I cannot help but wonder what is going on in the current Russian move to reintegrate Crimea, a feat that will shortly be completed. People in the West claim to be surprised and are expressing their outrage while at the same time implicitly recognizing they can’t do much of anything to stop Putin from getting his way.
First of all I believe most everyone with any knowledge of Russia could not have been surprised. The UK and the US basically got caught with their “hands in the cookie jar,” trying not at all subtly to lure Ukraine into NATO or at least into the European sphere and away from Russia. In their greed to accomplish this they collaborated with neo-nazis, anti-semites, and anti-Russians. They could also not truly be surprised that Putin acted quickly and predictably to protect the major Russian Naval Station in Crimea, Russia’s only warm water base. Nor, I suspect, could anyone have been very surprised that Putin would act to return Crimea to Russia, especially as it had been rather whimsically given to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev (himself a Ukrainian) as an act of (possibly drunken) goodwill.
Whether surprised or not the various parties involved in this dispute of course had to react to what would obviously become a fait accompli. Obviously no one wanted to go to war with Russia over Crimea, but they had to do something, so they decided on sanctions, apparently to save face. It seems to me the sanctions applied to date are little more than symbolic, focusing on a few individuals with ties to Putin, or conversely a few individuals tied to Obama. Although Obama has threatened even more sanctions, and more serious ones, they may or may not materialize and most probably will not make much of a difference to Putin or Russia. This is partly true because Germany and the UK have vital interests in Russia for various reasons, not the least of which have to do with oil, natural gas, and massive trade agreements. To me the whole show seems little more than a charade, a slap on the wrist at most. As Obama and Putin had at least a working relationship with respect to Syria and Iran, and Obama has been often on the phone with Putin, I wonder if in fact they do not have some kind of “gentleman’s agreement” about sanctions that for obvious reasons could not be made public. I am not usually a conspiracy buff but these rather useless sanctions are suspicious.
In fact I hope Putin and Obama may be acting in this rather mild way, as that would indicate they do not truly want hostilities to go too far, what with nuclear bombs and all lurking in the background. Obama, of course, is on the receiving end of much criticism from the right for being weak, wearing “mom jeans,” and so on. The Neocons lust for war, as usual, or at least another “cold war” (it’s good for business, you know, and there is no doubt business had a hand in the coup that started it all).
I find it difficult to believe that Obama personally had a hand in the coup. I think it is more likely that the CIA and others may have acted on their own, doing their usual duty for the corporations that lust over Ukraine. But whatever one may think of Obama in other respects I believe he should be given much credit for insisting on diplomacy rather than the usual show or threat of military force. He resisted calls for military action in Syria, has insisted on diplomacy with Iran (resisting the Israeli demand for force), and now seeks a diplomatic solution for the current Crimean crisis (he has to say and do something even though he must know Crimea will not be given up by Putin and will become part of Russia, as it should be. Personally I am delighted to know this battle is being fought with powder puffs rather than military means. I don’t think we really need another “Charge of the Light Brigade.”
“Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria, to refute the rhetoric of the Cold War and to accept the obvious fact: Russia is an independent, active participant in international affairs. Like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.”