Friday, March 14, 2014

Fools and Blowhards

My answer to Charles Krauthammer's op ed of 13 March:

Krauthammer starts from the false premise that Putin has an expansionist agenda. That in itself precludes any intelligent resolution to the Ukrainian crisis. The point is that Putin simply used Crimea as a negotiating chip to make the EU / US stop the support for the Kiev coup d'etat by thoroughly unsavoury characters. Putin hoped to restore the uneasy (but workable) status quo ante by allowing noises in Crimea about separation. The West would not play, thinking perhaps at the start that Putin was bluffing. He was not bluffing and the result of the Sunday's referendum in Simferopol is a foregone conclusion. Crimea will go back to Russia on short order and that's that.. Nothing president Obama can do about it with or without Charles Krauthammer's unsolicited help. The second stage of Putin's plan is open at this point but will not be much different from the first scenario. The West will either abandon doing mischief in Russia's backyard and agree on a mutually acceptable compromise, or Russia will annex the eastern regions of Ukraine. Again, my reading of the Kremlin strategy that this is going to be done swiftly, before anything in a way of an military opposition can be cobbled up to thwart it or make it long and ugly. Russia will swallow the economic consequences which will be harsh but not catastrophic, given that it has now alternative oil and gas markets in the East. Once the carveout is complete, Putin will sit on his hands and let the new bubble burst in Kiev, much like he did with Yuschenko between 2004-2010. Lesson for the fools and blowhards ? Well, Charles will tell you there will be none.

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