23 thoughts on “Deployment of Forces: Ukraine

  1. Bruce Hall

    There may be some short term consequences on the Russian economy from the sanctions, but those sanctions are not without risk to the U.S. and E. U. One has to wonder why there was so much value placed on Ukrainian participation in the EUAA that the EU and US were willing to undermine the elected government of the Ukraine because it was leaning toward joining the Customs Union. When the Russians used the same tactics in eastern Ukraine, suddenly it was terrible and worthy of sanctions. The whole mess is further astounding because Ukraine is an economic basketcase. One has to presume that the EU wanted to create favorable conditions for itself to pull natural resources out of Ukraine so that it didn’t have to deal with Russia. Now Ukraine is on the verge of civil breakdown and economic chaos. Perhaps that’s exactly what some in the EU would like to see so that they can swoop in like scavengers.

    The longer term concern is that Russia actively turns toward an economic alliance with China. Together, they could dominate Asian trade and politics again. South and western Asia would come under pressure to align with this alliance. China and Russia already have ties with Iran. It is not that much of a stretch to see a pissed-off-wth-the-US Egypt reacting favorably to Russian/Chinese overtures. A free-from-US Iraq could drift that way, too. This could create a very uncomfortable situation for the EU as well as South Korea and Japan.

    The US, of course, benefits from… eh, well, eh….

    2014 Amateur Hour in the White House. But it can claim to have the moral high ground. A very implausible claim.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Bruce Hall: I’m sorry, you’re asserting an equivalency between what Russia is doing, and the EU’s attempt to draw Ukraine into closer economic ties. Or I must have missed the news article documenting the infiltration of unidentified NATO troops into Ukraine, seizing government buildings and military bases. Please provide links to documentation.

      You really believe that the EU wants a balkanized Ukraine so it can exploit the nation’s resources? Exactly what resources would those be? If it’s wheat, I didn’t realize wheat was a strategic resource as far as Europe was concerned.

      By the way, for a guy who was so concerned about maintaining a US presence in Iraq, and willing to abide upwards of a trillion (2011$) worth of expenditures there, it’s interesting you’d find it problematic to impose economic sanctions on Russia for violating accords it had signed onto.

      1. Bruce Hall

        You don’t find it suspicious the the “spontaneous protesters” in Kiev or Kyiv were so well armed? The U.S. has recently 1) helped oust Hosni Mubarek and supported a Muslim Brotherhood government and 2) sent arms to al Qaeda “rebels” in Libya to oust a toothless Muamar Gaddafi and 3) has been recently sent TOW missiles to Syrian “rebels”… “freedom fighters” … whatevers. Yes, I see a pattern of deliberate government destabilization by the U.S. government. Yes, that is equivalency. Yes, that is hypocrisy.

        What natural resources besides wheat would the EU like to exploit? http://www.examiner.com/article/ukraine-overthrows-yanukovych-amid-us-russia-power-struggle-over-natural-gas

        I’m certainly not saying that Russia is without blame. Ukraine has become a tug of war victim of the EU attempting to lock in Association Agreements and Russia trying to counter that with its Customs Union. Both sides play “dirty pool.” To believe otherwise is to be completely naive.

        Regardless, this could blow over or it could be the start of some very difficult international times for the U.S. Even more difficult than the last decade. Russia alone may not have the economic or military clout to offset the US and EU. But a Russian/Chinese alliance would be quite formidable and the stage is already set.


        … about that U.S. space program dependency on Russia. Amateur Hour.

        1. John Cummings

          The “dependency” is pure politics. If the US wanted to rebuild a new space fleet, they could.

          Russia is garbage. If the US invaded it, Russian citizens would be throwing flowers on US troops. Nobody knows how bad it really is there. One of the reasons Stalin is “remembered” is because of the eastern europe slave labor he used to rapidly industrialize and raise the living standard of the Russian people to heights never seen. Putin and his mobsters talk up the game, but they aren’t delivering the goods like Stalin. The old people think it is Stalin all over again, but they are very wrong(sorta like how the old people in America are causing most of the problem……………hmmmmmmmmmmmm).

          Putin will back down because he has no choice. Most of his own people hate him.

          1. Anonymous

            Take a breath and relax, dude. Your comments boarders irrational russophobia. Besides, I think I heard that part above flowers somewhere…

          2. Bruce Hall

            You are correct that the U.S. could change the course of its space program dependency on Russian rockets. It simply takes time and money: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/30/us-usa-defense-aerospace-idUSBREA3T13C20140430

            As to the Russians not supporting Putin: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/03/26/putins-approval-rating-hits-80-percent/ Naturally, that can change just as it has for American presidents. But your statement shows you completely misread the Russian situation.

            Wishful thinking is not effective strategy. Ignorance of Asian dynamics is not good intelligence. Once again, I will provide a good article for your edification: http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/china-russia-military-ties-deepen-with-naval-drill-in-east-china-sea/

          3. Andrew

            You write:
            If the US invaded it, Russian citizens would be throwing flowers on US troops.”

            That is actually not true. That maybe was the case long time ago in the 90’s. But after all those “democratic reforms” with the help of american advisors which at that time destroyed russian economy, now people mostrly hate US in Russia. Actually people won’t forgive Putin if he doesn’t help pro-Russians in Ukraine, and his approval rate will collapse. Personally I think that that now in Russia Putin is probably one of the most reasonable people, who actually understands all dangers of getting involved in the conflict. Most Russians simply want to go to war with Ukraine immediately to avenge burning alive of ethnic russians in Odessa and bombing of ethnic russian towns in Donbass.

      2. Andrew

        About natural resources in the conflict zone: here is an article from anti-Putin website. It is in Russian (you can google-translate it)
        But don’t read the whole thing only look at the map in the article. The brownish area – that is ethnic russian region between Russia and proper Ukraine (actually people there historically considered themselves neither russians nor ukrainians, but separate ethnic identitity, and before 1917 they even had semi-autonomy, but vehemently opposed bolshevic komissars so they were stripped of their own identity and split between Russia and Ukrain to prevent their opposition, but didn’t forget it). Anyway that is not the point.
        So now this area is called ethnic russian, it was overwelmingly voting for ousted president Yanukovich and most people there support joining Russia.
        The bright yellow spot in the middle – it the deposit of shale gas. Thia is the largest shale gas deposit in Ukraine, and also in Europe and it is possible it is one of the largest deposits of shale gas in the world. And the little known township of Slavyansk (where all the fighting is concentrated) is right in the middle of this deposit.
        With gas from this deposit Ukraine could become net exporter of gas to Europe, and one of the main exporters, replacing Russia.
        So Putin doesn’t need all the Ukraine, he needs only this area. And it appears that he won – unfortunately Ukranians don’t make good fighters. I read reports from insurgets, they only lauph at ukranian special forces and troops – Ukranians don’t want to fight and nobody want to risk his life – so theu keep shooting from dintance and avoid all types of close combat. So you americnas need to send troops who want to fight if you want to have any sucess in this area.

  2. Anonymous

    Ukrainian NAZIs : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKuDzXAgdf4
    Here are their websites, go look for yourself : http://vk.com/w8tan
    These are the people who partook in the Odessa burning alive of the so-called pro-Russians, but really those who don’t want to live under ukrainian skinheads and pro-Western oligarchs. The people who died retreated inside a building, which was set on fire by the skinheads with Molotov cocktail, those who ran out the building were beaten to bloody pulp or to death.
    People see parallels between the Khatyn massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khatyn_massacre) in 1943 conducted by NAZI collaborators under the NAZI Germany cover and the Odessa massacre under the cover of EU, primary Germany.

    1. Johnny

      Your comparison to the Khatyn massacre is a bit far fetched, isn’t it.
      But you are right that the CIA is at work (,again).

      Hope that Putin sends his troops soon to clarify the situation, we do not need
      another Syria with endless guerilla battles.

      1. Andrew

        Actually comparison to WW2 massacaer at Hatyn is not too fach fetched/ As reported this porning< the actual number of victims is much bigger then 38-44 originally reported. First authorities to prevent furhter bloodshed and calm down public agitation didn't report real numbers – real number is around 200. Also many people died not from fire? but from some kind of poisnous gas, which ukranian nazi threw inside the building (in little containers) . So people were actually gassed like Jews in Nazi concentration camps Osvencim and Maydanek.

  3. 2slugbaits

    Bruce Hall I think you made a couple of fair points, but then overstated things. First, there is zero evidence that the Administration sent TOW missiles to the Syrian rebels. The most likely culprit is Turkey. And it’s not even clear why the US would want to send TOW missiles to the Syrian rebels in the first place. TOW missiles are useful against heavy armor provided the crew is well trained. Heavy armor isn’t the major problem here; it’s air support. And no one believes the rebels are well trained in using TOW missiles. You also overstate the argument about the US encouraging the Maidan uprising. I would grant you that the EU was probably making things worse by giving Ukraine false hopes, but for the most part the US played mostly a hands-off approach. Yes, the Administration liked the result, but that doesn’t mean the Administration was pushing the Maidan uprising. Kerry did make some supportive statements, but they were pretty mild.

    2014 Amateur Hour in the White House.

    Given some basic geography facts I’m not sure just what you expect the Administration to do beyond what they have done. This week the Pentagon rather publicly brought some platoon/company strength airborne units from the 173rd Brigade to Latvia and Lithuania for unscheduled military exercises. That’s a pretty strong signal that Russia needs to be careful because wars have a way of spilling over borders. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and the US has no military obligations to Ukraine; but the same is not true when it comes to the Baltic countries. Maybe someone should have given KGB COL Putin a copy of Margaret Macmillan’s latest book on the First World War, 50 years after Barbara Tuchman’s great book. Things in the Balkans have a way of spinning out of control.

    1. Bruce Hall


      I realize that the Washington Post is a right-wing, unreliable source for information, but this is what they had to say: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/syrian-opposition-fighters-obtain-us-made-tow-anti-tank-missiles/2014/04/16/62d1a6f6-c4e8-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html

      “U.S. officials declined to discuss the origin of the weapons but did not dispute that the rebels have them.

      Their appearance in Syria coincides with a U.S. commitment this year to escalate a CIA-run program to supply and train vetted “moderate” rebel groups and to improve coordination with other opposition backers.”

      Since the clock cannot be unwound regarding what the administration has done in Ukraine, the primary option appears to be “back off.” Anything else risks a significant escalation of West-East antagonism which has the potential to hurt the West in the long run far more than the East.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Bruce Hall I never said that the Syrian rebels didn’t have TOW missiles; I said that there was no evidence that the US provided those missiles. You forgot to quote this part of the story:

        The United States has sold them in the past to Turkey, among other countries, and the Pentagon approved the sale of 15,000 of the weapons to Saudi Arabia in December. Both countries aid Syrian opposition groups.

        The article also said that the US opposes the sale of surface-to-air missiles to the rebels, much to the dismay of the Saudis. The missiles would be of much greater value to the rebels than TOW missiles, so if the US won’t provide surface-to-air missiles, it’s a little hard to see why they would provide a less valuable weapon system. As I said, the Turks are the likely suspects here.

        1. Bruce Hall

          Put it all together, 2slug. CIA and proxies. We’re doing our part and we have done elsewhere and continue to do. Undermining governments is a favorite pastime of US presidents… whether Democrats or Republicans. We believe we have a “moral imperative” to pick who will lead countries around the world. But as the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


          Regardless, my contention remains that the U.S. sanctions, whether or not you believe them to by hypocritical, have a very high risk of creating a long-term economic backfire on both the U.S. and the E.U. Russia has been an “iffy partner” for the past 20 years and the moralizing and sanctions coming out of this administration will only accelerate Russia’s veering to the East and a new “economic cold war” with the West.

  4. Ricardo


    In many ways you and I are in agreement but I believe you underestimate the intensity of the motivation of Putin. If you son is living away from home and supporting himself by robbing banks, how much influence do you think you will have if you threaten to cut off his allowance?

  5. genauer

    The map is laughable.

    It counts on the Ukraine side tank units, which might actually be more inclined to roll on Kiev and not against the Russians.
    Additionally, this is old crap, not some T-80s, T-90s, the Russians have in huge numbers.

    The only significant tanker forces of the NATO are German Leo-2’s, and we in Germans will certainly not waste the bones of one single pomerian (Panzer)grenadier on this.

    The Junta in Kiev has only some crazy Neo-Nazi “right sector” militia at their disposal, which they now call the Nationalist Guard.

    The UK gov RUSI which produced that map, also claims now that the strategic value of slavjansk would be some giant gun depot (allegedly some 5 Mio pieces) nearby. Just organized desinformation, as in the runup to the war of agression against Iraq.

    Maybe you want to read what the conservative mayor of London has to say about that: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/06/boris-johnson-eel-like-tony-blair-iraq-war

    Trying to get Ukraine into NATO was the second strategic assault of the US against Russia, and now the russian bear strikes back. You really did ask for that.
    The Ukraine is like the Cuban missile crisis, too close to home, to be tolerated.

    Please also read what the former US ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock “the price of disunity” has to say.

  6. Menzie Chinn Post author

    genauer: Duh. The RUSI paper linked to in the post notes the extreme disparity in equipment quality, extensively, had you taken the time to read.

    1. genauer

      I regret to have mentioned any kind of technical quality, because that is not the relevant point, especially in a tanks vs unarmed local people.

      The point is , that the american sponsored junta does not have control over any significant part of the legal armed forces of the Ukraine.

      Why is that?

      The regime mobilizing civilians, 55-year olds

      These folks have apparent control over what is left of this parliament in Kiev, without constitutional legitimate disposal of yanukovich (no 75%, no constitutional court involvement)

      The sueddeutsche is one of the largest german daily newspapers, little known outside,

      but actually pretty good at neutral reporting, and navigating the political middle of the road.

      Maybe you try google translate on

      to understand what a terrible deadly mess the incompetent washington administration has created, again,

      after iraq, libya, syria

      just to avoid any misunderstandings:

      I am no leftie, I am no peacenik, I did serve my fatherland, and my CV was checked in detail for my NATO clearance, many years ago

      We just “temporarily suspended” the draft just 2 years ago.

      But we will not be drawn into any out-of-area wars of agression. Period.

  7. Marco

    Do americans genuinely believe that all peoples, all around the world, are all desperately wishing that they could themselves become americans? I found this appalling, to say the least.

  8. 2slugbaits

    Bruce Hall In the past there have been plenty of cases in which the CIA and its proxies have funneled weapons to “our guys.” I’m simply pointing out that this isn’t always the case and in this particular case I’m really, really, really pretty sure the US did not provide TOW missiles to the Syrian rebels. Just because the US has frequently been guilty in the past does not mean the US is guilty this time.

    I would agree that beginning with Clinton the US has made something of a habit of tweaking Russia’s nose whenever domestic politics called for it. Clinton did it. Bush #43 did it countless number of times. Except for the Libyan thing Obama generally refrained from making trouble for Russia pretty much up until Putin came back to power after Medvedev left office. But the combination of Putin returning with a burr up his butt and the US elections in which both Obama and Romney tried to “out hawk” the other one, things got pretty sour. But the stuff that threatened Russia the most was stuff that happened awhile back, and here I’m talking about expanding NATO, and except for tiny Albania and Croatia (which formally entered NATO a few weeks after Obama took office), all of that happened under Clinton and Bush #43 and Cheney. So it’s understandable the Russia was feeling encircled and betrayed. I get that. And I also agree that the EU was not entirely helpful in holding out false hopes for Ukraine. On the other hand, Putin hasn’t exactly helped his case when he consistently hitched his wagon to some of the most brutal and corrupt governments on the planet. Putin’s man in Ukraine was about as corrupt as they come, so I don’t think it took much of a western push to end up with Maidan. Ukraine was pretty much the only country in the region that was even worse off after the Cold War than it was during the Cold War. Sometimes revolutions don’t need a whole lot of outside prodding. Remember, Putin has a history of poisoning Ukrainians that don’t tow the Russian line.

    A thousand years ago the medieval Russian state was formed around Kiev to the south and Novgorod to the north, with Kiev eventually unifying the state. From the beginning it was a collection of gangster Vikings who rapidly killed each other off until only one gangster was left standing. One medieval historian of the region (Peter Heather at Cambridge in his mammoth book “Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe” ) has even compared the creation of the Kiev state to Al Capone’s wiping out of the Bugsy Malone gang. And to this day Russia is still a gangster government. But gangsters rule by having lots of money to throw around. I suspect that’s what’s really motivating the economic sanctions against Putin’s cronies. We may not see reform, but if Putin’s funds dry up we could be looking at “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    1. Anonymous

      Jesus Christ, 2slugbaits, … irrational russophobia, and in the process you also insult the Scandinavians. If you don’t like Putin, fine, I don’t either. But why smear the whole of Russian history and all the Russians summarily, and even all of the Ukrainians, even the ones in Kiev pro-Western ones. For your information, Ukrainians take great pride in Kievan Rus (through your interpretation of the Rus history is distorted and biased). This is the problem in the nutshell: hatred, intolerance, snarl directed at the Russians, their history and their culture.

      And what moral right is there to judge the culture of others. It is not as if we here fly on clouds, we drive and walk over the bones of millions of Native Americans and Africans. Racism is alive and palpable.

      Russophobia is antisemitism of the 21 century.

  9. baffling

    get off your high horse! slugs was not over the top in his descriptions, but you were over the top in your response. russia does have a history of corruption and despotism in its leadership. make a ranking of histories most despised leaders, and you will probably have at least three in the top 10 from russia alone. it is a legacy they must deal with to this day. your comparison to racism is regrettable.

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