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.