Features

The crash of the ruble — and what's next for Russia

Since the invasion of Crimea, Russia's President has been conducting an experiment in anti-western rebellion

6 December 2014

9:00 AM

6 December 2014

9:00 AM

Since the Russian invasion of Crimea last February, many different phrases have been used to describe the tactics of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Some have spoken of a ‘new Cold War’. Others have described him as ‘anti-western’ or ‘anti-American’. But there is another adjective one could also use to describe his behaviour: ‘experimental’. For apart from everything else he has said and done, Putin has, in effect, launched a vast experiment into whether it is possible to extract a large and relatively well-integrated country from the global mainstream, and to reject the rules by which that mainstream runs.

In truth, the experiment began long before Crimea. For several years now, Russia, a member of the World Trade Organisation, has defied the spirit of that institution by using selective trade boycotts — Lithuanian cheese, Polish meat — to make political points. In 2008, the Russian army also invaded and then occupied parts of Georgia, more or less with impunity, which at least poked a hole in the ideal of ‘Europe whole and free’. But the annexation of Crimea truly broke new ground: by not only moving troops across borders but actually altering borders in Europe by force, he challenged both the written and unwritten rules which have governed politics on the continent since 1945.

The US, Europe, Australia and Japan responded with sanctions which were deliberately designed to target a small number of wealthy Russians. But Putin broke new ground again. Instead of responding in kind, he banned food imports from the West. Because Russia normally imports at least a quarter and possibly as much as half of its food — not only Parmesan from Italy but frozen vegetables from Poland — he ensured that food prices would rise, not just for a small number of people but for the entire nation. It was a calculated risk: the Russian President and his entourage apparently reckoned that the Russian people would agree to pay higher prices for food in exchange for military glory. Unlike decadent Europeans and spoiled Americans, Putin seemed to believe that Russians would stoically suffer on behalf of the motherland at a time of crisis.

Was he right? We are about to find out. This week the rouble, which has lost a third of its value in three months, slid by 9 per cent in a single day. A recession is now predicted. Inflation is predicted too, as high as 8 or 9 per cent. A controversial but long-planned pipeline construction has been abruptly cancelled. Major Russian banks are asking for government loans. Russian companies which earn in roubles and borrow in dollars are suddenly in trouble. Capital has been swiftly flowing out of the country, and some banks are rumoured to be limiting withdrawals. There are so many rumours about capital controls that the prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, has explicitly denied them.

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Not all of Russia’s economic disruption is caused by sanctions, of course. Since last spring, oil prices have also dropped by nearly 40 per cent. The world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, has just made it clear that it won’t lower production in order to push them up again, at least for the time being.

This might not matter as much to other oil producers, but for more than a decade Putin has coasted on the illusion that historically high oil and gas revenues could both support the national budget and disguise Russia’s failure to create a more productive economy. High energy prices even paid for the excesses of autocracy and an expansionist foreign policy: the Sochi Olympics, the billionaires’ palaces, the adventure in eastern Ukraine, the military exercises on a Cold War scale, even the €9 million loan which a shady Russian bank has just made to the far-right French National Front.

Sanctions have exacerbated the difficulties created by the collapse in oil prices, and in this narrow economic sense, Putin’s experiment has failed, or at least proved to be very expensive. Oil prices may rise again, Russia has large reserves and its economy may well recover — but in the meantime ordinary Russians will pay a huge price. If nothing else, we have learned that it is very expensive to break international economic rules and to live without allies. Even the Chinese have used the crisis to take advantage of Russian weakness, negotiating for themselves an advantageous gas deal: it’s often forgotten that they like the rules of globalisation, which until now have suited them very well.

The broader political test of the experiment is still to come. For Putin is historically correct in thinking his break with the mainstream might be possible. Once upon a time, the citizens of the Soviet Union really were willing to put up with terrible hardship in the name of defending their country. At the beginning of this crisis, some Russians sounded as if this were 1941, when Hitler invaded the USSR and the nation rallied round Stalin. The Ukrainians were said to be Nazis; Nato was said to be encircling. The head of a state polling agency told the Wall Street Journal, ‘If the West doesn’t like us, that means we’re on the right track.’

In this atmosphere, rapidly falling living standards — blamed, of course, on the West — might well persuade Russians to rally around their embattled leader, who might be inspired to push his military adventurism further. There is another 1941 precedent to keep in mind here too: in December of that year, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, at least partly in retaliation for an American oil embargo.

Still, this is 2014, not 1941, and if nothing else, the past decade of high oil prices gave many Russians a standard of living that their Soviet parents and grandparents could never have imagined. There are not just oligarchs but concentric circles of people who have invested in the West, travelled in the West, shopped in the West or otherwise benefited from Russia’s integration into the global economy, if only because they bought those cheap frozen vegetables. They have no clear mechanism to respond to the onrushing economic crisis. Alternative leaders have been eliminated, and alternative policies are not discussed, but that doesn’t mean they’ll remain passive forever.

They could leave the country, withdraw their money, stage a palace coup or simply find ways to make life in Russia unpleasant for Russia’s leaders in ways we haven’t yet imagined. Maybe there’s no point in speculating. After all, this an experiment, and we don’t yet know how it will come out.

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Show comments
  • cambridgeelephant

    Maybe the Russian people – whilst not entirely fooled by what he is – admire Putin because he’s prepared to stand up for them and for himself. Maybe they respect him for that – however grudgingly – regardless of ‘the cash’ ?

    As opposed to dear little ‘Dave’ – for example – who spends most of his time crawling around Brussels and Berlin on his knees ?

    Maybe there’s germ of an idea there ?

    • pearlsandoysters

      Whatever the eloquence, the ultimate measure of any goverments’ success is living standards. I guess that the Russians voted for Putin on explicit promise of political stability & economic prosperity, the ideas of self-betterment having taken a firm hold on Russian soil. Currently, there’s nothing of the kind in the offing. What future holds in store remains to be seen.

      • FF42

        Agree with this. However Vladimir Putin sets the standard against the chaos of the the post Soviet collapse. Against that low bar, Russian living standards have seen a real and massive improvement. They are not likely to fall back to those levels either. He will have money to feed into his patronage system, even if not on such generous levels. You want to keep your small town functioning in godforsaken Siberia, so you apply for central funds. You know you need to do. You may resent it but you still do it.

        • pearlsandoysters

          I seriously hope that the situation won’t spiral out of control, otherwise there can be unforseen consequences. All this patriotism with rosy spectacles attached is no substitute for economic growth.

        • jamesmace

          Do you understand the words you are writing? The ruble has plummeted crushing the middle class in Russia. The roads are pathetic and most homes still have no running water.

          Meanwhile Putin has amassed billions in wealth with palaces throughout the world.

          • Baron

            In spite of his palaces, bad roads and stuff, the Russian unwashed have never had it so good since the first sitting of the Duma in 1612. Unarguable this, jamesmace.

          • jamesmace
          • Baron

            As opposed to the 98% when the communist thugs were in power?

          • jamesmace

            No. Read the article. It is far worse than when the commies ruled.

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

            But most Russians, maybe 70%, live in massive apartment blocks and not too sure about the state of homes- the rising economy lifted all boats

          • jamesmace

            That can hardly be the case given that 30% of Russians have no indoor plumbing at all.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/14/international/europe/14bathroom.html?_r=0

      • la catholic state

        No it’s not. A country can withstand poverty….it cannot withstand treachery. Poverty has never destroyed a country. In fact….sometimes it is a blessing in disguise…because you are left alone.
        Truly man does not live by bread alone.

        • pearlsandoysters

          Most definately, yet it’s one thing when people do it for the sake of religious convictions or a grand idea & quite different when it goes about new oligarchy that actually does not have any grand ideas, only grand schemes. What exasarbates the situation is that there’s no clear cut understanding whose side the current Russian elites are on.

        • jamesmace

          Russia is the eptiomy of treachery for the past hundreds of years and it survives. However there was revolution everytime it became impoverished and the same is happening to Putin as happened to the despotic tsars and commies.

          • la catholic state

            Let’s hope and pray not. The world needs Russia. The West is a fetid amoral pagan cesspit.

    • Bumble Bee

      you forgot to add how ‘Dave’ is happily presenting his backside to terrorists in eager anticipation

    • Garry

      Indeed, Russians often remark that under Putin they now only have normal levels of corruption and cronyism, which if you had to endure the utter chaos, banditry and brazen theft of the Yeltsin years you would understand it is progress, and lets not forget that Yeltsin was the wests favourite drunken uncle.

      • Baron

        Garry, if you were to go to Russia (or any other of the former satellite countries), speak to the ordinary folk, they’ll tell you a joke: Under communism everyone stole abit, under Putin, few steal alot. Many will add: But alot to have remains for us.

        • Garry

          Yes, I have lived and worked in Russia on and off since 1996. I comment on here because of the absolute anti-Russian nonsense that is spouted here and elsewhere in the media with a few notable exceptions like Peter Hitchens and Tony Brenton who know the country. I remain cynical about the Politics of Russia but my admiration of ordinary Russians..their humility, culture and black sense of humour remains undimmed.

          • Baron

            Thanks, Garry for this thoughtful, correct and (it pains Baron to say it) courageous posting. The blue veined barbarian agrees with you fully. You keep at it, and take great care, both here and there.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Very well said sir.

            I’m disgusted by the anti-Russian hysteria generated by the MSM and the actions of our pariah western governments.

          • Garry

            Yes exactly, I hardly recognize the country I know with the “anti-gay Police State” portrayed by the media here, that is not to say Russia is without it’s problems or fault’s or that Putin is the reincarnation of Ghandi, clearly not, but some balance surely, some idea that there are shades of grey to all this, that Russia has some legitimate interests. I guess it’s much easier to keep chanting “Putin is Hitler, Putin is Hitler” over and over again. It saves on all that effort..you know, thinking and stuff.

          • GenJackRipper

            Sadly people dont question why.

      • Ach So

        While I agree that the unregulated banditism of the 90ies has much disappeared, the same has happened in other Eastern European countries.

        Unfortunately, judging by cases such as Magnitsky’s and others, it appears to have been replaced by banditism on state level, which stretches their definition of “normal” corruption to quite unbelievable levels.

        • Garry

          You are wrong if you think what is going on now compares to the scale of it following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the wholesale swindling of state assets. Ordinary Russians found it utterly lawless and bewildering. I saw it all..dignified Pensioners forced to sell their meagre possessions in the subways or worse, just plain begging, soldiers working part time as night club bouncers with full uniform and weaponry, workers going unpaid for weeks.
          After that you can see why..rightly or wrongly.. they felt that Putin brought some stability and order.
          I am no fan of Putin and I fear that all our ill thought through actions in the Ukraine have done is make him more popular.

          • Konst

            Garry, you are good and wise man. Russians see chaos in Ukraine. No one wants this in own country. More fear – more Putin’s popularity.

      • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

        Yeah, normal level in the billions$ of a few pet Kremlin swine- in Yeltsins era it was more widely spread + involved millions. Only the chaos part is true- Russia is as lawless as ever and more corrupt.

    • Bob-B

      So you think Putin i standing up for the Russian people when he grabs
      territory from his neighbours. Presumably you also think Hitler was
      standing up for the German people when he grabbed territory from his
      neighbours.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Any idea as to the presence of ethnic Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine?

        Learn some history of that region, learn the demographics, learn who Svoboda and Right Sector are and understand that when a new government which came about via an undemocratic illegal coup decides to remove Russian as an official language, lift the ban on Nazi symbols and proceeds to bomb its own towns and cities in the East killing thousands of civilians then you tell me if that is a government you would accept?

        Timeline – the Maiden come first, the new government was rejected by Eastern Ukraine, so the maiden was never representative of the whole country – the reality is right there staring you in the face – the East rejected the Maiden for subverting the democratic process, it split the country on half and started a civil war. The East is gone, accept it.

        • jwz

          You’re such an expert in eastern-European history and language, you don’t know even know the correct word. It’s maidan, which means square, not “maiden.” Since you’re the expert, tells us what percentage of votes Svoboda and Right Sector received in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

          The Russian language was never proposed to be banned. It was proposed, but never passed, that Russian would no longer be an official state language. But given your feelings on the matter, I’m sure you’re quite in favor of having Arabic made an official state language and Sharia law being implemented in Britain to accommodate the feelings of the entire population.

          • vitrohon

            @ Cyril Sneer ; Russian was the ” official ” language in Ukraine ONLY during the Russian and the communist Russian occupation ! Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and as
            stipulated by the Constitution ; Ukrainian is the ONLY official language in the State . While there are many minority languages USED throughout Ukraine , including Russian ,
            the only STATE language IS Ukrainian !
            During the corrupt , criminal , pro Russian Yanukovich
            regime , Russian shills in the government , proposed Russian as ANOTHER ” official ” language , but it never happened !
            Attempting to besmirch either Svoboda , or The Right Sector , yet not knowing the difference between Nazis and nationalists , a typical rant of Putin’s anti Ukrainian propaganda , is simply ignorant !
            Mouthing Putinite platitudes , such as ; ” an illegal coup ” or
            the ” maiden ” , not being representative of ” the whole country ” , and referring to Maidan as ” Maiden ” is not only wrong and childish , but it tells me that you are NOT a Russian troll but one of those , the Russians call ” a useful idiot ” !
            A little knowledge ; is a dangerous thing !

          • br14

            Yanukovich may have been corrupt, but he was an elected leader and his election was supervised by outside agencies.

            In a democracy, you accept the will of the majority, regardless of whether you like the result.

            When you remove such a leader by force or threat, that is an illegal coup. Another election was due next year so its not like there was long to wait. However, had the 2015 election been allowed to take place normally its possible the result wouldn’t have been what the EU and USA wanted.

            The fact the coup was supported by the USA and EU doesn’t make it right. The civil war demonstrates the results.

            Ironically, had Russia not invaded Crimea, it’s unlikely Ukraine would have its current leadership. Perhaps Ukrainians should accept the status quo and settle peacefully with their brethren in the East instead of trying to bomb them out of existence.

          • No1important

            Well it depends on the voting system, but you can be elected and not have a majority, also if you abuse your then you forfeit that position, if a majority of the people decide to remove you from your elected position that you have forefiet or not then that is the will of the majority, your arguments have no validity. Laws are made by men they exist only at our suffernce and therefore have no intrinsic worth once the populace deem them just ink on paper. There is still a law from the 12th century allowing a certain nationally to be shot with an arrow if found within the city walls after dark. Just because it base never been repealed doesn’t mean it is still legally binding.

          • br14

            However corrupt and abusive he may have been, Yanukovich had a majority.
            And if you want to remove a corrupt or abusive elected representative, the solution is an election. You do not forfeit your position unless convicted in a court of law.
            Ukrainians chose not to follow the rule of law, and as a result are suffering. Those in the west perhaps not as much as those in the east, but undoubtedly GDP will have impacted to the detriment of all.
            When the population takes the law into their own hands, they leave the door open for unscrupulous people to exploit them.
            The irony is that in removing their elected leader, they gave Putin moral authority and a justification for his actions in Crimea and elsewhere.
            Russia is Ukraines neighbour. At some point Ukraine will have to find an accommodation with Russia. Unfortunately that is now far more difficult than it should have been.

          • caap02

            Once again, Yanudovich removed himself. Did you see people with pitchforks pushing him onto the plane? What does a government do when the head of state dissappears for 6 days, and NOONE, not his wife, not his 2IC, not his party colleagues can venture any guess about where he is?

          • br14

            He no longer had control over the government, police or military.
            Under any definition I’ve heard that constitutes a coup.

          • vitrohon

            In a democracy , if the ” president ” turns out to be a treacherous , corrupt , pro Russian traitor , who is ruining the country and is the lap dog of an UN – friendly foreign power ; you change him by OVERWHELMING majority !
            This was PROVEN by the NEW presidential election when 70% of the voters elected president
            Poroshenko , without the ” benefit ” of Kalashnikovs, I might add !

          • Baron

            Everyhing right in your posting but the facts, vitrohen.

            After the putsch in February, Victoria Nuland (a minor official in the US State Department) appointed one man to run the government, temporarily, another one to be a candidate for the Presidency. Few months later the electorate votes, both men chosen by Nuland get roughly the same share of the vote. Amazing, don’t you think.

            Perhaps every country in the world will do the same, ask Nuland to appoint the head of State and the head of Government. Why go into the charade of elections when the woman can do it at a stroke.

            You in favour, vitrohon?

          • vitrohon

            It must be tough to be a Russian troll these days , don’t
            you agree , Baron ?
            By the way ; it’s vitrohOn , not vitrohEn ! Minor point , but I can see what a stickler for ” truth ” and ” accuracy ” you must be !

          • jamesmace

            They have to work extra hard like the Russian hookers or start charging in euros.

          • Baron

            How about answering Baron rather then trying to be witty, failing.

          • Cyril Sneer

            “Russian troll”

            Oh how original.

            I see that propaganda has a powerful effect on you – easily led, easily duped.

          • caap02

            Acually, Nuland opined that Klitchko would be a good new president. I guess that she is not as all-powerful as you think!

          • br14

            You hold a free and fair election. The recent election in Ukraine could hardly be free and fair when a substantial number of Ukrainians could not vote.

          • Cyril Sneer

            There is zero proof of any majority support of Maidan.

            Right Sector were the violent spearhead for the Maidan, responsible for the atrocity in Odessa. I doubt the majority of any country would willing subvert the established democratic system.

            And that Yanko guy is corrupt the same as the guy before. You replaced one corrupt government with another, only this is one is more western leaning. Congrats.

          • vitrohon

            You still don’t get it , do you ? It’s NOT what the U.S. and the EU want , it’s what UKRAINE wants ! Repeating Putin’s platitudes ( Maidan ; the Revolution of Dignity ; was the
            ” West’s ” idea ) does not NOT make them any more accurate , it just makes them sound more silly !
            This was NOT a coup . It started as a peaceful , democratic
            protest and only upon the scumbag Yanukovich ordering
            UNARMED people to be shot , turned violent !
            Putin , loves to blame the revolution on Nazis and fascists ,
            because he can see the same situation eventually waiting for him at home , in Russia .
            I don’t think , this needs to be discussed too much , especially after the subsequent democratic presidential and parliamentary elections and the reconfirming of the democratic process in Ukraine .
            Contrary to Putin’s hopes and expectations ; Ukraine did
            NOT split up and there was NO civil war . There was an
            invasion ( albeit never admitted to ) by an aggressive ,
            foreign power !

          • Baron

            There’s only one cure for you, vitrohon. Find a busy road, go lie on it.

          • caap02

            A masterly retort! Touché!

          • Cyril Sneer

            It’s what Ukraine wants eh… you mean half of it. The proof is in the pudding – the East split, they rejected the result of the maidan, they rejected the subversion of their democratic system. The proof is right there – the East has split from the West and this happened right after the Maidan. So no Ukraine did not support Maidan, it didn’t have the full support of the country as we have living proof in a divided country.

          • jamesmace

            Yanukovych tried to murder the opposition or imprison it. He is such a hamfisted Russian oaf that he tried to cash in on the sympathy thing by staging an assassination attempt that was as real as a Potemkin Village.

            The only problem is that some rascal threw an egg at him first.

            BWAHAHAHAHA

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM90dy-qnNc

          • caap02

            There was no “coup” (look up the meaning of the word) and Yanukovich was not removed by force or threat. He removed himself. In the middle of February he disappeared- not even senior members of his own party of government know where he was. When the head of state went AWOL in the middle of a crisis, the sitting parliament (complete with most if not all of the members from Yanukovich’s own party) named an interim president until such time as new elections could be held. Name any member of the Party of Regions or the Yanukovich government who did not flee to Russia who has had a hair on their head hurt.

            As for 2015 elections, you can bet that the ONLY possible results would have been what Yanukovich and his puppet master wanted- Yanukovich had already spent the last 3 years bringing every last sector of government (judiciary, law enforcement, electoral commissioners) under his personal total control. He was also locking up political opponents and busy terrorizing the press. So yes, he was preparing for the 2015 “elections”.

          • br14

            “He removed himself.”
            Really? The democratically elected ruler of a country “removed himself”. And I just saw a pig fly past my window.
            Sorry but if you believe that you’ll believe anything. Yanukovych was deposed by a violent uprising backed quite probably by the CIA. Both police and protestors were killed by the same bullets.
            I can understand that you might not want to believe that.
            And had Putin not annexed Crimea, it is highly unlikely you’d have the government you have now in Kiev.
            The elections that brought Yanukovch to power were monitored by UN election officials and pronounced clean. Why would he need to worry about 2015 when the demographics of Ukraine meant he or someone of a similar political persuasion would have won.
            The real backers of the coup knew they needed Yanukovych out. Losing Crimea was painful but a necessary step to ensure they got the result they wanted.

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

            He should have been overthrown in 2011, when he jailed his political opponent as he continued to steal $27mil A DAY. But Ukrainians are incredibly patient and stoic (sheeplike vs Russian wolves and masters) and it took them 4 years to have enough. The East was perfectly happy till a year of insane toxic TV propaganda directed by Vlad Vlad. A majority even wanted Yanui gone, supposedly- they knew what a scumbag he was firsthand.

          • jamesmace

            If not for the Holodomor when Russia replaced 10 million murdered Ukrainians with Russians, Eastern Ukraine would still be speaking Russian.

            http://www.faminegenocide.com/resources/famine_map.html

            Ethnic cleansing is hardly a justification for Russia’s invasion.

          • pavel1952

            Good point Jay-Wiz.

            I wish there were some comments by authentic Russians…anyway, regarding so admired by some commenters “Russian patriotism”, I remember in 1941 and 1942 millions of Russian soldiers surrendering to Wehrmacht and volunteering for the ethnic SS armies of general Vlasov and many others. Russian patriotism turns on a dime, when there’s no NKVD goons with machine guns pointed at your back.

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

            Sneer doesn’t care about Britain, he’s in Novasibersk in a boiler room clogging up comment sections all over the world.

        • Bob-B

          I know very well that there are ethnic Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. That doesn’t give Putin the right to invade any more than the presence of ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia gave Hitler a right to invade that country.

          • Chris Morriss

            When this happened, I immediately thought of the Sudetenland invasion.

          • Baron

            But NATO bombing the Serbs to carve up a territory for the Kosovo Muslms was OK?

          • montague_stjohn

            Better to have allowed Milosovic to kill them eh?

          • https://twitter.com/Suada1976 Suada

            Kosovo Albanians, not “Kosovo Muslims”.

            And yes, the intervention in Kosova was absolutely justified. In the circumstances. Putin apologists who try to claim it as a ‘precident’ are being disengenious.

          • br14

            The problem is that Crimea was given away on a whim in the 1950’s and was always a Russian territory. At the time I don’t suppose the USSR thought for a moment Ukraine would ever leave the Russian sphere of influence.

            And perhaps it never would were it not for an illegal coup.

          • caap02

            It was not given away “on a whim”- it was “given away” because Khruschov realized what Putin is only realizing now- it is impossible to supply and maintain Crimea when its only land link is to Ukraine (it gets virtually all food stuffs, water and energy from Ukraine). It made eminent sense to make Crimea a part of the SSR to which it was integrally economically bound.

          • montague_stjohn

            Always?! It was Turkish long before it was Russian and the Tartars that the communists expelled were there before the retired Soviet Naval Colonel Blimps.

          • br14

            And before Turkey (or rather the Ottoman Empire), it was ruled by the Crimean Khanate who followed the Mongol hordes. But before that it was occupied by the Kievan Rus, from whom both Urkrainians and Russians claim to descend.
            I guess it depends how far you want to go back. But from 1783 it was part of the Russian Empire.

          • Lamia

            The problem is that Crimea was given away on a whim in the 1950’s and was always a Russian territory.

            Crimea was not always Russian. It was subjugated and absorbed by the Russians in the C19th. It only became majority ethnic Russian after the Ukrainian Holocaust caused by the USSR government, and following the transplanting of ethnic Russians into the region – a similar Russian-colonial tactic the USSR carried out in a number of neighbouring countries.

            You might more credibly – if equally falsely – claim that Ireland was always British territory. After all, at least it was British-ruled for far longer than Ukraine has been Russian ruled.

          • Konst

            1. No. in 18th century. Compare: American War of Independence 1775—1783; absorb of Crimea 1783.

            Really not always Russian. But some powerful countries exist same amount of time. ))

            2. No Ukrainian Holocaust exists. This was tragedy of all southern territories in USSR in this time (early 1930’s). Starvation of ukranians, russians, kazakhs.
            3. Majority of ethnic Russian in Crimea – result of all russian history in Crimea and Stalin’s deportation of tatars in 1944 (during 2 World War). For example: In 1897 – 33,1 % of russians, 35,6 % of tatars, 11,8 % ukrainian 5,8 % … etc.

            Please don’t lie!

          • S&A

            Should we give Kaliningrad back to Germany then? And the Kurile Islands back to Japan?

            Or is it only Russian nationalist grievances that count?

          • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

            It never did and never would, without the PuInvasions, subversion, tortures and murders that VVP visited on it- that lost Russia Ukraine forever. But the “coup” was a liberation from one of the most prolific scumbag thieves on the planet- they should have killed him for his betrayal of Ukr. His henchman and relatives are still allowed to operate in Ukraine.

          • Le Barbouze

            He didn’t invade anywhere – Russian troops were already there. And why don’t you mention Poland and Hungary’s ‘invasion’ of Czechoslovakia then?

          • caap02

            “There” where? The Sevastopol naval base lease agreement had clear specifications about where the Russian miliary could and could not be. It’s like saying that “US troops are already in Cuba”. Yes they are, but if tomorrow they flooded out of Guantanamo into Havana and into every corner of Cuba, I would call that a US invasion. If they stayed I would call it a US occupation. And if they annexed Cuba, I would call it the US annexation of Cuba.

          • Cyril Sneer

            It does when the Kiev army makes a point of shelling ethnic Russians and forcing ethnics out of their own towns and villages.

            I don’t expect any Russian solider to stand idle when his own blood is being murdered by the Ukrainian army. Feel free to check out Youtube and Liveleak for daily videos of the shelling, almost 5k killed, by their own army.

            It’s not hard to put yourself in their shoes. To see what the interim Kiev government had as Deputy PM (Svoboda Leader) and Defence and Justice positions for Right Sector. It was this interim Kiev government that was rejected by the east – the timeline is all there if you choose to look. It was this interim Kiev government that began military operations against the East, against fellow Ukrainians.

            The Maidan split the country in half, the Maiden came before the East/West split, the East/West split began when the interim Kiev government (as I described above) gained power and began military operations against it’s own towns and cities, duly supported by the West.

            Oh and the interim Kiev government that was responsible for the East/West split was hand picked by the US.

            And the comparison of Putin and Hitler is pathetic, immature and you’ve swallowed the western propaganda hook line and sinker.

        • lobotomisedjournalist

          Thicky, thick, thicko!

        • jamesmace

          Are you looking for Nazis?

          Look no further than Russia who was the Nazi ally when they both started WWII by invading Poland, Lithuania, etc.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TdCwudcFRk&hl=it&gl=IT

        • caap02

          OK. You say “learn the demographics”. Here they are: according the last census (2001) Crimea was 58% ethnic russian. Given the relative birth and death rates (russians vs non-russians), the ethnic russian percentage was probably significantly lower by 2014. The ethnic russians, by the way, only became a majority in Crimea after 1945, when they ethnic cleansed the tatar population through deportation and mass murder.

          The Donbass on the other hand is approx. 70 % ethnic Ukrainians. Every poll every taken there (up to and including the spring of 2014) showed that approx. 70% of the population was in favour of remaining in Ukraine.

          The contemporary ethnic composition of both the Donbas AND Crimea are, by the way, the results of decades of brutal oppression, ethnic cleansing and mass murder by the Russian empire (in one form or another). See e.g. 1914 linguistic maps for what these areas looked like at the turn on the last century.

          A good part of the rest of your post is made-up (e.g.- there never was a ban on Nazi symbols in Ukraine; the Rada voted to revoke a language law that had only been in place for 2 years (this move was vetoed by the interim president; the current governmnet in Ukraine came about via two free and fair elections in May and Oct.).

          As for “the East is gone”…..you do realize that pro-Russian forces (most of whom are actually Russians) only occupy about half of the Donbas. You also don’t seem to be following the news: Lavrov is saying that the Donbas must remain a part of Ukraine.

        • Lamia

          Any idea as to the presence of ethnic Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine?Learn some history of that region

          Yes. They were transplanted there by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. They are evidence of Russian colonialism, not of Russian victimhood.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Irrelevant.

            They live there, that is there home, their land, they’re established there.

            So you advocate ethnic cleansing as per what Svoboda and Right Sector want?

            Why don’t you just be honest and let the fascist in you out.

          • Lamia

            I am not advocating any ethnic cleansing. I am saying that parts of Ukraine shouldn’t be annexed by Russia just because there are ethnic Russians living there.

            The only ethnic cleansing in Crimea was done by the Soviet Union, which ethnically cleansed millions of the Tatars there and replaced them with ethnic Russians. Chanting ‘ethnic cleansing’ is not particularly wise, let alone truthful, on your part.

        • S&A

          Strangely enough, all the fascist parties of Europe (Jobbik, the FN, Ataka etc) are all rallying behind Moscow, not Kiev.

          But don’t let that disturb your fantasy politics.

        • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

          You are a lying Russian troll. Even in Crimea, a majority never wanted secession- in Donbas it was about 30% max in Donetsk, Donbas inc outside the cities is actually majority Ukr speaking. They were cowed by the Ukr + Russian thugs and mercenaries that flooded there after Putin declared open season on Donbas. Lift ban on Nazi symbols- BS. There are alot of ethnic Russians prtly because Stalin shipped a few million there to dilute the Ukrainian people (like China did with Tibet). Maybe 9000 total have been killed there, inc 2 friends + 10 acquaintances (inc Russians, Ukr soldiers, Seps; who are never added in), EVERY ONE on Putin’s head.

      • BillyCobbett

        What about Poland and Hungary ‘grabbing’ territory, not to mention the Soviet Union?

      • Baron

        Hitler didn’t grab anything, it was Britain, Italy and France that gifted to him Sudetenland in Munich in September 1938.

        Russia was robbed of Crimea in 1992, not Ukraine in 2014. The peninsula was in Russian hands since Potemkin snatched it from the Turks way back in 1783, Nikita passed it to Kiev for purely administrative reason in 1954, but its population remained mainly of Russian origin, the language Russian.

        • No1important

          Well by your logic it belong to the Turks then.

          • Baron

            By your logic, the American Republic belongs to the Indians, the red ones, right?

        • caap02

          Interesting interpretation of what happened in Sudetenland.

          Crimea may have been in Russian hands since 1783 (not “always” and from the “dawn of time” as some other commentators have written), but it only had an ethnic Russian majority (and a very slim one at that) since 1945.

          • Baron

            caap02, get real, the only reason the US political elite have been so keen on Crimea is the port facilities in Sevastopol, they give not a drop of $hite for the peninsula, the people, Tartar, Russian, Ukrainian. Russia leased the port from Kiev, any strongly pro-US Ukrainian government would have cancelled the lease, install NATO (read US) boats there. Russia would have been half finished militarily if that were to happen. Putin must have dreamed about getting Crimea back, had probably dozens of scenarios how to do it, then, when the inept EU meddlers lost control of the armed mob at Maidan, he seized the chance, probably didn’t believe his luck.

            Crimea will remain Russian well after the one who loves stripping to the waist is gone, the narcissistic messiah in the White House is forgotten, you’ll see.

        • montague_stjohn

          “its population remained mainly of Russian origin, the language Russian”

          Only after it had been ethnically cleansed of Tartars.

      • Guest

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        Let us then compare fashistskuu Germany in 1939 and Germany 1989! Also a great piece occupied. By the way, there’s referendum was not, and in the Crimea was!

      • Gran Gran

        Let us then compare fashistskuu Germany in 1939 and Germany 1989! Also a great piece occupied. By the way, there’s referendum was not, and in the Crimea was!

        • Ach So

          A referendum announced two WEEKS before happening?

          And having only 2 options, which DID NOT include option to remain in Ukraine as is at all??

          With having armed Russian soldiers running all over the place?

          Hey, you want to see a referendum, go check on how Scotland did it, don’t tell absurd jokes here.

      • Роман Уляшев

        Who grabs!? People wanted to Russia, who df are you to judge people’s choice?

        • caap02

          Funny how these people who “wanted to Russia” never expressed this desire of theirs prior to spring 2014. In the last Crimean parliamentary election, the pro-Russian party (headed by Aksonov, the current Kremlin-installed “governor”) got only 3 of the 100 seats (and 4% of the popular vote).

      • Le Barbouze

        And when Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union did the same thing.

    • BFS

      Agreed Mr CambridgeElephant. Let me add a few facts to help us to clear the rhetorical fog.

      1) Ukraine’s democratically elected government was brought down by force in favor of a minority of protesters. One of the first decision of the new “team” was to outlaw Russian language spoken by all Ukrainians.

      2) two Right wing extremist Parties, The right Sector and Svoboda, both with seemingly neo nazi antecedents, sided with the New Ukrainians. The West sided with the new Ukrainian Team as well.

      3) Seeing that, Crimean Government to protect their own interests, decided to push for joining Russia (to which they always belonged) in a peaceful self-determination election, with observers, that gave them a 95% support.

      4)The East let’s call them “Novorussia” also did not feel like being a subject of the new Ukraine and tried to follow the same direction. They started protests and moves toward secession.

      5) The New Ukrainian’s Army travelled several hundred miles to attack the Eastern Ukrainians and bombed them with no second thoughts. The East did not start this war. Protests were peaceful. The West and the Western Media sided with the aggressor.

      I may be western but I am uncomfortable to say the least, to support such actions, to support a coup d etat, to team up with Neo Nazies, to reject self determination and to support a Government when they attack their own people and to interfere in someone else’s affairs.

      • Dr. Heath

        You cannot possibly be ‘western’. The syntax and the use of capitals are not those of an educated native speaker of English. I think this post was written in Russian and translated into poor English by Google Translate.

        • BillyCobbett

          Any country in W Europe is the ‘West’.

        • Guest

          so?
          is that all you can counter with?
          how absolutely poor and pathetic

        • Chris Morriss

          And the American spelling.

        • pearlsandoysters

          Google translate services normally produce an utter gibberish, to say nothing about balderdash & piffle!

      • Mc

        Pull the other one.

      • davidofkent

        Ok, that’s the view from Moscow.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/DavidWLincoln David W. Lincoln

        Those who know how to use computers are employed, either as hackers to spread conflict, (look at North Korea and Iran), or as contributors of comments that spread propaganda.

        I don’t think I am far off in thinking that the word most hated by Putin,and his crowd is this: Audit.

      • jamesmace

        1) Yanukovych was not elected by a majority – he won with a minority and the majority of Ukrainians voted against him. Once in, he dismemberd the democratic institutions to the point where they became Putin puppets, throwing opposition candidates into jail and such.

        Here is the personification of Yanukovych’s buffoonery – pretending to be nearly murdered after being pelted by an egg ( and not even hard boiled).

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM90dy-qnNc

        2) If you are looking for Nazis, look no further than Russia which allied with the Nazis to start WWII – here is rare footage of the joint victory celebration in the middle of Poland from whence they proceeded to invade 5 other European sovereign countries.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IT&v=2TdCwudcFRk&hl=it

        3,4) Neither Crimea nor any other oblast of Ukraine ever had a majority that wanted to join Russia and that is the embarassing fact that the Putin trolls can not avoid. They were invaded by Russia plain and simple.

        5) The first people to die from Russian thuggery in Ukraine were not western Ukrainians and a close observation of the many videos of Ukrainian troops will prove that they are mostly eastern Russian speakers.

        Checkmate.

        • Garry

          If this is true about Yanukovich then what were the moral, upright and democratic EU doing trying to sign an association agreement with him? It seems to me he only became all these things after he refused to sign. Surely the EU would have nothing to do with such a tainted corrupt man.

          • vitrohon

            @Garry ; The EU was trying to secure the agreement NOT with Yanukovich , but with Ukraine ! This process was started LONG before Yanukovich became president .

          • Garry

            But he WAS the Democratically Elected President at the time, the man who would be doing the signing so to speak and I don’t think we would have heard so much about his (undoubted) corruption if he had signed it.

          • caap02

            You will recall that one of the conditions (dropped only very late in the game) for the EU to sign was that Yanukovich had to release his main political opponent (Y. Tymoshenko). She (Tymoshenko) said from her jail cell that her imprisonment should not be a bar to the agreement. Of course the EU ever all that keen on an agreement with Ukraine (regardless of what kind of government was in Kyiv), but there was a line of thinking that said that it would be better to sign with Yanukovich (even with all his flaws and corruption) since this would at least given Ukraine a chance to develope.

        • vitrohon

          @ jamesmace ; Bravo ! It is amazing how Russians can
          get away with calling other people fascists and Nazis , while they themselves , were the largest partners and collaborators of Hitler’s Nazi Germany ! Along with Hungary which also became a Nazi hanger on they now love to accuse other countries of THEIR crime !
          We should let these latent Nazis know , that the world has
          NOT forgotten !

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        1) People have a right to protest, and Yanukovic wasn’t forced out, he ran away to the surprise of the demonstrators.

        2) Both parties have infinitesimal support in Ukrainian elections and government.

        3) The Crimean government did not ask to join Russia, the elected government was replaced with a party that won about 4% of the vote.

        4) The “Novorussians” didn’t protest, Russia sent military forces in to occupy in. As the former commander of the Donetsk separatists, Igor Strelkov said this week

        “I was the one who pulled the trigger of this war… If our unit hadn’t crossed the border, everything would have fizzled
        out — like in [the Ukrainian city of] Kharkiv, like in Odessa,”

        It was an invasion not an uprising.

        5) Any army will fight an invasion of their own country.

        6) You aren’t Western, you’re a Russian who is lying about who he is in order to spread propaganda.

      • vitrohon

        @ BFS ; since you so clearly ( and adamantly ) punctuate your views with ” facts ” , I feel I should add a few minor points , to counter your
        obviously slanted tirade .
        1. ) Ukraine’s ” democratically elected ” government , was NOT brought down by force by a minority of protestors ; it was brought down by the will of the OVERWHELMING majority of Ukrainians from around
        the country only AFTER this ” democratically elected ” government
        started KILLING peaceful protestors ! You might say the ” force ” factor
        was employed wholly on the ” democratically elected ” government !
        2.) Ukraine , in opposition to Putin’s Russia , is a DEMOCRATIC
        country ! Therefore , there are many parties active and involved in
        Ukraine’s civil and political development . Because of their high
        degree of patriotism and promoting UKRAINIAN values , such as
        language , history and heritage , Putin’s Propaganda mills have branded them ; fascist and Nazi ! Unthinking , ignorant , Putin followers, not knowing the difference between nationalist and Nazi ,
        gleefully parrot these silly platitudes .
        The West ” sides ” with the ” New Ukrainians ” , because it is
        the right thing to do !
        3.) There was NO Crimean government to ” decide ” to ” join ” Russia ! This is just a silly lie ! Crimea was an autonomous republic
        as part of Ukraine .
        It was only AFTER the invasion , that Putin so vehemently denied ,
        that an ” election ” was held ( voting being ” encouraged ” to be
        done as directed , by the presence of terrorists wielding automatic
        weapons ) and than typically , dating back to good old soviet times , claiming 95 % of the vote !
        4.) The East ; let’s NOT call them ” novorossiya ” , let’s call them
        by the PROPER name ; eastern Ukraine , did NOT want to separate , secede or ” join ” Russia , or any other such ridiculous thing .
        The East was populated by a lot of ethnic Russians , which were carted in from Russia , after communist Russia murdered between
        6 – 10 MILLION Ukrainians by starving them to death during the
        genocide known throughout the world as ” Holodomor ” ! ” This ”
        East , was fertile ground for Putin’s sick ambitions and received support and aid from him in the form of weapons , heavy artillery and manpower , all designed to create a war zone in a part of a sovereign country . Still ; less than 10 % of even this population ,
        ” wanted to join Russia ” !
        5. ) The Ukrainian army did not have to travel any ” several hundred miles ” because it WAS in their country ! This is just plain stupid . And they did NOT kill THEIR own people ; they killed hired
        terrorists , thugs , mercenaries and regular Russian troops sent
        to kill civilians and destroy everything in sight . It was the Russian troops that travelled hundreds of miles to INVADE Ukraine !
        You are right about one thing ; the East did not start this war ;
        Putin did and then blatantly LIED about it !
        And you wonder that the West is ” siding ” with Ukraine ?

      • caap02

        1) the Yanukovich government was brought down when the sitting parliament (including most of the members of his own party) voted to name an interim President (interim until elections could be held) because Yanukovich has disspeared and noone (not his wife, not his party, not his closest associated) knew where he was.
        2) Right Sector and Svoboda only seen extremist in the Ukrainian context. They are MUCH less extreme than, say, Zhirinovsky’s LDP in Moscow, or Le Pen in Paris, or the tea party in Washingtion. And neither of these outfits is “neo-nazi” or xenophobic.
        3) “events” in Crimea started with a small number of armed men wearing the same uniforms and carrying identical arms staged a pre-dawn raid on the Crimean parliament buildings (they subsequently summoned the members and instructed them on how to vote). The “referendum” was a farce, and given that you apparently do not care for neo-nazis, it is suprising that you bring the topic of the international observers at the farce, because they were a motley crew of the most extreme right-wing and left wing political marginals from all over Europe.
        4)The first “protests” and the first moves towards secession in the Donbas were the seizures of a few government buildings. There were NO mass protests.
        5)So Dnipropetrovsk is now “several hundred miles” from Donetsk is it? Even as a westerner, you should really check out the map before you post.

    • PeteCW

      Putin is one of the wealthiest men in the world (read – most successful thief) , Cameron is slightly rich in the Cotswolds.

      So if that’s what earns ‘respect’ over there, as well as he killing of dissidents, then he’s certainly earned it. Seems to be what gets UKIP types hard as well.

      • cambridgeelephant

        Don’t be so reticent Pete. Dave’s quite wealthy in Notting Hill too, as I understand it. And Yes ! Better Putin than the EU vermin any day.

        Refresh my memory as to the last time Putin issued us with a multi billion £ bill and demanded we pay – or else…(actually it’s ‘else’ nothing but Cameron’s too spineless to see that) ? Or when he usurped the role of Parliament through diktat ?

        Like I say – better Putin than Brussels any day.

        • jeffersonian

          “better Putin than Brussels any day”
          False choice: a thug in a suit or mad bureaucrats?

      • Cyril Sneer

        ” Seems to be what gets UKIP types hard as well.”

        It’s confirmed – you’re hard of thinking.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/DavidWLincoln David W. Lincoln

      Going from known to the unknown is dangerous.

      Shouldn’t more attention be given to why Putin viewed the demise of the Soviet Union to be the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

      At least an honest reading of “The Black Book of Communism” is sufficient to prevent succumbing to what Putin would have us conclude.

    • Tad Porter

      Putin’s bluff will be exposed soon enough unless the price of oil rebounds dramatically. Granted, the Russian people have a very high pain threshold and are not in the habit of challenging their leaders over trifling matters like currency exchange rates, but these are not traits we should necessarily envy.

    • jamesmace

      Did Putin stand for the 60 Russian journalists murdered on his watch?

    • perdix

      They say elephants never forget. It seems that some never learn.

    • http://twitter.com/WinstonCDN WinstonCDN

      The Russian people are a nasty bunch

  • pearlsandoysters

    May I suggest that it’s a fanciful bit of thinking. The situation is far from being an experiment in testing the limits of patriotism. I tend to believe that the worst consequence is an epistemological crisis on a massive scale. Actually, it’s make it or break it for quite a bug chunk of the world.

  • Garry

    When it comes to changing borders in Europe, I think the Author will find the West got the jump on Russia, or does Ms Applebaum know of any plans to return the Kosovo region to Serbia. In fact all that Russia has done in Georgia and the Ukraine is done under what is known in Russia as “The Kosovo Principle”

    • cambridgeelephant

      Very sound point.

    • eirik

      Kosovo didn’t belong to Serbia – it was an independent region in yugo. Sorry if you don’t like it, slobo.

      • Garry

        And..when Yugoslavia broke up Kosovo found itself inside the borders of Serbia (much like Crimea did with Ukraine after the USSR), these borders were accepted by the West until Milosevic reacted with thuggery to KLA provocations after which it was wrenched from Serbia with much bloodshed. I have no axe to grind over Kosovo I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the West which has left a trail of death, destruction and failed states from the Balkans through North Africa and into the middle east.

        • Gramanticus

          Oh, come on! “The Kosovo Principle”? Why are you trying to fool these poor western readers? Use your deep knowledge of Eastern Europe’s history and call it for what it is – “The Transnistria Principle”! ‘Cause in fact, Russians were the first ones to change the borders in Europe by force – creating a puppet state for completely invented people there in 1992 (just like they do now for Novorossiyans). And hadn’t it been for the permanent presence of the Russian army, this whole Transnistria thing would have been long dead&forgotten by now, unlike Kosovo, where 90% of the population really did and still do support the idea of independence from Serbia.

          • Garry

            90%? about like Crimea then..eh?

          • Gramanticus

            So you believe that 90% of people in Crimea wanted to become a part of Russia. Based on what? The official results of the infamous “referendum”, that even the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights acknowledged to have been falsified? Yes, according to this last decent and trustworthy governement institution in Russia, there were only 50-60% of votes for the unification with RF, while the voters’ turnout is estimated to be in the range of 30-50%. But, hey, why i’m spending my evening arguing, when there’s very real a possibility, that you might be just another paid russian troll anyway…

          • Garry

            and yet rather sweetly you believe the 90% Kosovo figure..Is that before or after they threw most of the Serbs out?

          • http://a.com hohesc

            The referendum on Kosovo independence took place in 1991, years before the Serb-Kosovo conflict started. Turnout was 87%, they voted 99% for independence, and they weren’t under occupation by a foreign military.
            Your comparison to the Crimean “referendum” doesn’t work, and if you had bothered reading its history before making sweeping generalisations you’d have known that.

          • Garry

            The point was ..you choose to believe the referendum you want and disbelieve the one that doesn’t fit with your point of view. I don’t think any fair minded neutral person would doubt that there is a majority in both Kosovo and Crimea to leave their respective countries. I was questioning why in one case it is OK to change borders of this “Europe Free and Whole” that neo-cons like Applebaum waffle on about and not in the other.

          • http://a.com hohesc

            “The point was ..you choose to believe the referendum you want and disbelieve the one that doesn’t fit with your point of view.”

            And my point was, they are not comparable. One was done after a coup d’état by a foreign undemocratic state and by a foreign undemocratic state, in order to join that foreign undemocratic state; the other one was not under the occupation of any foreign power nor was it after a coup d’état nor did they join any neighbouring state. And you even got the Kosovo referendum timeline wrong.

            To show that they are comparable, you would have to show that Kosovo in 1991 was under military occupation of a foreign country that also did a coup d’état against the Kosovo government, or at least something along those lines, or that they joined a neighbouring state. There is no evidence of any such actions. Your argument is invalid.

          • Garry

            I was not arguing the ins and outs of Kosovo Independence..merely pointing out that we(EU/NATO/US) DID in fact change borders in Europe with much violence and bloodshed. This is indisputable.

          • http://a.com hohesc

            “EU/NATO/US DID in fact change borders in Europe with much violence and bloodshed. This is indisputable.”

            Actually, it is.

            1. Aside from a smal territorial change between France and Italy, the overwhelming bulk of territorial changes post WWII favoured either Russia or Russian puppet states.

            2. Kosovo’s independence doesn’t result from “EU/NATO/US” action but from a referendum on separation in 1991, which according to international law gives it whatever legitimacy it needs, flowing from the principle of self determination of peoples; the only thing “EU/NATO/US” is as guarantor of that legally binding state.

            3. “EU/NATO/US” did not make Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia or Montenegro separate. The only state which, feasibly, “EU/NATO/US” had a role in separating was Bosnia which, considering Serb war crimes there, didn’t involve violence and bloodshed as much as it *ended* violence and bloodshed.

            But if you want, yes EU/NATO/US did play a military role there. Would you like us to compare Bosnia to Crimea? Look it up, there’s absolutely no comparison between the two.

            4. Other territorial changes since 1989 include:
            – Transnistria: no “EU/NATO/US” military role
            – Abkhazia and South Ossettia: no “EU/NATO/US” military role
            – Crimea: no “EU/NATO/US” role
            – East Germany: no “EU/NATO/US” military role
            – Nagorno-Karabakh: no “EU/NATO/US” military role

            So no, your point is entirely disputable and groundless.

          • Garry

            oh! yes, forgive me..I must have imagined the bombing of Serbia.

          • http://a.com hohesc

            Irrelevant. The bombing of Serbia had absolutely nothing to do with Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo’s referendum of 1991, years before “EU/NATO/US” became involved, is what’s relevant. “EU/NATO/US” were only involved to prevent Kosovo from turning into Bosnia. Kosovo decided for itself whether it wanted to become independent. If your argument were correct, the involvement of “EU/NATO/US” would have led to a referendum and secession in quick succession as it did in Crimea. Instead the referendum was in 1991, the “EU/NATO/US” involvement in 1999, and independence in 2008. They are not related.

            Please consult a timeline before responding again.

          • Garry

            So..you are saying Kosovo was never part of Serbia? I merely pointed out that it was part of Serbia and now it isn’t so we can change borders when it suits us.
            Your handy list also forgot to mention the occupation of Northern Cyprus by Nato member Turkey.

          • http://a.com hohesc

            1. I didn’t include Cyprus because this is clearly an internal conflict and the proposed border is unrecognised.

            But supposing we do include it just for kicks: both parties involved, Greece and Turkey, are in NATO since 1952 (there was no EU at the time and the US was not involved); therefore it can’t possibly be about “EU/NATO/US” aggression since it pitted two opposing member countries of NATO. It isn’t relevant.

            2. “I merely pointed out that it was part of Serbia and now it isn’t so we can change borders when it suits us.”
            You’re trying to argue that your issue is that borders have changed; well, borders change all the time, and there have been several in Europe since the end of WWII. The fact that borders change is immaterial, what is relevant is *how* they change.

            You argue that people are agreeing with them when it suits and disagreeing with them when it doesn’t suit. And my argument is that nobody in the West cares what suits and what doesn’t, what matters is that any change is done democratically, that the change is motivated by clearly expressed popular will and not by military force. In Kosovo this popular will was expressed absent any foreign military occupation; and not in Crimea. Whether NATO came afterwards to enforce the popular will (and prevent Bosnian-Serb style concentration camps) is completely and utterly irrelevant to the fact that Kosovars did not want to be in Yugoslavia anymore.

            Any military intervention to support a popular will within a democracy is justified; any military intervention to impose a decision within a democracy is unjustified. Simple as that. If you choose to ignore these crucial points in your depiction of these events, your argument becomes invalid.

          • Garry

            Nice to know that the Turkish Invasion following a Greek inspired coup of an independent Cyprus is just “an internal conflict”..Nothing to worry about there then, unlike Crimea where Russia mobilized forces already legally there after a Western inspired coup d’etat.
            I never argued any moral equivalence between Kosovo and Crimea, of course they are not the same just as the Donbass is not the Sudetenland and Putin is not (however unpleasant he is) Hitler. I was simply making the point that if the West’s argument against Russia is to have any moral force we need to drop the nonsense like.. inviolable borders, and that old windbag Kerry’s classic, delivered with a straight face that..”you don’t invade a country on phony pretexts”..Just imagine how laughable those things sound in Russia after the bloodshed in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria.

          • Konst

            Ok. About one claim:

            – Abkhazia and South Ossettia: no “EU/NATO/US” military role.
            Seriously?! No military experts in Georgia? No US weapons in Georgia? You lie.

            For example: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bdffd9a6-7b71-11dd-b839-000077b07658.html#axzz3N0sUxQNo
            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jan/06/georgia.nickpatonwalsh

            – East Germany: no “EU/NATO/US” military role

            NATO did not exist at that time. But US and GB participated in the Potsdam Conference. Please, learn history and dont lie.

            – Nagorno-Karabakh: no “EU/NATO/US” military role
            And no Russian Federation military role. Really, this is result of collapse of the USSR. As a conflict in
            Transnistria. And conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossettia too.

          • https://twitter.com/Suada1976 Suada

            Actually, that kind of did happen in Kosovo, although it supports your point further. The Kosovo referendum occured after the Serbian authorities illegally and unconstitutionally dissolved Kosovo’s regional government and autonomy, and sent Federal and Territorial defense troops into the region (despite the fact that consitutioinally, they were not supposed to be there).

    • FF42

      The difference between Russia deliberately instigating civil war in Ukraine as policy; and KFOR, a peacekeeping corps set up under UN mandate and resolution, to deal with a humanitarian crisis that was already well under way?

      • Garry

        America and the EU instigated the conflict by aiding and encouraging the overthrow of a Democratically elected government that decided not to bow to their will. Russia reacted to that..and Crimea was saved a lot of bloodshed unlike Kosovo.

        • FF42

          I think you have a bit of a point, in that America and its NATO allies had a choice of not intervening on the side of the Kosovar rebels. But the conflict was fully instigated before they got involved.

          All powerful countries interpret the international rules and norms flexibly in their favour. The US has been notably lax. However, no other large country flouts the international order as flagrantly as Russia is doing right now with its land grab of territory belonging to neighbouring states. Other countries by and large stick to the rules, including countries like China.

          • Garry

            Tell that to the Tibetans

        • caap02

          There has actually not been ANY BLOODSHED (or any “ethnic cleansing” or persercutions of minorties) WHATSOEVER in any part of Ukraine that has not been invaded and occupied by Russian troops…..even oblasts with ethnic make-up very similar to that in Donetsk/Luhansk.

          • Garry

            What is your point exactly? It’s true Russia re-took the Crimea with almost zero bloodshed unlike the Ukrainian Army and its farcical attempts to retake the east. Or you think lobbing artillery, mortars and Grads into Donetsk has only killed those bad Russians?
            I have no doubt there is much thuggery on both sides whether it is the Vodka soaked anti-Kiev mob or the strange groupings of unpleasant nut-jobs that the Ukrainian government has assembled to fight them (with our blessing it seems).

          • Cyril Sneer

            That’s because there is no fighting in western ukraine as the Ukrainian army is embedded in East Ukraine and shelling East Ukraine cities. You will note the rebels are not attacking the west, they’re purely defending their territory.

  • AJAX

    I object to England being lumped under the title of ‘Europe’ in this article, typical American colonial arrogance & ignorance.

    • EricHobsbawmtwit

      We are on the continent of Europe, as you will easily be able to see when the next ice age arrives and the channel and North Sea are no longer under water.

  • Bumble Bee

    And how is the dhimmified EU doing?

  • Mc

    “In 2008, the Russian army also invaded and then occupied parts of Georgia, more or less with impunity, which at least poked a hole in the ideal of ‘Europe whole and free’.”

    Applebaum fails to mention other disastrous Russian militaristic meddling in ex-Soviet territories such as Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh, etc.

    • Bumble Bee

      how about disastrous european military meddling in the ME?

      • eirik

        False equivocation.

        • Bumble Bee

          why?
          cause it does not suit your agenda?

          Europe is finished, with a capital F!
          They have destroyed themselves and are 2 suicide bombings away from full on Balkan style wars, yet they like to concentrate on Russia, a country that has saved them before, from the original Nazis.
          I wonder who will save Europe from the new Nazis, Turkey? Qatar? I know: the peace loving Palestinians!

          • Guest

            LOOL

            It’s funny, cause it’s true

      • Mc

        Since we’re now on a whataboutism train of discussion, I think I’d far rather be meddled with or invaded a European country than Russia. It’s all about where things sit on a continuum. Russia has consistently operated on an unimaginably brutal scale. Think more recently of the millions killed under Lenin and Stalin. Even more recently think of Russia’s behaviour in Chechnya and other places.
        Though I do understand that there are some who believe the fall of the USSR was a sad loss and that a world dominated by Russia would be a wonderful thing.

        • Bumble Bee

          Chechnya?
          CHECHNYA??

          The people who stormed a school, shot kids and blew themselves up amongst them, that’s who you’re defending?

          You sound European all right, dhimmified and all.
          Putin is right in his policies against them, I can only applaud him and his strength, not giving a fig what those think who are happy to have thousands and thousands of their own daughter mass raped on an industrial scale over 2 decades, for fear of being labelled wwacists. Yes, that’s the people I want to govern me…

          Rotherham, Rochdale, Manchester and Birmingham would have not happened in Russia, and since I have daughters and granddaughters, I’d rather be invaded by Russia, than by the dhimmified EU.

          Chechnya….LOL
          bloody unbelieveable.

          • Mc

            Thanks for the clarification. Just out of interest, are you a fan of other dictators’ behaviour as well? Arbeit macht frei and all that?

          • Bumble Bee

            actually I’m jewish, we’re all about our own survival, since we can not count on anybody and we can not trust anybody, and we’re not about bowing down to our enemies, because the pc-self loathing left says so – blew your head, did it?

            I currently find the EU far more fascist than Putin, nobody asked me before they used my money to support islamist terrorists, nobody asked me before they inundated my country with mohammedans who want to kill me

          • Mc

            I guess it depends on your definition of “fascist”. Somehow I don’t think you’d look so kindly on Putin if you or your family were assassinated by his goons, or had your assets seized by him, simply for being too vocal about disagreeing with him – not that you would disagree with him, by the sound of it.

            I haven’t yet read of cases in the EU or US where government critics are assassinated or have their assets seized because they are a little too loud with their opposing views.

            Regarding EU governments taking decisions that one doesn’t approve of, I have yet to meet a government that does exactly as I want it to. A sad fact of life.

          • Bumble Bee

            no no, in the EU government critics are ignored, ridiculed, called names, vilified and the EU just continues it’s path to self-obliteration, ignoring the voices of its’ own unhappy and angry people

            I like the US, hate Obama, but like the US
            see, I’m complicated, not simple-minded, like most euros left (pun intended)

          • Mc

            Yes, I think I prefer being an ignored EU critic than a Russian critic that finds himself with a bullet in his head or Polonium poisoning.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Have you now read the recently released information on the US torture programme?

          • Mc

            I’d suggest you grow up. For a start, are you so unhinged that you feel compelled to go trawling through old threads to have another go at persons you disagree with?

            Does one really, really have to caveat and explain in minor detail and endless footnotes what one is saying in a comment? I’ve never claimed the U.S. was utterly perfect. I’m the first to condemn torture, whoever commits it. If you bother to read my other comments under this article, you may have gathered that one of my main points is: the West isn’t perfect, but it’s a damned sight better place to live by a very far margin, compared to Russia, if one is an average citizen, a dissident, a minority, political opponent, journalist, etc.

            My impression is that you’re likely one of the useful idiots who’ll defend the Russian government’s actions, whatever they get up to, whether it’s torture, corruption, invasion, assassination, misinformation, etc.

          • Mc

            If you’re genuinely Jewish, you really should know better than praising the likes of Putin (a man who’s a big fan of Stalin, someone who was delighted to kill millions, including plenty of Jews).

          • Bumble Bee

            ‘if you’re genuinely Jewish’
            I am and don’t you dhimmi tell me what I should think, what’s next, are you going to tell sovereign nation Israel how handle their policies and terrorists?

            ooops, with friends like Britain…..hey, what do you think about Britain currently exporting the worst terrorists on earth? that’s some achievement.

            as for Stalin, you’re out of your depth, Stalin killed everybody, he did not discriminate against Jews in that respect. His favourites were peasants, and since Jews weren’t, he managed to kill comparatively few

            read a history boot ffs, it’s embarrassing

          • Mc

            Delightful…

          • Dr. Heath

            Nobody wants to be killed by islamists. But that’s hardly an argument for siding with a violent murderer like Putin.

          • Bumble Bee

            actually it is, because britains allies are their worst enemies
            but why should I tell you, I don’t want to spoil the surprise

            you’ve already had Rotherham, Rochdale, Manchester, Birmingham, 2 beheadings, Trojan school infiltrations, sharia patrol, public poppy burnings, vandalised supermarkets, you hate hate preachers all over the country and thousands upon thousand of terrorist sleeper cells, and currently Britain exports the worst terrorists on earth

            and you only have 5% of Muslims in your country. soon it’ll be 10% – I wonder what Britain will look like then…

            keep focusing on Russia though – it’s a very clever strategy

          • Bumble Bee

            you wanted a nazi? look no further than Dr Heath above ….
            and he’s on your side too

          • Mc

            Well, I think I’d rather have Dr Heath on my side than someone who is delighted with Putin’s antics.

          • Dr. Heath

            The Doc is chuffed with your comment. Cheers to you. [Do you think Bumble Bee is worth responding to? I think not and regret bothering with him. He seems to have no idea of what a nazi is other than to use the word as an insult for anyone who disagrees with him, which is of course a Comment Is Free speciality. I’m learning a smattering of Hebrew. My closest friends at uni, purely by coincidence, were Jewish. So, yes, I’m obviously a nazi.]

          • Bumble Bee

            anybody who cries about poor bombed out dresden, is clearly a cretinous nazi sympathiser

          • Mc

            These articles are guaranteed to attract people who believe there’s an equivalence between Western behaviour and those of dictatorships. They’re the guys who’ll be running the death camps if they’re given half a chance – if they aren’t first liquidated by their heros.

          • Bumble Bee

            I’ll be running death camps?
            didn’t’ you just ally yourself with the Dresden mourner??

          • Bumble Bee

            so first you accused me of being a nzi, and now you’re allying yourself with one, how surprising :)

            what was that about albeit macht frei again?

            my goodness, is it a wonder europe is finished, with these sort of self contradictory imbeciles around?

          • Chris Morriss

            I have no objection to the fact that you are Jew, but I have an intense dislike of the self-serving sneering superiority that Israeli zionists always affect when they are criticised.

          • Dr. Heath

            Gosh. You’re saying that we have to ally ourselves with Putko to defend our freedom against vicious Muslim terrorists, or we’ll all be killed? And that all the Chechen men, women and children who ended up in their thousands in mass graves much like the victims of the 1945 attacks on Dresden, were terrorists that Putko bravely put to death to defend the free world from Islamism? Are you saying the world would be better able to defend itself from violent Islamists by allying itself with a violent Russian tyrant with a penchant for invading sovereign nations and for carpet-bombing one of his own cities? Putko sounds like just another form of terrorist to me.

          • Bumble Bee

            ‘the victims of the 1945 attacks on Dresden’

            I have eff all to say to you!
            cause what i’d say would not be published.

            p.s.: maybe if dresden did not want to be attacked, the germans should have not started a world war

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    “Putin’s great gamble is about to backfire” Remember, Mr. Cameron the “Charge of the Light Brigade”. President Putin is military more well equipped then the West, In the Battle of Falkirk King Edward I said “send in the Irish, they are dependable”, will NATO send in the Dutch?

    • eirik

      He’s so well equipped he has to lie and camouflage his warfare with unmarked uniforms

  • Moputabee

    Putin has destroyed Russia’s short and medium chances of improving its peoples lot.

    Putin’s propaganda and strangle hold on power will not for long stop the Russian people from deciding he is the problem.

    Putin has his tens of billions misappropriated from the Russian people through corruption and theft, it will insulate him personally for some time but the Russian people will seek redress against this dictator albeit in name, eventually.

    • Олег Бондаренко

      That Putin is a dictator, I know only from the Western press! Funny!

  • polistra24

    Putin didn’t start this war. You started this war, and now you have the chutzpah to condemn Putin for fighting back, for defending his nation.

    You are a monster.

    • eirik

      Yes damn us westerners who forced Putin to invade and annex Crimea and part of Georgia, and wage war against west and south Ukraine. We monsters even forced him to sell anti aircraft systems to thugs who shot down a civilian airplane.

      • Bob-B

        And we probably forced him to provide Bashar Al-Assad with the tools to kill vast numbers of Syrians.

        • Cyril Sneer

          Russia and Syria are long time allies, you know like the USA and waahabi Saudi Arabia are friends.

          Please let me know who would replace Assad should he fall? Genocide is what will replace Assad, genocide at the hands of Jihadists.

          Since when did Syria deserve this? Syria one of few nations in that region that protected minorities and Assad is a moderniser. Jihadists are what?

          One of the oldest Christian settlements in the world was in Syria – it ceases to exist thanks to your friends the (christian) USA.

          Remind me again, US support for rebels in Syria is about democracy and human rights? 300k dead, millions displaced, whole minority communities wiped out.

          • stephen rothbart

            Good grief, you really are insane aren’t you?

          • Cyril Sneer

            Insane? Fact, reality.

            This may be 2 weeks on but please do if you can and tell me who would replace Assad should he fall? And what would happen to Syria and minorities should he fall?

            Genocide.

          • Bob-B

            It was Assad’s attempt to hang on to power gave the Jihadists their chance. The original opposition to his regime was people who wanted democracy. Compare the uprising against Russian client Assad.and the uprising against US client Mubarak. Mubarak was overthrown after very few deaths because he knew the US wouldn’t allow him to kill large numbers of protestors. Assad on the other hand knew the Russians would have no objections to large numbers of dead protestors. If you are going rise up against your local dictator, you’d better hope he’s a US client and not a Russian client.

          • http://a.com hohesc

            This is the best observation here.
            The US has just as big of a commitment to Egypt as Russia does to Syria. The Suez Canal, the Camp David Accords, Israel’s security, the fact that Egypt is the most important country in the Arab world, all of that hinges on its alliance with Egypt. And yet two revolutions were allowed to take place there. Just as elsewhere in the Middle East… except Syria.
            By complete coincidence, Russia has a naval base in Syria just like in Sevastopol, Crimea. And Russia will defend its “right” to that naval base even if 1 million worthless Syrians have to die, even if it has to sell billions in weapons to a genocidal dictator, provide it diplomatic cover at the UN, and use its propaganda mouthpieces like Russia Today to sell it to us and all the while blaming everyone else for the conflict. Kremlin doesn’t care for Syrian lives, Christian or Muslim, just like it clearly doesn’t care for Ukrainian, Georgian, Chechen, and most of all Russian lives.
            The Syrian conflict alone is enough to indict Putin for war crimes.

          • Cyril Sneer

            “The original opposition to his regime was people who wanted democracy.”

            Standard liberal ignorance.

            Democracy hasn’t stuck in that region and it won’t stick. In the absence of a dictator then extremist Islam takes power.

            The expectation that Assad will just stand down and hand over power to an unknown entity at the behest of the west is laughable.

            Time to leave liberal lala land. Democracy in that region is going nowhere and for obvious reasons.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/DavidWLincoln David W. Lincoln

            As long as Putin’s only option about Christians in Syria is to prop up Assad, other options, like partition so that Kurds would have their own homeland – they will not be followed up, because of who proposed them.

            Well, as long as a bad Russian is seen to be a better person than anyone who isn’t Russian – Putin is repeating the same mistake as Arabs. For too many Arabs conclude that a bad Arab is preferable to a good person who isn’t Arab.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Verbal diarrhea.

            Utterly meaningless tosh.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/DavidWLincoln David W. Lincoln

            As long as you read your bias into what I wrote, clarification is necessary.

            I said nothing about the US.

            I note that you said Assad was the only option. Well, why not look to those in Syria who agree with Dr. Widad Akrawi.

          • pearlsandoysters

            Unfortunately, the US does everything in its power to subvert the legitimate regimes in different countries, probably that’s the secret of world dominance.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Indeed, add to that the neo-liberal ideology and its desire to export itself across the world and god forbid any country that refuses this or worse still decide to sell it’s own natural resources in any currency that isn’t US Dollars.

        • Garry

          Yes of course..Only Russian munitions kill. Those American F-16’s I see on the news nightly attacking Syrian towns are firing what? love bombs? liquorice Allsorts?

          • Mc

            Could you clarify: are those F-16s’ objective to kill civilians or combatants? I’m assuming you’re on the US military targeting committee and have intel on the outcome of those F-16 bombing raids.

          • Garry

            I am as much a party to the US targeting committee decisions as you are (I am guessing here) to the Syrian targeting committee. But the point is whatever the objective, the outcome is the same whether the munitions are fired from American F-16’s or Syrian MiG’s..a lot of dead civilians.Or you are seriously saying the American Raids have only killed the Jihadis we were trying to prevent Syria from killing last year?

          • Mc

            I’m sure I didn’t make myself terribly clear earlier on. Essentially what I was getting at was that when Russia invades places, they have an interesting tendency to bomb everything in sight, with no interest in the high probability of civilian casualties (or more to the point, relishing mass civilian casualties). And we’re not even touching on officially ordered and sanctioned mass extra-judicial executions, torture and rape.

            Whereas when the US et al do their bombing, they do give civilian casualties a consideration – they’re not going to stop their war on the basis that they will accidentally kill civilians, but it isn’t their objective to kill civilians.

            As I said at the start, no country is perfect, but on the continuum line, I think most sane people realise that Russia and other dictatorships behave in a uniquely unpleasant manner.

          • Garry

            Russia has bombed nobody in Syria.

          • Mc

            Did i say that Russia bombed Syria? Im talking Grozny, Georgia and every other place that had the misfortune to see Russian troops on their soil.

          • Garry

            Unlike the Americans and their nice democratic bombs which were welcomed with open arms in Vietnam, Cambodia, Serbia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few.

          • Mc

            Looks like we’re back to the whataboutism and moral equivalence.

          • Garry

            Yes, true but you should not allow your hatred of Russia or Putin to blind you to the hypocrisy of the west. It’s true Putin is a nasty tyrant with an unpleasant frog like face but there are far worse tyrants in charge of countries we are quite happy to deal with…Turkey(Nato member), China, Saudi Arabia..spring to mind. On any scale of equivalence the death and destruction wreaked by Russia in recent years pales into insignificance compared to the West’s trail of disaster.

          • Bob-B

            The Americans make every effort to avoid killing civilians. Assad makes every effort to kill civilians.

          • Cyril Sneer

            You truly are a sucker for western propaganda.

            Bob, hint, start looking outside the western MSM.

            You’re naive to say the least.

        • pp22pp

          He arms Assad, while we arm the jihadis. Really smart.

          • Cyril Sneer

            Add to that we spent the previous decade bombing the jihadists.

            But as the western media narrative avoids asking uncomfortable questions like that, the likes of Bob continue in their ignorance because looking outside the western MSM is just too damn difficult for them.

      • pearlsandoysters

        That’s a perfect answer being oversimplification par excellence!

    • Bob-B

      You think Anne Applebaum started a war? When was that?

      • Cyril Sneer

        It’s not that hard to work out… well for you it is.

  • taytelbaum

    Epic choice of words: experiment. Putin and Europe will not come in a bottle or Textmsg

  • Bumble Bee

    And while Rome burns with thousands upon thousands of terrorist sleeper cells, and Europe is currently exporting the worst terrorists on earth, and balkan style wars are only a couple of suicide bombings away, and the new Nazis have been invited to live comfortably amongst us, and we have already seen beheadings and industrial mass rape, the clueless EU likes to focus on Russia – the country that has saved them from the original Nazis before.

    Who will save Europe this time?
    The Palestinians?
    Turkey?
    Qatar?

    bunch of cretinous muppets

  • GenJackRipper

    “If nothing else, we have learned that it is very expensive to break international economic rules and to live without allies.”

    The Bilderberg Group approves this comment.

    • eirik

      Yes, we need more conspiracy theories.

    • Mc

      Could you clarify how the Bilderberg Group fits in with the Illuminati, the Elders of Zion and all those other shadowy groups? I’m a little behind on the subject.

      • Chris Morriss

        I’m sure it’s connected with the all-seeing eye on the US dollar. Conspiracy theories-R-us.

        • Mc

          Yes, that all-seeing eye has terrified me so much over the years, it’s had me in therapy since my teens. Though I had to quit therapy last week when I discovered my therapist was in the Illuminati and was complicit in implanting tracking devices under my skin.

  • Wu Zhong

    Borders in Europe are already changed by force – in former Yugoslavia, with NATO occupation of Kosovo as most drastic example.

    Then, low oil price is problem for everyone, except China. Low oil prices means that cracking oil becomes less payable, bringing troubles to Canada and USA. There is also misconception of how much of oil money goes to national budget. Most of the money goes to the federal reserves and USA securities.

    So, there’s two side of coin

  • Ambientereal

    It is a pity that a powerful man doesn´t know how to use his power to benefit his country. The power must be shown but not actually used. Russia has a lot of power, military and economical. This could be used to say to the west …”well, I´m with you but you know… I need this and that… and in return I can give …. ” but he chose the road of confrontation, a road that many times has no way back.

    • Chris Morriss

      True, although it seems that Russia’s power is on a downhill slope Perhaps that’s what is making him so aggressive.

      • Ambientereal

        Today´s military power is based on technology developed in the 80´s. Russian airplanes, missiles and nuclear explosives are powerful enough. Besides with such a territorial extent and so many natural resources, Russia is an unequaled economical power.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Aggressive? If Russia is aggressive then what does that make the USA??

  • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

    What Russian invasion of Crimea? Lets rewind a bit to when the EU destabilised a democratically elected government because that government thought it better to put its intrests with Russia ahead of its intrests with the EU so the people of Crimea decided via referendum that they no longer wished to be involved with the EU or Ukraine.

    This is the first article of Anne’s that I have read and was really disappointed by the lack of facts.

    • Dr. Heath

      I’ve just read your post and was disappointed by its lack of facts. Is this a first for you or were you simply concentrating enough?

      • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

        Its how things actually were, you know history is often rewritten but in the age of the internet it really is a fools task as anyone can get a chronography of events.

        • Bumble Bee

          Ignore that guy, he’s mourning over bombed out dresden, har har har

    • http://a.com hohesc

      Putin admitted that he sent Russian soldiers to Crimea, the same ones that surrounded the Crimean parliament, installed its own unelected prime minister, which in turn organised a shotgun “referendum” while under Russian foreign military occupation to join Russia, which the “referendum” somehow gave the “expected” result, and shot at any OSCE inspectors attempting to enter Crimea.

      Meanwhile in Ukraine, Ukrainian people demanded their president resign, the president left, and in fact the government was immediately replaced by a new government which was also democratically elected, and the president was soon replaced by a democratically elected president.

      In conclusion, you are right about one thing: that wasn’t a Russian invasion in Crimea: it was a Russian coup d’état.

      • http://www.ukip.org/issues Michael Mckeown

        Putin sent in help at the request of the democratically elected Crimean government and that’s an important fact that kills your argument.

        • http://a.com hohesc

          Please provide a date and evidence for this “request”, as history records that Spetsnaz was there long before Putin ever admitted they were there, which would invalidate your proposition.

  • CraigStrachan

    Putin can always console himself with the knowledge that he is admired by Alex Salmond.

    • PeteCW

      And Nigel ‘the People’s Patriot’ Farage.

  • PeteCW

    Lots of brain-washed Putinbots will be swarming all over this comment section before long – the advertising revenue their traffic will raise should fund the Spectator Christmas Party all by itself.

    • Cyril Sneer

      So this is a public declaration of your stupidity, ignorance and paranoia.

      • PeteCW

        No – simply pointing the stark reality of Kremlin media warfare. Your own ridiculous comments are perfect examples straight from Putin’s playbook – affecting to care about democracy in Ukraine while ignoring the fact that a massively corrupt Putin-backed thief (whose son – a dentist – strangely became one of the richest men in Europe under his rule) was overthrown by the will of the people. And if you were actually concerned about real fascism as opposed to the fantasy version promoted by Kremlin propaganda, you might care to mention that the fascist Golden Dawn and Le Front Nationale are being funded by Putin-controlled banks, while Russians suffer deprivation due to the malevolent stupidity of their leaders.

        But why not just carry on with your petulant, snivelling lies – don’t forget to get your invoice in for them either.

        • Cyril Sneer

          I don’t get my news from Russian media, like plenty of others out there we get our news from sites from all over the world.

          You get your news from the western MSM and it shows.

          It’s an a-typical response to accuse one of purely reading Russian media, pretty pathetic, much like the Russian troll accusations.

          What next, comparing Putin to Hitler?

          Oh and Pete if you want to make this a personal thing then please feel free to contact me and we can meet man to man. I live in Worcester UK.

      • PeteCW

        I’ll kindly give you the benefit of the doubt though – perhaps you actually believe what you’re writing. After all it’s not as if England has ever been short of treacherous morons eager to parrot Kremlin propaganda. You don’t have to do it for free though – you could get paid for pushing this woeful crap.

        See Seamus Milne at The Guardian for how to sustain a career from it.

        • Cyril Sneer

          Speaking out against western foreign policy failure is not treason, it’s quite the opposite actually.

          I’m a nationalist, a patriot, so go f ck yourself.

    • Bumble Bee

      haha, unlike the Dhimmi-bots who let their daughters get mass raped, cause they don’t like being called a name

      such moral superiority, innit?

    • Dr. Heath

      I think ‘krembot’ is as good a term, if not better, for describing the trolls you mention.

  • Dr. Heath

    If things go wrong for Mini-Me and the serfs in Pootgolia decide they’d prefer another slaphead mafioso as boss, Putko can always get a job as a movie extra. I see him as ‘Pavel’, the all-purpose Slavic psycho in the next Mission Impossible film.

  • BillyCobbett

    Russia didn’t ‘invade’ Crimea as they were already there. And the so-called West is nothing but the US and it’s lackeys.

  • thomasaikenhead

    “In 2008, the Russian army also invaded and then occupied parts of Georgia, more or less with impunity, which at least poked a hole in the ideal of ‘Europe whole and free’.”

    Really?

    Since when has Georgia ever been considered to be part of Europe?

    It might well be a member of the Council of Europe but membership was a political decision, never a geographic, social or cultural decision.

    As for the rest of Europe, while so many countries there are dependent on Russian energy supplies they will never be ‘free’!

    • Simon_in_London

      The main thing is that in the real world Georgia attacked breakaway South Ossetia, with its Russian garrison; the Russians unsurprisingly counter-attacked. Only in neocon bizarro world did Russia wake up one day and decide to attack Georgia.

      In fact the Georgian offensive was launched right after the US trainers had left, so this was most likely a US backed operation, very like 1995 Operation Storm by US-backed Croatia against Serbian Krajina. That makes the neocon claims of Russian aggression particularly mendacious.

  • Carter Lee

    Every day everywhere some wise person like Anne Applebaum taking pains to explain to us how everything is going to come tumbling down like a house of cards for the serially clumsy and inept Mr. Putin.

    She very well may be right but she reminds me of all those American writers and pundits who cheered on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    With overweening confidence they assured everyone that with a little more effort there was light at the end of the tunnel and success was in the offing.

    Now they are like snapping turtles attacking one another trying to both apportion and avoid blame for another American designed military fiasco.

  • thomasaikenhead

    “…might well persuade Russians to rally around their embattled leader, who might be inspired to push his military adventurism further.”

    How might that differ from the actions of the West in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya?

    • Simon_in_London

      Our military adventurism is branded Humanitarian Intervention.

      I have to say I haven’t seen Russia engage in much adventurism recently. The second Chechen War was an offensive operation, but Georgia/South Ossetia and Ukraine/Crimea were both reactive.

  • grutchyngfysch

    “This might not matter as much to other oil producers, but for more than a decade Putin has coasted on the illusion that historically high oil and gas revenues could both support the national budget and disguise Russia’s failure to create a more productive economy.”

    For a minute there, I thought you’d muddled up an article on the SNP with one on Russia.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    “Since the Russian invasion of Crimea last February, many different phrases have been used to describe the tactics of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.”

    Who needs RT when we have The Spectator! Russian Presidents are figureheads, who pose for the cameras and attend state functions. The power lies in the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, and boy did they make a big blunder earlier this year, a blunder the Marxist Western media is covering for…

    For those not in the know, the so-called Ukrainian “separatists” are actually Russian Spetsnaz and Guards Airborne troops, which is why a Russian colonel, Igor Strelkov, is in command and not a Ukrainian.*

    These disguised Russian military units entered the Ukraine last February when the Ukrainian population, nationwide, revolted against the Communist government in Kiev,** the cause for the revolt being the weakened security apparatus within the nation, where most of the Ukrainian Army was in either Syria or Iraq, or preparing to enter Iraq from Turkey, pretending to be Muslim “Jihadists” (Islamic State). The Islamic State “Jihadists” wearing the black Ninja jumpsuits and balaclava masks are the Ukrainians,*** hiding their pale Caucasian/Slavic identities. Russian special forces posing as Ukrainian separatists are allied with the remnants of the Ukrainian security apparatus in the nation and are attempting to restore Communist “order”.

    Moscow & Allies tasked the West to create Islamic State in southern Turkey (using Ukrainian troops to augment the fake “Islamists”) in order to (1) close off Iraq’s oil to export, increasing the price of oil, allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (2) continue spotlighting the chaos the West causes around the globe, though it’s actually Moscow & Allies causing the chaos via their Marxist puppets in Western capitals; thereby (3) decreasing the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world; and (4) further weaken the United States Armed Forces via never ending wars per Moscow & Allies’ tasked “War on Terror”; the United States Armed Forces will be re-deployed to Iraq.

    The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    Notice that not one political party in the West demanded verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested and detained the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is a USSR & Allies-tasked operation being carried out by the co-opted governments of the West, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know why up until 2013 the “electorates” of Russia, Ukraine and Georgia had been “electing” for president only Soviet era Communist Party member Quislings, except for the first president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a true dissident who didn’t even last nine months in office before he was ousted in a coup, later said to have committed “suicide”. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was a failed test run to see if a non-Communist Party member president could be controlled.

    —————————————–

    * http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9298982/the-frightening-face-of-russias-future/

    ** The revolt witnessed the destruction of hundreds of statues of Lenin throughout the Ukraine, statues that were supposed to have been destroyed back in 1991 if the collapse of the USSR were real and not the strategic ruse it is…

    http://leninstatues.ru/leninopad

    In fact, it wasn’t until the national revolt in the Ukraine in February 2014 that any statues of the hated Lenin were destroyed throughout the 15 republics that made up the USSR…

    “Almost every town in Russia has a prominent statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, father of the October Revolution…”

    http://www.saint-petersburg.com/monuments/ploshchad-lenina/

    …and those statues that were taken down in Russia, and other republics that make up the USSR, are safely hidden in parks or museums, to be eventually returned to their former locations after the defeat of the West.

    The only statues to Lenin (and other Communist heroes) taken down in Russia were located in those areas where Western tourists visit the most. Those statues were carefully lifted and relocated, in the case of Moscow, to Fallen Monument Park…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Monument_Park

    The same subterfuge is taking place in other republics that make up the USSR, where statues to Lenin (and Marx) taken down are hidden, not destroyed, in the case of Tallinn, Estonia, at the Maarjamaë Palace…

    http://nienkebos.wordpress.com/category/maarjamae-palace/

    …and in Lithuania, statues to Lenin and Marx are located at Grūtas Park, which also incredulously has, now get this, a Soviet theme park, replete with “…a mini-zoo and cafes, all containing relics of the Soviet era. On special occasions actors stage re-enactments of various Soviet-sponsored festivals”!…

    http://www.goworldtravel.com/travel-lithuania-grutas-park-reminder-of-dark-past/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C5%ABtas_Park

    Now you know why up until 2013 the “electorates” of Russia, Ukraine and Georgia were only “electing” for president Soviet era vanguard Communist Party member Quislings, except for the first president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a true dissident who didn’t even last nine months in office before he was ousted in a coup, later said to have committed “suicide”. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was a failed test run to see if a non-Communist Party member president could be controlled.

    ***

    http://www.cp24.com/polopoly_fs/1.1920657!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

    Those are professional soldiers cradling their weapons in the military stand down position, with trigger finger kept just outside the trigger guard.

  • Peoples Liberation Front

    I sense Ms Applebaum’s Polish genes may have had an influence on the bias of this article.

    • a girl

      Sure: wield prejudice instead of confronting the argument of the article. Now we know what your bias is. Next!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/DavidWLincoln David W. Lincoln

    Anne, why not shed light on Sergei Magnitsky, and why he wound up dead.

    You hamper yourself when you work with only some of the material.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Putin and Russia are going to be just fine.

    It’s the West that is imploding.

    • a girl

      Yes, because they have no principles other than their own triumph, or what they imagine to be their own triumph (Putin is more realistic than the Russians that slumber, slog, and drink their way through life, as they have always done).

  • pp22pp

    Mrs Sikorsky. Please stop warmongering.

  • DavidMurphy57

    Russia has resources and no debt. The UK has no resources and crippling debts. Go figure.

  • Dr. Heath

    “The quantity of pro-Kremlin trolling on [all articles to do with Ukraine] has been documented extensively since 2012 as a real and insidious threat to online communities of idea and debate [and] has rendered commenting on these articles all but meaningless,and a worthless exercise in futility and frustration for anyone not already being mind-controlled by the Kremlin… Guardian moderators, who deal with 40,000 comments a day, believe there is an orchestrated campaign.”

    I’ve been accused of writing something ‘poor and pathetic’ by drawing attention to the practice of Putin’s trolls flooding the internet with [usually brutal, asinine and repetitive] pro-Kremlin comments. The comrades at The Guardian and at Buzzfeed have printed and assembled several articles [the above quote is from The Guardian] about this trolling. Poor and pathetic, obviously, applies only to the people in Russia who imagine that if you repeat something justifying the unjustifiable invasion [and the needless slaughter of people on both sides of the resultant conflict] of a neighbouring state, an increasing number of idiots in the West will come to believe that lies are truth and that militarist aggression is all about peace.

    • Scradje

      Some of the nastiest kremtrolls turn out to be ukippers.

      • Cyril Sneer

        The accusation of kremtroll is an admittance that you’re only willing to hear one point of view, only one point of view is accepted. How very fascist, much like modern day liberalism.

        • Scradje

          If you are a supporter of a givernment that does fascist things externally, such as invading and occupying sovereign territory in Europe and then lying about it, what does that make you? If you act as some kind of demented cheerleader for a govt that controls all media, the judiciary and parliament; where opponents are either dead, imprisoned or in exile living in fear of assassination, what does that make you? I am not of the left, I am a libertarian. I hate facists and respect freedom. If you are a ukipper, then you should be disgusted that so many fascists have inflitrated your supposedly freedom-living party.

  • Alexandros HoMegas

    Applebaum is a jewish neocon who wants WWIII with Russia, Putin recently revelead that the Bolshevik Revolution and the first Soviet Government were made mostly of jews.

    • Paddy Kilshamus

      That is an anti-Semitic canard. It may be true but it is an anti-Semitic canard which would mean political suicide for any Western politician.

    • a girl

      I’ll ignore the casual slur of your opening words but contend that you are too late on WWIII — we’ve had it: it was the Cold War. We are now engaged in WWIV. Get with the times, will you?

  • Bill_der_Berg

    If the Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese can put up with economic hardship for the glory of the EU, the Russians should be able to do the same for their motherland.

    • Simon_in_London

      he he.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    We should view the stuff put out by the Russian government with a sceptical eye. The same goes for the output from our the spokespersons of our elected representatives. Even the most ardent patriots have the right to disagree with their government.

  • a girl

    Putin is really in love with himself, isn’t he? Item 1: going shirtless instead of wearing one like a civilized human being, never mind despot for life head of state.

  • Al Bowlly

    Whatever one says about Putin (and who doesn’t?), he is unequivocal about the threat of Islam and its incompatibility with anything resembling civilised values, likewise the Chinks. My enemy’s enemy is not my friend but counsels of perfection are a luxury without which it is possible to survive.

    • Trofim

      “he is unequivocal about the threat of Islam and its incompatibility with anything resembling civilised values”

      Evidence please / фактические данные, пожалуйста

  • Six Edits

    Liar, liar: Here we find marxist ideologue Barack Obama lying about the 2013 sequester: http://youtu.be/YWElzVoOhpQ?t=2m27s

  • Simon_in_London

    “anti-western rebellion”

    Why are you trying to dominate Russia in the first place so that ‘rebellion’ is even a meaningful term?

  • br14

    The fall in the value of the Rouble makes Russian exports cheaper than ever and will generate economic activity. And China could take all the hydrocarbon production Russia generates and then some.

    Whatever may be the global price of oil and gas the logistics of transport make oil and gas subject to local price variations.

    EU democracies sit on a mountain of debt. With the sure and certain knowledge that when the winter bites hard in Germany in a month or two Russia will use its natural gas as leverage. Shutting down gas supplies could bankrupt the Euro zone.

    I recommend you check the debt to GDP ratio of countries in the West compared to Russia before you announce Putins demise. He could support his economy on debt for quite some time before borrowing became an issue.

  • Terry Field

    Russia and China will come together. Both need what the other has. And their combined efforts will confront the United States.
    Europe is exposed, and indefensible.
    Nous sommes stuffed.

  • Alexander Pioneer One

    Another fish story about Russia and situation over Ukraine. It seems that the author does not have Internet or cannot read UN resolutions. Sanctions? o.O

    Everything is all right here. Dont worry about us =) From Russia with love =}

  • Sergio Buk

    “NATO, as they say, is surrounded by Russia.”
    And what does it do? Nakoy her Baltic countries is needed? Well, what of them help? Only because of the territory since they border with Russia. Same with Georgia. Against whom the unit at all after the collapse of the USSR had to defend themselves? It is time to break up, so no, even took members.
    About the war with Georgia – that sort of apologized and their media that fooled the audience, arguing that it is Russia invaded small Georgia, and such was the report of the international commission, which recognized that the response to an attack peacekeepers was adequate, but probably very few people noticed . Or as a joke: they found spoons and osadochek stayed. ”
    Read these articles and tears welling how bad I live for this year. And turned away from the monitor, looked around, went to the store and understand – what garbage is written.

  • Le Barbouze

    Is this the same Ann Appelbaum who wants us to prepare for all-out war with Russia?
    Sanctions work both ways – they’re hurting plenty of European businesses as well. And all for what. Putin doesn’t bow to the all powerful American Empire. Good for him, About time we followed his example.

  • robzimbo

    Another autarch ran this experiment, starting fifteen years ago – Robert Mugabe. Disengaging from the world economy, creating enemies out of friends, then using their enmity as an excuse for collapsing living standards and state oppression; taking control of the media; harassing minorities; boosting state security services. Civil Society has been largely exiled, beaten, corrupted or neutralised – though just enough of a safety valve is permitted to allow the hot-heads to let off steam, and simultaneously to undermine foreign criticisms of “a totalitarian state”.

    Like mad Vlad’s, this experiment was financed by natural resources – diamonds, mostly, first from the DRC (as payment for Zimbabwe’s support for the Kabila family), then from Chiadzwa.

    Like the Russians, the majority Shona people have spent the last thousand years being oppressed by their own leaders or external invaders, and so have had the fight kicked out of them. There won’t be a revolution in Zimbabwe, or in Russia.

    The lesson is that as long as the oligarchs, the inner circle, are kept sweet, there will be no push-back. The inner circle can leverage foreign currency shortages and sanctions into enormous personal wealth, which in turn buys just enough bread and circuses to distract the masses from the collapse in living standards.

    The middle classes pack up and move away, and the remittances they send home reduces the state’s responsibilities even further. The workers believe that the big man is on their side, right up to the moment when they are too weak to do anything about it – and then it is too late.

    Don’t for one second think that Putin is threatened by the economic pressure on Russia. Far from it – he knows it is entirely to his advantage. He knows it will help him suspend any remaining vestige of democratic rights, for while “Russia is under siege from the NATO/Nazis and their running-dog lackeys”, who could possibly countenance changing the leader? If all plays well, the siege/sanctions will stay in place until Vlad is in his nineties.

    You don’t think it could happen? No, fifteen years ago we didn’t, either.

    The absolute genius of this experiment is that it re-feudalises a modern state. It takes wealth from the poor, and the middle, and it hands it to whoever the “King/Czar/President” choses – the patronage is the gift of the ruler. Back him, and the wealth flows without end. Oppose him, and the tap is turned off.

  • robzimbo

    what happened to my post?

  • Guest

    The elephant in the room: how much debt does Russia have and how does that compare to the West?

  • http://school528.spb.ru Денис Евсеев

    Sorry guys, mey be my post will be deleted.
    I just want tell you another opinion, by a lot Russians.

    That not experiment, that just our spies predicted this sitaution and was ready for protect. A lot of Georgia love Russia and apologize for their goverment. Because, Russia protected citizens in Georgy. You recognize only 1 opinion, that Russian captured North Georgia, Crimea … U can’t understand real situation without our opinion, in Crimea and North Georgie lives a lot of Russians more than 60% and foreign guys, like goverments of Georgia and Ukraine Nato press and keep down them. Just because they Russia and dont want join Nato.

    Dont forget, that UK, USA and a lot of West contries pay a lot money for “Human protect” organization in Russia,but really they organize meetings for separating.

    Putin really protect Russians, for exampe Chechnya. War in Chechnya that really was paid by Amerika.. We have a lot of evidences

  • GenJackRipper

    I see Ms Applebaum has put some effort into this anti-russianness

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/dec/18/how-he-and-his-cronies-stole-russia/?insrc=hpma

  • Admiralty

    First rule of despotic behavior; enslave the mind and you don’t need to use chains.
    Mr Putin’s approval (if we are to believe the media) is still extremely high.

    Let us all hope we don’t back this man into a corner, he’s liable to come out fighting and I don’t think NATO has the stomach for a fight with someone as unpredictable.
    It’s unlikely Russia can sustain a large, mechanized war, but he could make a real mess of some of our European neighbors.
    If Russia crashes, we all lose.

  • Rockingham

    Nikita Khruschev who was a Ukrainian by birth, he gave Crimea to the Ukrainians, not expecting the dissolution of Russia many years later, he also ignored the three to one majority of Russian speakers, Crimea has been fought over by many different armies, this time the people voted, the validity of the vote can be contested, when the time is right, now we have sanctions at the behest of the US, which are not doing Europe any good at all, it’s a foot shooting exercise, SA who have a huge US base there. and against all economic logic has decided to continue pumping oil, the US who have an over abundance of gas and oil and gas, which because of a 1974 law forbidding all exports of carbon fuels, would love to supply Europe with all it’s gas needs, they have been pushing for lifting the export ban for a couple of years, I do think Europe is being manipulated, by resurrecting the bad Russia mindset of 30yrs ago, and forgetting all the beneficial trade done between Europe and Russia, I also think Russia will turn more towards other markets, China has already done big deals, and it won’t be long before others do the same.

    • IJMO_DS

      European sanctions have to be renewed and their are many industrialists etc. who don’t see what they are supposed to achieve. Putin will just sit it out until Europe has had enough. In 100 years people will remember that Putin got Crimea back, something maybe Yeltsin should have done seeing as Ukraine was only given it in 1954 by a Soviet not Russian leader, not that Russians couldn’t go on holiday for a few years or buy Polish apples.

      The west and sanctions are not Russia’s problem. Their problem is depending on oil and gas and not using it to build their economy while they still can. They could try looking at the Chinese example on how to become a world super power.

      If European governments wish to deter Russia from interfering they should spend more on defence and not just rely on the American taxpayer.

  • smileandwave

    Ummm, so the break up of Yugoslavia — enabled by NATO airpower and ground troops in Kosovo — doesn’t count as, “altering borders in Europe by force”, and challenging, “both the written and unwritten rules which have governed politics on the continent since 1945”?

    Lets be honest, this article can be summarised as follows: Putin is ugly and his mummy dresses him funny and no one in the park should play with him because he doesn’t take instructions from the in-crowd.

  • rogersan

    I wouldn’t mind having a leader like Putin. I think the west has been steadily encroaching on the Russians and lying every step of the way. When you tell them one thing and do another it starts to sound like the United States v.s. the Native Americans. We have adopted a policy of western dominance and honestly if anyone who knows anything about the Russians and what they call the great war they would understand that having Neo-Nazi’s at their gates is not a tolerable situation. My only hope is they don’t decide to kick Nato and Europes butt considering they have increased the superiority of their weapons systems etc.

    It is very surprising to see the Langley and MI6 folks etc working to institute regime change to a non elected government in Ukraine and all the while poking the bear in the eye. As anyone who has seen a bear go ape shit can attest it is probably not a smart move. My 2 cents.

  • Elena Halkova

    I just don’t know, are the Western people already so degenerated that they cannot understand that there is something more than just money and living standard? It seems so…no wonder than that you are still slaves of your oligarch and banker masters…I wouldn’t change economic prosperity for freedom, freedom of soul above all…and the West is loosing its freedom fast, only you pretend not to care or notice…you are still talking about Putin, a dictator…but you really know nothing about the life in Russia….Russians are free to live with their hearts, they are not forced to obey unnatural ideologies like in the West…they are not forced to political correctness, positive discrimination and all this nonsense….Russians are just very different people, they will never be like Westerners and Westerners are very stupid to think that they can change Russians according to their image just by silly sanctions….What is so special about Russians then? Their national identity. Its inseparable from them. They will rather die from hunger then give up their identity. Is it a strange concept for a Westerner? Yet Putin said it himself. He said, “read Anna Karenina. And then read Gone with the Wind. You will see the difference between us. Scarlet says, the thing she is most afraid of is hunger. Well, Russians do not care that much about material things. We always look somewhere beyond things. To the things connected with…..God. That is more important than hunger.” If the West cannot understand this, it can have tragic consequences. Because Russians will not give up. Also some people said that yes, Putin activated nuclear weapons, but he will never used them. If you know Russians, you know he could. If Russians are cornered too much and they think they will be forced to give up themselves to the enemy or die…they will rather die and take the enemy with them…It is much more romantic than just giving up and become a soulless vassal of the West….This is how they think and this is how they have always been….this is why they never gave up to Hitler, although they lost so many people…..they just stood their ground. For terrible 900 days they stood their ground in Leningrad surrounded by Hitler, children dying from hunger, death everywhere….Putins brother died in Leningrad as a little child (Putin was born after the war)…but the story was in the family…And they never gave up. Because death was better than being “assimilated” by Germans. And they now see the West as new Germans trying to change them. But perhaps this is just too deep for Westerners to understand.

    • Elena Halkova

      and this is also one of the reasons, why they love Putin so much:-) Russians are romantic fools in a way,..they cannot help it…they wouldn’t be able to follow a leader like Obama…he is just too shallow…and the democracy, rule of law…al those things are too abstract to love…they just need a “hero” like Putin to keep them straight…perhaps that is also a strange concept for Westerners:-) You can also hear it in their songs, just listen to them…full of many emotions but also full of something…I don’t know how to call it…something “heavenly”? Or you may say that they walk too much with their heads in the cloud and that is why they need a practical leader, who gives them order and rules, but who can also appeal to their emotional side….

      • IJMO_DS

        Most westerners just want peace and a quiet life. They don’t care what Russia does, or how it runs itself, or who is leader, as long as it does not bother them. Russia like America looks different, depending on whether your on the inside or on the outside. Inside Russia, Russians see a great country that must be strong and be respected. On the outside smaller neighbours see the worlds bully, whose always intimidating and picking on smaller and weaker countries, they hate Russia not respect it. My point is, maybe it works both ways and Russia does not understand the west either. Why should we be impressed that you send your 1950’s Soviet bombers to make us waste money launching our interceptors. Money we could spend on health care and poverty. We would be more impressed if you had an economy that wasn’t just about what you can dig out of the ground, or you were first to send humans to Mars, or invented something amazing. You were first in space remember.

        You try too hard to compete with the west by building more weapons, only to have them made obsolete by advanced western technology. The soviet union collapsed because the west deployed cruise missiles and you had to build more fighters and missiles to intercept them. You built huge numbers of tanks only for western attack helicopters and A10 tank busters to make them useless. You are working on a hypersonic missile that will eventually be destroyable by American laser guns. We spent 6% of GDP on defence during the cold war, you spent 46%.

        I understand that after the cold war the west did not treat Russia as an equal partner and acted as if it was the winner and Russia should just do as it says. I also agree that NATO and the EU should not expand right up to Russia’s borders, or install missile shields, I understand why you are so upset. A buffer zone of neutral countries works in everyone’s interest. Europe would love to drop the sanctions, but Russia does not respect weakness and it can’t encourage Russia to take territory even though Crimea should have been returned after the Soviet Union broke up.

        Even If there were no sanctions the oil and gas will run out sooner or later, or we will get fusion power to work and it would become worthless. You claim to love your country, so how can you be great if you end up fighting a war and be ruined. Even the Soviet union just gave up when it ran out of money.

        What Europeans want most is for Russia to sort out its differences with Ukraine and for both of us to get back to trading and working together. We want to be friends and most like Russia, a historic country, but Russia has to understand us better as we have to understand you better. You have more friends than you realise in the West, not all of us want to tell you what to do.

    • Baron

      Good stuff, Elena, but, sadly, you’re talking to the MSM cum BBC brainwashed lot, they know next to FA about Russia, have forgotten it was the Russian Ivan who saved the Old World twice from being ruled by a madman, that the Russians suffered themselves from an evil creed, never enjoyed, the unwashed that is not the elites, the freedoms they have today albeit with many boils and warts.

    • Cyril Sneer

      Well said Elena.

      Peace from England.

  • Elena Halkova

    you should read Russian literature more…not many happy endings unlike in the USA:-) They like tragic fateful stories more. How different from the West, isn’t it?

  • Pepe Turcon

    So you think Putin is standing up for the Russian people when he grabs
    territory from his neighbours. Presumably you also think Hitler was
    standing up for the German people when he grabbed territory from his
    neighbours.

    • Baron

      Putin resembles Adolf about as much as George Washington resembles the narcissistic messiah.

      It’s more that Vlad and George would see an eye to eye what with both trying to build a strong nation, letting other nations to do as they wish(ed).

      How many countries do the Yanks have a military presence in?

  • jamesmace

    Opening of the First Torgsin SuperMart in Moscow coming in 5,4,3,2….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUPMjVrfloU

  • Bonkim

    Russians will survive.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Indeed they will, they have a pretty strong economy. they have a trade surplus, their budget deficit is 10% I gather, and they have just signed big oil deals with China and India.

  • Uncle Brian

    Putin couldn’t “extract Russia from the global mainstream” even if he wanted to. Nobody could. Russia was never in the global mainstream in the first place. Not in the Soviet period, not under Yeltsin — though that may have been what he was aiming at, in the long term — and certainly not under Putin.

  • emersonushc13

    marxism in theory is so anti-marxist in practice – isn’t that right, failures from rich white homes with worthless degrees in hand puppet husbandry?

  • mark abrams

    “the global mainstream, and to reject the rules by which that mainstream runs” who sets those rules ?? would it be the US, the EU and the western banks ???? In the old days when those entities decided to screw someone , like China or Russia , there was no recourse short of war. We now get to see whether China and Russia still have to bend over and say thank you sir, may I have another ?

  • john doe

    Russia ia country in deeper trouble than this article states. They have a serious decline in population, a huge drinking problem, big problems in their military, a population imbalance, minority problems, problems with cowards (you call them terrorists, I don’t) and many other problems. As long as oil was high they could limp along but the stuff has hit the fan. They are a third world country and only an antiquated nuke force protects them. This county will fail on it’s own, just let them die.

    • Baron

      What’s the bet, john, the EU (or the Republic) will fold up before Russia does?

      They’ve been through worse, and only a fool would suggests they will fail. And what about the Yanks: up to their eyeballs in debt, systemic debt, one that has to be rolled over, expanded as the welfare state keeps motoring on viz Obamacare; all medicated (the highest per capita consumption of proscription drugs, highest abuse of proscription drugs, highest use of banned drugs); torn apart by racism, governed by an elite that has de-coupled from her unwashed ….

      • Sally Wilton

        No chance

        • Baron

          We shall see, Sally, we shall see, for, as the Dutch say: Man can predict everything but the future.

    • Cyril Sneer

      “They are a third world country and only an antiquated nuke force protects them.”

      Protect them from what? An aggressive resource hungry belligerent west led by the pariah US Government,

  • Baron

    The graph suggests someone somewhere will get sickeningly rich buying Gazprom, it’s worth more than a little flutter, as the Fawlty Towers guest opined, the one Basil wanted to have stuffed.

  • carl jacobs

    No one in the West is going to war over Ukraine. Instead of worrying about Russian behavior in traditional spheres of Russian influence, the West should worry about what happens if Russia falls apart. How does that benefit anyone but China?

  • cdvision

    The West (US) needs to be very careful in bringing down Russia; the whole house of cards could easily collapse.

    Looking at the leadership in the US and Europe, I have absolutely NO confidence this will end well.

  • http://twitter.com/WinstonCDN WinstonCDN

    Good. I hope Russia implodes.

    • Cyril Sneer

      What a lovely thing to say about another nation where the people within it have done nothing to you.

      I don’t hope Russia implodes as I don’t like to see the suffering of a great many innocent people.

      But unlike you, I’m human.

      • http://twitter.com/WinstonCDN WinstonCDN

        Oh plz. Go lecture someone else from your mom’s basement.

        • Baron

          You go, curl up in a corner, keep on evolving. A couple of millennia may about do it. Tosser.

          • http://twitter.com/WinstonCDN WinstonCDN

            Eat $hit

  • Cyril Sneer

    We need regime change in Washington, London and Brussels, not Moscow.

    • Paddy Kilshamus

      We need to de-colonise our minds and hearts first. The usurper resides there, blinding us to the truth and leading us to the abattoir.

  • http://batman-news.com The Commentator

    Why let the facts get in the way of a good story? So Crimea voted for independence after the Ukrainian government was ousted in a coup. Russia went to the aid of two break away republics in 2008, there was no invasion of Georgia. Russia ‘s economic woes will soon be those of the West. France has two massive warships it couldn’t afford to build and now cannot sell.Germany has built massive car factories in Russia to produce vehicles that no one will now be able to buy. America’s fledgling recovery built on shale oil production is about to go over a cliff, along with the whole North American shale oil industry which is reliant on oil being $100 a barrel. Look forward to a world economic collapse in 2015.

  • jamesmace

    Putin failed some time ago in 2009 when any gains were wiped out. That is when there was a huge increase in the number of those living under the poverty level and it is far far worse now.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/aug/31/russia-economy-poverty-increase-putin

  • Alexandros HoMegas

    Applebaum is a kike RAT, the kike RATS WANT WWIII and KILL all the goyim once and for all.

    Your RAT race will be MASS MURDERED again AppleRat

  • don684

    With the collapse in oil prices and Saudi Arabia willing to and able to let oil prices remain low for an extended time period Mr.Putin needs to rethink Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine. Russia will suffer with trade embargoes and have problems keeping their oil fields up and running. The recent aid from China to Russia will probably not be repeated . So your next move Mr.Putin so far your chess game looks weak.

  • Bart B

    Crimea used to be Russian until an Ukrainian dictator took it away in the fifties. This is just history correcting itself

  • Josephine Bailey

    Got that wrong didn’t you!

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