Will Russia’s Putin Try To Split Crimea from Ukraine?

Posted February 22nd, 2014 at 6:38 pm (UTC+0)
31 comments

President Putin skipped this on Thursday night: Russia's Adelina Sotnikova celebrates after winning the women's figure skating event. Photo/ AP

Putin missed this Thursday night: Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova celebrates after winning the women’s figure skating event. Photo/ AP

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has fled the nation’s capital, taking refuge in Crimea, a region where politicians increasingly call for annexation by Russia.

Separately, two leading Russian politicians met with hundreds of politicians from Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. At the meeting, one speaker called for “self-defense units” to block revolutionaries from Kyiv if they try to move on Eastern Ukraine.

On Saturday, Rossiya 24 broadcast an interview with Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin who said Russia should protect Crimea and Eastern Ukraine “with tanks.”

Will Europe’s largest nation split up?

Will Crimea break away from Ukraine and return to Russia, its historical ruler?

If Ukraine cracks, will it be peaceful, the way Czechoslovakia split in 1993? Or will it be bloody, the way Yugoslovia did in slow motion in the 1990s?

A lot depends on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s president returned to Sochi for the closing ceremony of his $51 billion pride and joy, the Winter Olympics.

President Putin left his Olympics to return to Moscow to preside on Friday over Security Council meeting on Ukraine. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service

President Putin skips his Olympics to return to Moscow to preside on Friday over Security Council meeting on Ukraine. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service


Putin is probably furious that after seven years of Olympic preparations, Yanukovych bumbled, cracked down, killed almost 100 people, and then lost control of the nation.

Instead of the world watching the New Russia — hockey games and figure skaters in Sochi — world television viewers are watching journalists and Ukrainian citizens tour a gaudy mansion abandoned by Yanukovych in Kyiv.

But Putin is cold and calculating, one of the world’s most astute geo-strategists. Last week, he skipped watching a young Russian woman win a gold medal in figure skating. He was back in Moscow Friday preparing to lead a meeting of his Security Council, about Ukraine.

What will Putin do?

In the past, Putin has stated publicly what many Russians think privately: that Ukraine is not a nation.

Past Russian leaders have seen Ukraine as an economic colony and as a security buffer zone. It slowed down invaders from Europe. Today, Russia’s navy base in Crimea at Sevastopol projects power into the Black Sea and on to the Mediterranean.

So in a replay of Soviet history, we might soon hear calls for “fraternal assistance” from political leaders in Crimea and eastern Ukraine who want Russian peacekeepers to protect them.

Six years ago, Putin got unending flak for directing his military to cut Georgia in half while he was at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Russia's nightmare: Rebels ride atop a confiscated military truck in central Kyiv on Feb. 22. Will they next head East to confront Yanukovych supporters? AP Photo: Darko Bandic

Protesters ride atop a confiscated military truck, in central Kyiv on Feb. 22. Will they next head East to confront Yanukovych supporters? AP Photo: Darko Bandic

On Monday morning, the Winter Olympics are over. Don’t be surprised if the Olympic host stops playing Mr. Nice Guy. The Kremlin has prepared the ground for a possible “peacekeeping” option.

I was in Georgia the week before Russia’s invasion on Aug. 8, 2008. The parallels between that situation and the current crisis in Ukraine are crystal clear.

The Sunday before the Georgia-Russia war, Russian state TV gave hysterical coverage of the evacuation of women and children from South Ossetia to Russia. Hysterical because the Russian TV reporter seemed to be on the verge of a heart attack. In contrast, the women and children boarding buses were as relaxed as if they were going to summer camp.

Similarly, Russian government TV is now in overdrive telling viewers that Ukrainian nationalists are neo-Nazi bandits paid and manipulated by the West. At the same time, the Kremlin is restricting dissident voices – TV channel Dozhd, Ria Novosti news service and Echo Moskvi radio.

And while Russia’s state-controlled media replace their portrayal of Ukrainians as Slavic brothers to with criticism of Western puppets, Russia distributes Russian passports in Crimea. This also was done in the region’s three Russian-speaking separatist enclaves that are now controlled by Russian “peacekeeping troops” – Moldova’s TransDniester and Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

If the Kremlin tries to engineer Crimea’s secession, it would fit with Russia’s divide and control policy toward its immediate neighbors.

Rather than seeking outright Soviet-style administration, the Kremlin prefers to be surrounded by neighbors that are weakened by separatist conflict. Not coincidentally, a new pan-Russian group called “Rusintern” was formed last week in Moscow. In an echo of the Comintern of the 1920s – the Communist International – its slogan is “Russians of the world unite.” Rusintern supports pro-Kremlin groups in the Baltics and Ukraine.

Last year, I visited three of these secessionist statelets – Abkhazia, TransDniester and Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous corner of Azerbaijan controlled by ethnic Armenians. One factor unites all three: ethnic homogeneity, achieved through violence and ethnic cleansing.

And that will be the rub for Russia in Ukraine.

In Crimea, 10 percent of the population are Crimean Tatars. Largely Muslim, they are dead set opposed to any return to rule by Moscow. During the first half of the 20th century, Moscow nearly wiped out the Crimean Tatar population through famine, war and mass deportations.

There is a second factor that would make any Russian “peacekeeping” in Ukraine more difficult: Russia’s Soviet-educated leaders do not understand that in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, many Russian-speaking Ukrainians do not want to be Russians.

Finally, there is a third factor: Ukrainians, generally under 35 years of age, who simply cannot speak Russian. I have found them in the West, but also in villages east of Kyiv. Some have studied Russian, but most TV is now in Ukrainian language. And in the West, some Ukrainians who still speak Russian, refuse to do so out of nationalist conviction.

Before Putin, a normally cautious leader, sends Russian peacekeepers into Ukraine, he should remember that wars are often easier to get into than to get out of. I write “war” because any Russian “peacekeepers” dispatched to Crimea or eastern Ukraine might be supported by Russian public opinion, but also face a possible guerrilla campaign of violent opposition.

The tenacity of Kyiv’s winter protesters gives a taste of what could come.
A few years ago, I visited the regional museum in Nikolaev, a Russian-speaking city in southeastern Ukraine. The city has historic ties with Russia. It was founded by Grigory Potemkin in 1789 as a shipyard for the Russian navy. The museum followed Ukrainian history up to the end of World War II.

Then, starting in 1945, Soviet-era panels were blocked by life-size portraits of handsome, sandy-haired men wearing uniforms that were unfamiliar to me. After studying the Ukrainian-language explanations, I realized that they were soldiers of the post-war Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the anti-Soviet guerrilla group.

Little known in the West, these guerrillas turned western Ukraine into a hellish assignment for police and soldiers sent from Moscow. In turn, Moscow’s agents killed an estimated 150,000 UPA soldiers and supporters, some by shooting, some through torture.

Today’s draft-age Ukrainians, aged 18 to 35 years, have been taught in school and by the media to revere the UPA. Some have assimilated these teachings. Some have not.

But keep this history in mind when you read that young men in western Ukraine have invaded Ukrainian army bases and seized weapons armories.

Russian “peacekeepers” who enter Ukraine will face the grandsons and granddaughters of the UPA.

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

31 Responses to “Will Russia’s Putin Try To Split Crimea from Ukraine?”

  1. David Cohen says:

    UPA were thugs and nazi collaborators who killed scores of Jews and ethnic Russians Shame on anyone trying to rehabilitate their image.

    • James Brooke James Brooke says:

      David
      As you know, WWII ended for Ukraine 70 years ago, in summer 1944.
      At that time, the US Democratic and Republican Parties firmly defended racial segregation in the United States.
      It is a constant in human behavior that people’s convictions and world views evolve over time. Name calling is an invitation to close minds and ignore evolving convictions and realities.
      Jim Brooke/Sochi

      • JLNancy says:

        Very insightful and well-crafted response @ David Cohen, Mr. Brooke. Though mine would have, also, included >

        “Two things are infinite: – the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
        ― Albert Einstein

        (tee-hee-hee)

      • JS says:

        Come on mr Brooke – see my post below. Putin is right on this one not to mention the lost opportunity in 2001 regarding a powerful strategic alliance with Russia. It was there for the taking and we just kept poking Putin and the Russians in the eye

    • JameSmace says:

      It is true that several hundred Ukrainians joined the Nazis in fighting the advancing Russians. However, many of these Ukrainians were released from Nazi concentration camps where the Germans imprisoned them.

      Another alliance was that between Russia and Germany in 1939 when they invaded Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland.

    • Allen Hingston says:

      Your knowledge of history is a bit shakey. Obviously you listen to too much
      Soviet propaganda. The UPA were not nice people, you are correct, and they did a great deal of ethnic cleansing but they were only initially Nazi collaborators and turned against them once they realized what the Nazis were. They fought everyone who would prevent Ukraine from being free, especially the Russian/Soviet army. And keep in mind that the Soviet Union were “Nazi Collaborators” from the beginning of the war in Sept 1939 until Barbarossa.
      The UPA were and are heros!

      • Mac says:

        the cooperation between Ukrainians and Nazi least till end of the war. The last famous action was a try to release Nazi from a camp in Przemysl on december 11 1945.

        From Poland perspective they were a criminals, who killed more then 100000 civils

        They get a benefit from situation as they get weapons from Germans and there were almost no young man in Poland because they fighting along allies with Germans. Of-course there were some revenge actions but nothing in compare to UPA.

        Our nations should speak about this and review our history as we should build strong center Europe together without a bad blood.

      • Alex says:

        Аллен Hingston – Русские идут к Вам!!!

      • Daria says:

        Your knowledge of history is null.

        • Mac says:

          @Daria

          Sorry I don’t understand.

          What is null?
          The fact of killing more then 100000 civilians?
          or the fact about union between Nazi and UPA till the end of the war?

          I know that wiki is not the best source, but please go ahead and check this out:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacres_of_Poles_in_Volhynia_and_Eastern_Galicia
          You can check on other sources.

          I like the facts, please be more precise.

          @Alex
          Ofcouse the true is that Russia came on 1939 to destroy Poland (ribbentrop-mołotow pact) and only the attack of Germans on Russians change their policy. They killed a way more then UPA. They also responsible for killing millions of Ukrainians.(Holodomor)

    • Walt says:

      Mr. Cohen,

      It’s laughable that people who defend themselves from the “true thugs” are always branded as “thugs” by revisionists like you who hope to distort the real history of the Ukrainian Holocaust that occurred under Stalin’s ruthless purges.

      Up to 10 million Ukrainians were murdered by Stalin’s political police, the dreaded NKVD. This bureaucracy was the apogee of political correctness, murdering tens of thousands of farmers and small-town people because the region resisted collectivisation. The practice of mass political murder was initiated by Lenin immediately after Trotsky brought him to power. Stalin inherited and extended the practice and its apparatus with gusto.

      Until after the Second World War the senior ranks of the NKVD were disproportionately Jewish. These were secular Jews, who as good communists rejected divisions of ethnicity and race as products of bourgeois society. Nevertheless they retained their identity as Jews; they of course knew who their ancestors were.

      While Jews are forever citing the so-called 6 million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis, there is hardly a peep about the 10 million Ukrainians who died by Jewish hands, who were so eager to follow Stalin’s evil orders in the Ukraine.

      And if you dare to respond, trying to justify their work, perhaps you’ll also get an education about your co-religionist’s handy work in Poland, as well as their contributions to the millions of Armenian massacred.

  2. Gennady says:

    I’m not sure that my opinion will be published in Russia Watch this time. From my previous experience, it takes days, even weeks before it can be moderated, issued or dumped. Nevertheless, I will have a try.
    I’ve already noticed that James’s articles in Russia Watch almost every time start with a question, probably meaningful for an inquisitive western point of view, but a rhetorical one for us, Russian hostages dwelling beyond the Moscow Automobile Ring Road. As almost always, James’s questions about Putin’s Russia have affirmative positive answers from us, Russian provincials. This time the answer is also “Yes”.
    Mr Putin doesn’t hide that in FSB’s geostrategy Ukraine is just a geographical notion, not a united nation, with an eastern part of the territory having economical potential and the western part completely devoid of any such potential. But he has kept to himself what was widely known for decades that NKVD/KGB/ FSB, the Kremlin and their agents have no social support and had been very unpopular and openly hated in the western part of the country, which openly demonstrated hostility for decades.
    The irony is that Mr. Putin and his geostrategists have lost the touch with realities of the contemporary world. They are completely unwilling to listen to what their people say beyond the Moscow Automobile Ring Road. At the same time they have excessive trust in their wide arsenal of means of intimidation, that expand from show trials on fabricated charges, cold-blooded murders of journalists and activists, blasts of apartment buildings to toxins from 12-th laboratory of FSB and so on. They also are unable to comprehend that they can “force the horse to come to the spring but they can’t make the horse to drink from it”.
    One more irony is that Mr. Putin and his geostrategists have already disintegrated, split Russia into fragments by their activity, Russia’s industrial potential, technology and science. We see tiny overfed and overweight Moscow which is hated by 90 huge undernourished, undeveloped impoverished undereducated dying-out disillusioned provincial regions of Russia stretching for thousands kilometers. The rulers have already driven Russia’s economy into the spiral of stagflation with the national currency, which has recently lost about 20% of its value with no prospects of gaining it back. Everything that the rulers lay their hands upon turns into ashes. To my opinion, nothing significant will happen if the regime annexes all the territories that Rusintern (the newest Kremlin’s invention) claims upon. Simply they won’t know what to do with them, won’t able to do anything meaningful, how to feed the population. Therefore, the West can sleep tight with the latest development.

    • JLNancy says:

      Gosh, Gennady, it’s hard to imagine that your posts would ever be dumped.
      I love your irony-anecdotes. :)

      The West only sleeps tight thanks to Western pro-Putin lobbyists such as the Podesta Group and Yanukovych’s Western PR firm Mercury/Clark & Weinstock. Their misinformation and myths can easily put anyone quickly into La-La Land. (lol)

  3. Huver Edgar says:

    I am urging US and EU to come up with 20 billion dollars to help Ukraine to survive and not to even think about military intervention of any kind.

    • Dapluma says:

      20 Billion? Are you out of your mind! I have an Idea! Why not stay the hell out of the Ukraine’s business and let them settle their own issues. Why is it every time some countries people get fed up with their government they have to get help from someone else. What happen to ” Love thy neighbor, and take care of your own”. I love my country, but I hate our politics! As an 8th generation American Let me tell you, I’m fed up with our policing every little dispute on the planet! We have our own problems! Let Russia deal with it’s neighbors. After all, that is their backyard. They asked for help from Russia, let “our friends” the Russians help them! Isn’t that what neighbors do!

  4. Daria says:

    It’s so easy to sit there in a chair in a million of kilometers and post this c**p about “new ukrainian heroes”. Just come and see them. FYI, I’m 20 years old, I don’t support none of the politicians and I don’t have any soviet-produced xenophobia.

    I’m just afraid to walk in my homecity for the past 3 days. I really sympathized people who came to the maidan to express their opinion but now they came to Kharkov and what an I see? They are just drunk invaders destroying everything they see and establishing bandit dictatorship. These are disorganized troops of stupid freaks who do everything they come to mind under the guise of honest citizens of Kiev protest, and will escape the punishment.

    The most frustrating thing is Ukrainian television, which is teeming with misinformation and brainwashing. Any person who speaks the truth not suiting them, immediately becomes a “provocateur” or “titushka” if you heard about this. Really, there are no channels where you can see objective information.

    I’m not a fan of Yanukovych but it’s really strange to make him a scapegoat for all the horror that was going on here for last 3 months.

    Why not to junde the liars Klitchko and Yatsenyuk who called people to arms saying “bullet to the head, so bullet to the head”, thanks to them over 50 protestants and over 20 soldiers of Berkut have died. Most of the soldies are cadest 18-19 years old!!! So that’s what you call people? That’s what you call justice? If you don’t like the president, go and find the president. Why killing literally children?

    If everyone is so concerned about his reidence why don’t we speak of Timoshenko’s appartments in London? Why don’t you visit Yatsenyuk’s mansion? I’m sure you’ll find one more golden toiled bowl.

    I was indifferent to politics and all this stuff until today. Now all I can say is that history is the prostitute among the sciences and the journalist is the most deceitful among the professions.

    Best regards.

    • JLNancy says:

      @Daria

      …Kharkov has drunk invaders?

      Maybe you should move to Kharkiv where protesters are merely trying to topple all those pathetic Vlad Lenin statues.

  5. Sofianitz says:

    It is a US organized covert operation that is trying to split Ukraine, not Putin, although of course, the majority of the Ukranian population are Russians. These “covert operators” use violence, kill people. We’ve already seen this movie, Mr. Brooke. Many times over. As the US assistant secretary of state said, “F… the EU.

  6. Inspect. Chechnya, Russia says:

    I think you know nothing about modern Russians and geopolitics in general if you think that Russia is able to invade Ukraine

    • JLNancy says:

      @Inspector

      Your statements are abit confusing.

      There ALREADY ARE Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine!!

      Please read >

      “The numbers of RUSSIAN Paramilitary Cossacks have increased as they arrive from Moldova’s disputed enclave of Trans-Dniester – a frozen conflict – and Russia’s northern Caucasus.

      These paramilitaries, coupled with RUSSIAN intelligence and RUSSIAN military personnel from the Black Sea Fleet, often dressed in civilian clothes, have swelled the crowds.

      Leaked documents published by the Department Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, former Deputy Interior Minister, Hennedy Moskal, unequivocally shows that RUSSIAN advisers ASSISTED Ukrainian police Special Forces and the SBU in their violent attacks on protesters in Ukraine.

      THUS, there is little need for external Russian intervention [in Ukraine] when there ARE RUSSIAN forces in Ukraine [already]….coming from both local establishments and nearby conflict zones….”

      http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/taras-kuzio/crimea-%E2%80%93-from-playground-to-battleground

  7. Arthur says:

    Ukraine is an independent and soverign nation – no doubt they will defend themselves from any military invasion from any country as is their right. Let wise thinkers realize that an invasion of forces is a big mistake! That being said – Ukranians have proved they are brave, courageous and resiliant – let us hope they are just as resiliant to stabalize their government with trustworthy leaders while keeping constructive relations with the nations that surround it. Not an easy task to do! Daria, you are a local resident of your country – be a positive force for positive change – be safe – be bold with your ideas – and discourage those that promote violence – there are better ideas to get things done without the use of violence!

  8. […] Si el Kremlin trata de organizar la secesión de Crimea, ello se acomodaría a la política de división y control de Rusia hacia sus inmediatos vecinos. http://blogs.voanews.com/russia-watch/2014/02/22/will-putin-try-to-split-ukraine/?from=lister […]

  9. […] 3. http://blogs.voanews.com/russia-watch/2014/02/22/will-putin-try-to-split-ukraine/?from=lister […]

  10. JLNancy says:

    BTW, Mr. Brooke, forgot to add -

    FaNtAsTiC assessment of the dreadful Crimean Crisis in your current blog-article. ^^^ And, naturally, Yanukovych’s securely rushed off to border town, Rostov-on-Don, via Russian military plane.

    You *shore WASN’T* kidding in your previous month’s post ALERT.

    Ummm…Hello? NATO?

    • JLNancy says:

      Edited To Add >

      Looks like “Ukraine – The Budapest Memo” (Treaty – signed Dec 5, 1994), seriously got misfiled somewhere? >

      (EXCERPT)

      1. The United States of America, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the First of the CSCE (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe) Final Act to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

      2. The United States of America, the Russian Federation and the Untied Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

      3. The United States of America, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principle of OSCE Final Act to refrain from economic coercion designed to their own interest, the Exercise of the rights inherent in it’s sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

  11. JS says:

    American Response to Ukrainian Crisis

    First of all, i am an American Patriot and anti-communist American nationalist before all else with the exception of our Lord. That said, the U.S. Government made a historical blunder with regard to Russia following 9-11. While not a fan of G W Bush, he was exactly right with regard to Putin in his first meeting with him – very positive and someone who is a friend of the U.S. Following 9-11, Putin allowed us to use former Soviet bases in the Caucus region to launch our 2001 Afghanistan invasion and provide a logistical staging ground to defeat the Taliban. This was an historic gesture of good will and friendship by Russia.

    Unfortunately, Bush’s national security team (including supposed Stanford educated “russian expert” Condolesa Rice), the state department, and the cadre of neo-conservatives both in and outside of his government made Bush walk back these comments and then went further – in gratitude for Putin and Russian meaningful military support, the American government , war mongering senators McCain and others, and the neoconservative media spit in his face. Rather than disbanding NATO following the Cold War with the imperialist Soviet Union (the primary U.S. Threat for 50 years), we expanded it to nationalist and once again Christian Russia’s ( potential friend and possible strong strategic allies to offset radical Islam, the growing totalitarian nature of the EU, and most importantly imperial China) borders, bypassed Russia in building oil pipelines in areas of russian near abroad rather than working with Russia in such deals, and generally undermining Russia both covertly and overtly through radical foundations and NGOs such as radicals like the misnamed “open society institute”, the media and various arms of radically imperial western governments.

    Just think about the strength of an Anglo-Russian alliance and what that could have meant in the strategic protection of American, British and other Anglo-countries’ interests. Along with India, Japan and Israel what an incredible and impenetrable strategic alliance this could have been in surrounding the Middle East, a counterbalance to a growing imperialistic Brussels-run E.U. (Read Germany and especially France), and a very dangerous and expansionary China. This would have served American strategic interests for years to come in this new post cold-war world.

    However, due to American hubris more bent on interfering in affairs of others and the American government’s inability to change to a new world, we spurned Russia at every turn and made the greatest geostrategic blunder since bleeding American boys in Vietnam and not supporting our commitment to American interests and Cuban freedom fighters at the bay of pigs.

    We have now gone from one radical neoconservative imperialistic American government but at least in some ways pro-American U.S. Government to an ultra-radical Marxist anti-American government unwilling to protect our own interests and our own people abroad – Benghazi and the non-protection or response resulting in the death of of 4 Americans (including our ambassador and courageous American special forces personnel) is merely the most blatant example.

    With all that said, once again we are in Russia’s face in giving covert and overt support to what was a coup by anti-Russian Ukrainian radicals over the democratically elected government of the Ukraine – what hypocrisy and stupidity. Through our arrogance Western and specifically American elite consistently fail to put themselves in other’s shoes; how would the American people react to the Chinese supporting and sending “military adviser” for an anti-American coup in Mexico. Would we tolerate that – the American people certainly wouldn’t but unfortunately can’t speak to the reaction of the anti-American radicals running our own government but that is beside the point.

    Bottom line is that we should at minimum stay completely neutral with regard to events in the Ukraine or even smarter openly condemn the Ukrainian coup. With such actions, maybe just maybe we could begin to patch up our relations with a strong potential strategic partner in Putin’s Russia – but good luck until the U.S. Elite Establishment in Washington is replaced by America First Patriots heeding Washington’s words of not entangling ourselves in permanent alliances but to looking out for America and it’s strategic interests narrowly defined.

    • JLNancy says:

      *rolling on the floor laughing*

      Your comments – *American* perspective to Ukrainian crisis

      -“historic gesture of good will and friendship by Russia” (?)
      -“totalitarian nature of the EU” (?)
      -“radically imperial Western governments” (?)
      -[*your*] “ultra-national Marxist anti-American government” (?)
      -“America *spurned* Russia” (?)
      -“democratically elected government of Ukraine” (?) (but who cares that when *they* came to power that *they* altered the system from within)
      -“strong potential partner in Putin’s Russia” ( ?) (a *Russia* which is really a Club of Dictatorships > Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan)
      -condemn the Ukrainian coup (?)

      Hey, wait!! Those are some of the SAME kind of comments seen on the *screen crawls* on RT TV broadcasts. LOLOLOLOL
      (RT [Russia Today] is Moscow-based, Kremlin sponsored, devoutly anti-Western media network that’s aired around the world).

      IMO, debunks your *American Perspective*. (Why do I keep seeing the words *useful idiots* floating about in my mind?)

      Oh and methinks you forgot to add:

      –if Americans would have allowed the Japanese to land in Hawaii, they could have avoided WW II.

      And Russian tactics sure can teach and inspire people lots of things.
      For example, Russia’s INVASION of Ukraine can be a great learning tool: Maybe for the Iranians, North Koreans, Syrians, Hezbollah, Cubans, Venezuelans, Pakistanis, and loads of Iraqis, Yemenis and Somalians.

      • JS says:

        Invasion – really? How many have been shot and killed by the russian. Putin is doing what any powerful country will do to protect their interests and Russians living abroad – eg their Black Sea bases of absolute strategic necessity to Russia. Think thatcher in the Falklands. Cameron with regard to Gibraltar. Reagan with regard to on bombing of dance club in Germany. And what about the bombing of Serbia by the US or it’s support for ripping Kosovo from Serbia – the hypo racy of the west is pathetic.

      • Dapluma says:

        Does Russia own the Ukraine? Oh! Then let Ukraine solve its own problems! They asked for help I hope Putin gives them more help then they can handle!

  12. I wanted to thank you for doing your research for the article, not being careless with terminology as many journalists who are, and remembering the Russian government’s playbook vis-a-vis Moldova, Georgia and especially Azerbaijan, and now in regards to Crimea/Ukraine.

    As the Russian saying goes, “New is the well-forgotten old” (Новое – это хорошо забытое старое). Unfortunately, too many writers either don’t know, don’t remember or don’t understand the parallels. In case of Nagorno-Karabakh, so many writers prefer not to see a “Russian hand”, thinking it’s some Azerbaijani paranoia and anti-Russian bias.

About

About

James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.

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