A Quick Thought About Ukraine

By the time this post spools out, events might have overtaken it, but, as of Friday night, the intertoobz are all atwitter about Russia moving troops to Russian-leased bases in Ukraine, including Sevastopol. For all I know, Russia plans on deploying these troops in Ukraine proper (punditing is risky business! Not really). But consider this hypothetical scenario: if a separatist movement in Okinawa that had ties, even tenuous ones, to either Russia or China, took de facto control over Okinawa (or even just parts of it), how many troops would the U.S. send to the various U.S.-leased military installations there? I’m going with lots.

Unlike Okinawa, the Crimea is adjacent to Russia. The key naval base of Sevastopol has historical resonance in Russia. To complicate matters further, many Russians view Sevastopol as part of Russia (temporarily separated from the Motherland). For all I know, Putin might ultimately back down, but, for now, he has no choice. It’s one thing for Putin to kick the shit out of Pussy Riot, but even Putin would have a hard time facing down Russian nationalists–and he might not want to do so.

That what passes for political discourse in the U.S. appears oblivious to this perspective is very disconcerting.

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6 Responses to A Quick Thought About Ukraine

  1. jarlemag says:

    What? Wouldn’t the equivalent bee separatists with ties to the US? The only “separatists” seem to be the russian-friendly ones in Crimea.

  2. Stormcrow says:

    ” The key naval base of Sevastopol has historical resonance in Russia.”

    Actually, it’s FAR more serious than this, from the Russian POV.

    Take a careful look at a map of Russia, and what you see is that most of the rivers flow north-south. Big coastal estuaries like the Potomac River outlet are conspicuously absent, except in the Arctic. Iced in, half the year or more.

    Peter the Great fought Sweden for 10 god-awful years, just for one single port city: Saint Petersberg. The Swedes had the better army, so the Russians had die like flies in order to win. It’s at least an arguable case that Stalin spent a quarter of a million Russian lives just to make sure it didn’t get snatched away without notice, in 1939-1940.

    Sevastopol probably isn’t much when you compare it to, say, the complex of really good port locations that begins up in Vancouver and runs all the way down to Tacoma. Or to San Francisco. Or San Diego. Or the entire Saint Lawrence Seaway. Or New Orleans. Or New York City. Or …..

    But it’s curst near all Russia has, that permits even halfway decent access to the Mediterranean.

    They’re NOT going to give it up without a fight.

  3. Nearby port, imperial ambitions, pacifying their local nationalists… it sounds like the best comparison would be if there was a pro-US revolution in Cuba and the US reinforced Guantanamo. Understandable, perhaps inevitable, but still likely to make things worse.

  4. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    It’s part of the eighties nostalgia wave. Would you deprive today’s kids of the opportunity to experience the Cold War?

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