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Russia's Reawakening and the Return of Cold War Politics

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The recent turmoil in Ukraine has been front page news for the past few days, but what has transpired has been building up for the past few months and anyone who follows world politics is not surprised by the latest dramatic escalation in the conflict. This thread is to be a discussion about the cold war politics behind the recent Russian maneuvers and the West's response.

    We often see the world through the prism of being Americans. We hear what we want to hear. Watch what we want to watch. And accept as fact what we want to accept as fact. That is nothing new in this country, but it is a dangerous thing when we begin to talk about intervening in other countries affairs based off of rose colored glasses that we wear as American's.

    What is going on in Ukraine right now is the return of Cold War politics. Russia is flexing her muscle and knows there is nothing the West will do about it. Russia and Ukraine have a complicated and very intertwined history, as this timeline of maps will show you. Take the time to browse through all of these maps because it will hopefully give you a better understanding of what is going on today.

    Vladimir Putin is doing exactly what everyone thought he would do. Their invasion should come as no surprise and there will most likely be bloodshed in the near future. For starters, we have to take a look at exactly where Russia took over control. They took over control of Crimea, a largely pro Russian area that houses a Russian naval base. They used the pretext of making sure their soldiers and citizens living abroad are protected. This is of no surprise and should have been expected.

    The next big question is what exactly will Russia do next? If this is a return to Cold War style politics, then it is anyone's guess what their next move will be in this game of international chess. Will they take over a large section of the eastern bloc of the country to ensure that there is stability along the entire 1,000 mile border that Russia shares with Ukraine and to also ensure that whatever conflict may ensue will stay give them a buffer zone? Will they invade the entire country and force the population to submit to its will? Or will they just stay in Crimea and let the rest of the country fend for itself? While the last one is unlikely, the two former options are both legitimate possibilities.

    What America and the West does to respond to this is anyone's guess and anyone who criticizes our President for being weak should take a step back and ask themselves what he can do in this situation. It is easy to say President Obama is weak and not respected in the world arena, but I ask you exactly what it is he could to do change the facts on the ground. If you are for armed military conflict with Russia, then come out and say it, but quit hiding behind the "weak" argument without putting forward a specific plan of action that the West should take in this conflict that wouldn't invite World War III.

    The Cold War was fraught with these kind of battles. The United States and Russia fought countless proxy wars and we were able to avoid an all out conflict because we knew the line in the sand that each country had. As much as the idealist in me hates saying this, Ukraine is not that line in the sand for us. We may have thought that the Cold War was over, but maybe Russia was just taking a break from it all and waiting for the right time to reassert herself. If that is the case, then let her do it. We should not risk a bigger war to send Russia a statement.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    jared you are right that there are lots of people who are saying that ..."President Obama is weak and not respected in the world arena"...

    The reason they are saying that is because President Obama is weak and not respected in the world arena.

    Correct that no president could do anything militarily about this situation in Ukraine. But, this president weakened himself in the eyes of the world when he told Syria not to cross the "Red Line". When Syria crossed the Red Line, Obama was so mad that he threatened to bomb them with cruise missiles. Obama and Secretary Kerry threatened again and again and again to use military force ...then backed down.

    So President Obama did it to himself. He should never have made the "Red Line" threat unless he was willing to back it up with action. I think it was the right thing to NOT bomb them, but by making the threat, then not backing it up, he made himself ..."weak and not respected in the world arena"...

    The whole world saw Obama get humiliated, and Putin certainly took notice. It just made him even more confident that he could do just about anything in Ukraine and wouldn't have to worry about the USA. He knew that already, but the Syrian "Red Line" fiasco just emboldened him more.

    Reportedly Kerry is going to Kiev, Ukraine this week. To do what, exactly? Personally deliver a letter of support? That's about all he CAN do.

    They may want to check ahead of time to ensure the airport in Kiev is open; it could close unexpectedly as other airports in Ukraine have lately.

    I think Putin misses the old Cold War days.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    So would Putin have never done this had Obama not made the "red line" comment? Would he have just bowed down to President Obama and give him his due deference? That is an absolutely ludicrous claim.

    And once again--where are you getting these facts that the President has lost all credibility with our allies abroad? A Gallop poll of Americans that have zero understanding of international affairs because they spend more time watching reality television than paying attention to the world around them? What specific poll of world leaders are you referring to that states he has lost all credibility? The last I checked, our allies are working with us regarding this affair and not jumping ship to Russia's side.

    You may think that the world saw our President "humiliated" but I saw our Constitutional structure working exactly the way it is supposed to. I'm so tired of Presidents of either party bombing first and asking questions later. Our Congress has a constitutionally mandated role to play with regards to foreign engagement and they need to use it. They are the ones that did not vote to go to war.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    jared I think you mis-interpret some of what I said.

    I think Putin WOULD have done this had Obama not made the unfortunate "red line" comment. The "red line" comment and the resulting denial that he said it, then the threats to bomb Syria, then backing down...all that gave Putin even MORE confidence that Obama was not someone to worry about. Obama makes empty threats. Obama is all talk and no action. Obama is weak. Obama has no credibility. Obama make threats then backs down.

    That's the way Putin saw it. Remember that Putin does not think like us, he's an old Cold War KGB guy who respects POWER and the willingness to use that POWER. He doesn't really respect much else.

    The Olympics made Putin hold off on this invasion, if not for the Sochi Olympics, Putin would have done this days, weeks, even months earlier.

    If you will look at my post again you will see that I said "I think it was the right thing NOT to bomb them" meaning Syria. The wrong thing was to make empty threats. Dictators like Assad and Putin see that as weakness. I also said "No president could do anything about this situation in Ukraine" Maybe President McCain would start something, but no sane president could do anything.

    Yes our allies are working with us regarding this affair. What else can they do? They, like President Obama have to appear that they are at least trying to say the right things. They can't really DO much, maybe cancel meetings, or consider sanctions, and those things don't worry Putin much.

    Let's recap: not bombing Syria--Right thing. Empty threats--wrong thing.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    Putin has now requested that the Ukraine military surrender, Putin does not care for and will not abide by any existing treaties between neighboring nations, Sec. of State Kerry has filed complaints with the UN for the many Treaty violations done by Russia. And now what!!!
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    I think it was more of a demand than a request. From what I hear, the Ukrainian military in Crimea must surrender by 5AM local time (3AM GMT) Tuesday.

    If I were Ukraine, I would surrender, because that would be preferable to death.

    I think the Russian military would prevail, and it probably wouldn't be close.

    What's Kerry going to do, or say about it when he arrives in Kiev? More importantly what CAN he do or say?
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    So far our Sec. of State John Kerry expressed his dismay that Putin would revert to using World War II tactics of aggression and will write a stern letter to the UN and to the other leaders of Europe, what's next , economic sanctions, I don't think so, because so much of Europe gets it's energy needs from the Russia oil fields, or how about we let the Russians take Crimea since so many of that city/region are Russian and maybe he will leave the rest of the Ukraine alone, don't think so ,Putin wants to return Russia to his idea of a global motherland much like the old U.S.S.R.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    johnny you are right, CNN was just talking about how much Russian gas goes to western Europe, including all the way to the UK. Sanctions won't really mean much when Putin can shut off the gas valve, and I think Russia cut off Ukraine once before because of a price dispute. So, he's capable of doing it. Not just capable, but willing and able to do it.

    Bottom of the screen on CNN earlier: "Obama: Russians can't violate basic principles" referring to the Russian invasion.

    Obama still seems to not understand a thing about Russia and Putin. HELL YES Russia can violate basic principles. Maybe Obama is just saying that to be politically correct. Hopefully he is not naive enough to actually believe what he is saying.

    Who exactly does President Obama think is going to stop Russia from violating basic principles? If Russia wants to violate some basic principles here and there, they are going to do it and President Obama nor anyone else can do much about it.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    On CNN they mentioned that tonight at 7:00 pm they will have the former president of Georgia discussing the Ukraine situation. Few have the perspective that he does. It should be interesting. I may be gone so I'll be sure to record it.

    Sarah Palin is getting in an I told you so. Several years ago after Russia invaded Georgia, she suggested that Putin might invade the Ukraine as well.

    McCain is asking that sanctions be announced and quantified.

    The G8 are suggesting that they'll not attend the scheduled meeting in Sochi this June, and are all criticizing the Russian actions.

    Notice how China never has an opinion on any world events. I mean never.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    Tony it seems that China has an opinion this time.

    google CHINA OPINION ON UKRAINE

    A story on yahoo.com says "China has backed Russia in a tense standoff with the US and Europe..."
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    There is no official word about Russia demanding that the Ukrainian forces surrender. Russia denies it and it just wouldn't make sense for them to make such an ultimatum. They will do what they want to do. Regardless of whether they laid out this threat or not, the ultimatum was said to have been issued to the Ukrainian Navy in the now occupied port of Crimea, not the entire military of Ukraine.

    China hasn't taken any official stand. They obviously are allies with Russia, but they have not released any official statement. The Russian's are the one's who said they were in total agreement, not Chinese officials. China's has released two official statements on the issue: “China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs and respects the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” (Given by China’s official Xinhua news agency on 3/2/14.) And " “China upholds its own diplomatic principles and the basic codes for international relations, which have also been implied on the Ukraine issue. Meanwhile, we have also taken the historical and contemporary factors of the Ukraine issue into consideration.” (Statement from China's official spokesperson Qin Gang on 3/3/14.) While the latter was not a tacit endorsement, it left China enough wiggle room to not side with the west, but not get involved in the issue to the best of their ability.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    jaredsxtn Wrote: There is no official word about Russia demanding that the Ukrainian forces surrender. Russia denies it and it just wouldn't make sense for them to make such an ultimatum. They will do what they want to do. Regardless of whether they laid out this threat or not, the ultimatum was said to have been issued to the Ukrainian Navy in the now occupied port of Crimea, not the entire military of Ukraine.

    China hasn't taken any official stand. They obviously are allies with Russia, but they have not released any official statement. The Russian's are the one's who said they were in total agreement, not Chinese officials. China's has released two official statements on the issue: “China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs and respects the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” (Given by China’s official Xinhua news agency on 3/2/14.) And " “China upholds its own diplomatic principles and the basic codes for international relations, which have also been implied on the Ukraine issue. Meanwhile, we have also taken the historical and contemporary factors of the Ukraine issue into consideration.” (Statement from China's official spokesperson Qin Gang on 3/3/14.) While the latter was not a tacit endorsement, it left China enough wiggle room to not side with the west, but not get involved in the issue to the best of their ability.
    Russia has no right to give an ultimatum to anyone let alone another sovereign Nations navy, their only purpose is to re-install a puppet President for the Ukraine and take the Crimea region for their own.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    jared there were reports of the Russian "ultimatum" then reports that the Russkies had denied it. No one on this DemocraticHub knows for sure. Reuters reported it and I got it from their story. They are pretty reliable.

    The Chinese have sided with the Russians story came from yahoo.com. Once again, usually a reliable source, but there are conflicting and misleading reports coming out of the area. Maybe some of the reports are deliberately misleading.

    You say ..."it just wouldn't make sense sense for them to make such an ultimatum."... I agree. It wouldn't make sense for them to invade a sovereign country either, and a week ago, many people would have doubted that it would happen.

    What makes sense to Putin is not necessarily what makes sense to us in America.

    You can google RUSSIAN ULTIMATUM to see the story by CNN: "Russia has issued an ultimatum..."... so you have your sources and then there are conflicting sources. Like CNN.

    The reuters story is there too. Just google CHINA OPINION ON UKRAINE
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    If you read my any of my statements starting with my original post on January 22, I clearly stated that I thought Russia was not going to let Ukraine go without a fight and haven't contradicted that argument since then. As I said in that original posting--"Russia's official statements on the escalating crisis shows that they have zero intention of letting Ukraine out of its grasp without a fight. How much they are willing to do for their puppet country is yet to be determined." Those statements have been largely validated.

    The reasoning behind my last posting is because it is very easy to read something and accept it as fact, but it's important to take the time to do some digging to get the whole story. It wasn't difficult at all for me to find out that there was no concrete ultimatum. It was sloppy reporting on Reuters part, plain and simple. It isn't the first and definitely will not be the last time that a news organization drops the ball and does sloppy reporting in the name of "breaking" the story. I expect more from Reuters, but it doesn't surprise me that even they mess up here and there.

    The Yahoo story you're referring to is a Sky News report that provided the quote I documented earlier. It was hardly a tacit endorsement of Russia's actions, which is why it's important to read past the headlines because they can often be very misleading.

    Russia will most likely take over the Naval base in the next day or two, but why would they need to issue any ultimatum over that? They will just do it. They've already occupied the entire peninsula and have thousands of more soldiers standing at the ready. The next question is how far will they go, and no one truly knows that answer.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I believe the die has been cast and that Russia will retain complete control over the Crimea region , now the so-called diplomacy will start, Russia has demanded that the Ukraine abide by some prior agreement forged to insure a fair election by December of this year, what right does Russia have to demand of any country to restore their ousted leader back to power while occupying a portion of that very country under the guise of human rights.