The Washington Post‘s Jackson Diehl probably won’t be invited back for any background security briefings at the Obama White House, after tweeting this.
New White House background spin for journalists: Putin has made such a big mistake by invading Crimea that it’s a good thing, really.
— Jackson Diehl (@JacksonDiehl) March 2, 2014
And it’s a good thing that Obamacare is “liberating” so many Americans from “job lock,” too!
When the likes of ThinkProgress start coughing up positive takes on Putin’s move as a “mistake,” we’ll know where it’s coming from.
In the real world, Ukraine has a special relationship with NATO, not a member yet but a prospective member. Russia’s invasion can be read of heading off full NATO membership for Ukraine, and a test of the alliance. Russia seeks to build the Eurasian Union, and may seek to re-establish the Baltic States as a buffer between itself and the European Union.
Baltic States Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are NATO members. The three are also EU members. Poland is as well, it shares a border with Ukraine, and there are unconfirmed reports that Poland is mobilizing its military and moving to shore up that border. How weird can things get? Between west-leaning Ukraine and the NATO-member Baltic States is Belarus, a Russian ally. North of Poland is the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Russia’s rationale for taking Crimea is that it is protecting the ethnic Russians there (while downplaying the fact that Russia has sought warm-water ports for centuries, and Crimea has Russia’s only warm-water navy base) from the chaos in Kiev. Should Poland fully mobilize its military, Russia could apply a similar rationale to Kaliningrad, as it is wedged between Poland and Lithuania. A few months back, as Russia was pressuring its Baltic neighbors, the foreign minister of Lithuania mused to the media about blockading Kaliningrad. Even that brief discussion could become a pretext for action, if it fits into Putin’s plans.
I’m not predicting anything. But Kaliningrad was the home of the USSR’s Baltic fleet during the Cold War. If the Eurasian Union is really the USSR 2.0 as some suspect, then securing Kaliningrad at the expense of former satellites that Russia would like to recapture into its orbit, while challenging and possibly discrediting NATO, would not be out entirely of character.