preston,

That last paragraph is a well crafted summary. It is a keeper.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
NATO is a defensive alliance. Are you sure? Was Libya a defensive war? Who is helping the Muslim Brotherhood all across region 4 of the WTO? What countries troops have been in Afghanistan over ten years, or did Iraq have to be invaded due to Sudam aliening his money with the euro, not the petrodollar?

Defensive indeed Sir. Without America there is no NATO, and NATO making treaties in eastern Europe countries does not make it America's national interest.

Sure, Putin will erase you, but so will NATO if you stand in the way of the WTO agenda. Russian nationalists may see History differently than we do. European armies invaded Russia twice. Putin is not Stalin, and Russia is not the former Soviet Union. Which group is the prettiest broad ?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That would also mean that Putin's presidency is illegal.

Putin is just being Putin.
It's the behavior of the Dear Leader that is disgraceful, and that has directly led to the mess we are in now.
No surrender in Syria in 2013 --> No aggression in Ukraine 2014. It's that simple.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nothing in the old Soviet Union was legal, or illegal. At best, it was extra-legal, because there was no rule of law. The law was whatever the guy who controlled the most troops, said it was.

As an ex-KGB man, Putin knows that. For him to talk about legality is a sham, and meaningless.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
People don't understand what the European balance of power game was or what the Pax America that followed it really does.

Russia's southern ambitions embraced the symbolism of the two-headed eagle and there is no doubt in my mind that were it not for Europe and then America, Russia would be squatting in Istanbul right now. Free passage to the Med and pushing Muslims back farther? You betcha.

People haven't forgotten Islamic incursions centuries back. The whole dust up in the former Yugoslavia in the '90s was based on Serb humiliations 600 years earlier. Just look up SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC's Field of Blackbirds speech before that whole thing went to hell and we ended up bombing Serbs for killing Muslims.

Empire-building's not over - not by a long shot. Let the Dems keep spending our treasure managing their unproductive. No military no peace. Every immigrant from the Third World to America now is a new slave in Africa or Asia 50 years from now. If Mayans and Somalians could manage fast attack nuke carrier fleets, they already would have. Traveling to America won't change that. A nation is people, not geography.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and his fellow travellers also probably thought the dissolution of the USSR was illegal, or at least unfair to the poor, misunderstood Soviets. Let's just not put those missiles in Poland or the Czech Republic. They won't ever need to defend themselves from the Russians. Reset, Reset...Overcharge. Oops.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That Putin - he's such a hoot. I suppose he thought that Stalin's takeover of those eastern European nations was legal? Mr. Putin: I think your logic circuits are a bit flawed.

37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"your logic circuits are a bit flawed"

In evolutionary terms it does not matter if he is the last organism standing.

In Darwinian terms honesty, goodness, fairness are not the end all be all.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin almost certainly sees Russia's prerogatives as Stalin did: what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable. The Muslims lean the same way, as do the Chinese.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wish more of our fellow citizens would realize this.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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