Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine as Putin embraces the Bush legacy of foreign failure

Kiev has captured ten Russian paratroopers who admit crossing int Ukraine. And Russia has finally admitted what has been obvious since the start of the Ukraine crisis: Russian soldiers have been fighting Ukrainian forces in Ukraine.

Putin looks more like the Russian George W. Bush every day. Putin has whipped his country up into a war fever with fraudulent claims of atrocities being committed by the Ukraine government. Putin is fighting a covert war in the hope of provoking an excuse for an invasion. And every use of force by Putin has only made his political and military situation weaker.

Lets recap what has happened in Ukraine in the past twelve months.

This time last year, Ukraine was a close Russian ally, and the Russian lease on the Sevastopol naval base was completely secure.

Putin used to run the domestic equivalent of the KGB.

Putin used to run the domestic equivalent of the KGB.

Ukraine was considering closer ties to the EU, with a tariff agreement but that would benefit Russia almost as much as Ukraine.

Putin’s heavy-handed attempt to block the deal with the EU led to protests in the Ukrainian streets. And what the protestors were most insistent on rejecting was Putin himself. The Ukrainian opposition are not anti-Russian, they are anti-Putin.

By February, President Yanukovych of Ukraine was on the run as he faced impeachment proceedings and prosecution for embezzlement on a massive scale. Panicking, Putin ordered his forces already stationed in Crimea to commence an occupation leading to annexation in March.

The historical joke here is that the glorious Russian victory in capturing the Crimea was never much of a gain. The Crimea is a desert; the only strategic asset being the port of Sevastopol. And that is strategically worthless without control of the Bosphorus strait.

Annexing Crimea actually makes Russia’s long term position considerably weaker. It is a question of when, not whether, Russia relinquishes control yet again. It may take decades, a century even, but Russia will eventually leave. And Ukraine isn’t going to be at all friendly to Moscow until it does.

There is a large Russian speaking minority in eastern Ukraine. But speaking Russian is not the same as wanting Putin to rule your country. Americans, for example, speak English. That does not, however, mean that they miss the Queen.

Putin appears to be adamant that he will not allow Ukraine to leave Russia’s sphere of influence. But everything Putin does only deepens the divide. The only way that Putin can prevent the total collapse of his proxy forces in Ukraine is to mount an invasion, an enterprise that is surely doomed to defeat. The Soviet Union had a population of almost 300 million, but went down to ignominious defeat attempting to occupy Afghanistan with a population of a mere 10 million at the time.

The population of Russia is 145 million; off Ukraine, 45 million. Imagine for the sake of argument that a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine succeeds, and Putin declares Mission Accomplished from the deck of a Russian battleship. Where does Russia find the troops to occupy Ukraine? And how does Putin prevent other parts of the decrepit Russian empire from breaking away while the majority of his armed forces are tied down in the southwest?

Unlike the US in Iraq, Russia does not enjoy an overwhelming military advantage over Ukraine. (And Iraq remains a thorn in America’s side.) What’s more, we are now in late August and winter is coming. It’s not exactly the optimal time to take over your neighbor.

Putin’s head is now in a noose of his own making. He can’t withdraw without a loss of face that would completely destroy the brutish self-image he has striven to create. But invading Ukraine might trigger the breakup of what remains of the Russian empire.

And then, Russia’s geopolitical foes, internal and external, will all be singing “Mission Accomplished.”

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  • MyrddinWilt

    Look at what I wrote, it is a pure analysis of the facts: Putin is losing this fight just like George W. Bush lost in Iraq. Nothing you wrote challenges any of the facts I stated. But you are mighty upset (or at least your supervisor is) about those facts.

    Putin can send hundreds of trolls to fight on social media but you are not helping his cause in the slightest because you are all so heavy handed and ham fisted.

  • News Nag

    Demosthenes, no need to apologize. Myrrdin and AmericaBlog are unquestioning Zombie Neocons when it comes to Russia (if you’re referencing Stalin, one could also reference U.S. 20th and 21st century warmongering – direct and proxy, U.S. slavery, 20th and 21st century U.S. mass imprisonment of minorities, et al). No use in stating the obvious to the otherwise fine AmericaBlog folks. They have their agenda, and they’ve a right to it. You just can’t trust its objectivity on this subject as a result. Too bad, really. They’re so good on so many things. But they turn a blind eye and act like the U.S. isn’t busy subverting Russia and most of the rest of the world for our government’s corporate overlords, both economic and military-industrial corporations. It’s not inexplicable, but it is damning and a disappointing bore. The ‘proof’ for this AmericaBlog post’s assertions, for instance, comes from Radio Free Europe, fergawdssake.

    Don’t block me, bro. Don’t bother. I’m not coming back.

  • News Nag

    What’s your excuse for buying directly into Radio Free Europe propaganda? Yours is the most one-sided ‘reporting’ I’ve seen. What? Putin’s “heavy-handed” counteroffer to the West’s IMF enslavement for Monsanto and other companies’ benefits, plus the local corrupt oligarchs? He made a counter offer. The U.S. staged a COUP D’ETAT in answer to it. Putin fights back is the scenario, something the U.S. would have done in a Baghdad minute. Why are you such a corporate ho? You DO know that the U.S. abuses and otherwise suppresses its own minorities wholesale, right? Why do you think the U.S. is trying to uphold something good here? They’re NOT. Your naivete or craven pandering to covert U.S. realpolitik is disgusting and lowers AmericaBlog’s otherwise decent coverage of world events. You’re a frigging neocon, and that’s disgusting.

  • Bubbles

    The complete isolation of Russia could have some very bad consequences. It will make it a revisionist power with strong impulses. Today Russia provides a safe haven for the likes of Snowden. Tomorrow for the likes of jihadist. They both undermine the existing international system that isolates and denigrates Russia. Keep in mind, it is fundamental to the Russian mind of the concept of Russia in history as having a messianic role in saving mankind (never mind the reality). The humiliation of Germany in 1919 gave us Hitler in 1933.

  • sane37

    The Bush doctrine was definitely not a failure. His supporters and business partners are still cashing the cheques on that one. The military industry thrives in times of uncertainty and war.

  • Myrddin Wyllt

    The establishment sees this as a failure by Obama but not for the reason you might think.

    Back during the cold war when the Bush administration suddenly realized how weak the Soviet Union was, they tried desperately to prop it up. Not because they feared the consequences of a collapse but because there would be no place for bellicose right wing warmonger kooks if the Soviet union fell.

    Obama did not incite Ukraine into revolt, they didn’t want to have yet more instability in the region with the crisis in Syria and the ongoing fallout from the Arab spring. One of Putin’s blunders was to mistake the poplar uprisings of the Arab Spring and Ukraine for fake CIA coups like the one they pulled in Iran in ’53.

    But the outcome is very good for the US in the long term. Putin has been tricked into showing his fangs. And most importantly that he will break any alliance if it suits him. Iran and Belarus are taking notice. Looking ten years into the future I think we will see Russia without any friends of consequence at all. Already their influence is limited to adjacent states.

    Demoting Russia to a regional power is not a bad outcome for US security. It is however a disaster for the warmongers.

  • Myrddin Wyllt

    I don’t see the disagreement. We both agree Putin had the use of Crimea before with no difficulties or costs. Now he has made the Crimea the center of a Ukraine/Russian irredentist dispute that will not be resolved for centuries except by a Russian withdrawal.

    And this is the Nevada of the area. The only reason to go there is tourism and that was almost entirely Ukrainians. There is no water, no resources and the power has to be supplied from Ukraine.

    So Putin has gained nothing but he has incurred a huge cost in the process. So thats a net loss the way I see it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Thanks for your comment.

    I have a couple of things to add. Obama’s worst acts in the recent period, in my opinion, have been related to supplying the arms, training and funds that allowed the zionists to conduct yet another campaign of ethnic cleansing – this time they murdered, at last count, over 2600 Palestinians, fighters and civilians, men, women and children. Obama’s support for zionism is weakening him because of world wide revulsion for the mass murder of Palestinians.

    As for events in Ukraine, while large numbers of Russian speaking civilians and independence fighters have been killed (many deliberately burned alive or otherwise murdered (1)) in the fighting that has not helped the rightwing Kiev regime. There are two reasons for that. First is that given the links of the Kiev regime with open fascists and ultrarightists (3). Those connections are well known and tend to increase the robust resistance by Russian speakers, workers and anti-fascists. Also, the Kiev regime is permanently weakened by it’s links to the EU banksters, anxious to get on with looting Ukraine and by it’s ties to the Obama regime, which is becoming increasingly isolated internationally and unpopular here.

    Obama hasn’t become as unpopular as Bush was in his second term but it’s only a question of time. (3)

    (1) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/02/ukraine-dead-odessa-building-fire

    (2) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/04/who-governing-ukraine-olexander-turchynov

    (3) http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/gallup-daily-obama-job-approval.aspx

  • Demosthenes

    My comment was primarily political, and I stand by my statement that Pres. Putin didn’t lose by annexing the Crimea.

    I don’t dispute your history — I recall reading about the wholesale deportations of Crimean Tatars in “The Gulag Archipelago”, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

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

    Except that fussy little bit where Russia formally agreed to respect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. And the reason why Crimea is majority Russian is because the Soviets forcibly deported most of the native population, and replaced them with Russians.

  • Demosthenes

    I respectfully dissent. I don’t think Pres. Putin has lost anything by taking over the Crimea. This region was, lest we forget, Russian until control over it was ceded for administrative purposes in the mid-20th Century. Moreover, the vast majority of the population in the Crimea is Russian.

    I hasten to add that I agree with the rest of this article.

  • AndyinChicago

    Russia is one of the few places on earth where Bush was more popular than Obama is. Just saying.

  • Rational

    Where will Putin get the troops?
    Same place the chimp did he will hire Blackwater and freinds. The Right in the US will cheer for the authoritarian. The Randians will support an example of the unfretter free market at work, Milo will get his slice of the pie, and a good chunk of that money will end up in the GOp coffers as a reward for being good fellow travelers.

  • FLL

    Obama overthrew the Yanukovich regime? I thought it was tens and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in the streets from December through February. Your rhetoric is bizarre.

  • emjayay

    I miss the Queen. She waved at me once.

  • nicho

    I think you meant to say the “Obama legacy of foreign failure.” Bush passed that torch to Obama, who gladly accepted it and has doubled down on it. He owns it now. And he has fucked up everything he’s touched — from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya, to Syria, and to the Ukraine, where his neoliberal meddling by overthrowing a democratically elected government has pulled Putin into the mess.

  • cambridgemac

    Putin’s move may indeed further weaken the Russian empire. But I question – or quibble with – the comparison to Dubya and Iraq. American corps that supply arms, energy and “security services” and “intelligenbce” are booming.

    The endless wars in the Middle East – called for explicitly by rightwing Project for a new American Century (PNAC) in the 90’s – and still being implemented by Obama – have been very very good to this sector. I would argue that Iraq has been a success for the Big Boys. Too bad about the Iraqis, American soldiers, and the taxpayers. But then, they’re not real people. Corps are. Don’t forget, within weeks of 911, the Wall Street Journal was calling this The Long War and saying it might last 100 years.

  • iamlegion

    And don’t forget…

    Putin’s heavy-handed attempt to block the deal with the EU led to protests in the Ukrainian streets.

    By February, President Yanukovych of Ukraine was on the run as he faced impeachment proceedings and prosecution for embezzlement on a massive scale.

    The main reason Yanyukovich was facing that scrutiny in the first place was because Putin leaned on him to very suddenly renounce the EU deal, despite its general popularity with the populace. Doing something that was so clearly _only_ because Putin yanked his chain eliminated his support in his own country. He’s living in Russia now, sounding a lot like Vichy France…

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