It’s beginning to look a lot like Kosovo (or not)

As Russian forces suddenly double in strength along its border with Ukraine, and Russians start talking about the “humanitarian disaster” in eastern Ukraine, concern is growing quickly about a possible impending Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

It’s Kosovo all over again — they wish.

The Russians have never quite gotten over the NATO bombing of Serbia for its attempted ethnic cleansing of its neighbor Kosovo. And now they’re dead set on using Kosovo against us, as the putative explanation for why they’re about to gobble up yet another neighbor.

You’ll recall that the UN estimated some 850,000 ethnic Muslims had been forced out of Kosovo by Serbian forces.

The humanitarian crisis was a major rationale for the NATO strikes:

Those who were involved in the NATO airstrikes have stood by the decision to take such action. Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, said, “The appalling accounts of mass killing in Kosovo and the pictures of refugees fleeing Serb oppression for their lives makes it clear that this is a fight for justice over genocide.”[106] On CBS’ Face the Nation Cohen claimed, “We’ve now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing. … They may have been murdered.”[107] Clinton, citing the same figure, spoke of “at least 100,000 (Kosovar Albanians) missing”.[108] Later, Clinton said about Yugoslav elections, “they’re going to have to come to grips with what Mr. Milošević ordered in Kosovo. … They’re going to have to decide whether they support his leadership or not; whether they think it’s OK that all those tens of thousands of people were killed. …”[109] In the same press conference, Clinton also claimed “NATO stopped deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide.”[109] Clinton compared the events of Kosovo to the Holocaust. CNN reported, “Accusing Serbia of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kosovo similar to the genocide of Jews in World War II, an impassioned President Clinton sought Tuesday to rally public support for his decision to send U.S. forces into combat against Yugoslavia, a prospect that seemed increasingly likely with the breakdown of a diplomatic peace effort.”[110] Clinton’s State Department also claimed Serbian troops had committed genocide. The New York Times reported, “the Administration said evidence of ‘genocide’ by Serbian forces was growing to include ‘abhorrent and criminal action’ on a vast scale. The language was the State Department’s strongest yet in denouncing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević.”[111] The State Department also gave the highest estimate of dead Albanians. In May 1996, Defense Secretary William Cohen suggested that there might be up to 100,000 Albanian fatalities.”[112] However, five months after the conclusion of NATO bombing, only 2,108 bodies were found, with a total estimate not exceeding eleven thousand.[113]

sela-betor

Star Trek fans may appreciate the pun.

It’s been clear from Day One that the Russians have been attempting to play the Kosovo card throughout their invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea, and their ongoing effort to destabilize, and perhaps now invade, eastern Ukraine. In addition to denying the fact that it has sent forces into Ukraine to help and be the rebels, the Russians have also been playing up the “humanitarian crisis,” as a possible future rationale for further escalation.

And now what do we see?

1. A growing number of stories reporting that the Ukrainian government may have the Russian-backed rebels in the east on the run.

2. The sudden doubling of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, just as they did right before invading and annexing Crimea.

3. The UN, citing Russian figures, claiming that 850,000 Ukrainians have fled across the Russian border.

The U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, said Tuesday that the Russian authorities estimate that around 730,000 Ukrainians have sought sanctuary in Russia this year under a visa-free travel program.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the numbers are true, and that it’s the Russian-created-backed-and-orchestrated civil war that’s forcing people to flee (and when your only options are to flee into the fighting or away from the fighting, and “away” just happens to be the Russian border, you flee to the Russian border rather than die).

4. The Russians showing increasing “concern” about the “humanitarian crisis.”

“On a human scale, the situation in the east — particularly in Donetsk and Luhansk — is disastrous. Today, with all certainty, there’s a need to speak about a true war,” Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said Tuesday.

Leading to 5. Rising concern about NATO allies of an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The problem all along has been the lack of a significant geopolitical downside for Russia in all of this.

Yes, Russia needs to worry about its ability to invade and occupy a large land area that isn’t nearly as friendly to it as Crimea was.  I’m not suggesting that there is no cost to Russia invading eastern Ukraine. I’m suggesting that it’s not entirely clear the West can, or is willing to, put a sufficient price tag on a Russian invasion in order to make it not worth the cost for Russia to go ahead anyway (or for Russia to at least not care what the Western reaction is).

Now, there is also the matter of that Malaysia Airlines flight the Russian’s buddies shot down in Ukraine, killing nearly 300 innocent people, and using Russian-supplied missiles to do so. That didn’t go over too well with Europe, America or most of the world. Nor did the world react too kindly to Russia’s bizarre response to the incident, claiming that it was really the Ukrainian government that shot the plane down (while others argued that the plane was a set-up, filled with already-dead bodies), and then letting it stooges in Ukraine initially deny international access to the crash site or the bodies of the dead.

The Malaysia Airlines flight may not have been the straw that broke the European camel’s back, but it certainly accelerated movement towards an eventual, possible, breaking point at which Europe switches from relative inaction to serious action.

But let’s not blame this entirely on Europe (western Europe to be exact — eastern Europe has been far more forthright about the need to challenge Russia head-on). It’s not entirely clear what America is willing to, or can, do either.  The Obama administration, reflecting overall US public opinion, doesn’t need another expensive military conflict after Afghanistan and Iraq both broke the bank, in addition to killing thousands of US troops and creating a power vacuum that Al-Qaeda-aligned militants (ISIS) are now filling in Iraq.

And that’s why you don’t get involved in trillion dollar wars of convenience unless you have a pretty darn good reason. Call it the Rainy Day Fund of War-making (the same principle applies to tax cuts during budget surpluses).  You keep your powder, your money, and your men dry until you actually need them, otherwise they might just not be there when a righteous casus belli ultimately rears its head.

 


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • http://vegastearoom.blogspot.com/ chandler_in_lasvegas

    Starting to look like Kurdistan…

  • MaxBangayvef

    Lila . although Matthew `s st0rry is shocking, last wednesday I bought a gorgeous Nissan GT-R: from having made $4749 this month and-also, 10-k this past munth . it’s definitly my favourite work I have ever done . I began this 8-months ago and immediately started making a cool more than $87… per-hr .

    for detail check tech tab….

    go to this web-site

    ==============>> Payatom.Com

    ================================

  • Badgerite

    I hope these tactics by Putin have the effect of reinvigorating NATO. They certainly should.
    That. And his actions in Syria should give everyone pause.

  • Badgerite

    Really good post.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Entirely correct to do so, except Russia already formally agreed not to ‘rearrange’ Ukraine. There was never a threat of the ethnic cleansing of Russians in Ukraine. The only ‘norm’ is that imperialistic powers will do whatever they want, whenever they want.

  • dsafd asdfasdf

    You are right. Serbia wAs made up of three parts. Serbia proper, Vojvodina province and Kosovo province. They all make up republic of Serbia according to Serbian law. Kosovo was not a “neighbor.” Vojvodina is not a neighbor.

  • MarilynRStroup

    I just got<- paid $7500 parttime in a week on the lap-top b­­­­­­­­y ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­G­­­­­­­­­­­­oog­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­l­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­­.I­ a­­m ­­­­­­­­­m­­a­­k­­­­i­n­­­g ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­go­­od ­­­­­­­­­sa­­la­­ry ­­­­­­­­­fr­­­om ­­­­­­­­­h­­.o­­m­e ­­­­­­­­­$­­5­5­0­0­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­$­­70­0­0/w­­­­­e­e­kL­­­ast Sunday got a brand new BM­­­W since getting a check for $647­­­4 this – 4 weeks past. I beg­­­an this 8-months ago and imm­­­ediately was bringing home at lea­­­st $97 per hour. I wo­­­rk thr­­­ough this link, go to tech tab for work det­­­ail­­­

    —————————————————–

    Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started—–http://www.google-projects97$-Jobs….
    >
    —————————————————–

    OPEN THIS LINK–>>­OPEN NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • MarilynRStroup

    I just got<- paid $7500 parttime in a week on the lap-top b­­­­­­­­y ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­G­­­­­­­­­­­­oog­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­l­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­­.I­ a­­m ­­­­­­­­­m­­a­­k­­­­i­n­­­g ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­go­­od ­­­­­­­­­sa­­la­­ry ­­­­­­­­­fr­­­om ­­­­­­­­­h­­.o­­m­e ­­­­­­­­­$­­5­5­0­0­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­$­­70­0­0/w­­­­­e­e­kL­­­ast Sunday got a brand new BM­­­W since getting a check for $647­­­4 this – 4 weeks past. I beg­­­an this 8-months ago and imm­­­ediately was bringing home at lea­­­st $97 per hour. I wo­­­rk thr­­­ough this link, go to tech tab for work det­­­ail­­­

    —————————————————-

    Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started—–http://www.google-projects97$-Jobs….
    >
    —————————————————–

    OPEN THIS LINK–>>­OPEN NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • Dessie Deratta

    If Russia uses the Kosova precedent for the Donetsk region it is entirely correct to do so. It warned the West REPEATEDLY and loudly at the time of both the bombing of Serbia (without UN sanction) and the severing of Kosovo from Serbia that these were precedents.

    There was smug denial of this obvious fact by Western Leaders and their MSM, back in the late 1990s when the West regarded Russia as a spent force. And when NATO declared Kosova an independent State in 2006, (Still not recognised by the UN).

    Now the West is reaping what we sowed.

    After Ukraine is rearranged, we need to seriously talk to the Russians and others about drawing a line in the sand and establishing “norms” or laws of international behaviours that EVERY COUNTRY must obey.

    The time when only the US (with or without the EU) can break the rules when it feels a geopolitical imperative has passed.

    If the West doesn’t realise that then only Armageddon lies ahead,,,,,,,

  • http://www.zazzle.com/mineomine Kyle Shepherd

    Republicans will use all of this regardless of how Bush is the true genesis of it as all Obama’s fault. Doesn’t matter Bush left us weakened with expensive wars that destroyed our credibility. The public is not behind using military and I don’t blame them.

  • 2karmanot

    Good answer. I think you have Putin by the short hairs. As for the last: ” you seem to think that an anti-gay faction in the socialist left is all in my imagination.” While, I think you have an excellent imagination, I entirely agree with you about Russian socialist regressive social values. Homophobia, racism and misogyny seem to be as central to it’s defunct modernism as it’s primitive Christianity. Sorry about the pppffftt, it was meant as ironic and a reference to the ‘left’, which I still maintain, until otherwise convinced, is as about as relevant as the Mastodon. And god forbid my friend, that anyone condescend to you and reap the whirlwind of just deserts. I leave that folly to dedicated trolls. peace

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    The area was once controlled by Poland. It was once controlled by Lithuania. At one time all of the currently disputed areas of southern and eastern Ukraine were controlled as an independent Tatar state. Not really sure what point you’re trying to make. If it is that somehow Ukraine’s sovereign territory, which Russia formally agreed to, somehow doesn’t belong to it, then we might as well start discussing all the other possible claimants. Maybe we can revive the Austria-Hungary royal family and let them make a claim on it again.

  • FLL

    I remember your post about the rebel “defense minister” taking credit for the shoot. Your post and the comment pages contain snapshots of evidence on VK.com and Twitter:

    http://americablog.com/2014/07/passenger-jet-may-shot-russian-ukrainian-border.html

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Holy cow, I just read it. Dear lord, what a piece of yellow journalism. I have no idea what Counterpunch’s history is, but that piece is trafficking in Russian propaganda. We have the satellite imagery of the missile taking off. And machine gun fire supposed took down a jet at 35,000 feet? Pretty darn good shot! Then why did the Russian rebel commander take credit for the shoot down? And why did the Russian rebels refuse to let anyone see the wreckage that would clearly “prove” that the Ukrainian govt did it?

  • jj

    It was the Soviet dictators who took Russian land and annexed it to Ukraine. The land where the current fighting is going on is among that land – the people were never given a choice or vote, and Ukraine didn’t win the land or earn it on their own. Stalin the evil ethnic Georgian dictator is the one who took this land from Russia and annexed it to Ukraine.

  • jj

    Also in current news a former Kosovo politician, Gani Geci, is on the run after killing an ex-KLA commander Ruzhdi Shaqiri, stemming from a dispute/rivalry that goes back to the war times. The KLA did execute their rivals, including politicians opposed to them, as well as killing Albanians who didn’t support them and Albanian witnesses to their crimes.
    19 witnesses or their family members (all ethnic Albanians) were assassinated or died in mysterious accidents/suicides in the run-up to ex-KLA commander and powerful politician Ramush Haradinaj’s trial. After killing or severely intimated witnesses there’s no one left willing to testify and Ramush got off.
    Should point out that the international community does nothing to protect the witnesses against the KLA.

  • jj

    Kosovo was not Serbia’s neighbor – but a part of Serbia – it was a Serbian province. And the killings were started by the Albanians with their KLA/UCK which were trained by the CIA, BND and MI6.
    The KLA had torture camps all over Kosovo, but when Serbian police (and it was only the Serbian police fighting against them until a couple months before the airstrikes, as Serbia noted the build up of U.S. NATO forces along the border with Macedonia and sent the troops in to oppose a ground invasion) went after the KLA militants, the western politicians would threaten Serbia and force Serbia into agreements which allowed the terrorists to fester.

    The KLA did kill Albanians who even just had jobs with the Serbian state – including many forestry workers who probably stumbled onto their camps in the woods and mountains.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yellow journalism, pining for the Soviet days, hating America, something. But it doesn’t strike me as actual real journalism when you simply repeat Russian propaganda talking points.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    You mean like the Nazi fascists that Vladimir Putin is enabling in Russia, and aligning himself with internationally? If you actually cared about Nazis and fascists, you’d be anti-Putin.

    http://americablog.com/2014/03/meet-vladimir-putin-favorite-neo-nazis-russia-crimea.html

  • FLL

    I wasn’t impressed by the way Whitney set the tone for his piece. He started with this quote from Bill Van Auken:

    From start to finish, the Ukraine crisis has been instigated by US imperialism.

    I read the article and it struck me as yellow journalism. (See my longer reply to karmanot below).

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yes, we all remember well when Tori Nuland was leading the Maidan, blood streaming down her forehead, across the streets of Kiev. Oh that’s right, it was an actual real revolution they were having, and the Russians didn’t like it, so they invaded, and are now fomenting civil war.

    One more thing – you’re against US interventionism, so I suppose you don’t want us to help the Palestinians.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Not clear why anyone would publish that kind of garbage. Then again, there are some on the left who yearn for the old days when Russia was socialist and Soviet.

  • FLL

    Mike Whitney chooses to set the tone of his piece by starting with a quotation from Bill Van Auken’s article with a title that clearly suggests the answer to its own question: “Does Washington want war with Russia?” This is the first sentence of that quotation:

    From start to finish, the Ukraine crisis has been instigated by US imperialism.

    In my reply, I mentioned “taking the side of Putin and the separatists that he’s backing.” I was right to say that Whitney is taking Putin’s side, and it’s clear by the quotation that he starts with. Now look at the content of the sentence from Auken’s quote. Are you joking? I guess I’ll just repeat my reply to Matthew Saroff below because I’d like you to explain why you think Auken has any point at all:

    The world saw the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovych unfold during the months of November through February. Those tens of thousands and hundreds thousands of Ukrainians taking to the streets were not American agents, nor do I think were they the victims of American brainwashing centers that had been set up throughout Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.

    How about Ukraine’s presidential election in May? How do you explain that? Petro Poroshenko campaigned by promising to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and when he won a landslide election with 54.7% in a field of 21 candidates, he began to do just that. Are you claiming that the American government somehow exercised mind control over millions of Ukrainian voters. Would you like to explain how Victoria Nuland and the American government are somehow responsible for all of this? Go ahead and take a crack at it.

    As far as your final point, you seem to think that an anti-gay faction in the socialist left is all in my imagination. I don’t. On another thread, I mentioned the hate-filled nonsense in Saudi school textbooks, and Nicho’s reply was sarcastic and dismissive. What a coincidence—Saudi Arabia is officially homophobic. In other comments from the socialist left on these comment pages, there is no criticism at all of Hamas, an Islamist party that is officially homophobic and wants to institute sharia law in Gaza. Another coincidence, of course. And in the Ukrainian crisis, the socialist left backs the thugs in eastern Ukraine that Putin is supplying while vilifying the European Union. The EU is ground zero for the advancement of gay rights and Putin’s Russia is ground zero for the advancement of homophobia in Europe. Yet another astonishing coincidence.

    Now read carefully, karmanot. The obvious pattern from all of these comments is very obvious for anyone to see. It is not my imagination. I think that I, or any reader, can connect the dots. Please save your “pppfffttt” for another situation. Do not patronize me, and do not patronize the readers of this blog. I think I’m being polite by merely pointing out the obvious homophobic pattern in all of these comments. Bill is often less polite when he uses the word “sewer” to describe countries like the U.S. and Western Europe where LGBT rights have advanced very far. I acknowledge that your comments are always polite, even when we disagree, but I will have to say that Bill and Nicho are really pushing it.

  • 2karmanot

    1.) Counterpunch is not a yellow journalism tabloid.2. I suggest you look up Mike Whitney and review his work before coming to such inane conclusions.I thought the ‘evidence’ mentioned was interesting..3.Nowhere does Whitney suggest a Putin admiration. I don’t appreciate your knee jerk reaction and further ,think your last insight is as old as socialist misogyny…….come to think of it, what left, Is there even a left anymore,much less a coy one? pppfffttt

  • FLL

    Your link details one German pilot’s theory, that is, that the Ukrainian government in Kiev shot the plane down. Why hasn’t this idea been given any credence anywhere in the world, especially at the UN, unless this is an absolutely global conspiracy involving the Malaysian government, the Dutch government, etc? If this story had any basis in fact, why wouldn’t the Kremlin be giving it coverage, since it would be in their interest to do so?

    Internet text from the rebel defense minister on VK.com, Twitter text, audio recordings and firsthand observations by AP reporters all provide proof showing that the plane was shot down by Russian-backed separatists. See the post and comment section from Americablog about the rebel defense minister taking credit for shooting the plane down:

    http://americablog.com/2014/07/passenger-jet-may-shot-russian-ukrainian-border.html

    I understand that some folks have an emotional investment in taking the side of Putin and the separatists that he’s backing, although I can’t understand why. Putin’s only admirers in the U.S. today are fundamentalist Xtians like Bryan Fischer, who calls Putin “a lion of Christianity” (for his support of anti-gay legislation). I suppose that angle also has an appeal to some on the “left,” although I would think it’s a minority. As far as CounterPunch, the magazine that published the link you mentioned, its own editors describe the magazine as “muckraking with a radical attitude.” It sounds more like a yellow journalism tabloid than anything else.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Missiles are already within sight of the Russian border, if you consider that Belarus seems to be little more than a Russian puppet state. Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have all already formally requested an increased NATO presence and support in their countries. Why is nobody suggesting those governments are American paid neo-Nazis? Turkey is watching the situation carefully, because they have a vested interest in Crimea, especially the Tatar population. Finland has been talking to its allies to make sure it has options to protect itself. Moldova is scared that Russia may try to make a move on them, and they’ve declared themselves to be a neutral state. There is nobody in the region happy about the situation… but if we really wanted to project force, we could park an aircraft carrier task force in the Baltic inside of a week.

  • 2karmanot
  • FLL

    The world saw the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovych unfold during the months of November through February. Those tens of thousands and hundreds thousands of Ukrainians taking to the streets were not American agents, nor do I think were they the victims of American brainwashing centers that had been set up throughout Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.

    How about Ukraine’s presidential election in May? How do you explain that? Petro Poroshenko campaigned by promising to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and when he won a landslide election with 54.7% in a field of 21 candidates, he began to do just that. Are you claiming that the American government somehow exercised mind control over millions of Ukrainian voters. Would you like to explain how Victoria Nuland is somehow responsible for all of this? Go ahead and take a crack at it.

  • nicho

    Meanwhile, an update from the ongoing terrorist action being perpetrated by Bibi NaziYahoo and Barack Obama:

    http://commondreams.org/news/2014/08/06/among-gazas-ruins-impact-children-most-severe-un-official

  • nicho

    That’s the idea — put NATO missiles within sight of the Russian border. Just as we’d be pleased if the Russians placed missiles only 90 miles from our border. Oh yeah, we almost started a nuclear war over that idea.

  • http://40yrs.blogspot.com Matthew Saroff

    And we created this current crisis, with Victoria Nuland, Robert Fucking Kagan’s wife, crowing about how they created another “color revolution.” And allied themselves with right wing nativist parties and militias.

  • bkmn

    NATO should allow Ukraine to become a full member. Putin might have more fear of invading Ukraine if it had the full backing of NATO.

  • Reasor

    Sometimes I like to imagine what kind of precedent it would have set for foreign policy if Bill Clinton had been honest enough to say, “Slobodan Milosevic is sitting on the largest supply of copper ore in all of Europe, and we wants it, precious, so we’re bombing him.”

    Humanitarian crisis, my ass. We’ve been financing the creation of a humanitarian crisis in Palestine for decades. Washington didn’t care about ethnic cleansing against Muslims in the 1990’s any more than they care about it now.

  • Indigo

    Russian expansionism is its own worst enemy. I don’t know exactly who’s responsible but it looks as if the Russian nation is going through a phase of open barbarism. The attacks on the gay community alone justify that take on their social development; add to that the border squabbles someone in Russia is authorizing and they’ve got a barbaric mess on their hands they don’t seem to know how to clean up. It’s all strangely reminiscent of exactly what would happen here in the States if the Libertarian and T-Party crowds get even more ascendancy. Roving gangs of thugs is all it is but it could happen here too.

  • FLL

    From your post:

    eastern Europe has been far more forthright [than western Europe] about the need to challenge Russia head-on.

    That’s no surprise since eastern Europe has firsthand experience living under Soviet rule. Any popular resistance against the puppet regimes in eastern Europe was put down with cold-blooded murder in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968)—not to mention shoot-to-kill orders for the series of guard towers that stretched the entire length of the Soviet Bloc’s border with the West. Some may pretend not to understand why the Russian government is widely unpopular and mistrusted throughout eastern Europe today, but in fact they understand those reasons perfectly well.

© 2014 AMERICAblog News. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS