One comment on “Afternoon Update: Confusion About The Ultimatum, EU Foreign Ministers Meet In Brussels, Pro-Russian Protests In Eastern Ukraine

  1. If you believe Putin is as smart as they say he is, he will know not to take what he cannot defend. But he can still pull off a massive fake-out. This is speculative, of course.

    Putin has learned much from tactics used by the US in Iraq — use of cash as a weapon (bribe your opponents to join your side), letting locals do your dirty work, using the doctrine of humanitarian intervention and pre-emptive action and war-on-terror to justify forceful imposition of a friendly democracy where there was once a hostile foreign government, destabilizing your enemies to make yourself look better.

    There is one other power move he could copy from the US playbook, if he were so inclined.

    He can mass his forces near Eastern Ukraine and make the East Ukranians think he will back them up. Then the East Ukranians pick a fight with the West Ukranian Nationalists. The West Ukranian nationalists send in the thugs- the militant wings of their revolutionary movement, some of who sometimes dress up in neo Nazi costumes, but “not in a serious way”.

    If a fight breaks out — and here’s the really sleazy thing the US has sometimes done with great success — allow a fight to break out. then either stand back, or help just enough so the US makes a public commitment to the West Ukranians, and also to ensure that it’s an even battle. AND THEN the play says, you back out, and allow your guys to LOSE! … If Putin’s opponents (extremists in the west Ukranian nationalist movement) commit atrocities, it will discredit them for good and ensure that future generations remember the West Ukranians as the bad guys in this situation.

    Normally the enemies of the US have fallen for this one every time. It’s not clear if the US will fall for this trick.

    Or maybe Putin is the one who is currently being entrapped in this game. Or maybe neither the US nor Russia are smart enough to look past the immediate present. I guess we’ll see.

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