The Widdershins

Activist Monday: Pooty-Poot Plays the Victim Card

Posted on: March 3, 2014

Last week, we asked “WWPD” (What Will Putin Do?) about Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence. This week, we found out. Putin SMASH!

No shots have been fired and no treaties signed but Crimea is now de facto under Russian armed control.

Two large Ukrainian military bases are surrounded, with Russian troops standing alongside local self-defence groups, who demand that the Ukrainian soldiers inside defect from Kiev to Crimea’s new pro-Russia government.

The naval headquarters remains blockaded and key installations like airports are still occupied. Thousands of newly-arrived Russian elite troops far outnumber Ukraine’s military presence here. Crimea has in effect been cut off by roadblocks, where vehicles are being denied access to the peninsula.

But wait! This is not an act of aggression. Heavens, no. It’s self-defense! Those pro-Russian Easterners need to make sure those nasty nationalists don’t hurt them. Putin is just protecting his people, or so says Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov said in Geneva on Monday that Russian troops were needed in Ukraine “until the normalisation of the political situation”.

Mr Lavrov said: “The victors intend to make use of the fruits of their victory to attack human rights and fundamental freedoms of minorities.”

He said the “violence of ultra-nationalists threatens the lives and the regional interests of Russians and the Russian speaking population”.

Is anyone buying this? Putin, the defender of human rights? Of course not. It’s Putin’s way of keeping control over a resource-rich region that is divided in its loyalties. Europe or Russia – who will get that natural gas?

Russia is Europe’s biggest gas supplier, providing around a quarter of continental demand, which at current daily flows of 270 million cubic metres (mcm) is worth almost $100 million a day. Around a third of Russia’s gas is exported through Ukraine.

Fears for the stability of supply to Europe increased over the weekend when Russian forces took control of Ukraine’s Crimea region and President Vladimir Putin said he had the right to invade his neighbour to protect Russians there after the overthrow of ally Viktor Yanukovich.

Moscow has in the past cut supplies to Ukraine when negotiating prices with Kiev, causing shortages especially in central Europe, which gets most of its supplies from Russia.

Russia’s Gazprom said on Monday that gas transit to Europe via Ukraine was normal, but it warned that it might increase prices for Kiev after the first quarter, raising concerns that gas could be used for political leverage in the crisis.

Russia may indeed need to increase prices, as the invasion of Crimea has not been good for the economy there. Putin’s decision has caused a selling frenzy.

“Now that (Russia and Ukraine) are actually on the verge of a military confrontation investors will start selling Russian stocks with special fervour,” analysts at Rossiysky Capital said in a note for investors.

Artem Argetkin, trader at BCS in Moscow, said brokers were trying to close their positions at any price.

“There’s a sell-off of everything right now,” he added.

James Hughes, chief market analyst at Alpari UK, warned the sell-off would get worse.

“We can expect some very sharp moves in the ensuing couple of days as markets and world leaders look to establish just how much of a threat there is not only to stability in the area but stability across Europe.”

Heaven forbid the mighty engine of capitalism, once so reviled in Russia, should throw a rod and overheat! Unfortunately, any sign of stabilization, whether it be a complete military coup by Putin or the regaining of sovereignty by the new Ukrainian government, would help the engine run smoothly again. So, we can’t count on the market helping out the pro-Europe faction for very long. As we asked last week…WWOD?

Well, there isn’t a whole lot he can do. Even the pro-West Ukraine is advising its supporters to hold off on military options, and offer political and economic support only. Obama is limited to threatening economic sanctions. (Awww, Bullwinkle, that trick NEVER works!) For those of us who grew up in the 80’s with the Big Bad USSR being the main enemy of our state, this move of Putin’s is eerily reminiscent of the scary old days before Glasnost. Are our children going to be forced to participate in nuclear bomb drills at school again, where teachers calmly tell them to hide under their desks to protect themselves from the blast? Is Putin nuts enough to try to extend his reach to other areas of the continent? Does he have a secret agenda to bring the USSR back together again? And if so, what does that mean for the rest of the world?

All I know is, to a certain extent, nuclear deterrence does work. No one wants to get into a fistfight with Russia, or any nuclear power, as we know how it will end. I just wish that the MEN in charge of these countries would start realizing that these days, no war is actually winnable (if the opposing powers are nuclear, can’t even start; if not nuclear, the war devolves into a guerrilla effort), and figure out more creative ways to settle their differences.

This is an open thread.

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20 Responses to "Activist Monday: Pooty-Poot Plays the Victim Card"

@MB, great to hear from you this morning!
I’d say Putin has what is now a not so secret plan to bring the USSR back together again.
We have Barry.
Can I say “we told you so” now, mommy?

My child is 45, she’s 5’9 and has a tricky knee from playing lacrosse. Dim hopes of her getting under a desk these days Grandmonsters range from 14-23 and 5’9 to 6′, Therefore, Obama will just have to wave his Nobel at Putin and get this fixed.
PS – Putin says that Russia is protecting her interests and was asked to do so by the Crimean PM. Sounds Bush-ian to me.

What a mess. Thanks for explaining that MB

I wonder if the Ukraine could discontinue the use of the gas pipeline that goes through their country to Europe? Would that cost Russia a lot of $ and inconvenience? They’d have to ship the gas then if the pipeline was cut off, right?

annie said: They’d have to ship the gas then if the pipeline was cut off, right?

Well basically, they can’t annie. The gas would have to be converted to liquid natural gas (LNG) and then placed into special tankers that can transport it. I don’t think there’s an LNG facility anywhere near there.

Ukraine threatened to cut off the gas line before. And they threatened to siphon off some of it for themselves when Russia cut off their supply. It basically puts Ukraine between a rock and a hard place. They’re risking Russian military action (!) because hey, why not. And they are infuriating the Europeans who get the gas via those pipes. It’s a lose/lose.

DYB said: And they threatened to siphon off some of it for themselves when Russia cut off their supply.

Hey, a little for you and a little for me, we all get a “taste”, like the Mafia says.

D: I got your email. Thanks so much!

Just to let y’all know: all is right with the world as Anderson Cooper is on the ground in Kiev. I’m sure he’ll have a resolution of the conflict very soon.

Well quell suprise! Caribou Barbie says she knew all along that Putin was gonna pull this sneaky shit of invading Ukraine!

Re the “I told you so” comment, Mary Luke…we did indeed! And, a very unlikely person is jumping on that bandwagon. Oh, Pat J, if only you were here…

Sarah Palin, whose lack of foreign policy chops was at issue during the 2008 presidential race, took a little time out to say “told ya so” over the weekend.

Responding to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Palin noted that, as the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2008, she suggested just such a thing could happen.

Oh me, oh my….:evil:

Fredster! We posted at the same time!

Don’t like “Caribou Barbie” much though.

Don’t like “Caribou Barbie” much though.

Well…I stole it from the C&L piece. 😦

Apparently during a lull in one of the parades, an NOPD cop does the Wobble in the street. 😆

@8 Anderson is broadcasting right now, Fredster. I’m sure we’ll all feel better soon. (rofl)

The teevee pundits are all on now defending Obama and appealing to Putin’s reason. Seriously? Prog myopia.

@8: I won’t feel safe until Piers Morgan arrives on the scene. What an intellect that man has! He thinks Neville Chamberlain was brilliant in “The Thorn Birds”.

@16 Oooohh Beata, that is gooood!!!

Beata@16: That was hysterical. 😆

Well it seems the Ukrainians have found a super-secret weapon to slow down the Russian Army. It’s the curb.

h/t to John Aravosis of Americablog.

Beata, thanks for the belly laugh!

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