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Putin has basically three options right now:


1) Launch a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine with his own army to save the separatist cause. But not only would this result in sweeping sectoral sanctions targeting major sectors of the Russian economy, but he would quickly find that the Ukrainian army would fight very hard against him, quite possibly with military help from the west. I doubt he will risk this.


2) Publicly disown the rebels and leave them to their fate, then try to make amends with the west and with Ukraine as best he can. But I doubt that his ego will allow him to do this.


3) Give the rebels enough help in terms of heavy equipment, Russian mercenaries and Russian advisors for him to be able to refute the allegation that he abandoned the rebellion that he started, and then do whatever he can to continue to destabilize the region and the new Ukrainian government after the smoke has cleared.


I think that he will opt for #3. In view of this, once Ukraine has squashed the rebellion, they need to have two top priorities:


a)  Continuing to enlarge and modernize their army with western help

b)  Securing the entire length of the Russian/Ukrainian border


If Putin's goons can't get into the country, his capacity for trouble-making is greatly reduced.


IMHO, Putin made two very serious miscalculations in all of this:


1) He significantly over-estimated the degree of popular support in eastern Ukraine for joining Russia

2) He significantly under-estimated the ability of the Ukrainian army to re-constitute itself into a fighting force after years of willful neglect.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118890/european-sanctions-russia-put-putin-dangerous-corner

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@JohnJack @JohnBrown2   Say what you will about GW, at least other world leaders didn't laugh at him.

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118742/ukraine-russian-rebels-malaysian-airlines-plane

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As to what the west can do in response ...


1) In terms of sanctions, put away the scalpel and bring out the sledgehammer. Inflict maximum pain on Russia's economy, even if it means that we have to absorb some ourselves. Send them into a depression and let's see what happens to Putin's approval ratings.


2) Warm up the B-2 stealth bombers at Incirlik, load them chock full of 500 lb. J-DAMs with GPS targeting capability, develop a comprehensive strike package targeting the insurgents' heavy weapons as well as their command and control centers, send them over eastern Ukraine in the dead of night, and then bloody well light 'em up. Losing a couple thousand fighters or so along with all their tanks in one night is likely to drastically reduce the rebels' enthusiasm for the fight. If a few Russian soldiers are killed, too bad.


If anyone asks, we can just deny that we were ever there. Hey, Putin does it all the time. Just shrug and say "I guess the Ukrainian air force must be getting better, huh?"


Of course, doing all of this would require a president with some spine, which, unfortunately, we don't have.

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118742/ukraine-russian-rebels-malaysian-airlines-plane

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I doubt that Russian troops were directly involved in this.


I'm betting that this is simply a case of some trigger-happy separatist goon being put in charge of a sophisticated anti-aircraft system that he wasn't trained to operate, seeing a big plane on his radar screen, assuming that it was a Ukrainian military transport plane, and firing off a missile before he was 100% sure what he was shooting at.


But even so, Russia still bears substantial responsibility for what happened today. They're the ones who fomented the insurgency. They're the ones who have financed it. They're the ones who have recruited fighters for it and let them stream across the border unhindered. They're the ones who have supplied the heavy weaponry, including the mobile missile system that almost certainly brought down the airliner. And now they are increasingly intervening with their own armed forces and aren't even trying to hid it any more.


It's tragic that 300 innocent people had to die to get the west's attention. But maybe if it causes our elected leaders to finally develop some backbone and take action that will REALLY make a difference, many more innocent lives can be saved.

1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118742/ukraine-russian-rebels-malaysian-airlines-plane

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The fact that this foaming-at-the-mouth idiot enjoys a prominent place on Russian state TV should tell you all you need to know about the true nature of Putin's government.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118438/dmitry-kiselev-putins-favorite-tv-host-russias-top-propogandist

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I think it's quite possible that Putin's successful invasion of Ukraine ... and the pathetically weak western response to it ... will indeed embolden him to try the same thing in eastern and/or southern Ukraine.


But if he does so, he will find mainland Ukraine to be a much, much tougher nut to crack than Crimea was. Unlike in Crimea, the Ukrainians will fight back fiercely on the mainland. Support for joining Russia is much lower in cities like Kharkiv and Donetsk than it is in Crimea, despite what Russian state media would have you believe. 


Even if he is able to take eastern Ukraine, Putin will find it much harder to hold. The Ukrainians will not go quietly. Many people on both sides will die. Much blood will be spilled. Europe will be thrown into turmoil. In the end, the Russians will be forced to withdraw as they were in Afghanistan.


But this all could be very easily avoided with a show of military strength and resolve from NATO. If NATO moved signifcant air power into Ukraine at the request of that country's new government, Putin wouldn't dare try to take on both Ukrainian ground forces & militia as well as NATO air power. 


But that would require both vision and guts from the leadership of the west, both of which have, so far at least, been in tragically short supply.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117040/after-crimea-putin-going-take-eastern-ukraine

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@KentCrawford   It may well turn some eastern Ukrainians against Russia, and that's a good thing. 

But I doubt that the Russian people, by and large, will never see it, at least not any time soon.


Even in the event that they do escape Kremlin censors and come out into the open, they'll be dismissed as "carefully fabricated western propaganda" and 75% of Russians will gladly believe it. Putin and his appartchiks have them totally brainwashed.


Russia will never change for the better until Putin is gone.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116986/what-ousted-ukrainian-president-tried-hide-he-fled

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And yet we're supposed to believe that the mass uprising in Ukraine against this profoundly evil and corrupt regime, propped up by an equally evil and corrupt regime in Moscow, was nothing but a "coup" organized by "bands of western-funded right-wing extremists."


The sheer extent of Putin's lies and disinformation would put make Stalin himself blush.

5 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116986/what-ousted-ukrainian-president-tried-hide-he-fled

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@DrDOit @jalangaya That is an out & out lie  They were voicing support for a people wanting to throw off an oppressive and thoroughly corrupt government and they most certainly did NOT threaten sanctions if they did not!!!


The threat of sanctions was made when Yanukovich's Berkut thugs started beating and shooting protesters and it was made only against Yanukovich and his inner circle, NOT against Ukraine as a whole.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@jalangaya   Just "a motley gang of western-sponsored hooligans", huh? 

I guess that's why both the Ukrainian police and the military informed Yanukovich that they weren't going to shoot their own people to save his butt, which is what actually caused him to flee the country. 

I also guess that's why 72% of the Ukrainian Rada, including many members of his own party, voted to remove him from office, right?


Wow. I wasn't aware that a "motley gang of western-sponsored hooligans" could have so much power. 


You're either just one of the many FSB-paid shills that have been infesting message boards like this one for the past two months, or you've been brainwashed with anti-western propaganda since you were a child and you've been watching too much Russian state TV news.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@DrDOit @Dan Ramsey You are, quite simply, wrong. I have many Ukrainian friends and I can assure you that the entire country of Ukraine is most definitely NOT "pro-Russian".There is a cultural affinity between the two countries, definitely. But most people, especially in the north and west of Ukraine, want no part of Russia.


And I never said that Russia has stolen money from Russian banks. What I said was that Putin and his flunkies have stolen billions from Russian taxpayers and then deposited that money into western banks. Those assets can be frozen.


Finally, I said nothing about kicking Russia off of the UN security council. I said they should be kicked out of the G8 and the WTO.


Before trying to argue points with me, I'd suggest that you learn how to read first.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@Bret123 @Dan Ramsey  I suggest you go read some history, moron. It is replete with examples of what happens when international bullies are not confronted and stopped. Specifically, I suggest you pay special attention to Hitler's invasion of the Rhineland in 1935. You will find many parallels to the current situation.

The US and NATO have vast economic and military superiority over Russia and Putin knows it. If we signaled a willingness to stand up to him in Ukraine, he would probably be satisfied with just taking the Crimea. But allowing him to annex the eastern half of the country, as he plainly intends on doing, will only invite greater trouble later on.


Putin might be a bastard, but he's a rational bastard. He would never use his nukes unless NATO actually invaded Russia and the very survival of he Russian state was in question.

This is a naked power grab, plain and simple. He's doing what he's doing now because he believes he can get away with it. Given the current feckless leadership in both the US and the EU, he's probably right. 



5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@Alan Graham They gave up the Soviet Union because they were bankrupt and had no choice, Alan. 


And as far as Vladimir Putin is concerned, the Cold War never ended.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@MaximusRex @Bret123 Because preventing Vladimir Putin from reconstituting the Soviet Union is very clearly in our national interest. This is even more true for Europe. 


5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@AttyFAM @Dan Ramsey You clearly aren't very up to speed on the relative capabilities of US and Russian technology. US F-22s could very easily sweep the skies of any Russian aircraft, to say nothing of Europe's top-of-the-line fighters.  NATO air superiority would be established quickly in any real war, leaving the A-10s and the Apaches free to chop Russia's ground forces into hamburger. It would be Iraq 1991 all over again. The flat and open terrain in Eastern Ukraine does not afford many good hiding places.

As for logstical support, you are operating under the assumption that eastern Ukraine is like the Crimea in terms of its support for Russia. It is not. There would be ample logistical support available at existing Ukrainian air bases and a very substantial portion of the population in the eastern Ukrainian oblasts, even though they speak Russian, hates Russia and Putin. They, unlike many others, see him for what he really is.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@ancab @Dan Ramsey Did you even read my post, Einstein?  If Putin cuts off the gas to Europe, then his government will quickly run out of money. Aside from oil & gas, vodka, cheap assault rifles and caviar, Russia doesn't produce anything that the rest of the world wants to buy.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@Sabatia "Thirty thousand poles were slaughtered"?  You must remember a different history than I do. I remember those days well, but I don't remember any mass slaughter of Poles by the Russians. Sure, the Russians eventually forced Jarulczeski to clamp down and people were arrested, but there were no massive casualties. 

Reagan stood up to the Soviet Union and instead of deferring to them, challenged them at every turn and in so doing, won the Cold War without firing a shot. 


Try again.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@GlRemote   So the Russians don't have a problem with breaking treaties?

This is hardly news.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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@herloff This is utter crap. "Right Sektor" accounts for only a small portion of the protesters on The Maidan. Russia is cynically playing up Ukraine's tragic World War II history by labeling anyone who opposes Yanukovich as "fascists" and "extremists". But the number of true "right-wing extremists" is small. Every country has them.


The Ukrainian revolution occurred because Victor Yanukovich abused his power and his people. The great majority of those who made it happen were ordinary Ukrainians, not "fascist extremists". 


Unfortunately, many of the people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have been brainwashed with this crap for so long that they cannot think clearly. It sounds like you are one of them. They conveniently forget how it was Russia, not the west, that caused the death of 20,000,000 Ukrainians in the "Holomodor". 


Besides, it is the Russians who are the true fascists. If you dare speak out against Putin or Yanukovich, you are jailed on trumped-up charges, beaten up, or even killed. The law doesn't matter, If Putin decides that you are guilty, then you are guilty. That's the true definition of "fascism". And yet you seem only too eager to run into his arms for "protection".  It makes me shake my head in amazement.


What is going to ultimately happen, I think, is that Ukraine will split into two pieces. The north and west will do what Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have done. They will adopt western values, the will join the EU, and they will prosper. In the east, you will become a Russian rump state, your economy will continue to suck, you will continue to be plagued by corruption, you will get zero capital investment from the outside world, and in 20 years you will look at your prosperous neighbors to the west and wonder how you all could have been so stupid.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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I have to disagree 100% with the idea that there's nothing the west can do to stop Putin. Putin is nothing but a bully, and bullies stop when they encounter significant opposition. Here's a list of things the west can do:


1)  Immediately suspend Russian membership in the G8 and WTO

2)  Immediately freeze the billions that Putin and his cronies have stolen and stashed in western banks

3)  Immediately impose a trade embargo against Russia and cut off all capital flows to that country. 

4)  Move two US aircraft carrier battle groups into the Black Sea

5)  Move US Apache attack helicopters and F-22 fighters into position at Ukrainian air bases in the eastern part of the country. Have the B-2s at Aviano and Incirlik warmed up and ready to go. 


If the EU does the same, Putin will back down. For all his bluster, Putin knows full well that he would stand no chance at all in a full-blown war facing Ukraine, the EU and the US combined. Sure, he has a lot of soldiers at his disposal, but most of his military equipment is old and outdated.


No doubt Putin will threaten to cut off gas supplies to Europe and to Ukraine. It's a bluff. Doing so would hurt Russia more than it would hurt the west. Oil & gas sales are the only thing bringing in any significant money to the Russian government these days. Without those sales, Russia's government would be bankrupt within months. 


The time for coddling and deferring to this miserable bastard is over. Instead, he should be aggressively confronted everywhere. That will hasten his demise, which is what we should all want.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116810/putin-declares-war-ukraine-and-us-or-nato-wont-do-much

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I wouldn't start throwing babies into the air just yet, Ruy. 

The only reason the Republicans didn't win in Virginia yesterday was because, as they have so often done elsewhere, they nominated a hard-core Bible-thumper who gave the Tea Partiers heart palpitations but drove away moderate Republican and independent voters.

If they'd instead nominated a sensible, mainstream, business-oriented, moderately conservative candidate, they'd have won easily. 

I'm a lifelong registered Republican but I wouldn't have voted for a fundamentalist tool like Cuccinelli. Without voters like me, the Republicans can't win in Virginia.

Eventually they're going to get tired of losing winnable elections and they'll work up the courage to tell the Tea Party to go **** themselves. 

The sooner the better.

9 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115501/terry-mcauliffes-victory-almost-makes-viriginia-blue-state

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 @Roggespierre    LOL!!!!  That's utterly ridiculous.  The ACC came out WAAAAAAAY ahead when it traded Louisville for Maryland. The ACC is also adding Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame in 2014.  To suggest that the ACC will lose it's status as a power conference if Maryland leaves is patently absurd.  The ACC isn't going anywhere.  In fact, the ACC has, by a fairly significant margin, the largest TV footprint of any conference in the country. 

1 year, 4 months ago on Realignment-Followers Hold Their Breath As Blowback Increases Against Maryland’s Move

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Wait until the first cable or satellite TV provider decides to go to an "a la carte" programming model as opposed to the current "package" model where subscribers are forced to pay for a channel regardless of whether or not they ever watch it or not. When that happens ... and it will because it's what consumers want ... the The Big 10 Network's revenues are going to fall off a cliff and the leagues presidents are going to realize that Jim Delany talked them into massively watering down their product by adding two schools like Maryland and Rutgers.

1 year, 4 months ago on Realignment-Followers Hold Their Breath As Blowback Increases Against Maryland’s Move

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