Thursday, August 28, 2014

Putin orchestrates not so stealth invasion of eastern Ukraine

Russia seems unequivocally to be participating in an invasion of eastern Ukraine.  Their participation appears to be not just delivery of humanitarian aid but also surreptitiously arms, not just firing at Ukraine forces from Russian territory, but also moving Russian troops into the territory.   Just a day after what he stated was a conciliatory meeting with Ukraine President Poroshenko and professing that there was no Russian involvement in Ukraine, the fighting escalated.  Like Saddam Hussein of old, or Bashir al-Assad recently, Putin feels secure in blatantly lying to the world.  His main audience of concern is the Russian home front, where his 80% approval rating due to the propaganda whipped up nationalist fervor makes him feel invulnerable.

After demonstrations against his regime two years ago, Putin apparently and correctly, I guess, decided that the liberals in the Russian mass media, culture, and the economy had no core to their movement, and began a major suppression of their rights.  He combined that with a propaganda campaign focused on all other people in Russia, the propaganda focusing on Russia's place in history and its rightful place now.  The Crimea invasion and painless takeover was a huge positive after the table had been set by the relentless government orchestrated media messaging .

With that kind of support within Russia, the U.S. and European sanctions focused on Putin associates and his supported oligarchs will be digested, and any fall over into higher prices and less goods for the majority of the Russian populace will be accepted as the price of an eventual and deserved return of Russia to its place of global prominence, and certainly European prominence.  The people will follow Putin for now.  In the Russian kleptocracy, the oligarchs and Putin sycophants have more than enough to carry themselves through the sanctions, sanctions that will cut both ways in places like London that have greatly benefited from Russian investments and lifestyle choices.

It is unclear what serious options NATO, Europe, and the U.S. have to deal with this.  If it's just international opprobrium, that will not phase Putin.  There are no answers here, but these developments in Ukraine are not promising.

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