Coffee House

Where are Barack Obama’s ‘red lines’ in Crimea?

1 March 2014

7:23 PM

1 March 2014

7:23 PM

When Barack Obama warned Vladimir Putin that “there will be costs” for violating Ukrainian sovereignty, I doubt the Kremlin worried too much. The Syria crisis taught is all about Obama and his ‘red lines’. This is a president who recoils at the idea  of any new entanglement, whose attention is on the Pacific rather than Eurasia and is less worried than any of his recent predecessors about Russian aggression.

And that’s what makes this situation so dangerous: Putin wants to know where the new red lines lie, and may keep pushing until he finds out. His asking Russia’s parliament for the authority to use troops is, I suspect, is a ploy to see how Washington reacts.  If this Crimean crisis further exposes Obama as irresolute and distracted, it will suit Putin perfectly. His aim is to show that Obama’s words cannot be taken seriously – something that will further erode America’s standing in the world and drain its soft power. This will embolden dictators and make the world a more dangerous place.

Putin is trying that ancient trick: offering ‘assistance’ to Russian-speaking people, the card played in Moldova’s Transnistria in 1992 (and the pretext that Turkey used to invade northern Cyprus in 1974). Ukraine is hardly likely to cede Crimea to Russia to assuage Putin – that tactic didn’t work for the Czechs with the Sudetenland in 1938. And plenty living in Ukraine draw precisely these analogies: the word ‘Nazi’ is used being liberally.

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In fact, some in the West make these analogies too. Here’s Walter Russel Mead in The American Interest:

‘One can already hear a chorus of people discussing Russia’s Crimean move in the terms people used to describe Hitler’s move into the Rhineland. The Germans are only going into their own back garden, said Britain’s Lord Lothian. George Bernard Shaw told the public that it was like the British moving into Portsmouth. Crimea is historically and culturally more a part of Russia than anything else, we are told. It’s a long way from the United States and what happens there doesn’t really matter very much.’

It’s true that Crimea is different to the rest of Ukraine. It was Russian until Khrushchev oddly gifted it to Ukraine in 1954 in the name of ‘Soviet friendship’. Russian speakers have been in the majority ever since Stalin ethnically cleansed the Tartars in 1944; Russian is the de facto official language today in the Crimea.

But partitioning Ukraine, in some kind of Czechoslovakia-style velvet divorce,  is not plausible. There’d be too many minorities on either side of any new dividing line, and this is certainly for Crimea where the remaining Tatars are none to keen to come back under Moscow’s rule.

Putin has very little to gain from invading Ukraine, for reasons that Kimberley Martin outlined recently in Foreign Affairs. He’ll be flexing his muscles, securing the parliamentary authorisation for force that evaded Cameron and Obama over Syria. For reasons that Garry Kasparov outlined in the Spectator, Putin has a strategy of pushing things to the limit, in hope of exposing the West a paper tiger. So for this reason, he can be expected to push the situation in Ukraine a lot further.

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Show comments
  • Крым – РОССИЯ!

    The UNIQUE solution which can save Urraine united are follows:

    1. the Russian language should be recognised as the SECOND (after Ukrainian) official language in Ukraine by new Constitution of Ukraine (as in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxemburg)

    2. the Ukraine should become the FEDERAL state with large financial self – administration and elected governors

    3. the Ukraine should be proclamed the CONSTANTLY NEUTRAL state as Switzerland under guarantees of US, EU and Russia.

  • Крым – РОССИЯ!

    The Crimea was, is and still the Land of Russian Glory, covered by Russian history, maintained by all Russian people. The West have just demonstrated their immortal and ardent RUSSOPHOBY. God with us! We shall pass through the fire, storm and the walls – and we shall win the ultimate victory over degenerate, antichristian, pervert and hypocritical West!

  • periclesdestro

    So when will you Brits punish Turkey for its Hitler like invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus? You have military bases in Cyprus don’t you? Why is Turkey still in NATO? But somehow what Russia did is badder. So far the Crimean invasion and occupation by Russia resulted in less dead (as in zero dead) and zero ethnic cleansing unlike the blood bath in Northern Cyprus and ethnic cleansing that followed the Turkish northern occupation. You are a Brit, I bet you know some fellow Brit who bought a vacation home that used to belong to a now refugee victim in Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus. But Putin is the bad guy and a new Hitler…….Spare us.

  • MassiveEUloverboy

    The solutions posted below are all really constructive. You guys really should be in charge.

    • Cyril Sneer

      Nothing constructive in your post I see.

      The EU and US could try not undermining a government by orchestrating and financing a rather undemocratic coup… that would be a constructive start.

  • Andrew Constantine

    There seem to be an awful lot of Russian trolls posting on coverage of Russia’s illegal and aggressive action in seeking to annex the Crimea.

    I think the Spectator needs to help educate some of its subscribers.

    I would also like to see The Spectator taking a close look at the state of our armed forces. They have been filleted by both Labour and the Tories this past generation.

    • Cyril Sneer

      I don’t think there are any Russian trolls here… just people who have an opinion that differs from yours.

  • wchancellor

    Metatags advertisers and Neocons love–‘Nazi’, ‘Hitler’–are in this piece, but it is more cheap polemic than analysis. Ukraine had long been a regime-change objective for the US and the Globalists, even if Europe would never have picked this timing for its lack of a Federal mandate to be exposed (again).

    The Crimean hsitory lesson is partially correct, but irrelevant in that Russia has a treaty-level security agreement with Ukraine over its fleet’s usse of ports and shipbuilding operations in Crimea, not to mention shipping commerce.

    Ukraine failed to provide assurance on Crimean security this week. Clearly, Putin violated international law moving troops into Crimea. In principle, he should ‘ve petitioned the Security Council, but time could not afford a laugh. While reasonable observers recognised mitigating circumstances and had hoped the US and its powers would seek resolution rather than mindless conflict, Putin lost me when his response to the pathetic statements out of Obama were to cite concerns for Russian-speaking ethnics.

    I think the risk of a cplit of the Ukraine nation should be separte from Crimea, but that may no longer matter.

  • Daniel Maris

    We have the West Lothian question –

    There is also a Scottish Question here…

    If it’s acceptable for Scotland – with its devolved government – to vote for independence, as Cameron and Hague think (since they have approved the referendum), then why is it not acceptable for Crimea?

    • Andrew Constantine

      The point at issue is that Russia has taken over by force of arms part of another sovereign country. In these actions, Russia is in clear breach of international law and some of us were hoping that in the 21st century the days of such illegal and aggressive annexations were long past.

      • Cyril Sneer

        Russia going into the Crimea was predictable to say the least.

        Obama’s impotency and weakness which is being exploited by Putin is also equally predictable.

  • anncalba

    We are lucky that we are an Island nation. In the last hundred years, the Ukraine has been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Poland, the USSR and then independent. Germany and Italy have been unfied countries for less than 200 years. Jugoslavia came and went; and so on. Greece and Bulgaria still have strong memories of being part of the Ottoman Empire. As Bob Marley saidl, “If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know where you’re coming from…” or, I could add, where you’r going to.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Has anyone yet observed what a disaster this government’s ‘foreign’ policy is. Ridiculed and dismissed by the EU, rebuffed by Merkel, ignored by Putin repeatedly and at times denounced by the US. Immigration and EU policies in tatters, questionable results in Libya, failure in Syria, retreat in Afghanistan and now complete impotence over the Ukraine. Not to mention stirrings of the troubles in Northern Ireland and a Scottish Independence referendum in the least integrated parts of the UK.

  • James Allen

    Only way of stopping Russian aggression – provide equal and opposite force. The UK should take the lead on this; even if USA doesn’t join now, it will when the stakes are raised. Obama is wasting an historic opportunity offered by the end of the Cold War to liberate Russian satellite states. If USA is not interested, UK certainly should. Time to reassert ourselves on the international stage (in this case, not so far from home).

    • the viceroy’s gin

      That post was hilarious. Thanks for that.

      • James Allen

        Glad to be of service. I’m simply making the point that the principal aim of war is to destroy the enemy’s will to resist. We seem to have given up before a shot has been fired. I’m arguing we shouldn’t give up so easily. I thank you.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …wait… that wasn’t satire? You really meant it?

          Goodness, lad, but you best go talk to your minister or something. Or a psychiatrist .

          • James Allen

            I’ll need a visit to the quack to get over the effect your devestating sense of humour has had on my self-confidence.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …no, stick to your problems with delusion. They’re more pressing.

    • rtj1211

      Were you the Leader of the Light Brigade in a previous incarnation?!

      • James Allen

        I reluctantly charged down the valley of death with my bowels exploding every 50 yards….

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …that would explain the content of your first post above, then.

  • Frank

    Fraser, would you really prefer an American President who went to war over the Crimea? I am quite certain that there are many other ways for America to stuff Putin and his cronies if that is what they decide to do.
    Putin does not come across as someone who is going to have a long retirement.

  • rtj1211

    Mr Fraser

    America loves dictators, so long as they are subservient to America. Or if they are strong enough to order America about. Think Kuwait, think Saudi Arabia, think the Emirati Royal Families, think Central American dictators for decades, think the Shah of Iran, think the Chilean who overthrew Allende, think any number of dictators in Africa.

    I don’t know where you went to school or University, but all this nonsense about ’emboldening dictators’ sits pretty ill with UK editors who fail to call for Tony Blair to be imprisoned for emboldening Al Qa’ida through his Iraq invasion and then earning an enormous crust helping, you guessed it, dictators.

    The British People are weary of a London establishment doing exactly as the Russian establishment does and bleating ‘we good, they bad’.

    We say: ‘you bad, they bad’ or ‘if they are bad, you are no better’.

    • Edmund burke326

      & Bahrain.

  • Bonkim

    and so he should. The case for Western intervention in Syria was much stronger than it is in Crimea or in eastern Ukraine and it failed there. The Russians are not bombing civilians indiscriminately, simply protecting those that hold allegiance to Mother Russia.

    Western Ukraine was taken over by fascist thugs that drove away the legitimate elected President – the west took sides and lost. I have no problem with that.

    Ukraine is bankrupt, corrupt – do you want hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flooding into Europe and Britain looking for work?

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    There aren’t any red lines and if there were they would be as worthless as his Syrian red lines.

    “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.” (Sarah Palin, 2008 Presidential Campaign)

    Oh, how they laughed!

  • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

    Have you noticed anything strange about the media coverage in the Ukraine? Notice we’re getting no news from the media on the massive convulsions taking place across Ukraine. Only selected areas of Kiev and Sevastopol are being reported on. Do you know why the media blackout? This is why…

    Russia is attempting to re-stabilize the Ukraine from a Communist strategist’s perspective, because spontaneous, non-government-sanctioned demonstrations broke out all over the Ukraine, toppling the statues of Lenin that were supposed to have been toppled 23-years ago.

    The collapse of the USSR was a strategic ruse, and such intervention allows Russia to enter CIS nations should there be real revolutions that attempt to topple Soviet era Communist Party member presidents and governments. That means those relatively weaker CIS governments have less territory to suppress true revolutions, since Russian military forces will handle the ethnic Russian territories.

    Now you know why Kiev demonstrators were assisting Ukraine security forces last week in guarding Kiev’e government buildings (including the President’s private residence outside Kiev!), because spontaneous, non-government approved demonstrations erupted all over the Ukraine, toppling the Lenin statues that were supposed to have been toppled 23-years go. As such , Ukraine’s security services were stretched thin, necessitating those security forces posing as demonstrators in Kiev to take up security positions in the capital.

    Now, take a look at the main paper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…

    http://www.redstar.ru/

    “Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for “Red Star”, the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper’s official designation is, “Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense.” Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin’s head, the man who removed the independent Russian nation from the map, supplanting it within the new nation called the USSR (the USSR being the nation that was to one day include all the nations of the Earth, incorporation taking place either by violent revolution or deception)! Those Soviet emblems and Lenin’s head can’t still be next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s newspaper due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution.

    Take a look at these pictures out of Russia…

    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Russia—Air/Antonov-An-12BK-PPS/1584360/L/

    and

    http://www.defencetalk.com/pictures/su-47-berkut-russia/p6041-su-47-berkut.html

    Then for Russian Naval vessels (take a look at what’s still appended to the bows)…

    http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/9225/

    Those pictures were taken in 2009, 2004 and 2013, respectively, not before the “collapse” of the USSR. As you can see, the distinct Soviet era nationality emblem of the Communist Party…the distinct-designed Red Star… is still present. That political symbol of the Soviet government would have been immediately removed in early 1992 if the “collapse” of the USSR were genuine. As the legal emblem of the USSR and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the distinctive Red Star nationality emblem can only be present if Communists are still in power in Russia and the other 14 republics that made up the USSR.

    Now, the distinct Soviet roundel (a roundel is the nationality emblem on military aircraft that identifies the nation the aircraft belongs to) is a five-pointed Red Star with a white border area and an outer thin red line, as the link immediately below shows…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:URSS-Russian_aviation_red_star.svg

    Now, take a look at the Soviet nationality roundel on a Russian military aircraft in 2009:

    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Russia—Air/Sukhoi-Su-25SM/1606418/L/

    Take a look at what’s still on Aeroflot aircraft…

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.airplane-pictures.net/images/uploaded-images/2013-8/31/316500.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.airplane-pictures.net/photo/316500/vp-bdn-aeroflot-airbus-a319/&h=853&w=1200&sz=342&tbnid=LpEalOG0f8GrcM:&tbnh=101&tbnw=142&zoom=1&usg=__G489DWC7zsP5bnmGg5-Pi0QB8xs=&docid=xUpoGn9FHxnMDM&sa=X&ei=evRRUtGuJNGs4APLsoDICg&ved=0CC4Q9QEwAA

    Note the Soviet emblem of the hammer & sickle stenciled on the Aeroflot aircraft’s fuselage!

    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, 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!

    Purpose for the fake Kiev protests…

    The protests were manufactured by Moscow in union with the Ukrainian government to facilitate Kiev “giving in” to the protesters’ demand that the Ukraine join the European Union Association, the ultimate purpose for joining so that the Ukraine will be one of the first nations to leave the EU, after it formally joins the EU, resulting in its collapse. The Ukraine’s exit will have a more dramatic effect because the Ukraine put up such a fight to join the EU in the first place. Europe will then form a new union with Russia, from the ‘Atlantic to Vladivostok’, which will accomplish two goals for Communist Strategists, (1) the further isolation of the United States in the world; and (2) the end of NATO.

    • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

      Part II

      Now read these two revealing quotes from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Shevardnadze, and what they have in mind for Europe in the near future:

      “Editor’s Note: The phrases ‘From the Atlantic to the Urals’, ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’ and ‘From Vancouver to Vladivostok’ are interchangeable in the strategists’ lexicon. In the course of his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, delivered in Oslo in June 1992, Gorbachev said: ‘Our [sic] vision of the European space from the Atlantic to the Urals is not that of a closed system. Since it includes the Soviet Union [sic], which reaches to the shores of the Pacific, it goes beyond nominal geographical boundaries’. Note that Gorbachev, who had been out of office for six months, referred to the Soviet Union, not Russia. In an interview on Moscow Television on 19 November 1991, Eduard Shevardnadze continued speaking as though he was still Soviet Foreign Minister: ‘I think that the idea of a Common European Home, the building of a united Europe, and I would like to underline today, of great Europe, the building of Great Europe, great, united Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Atlantic to Vladivostok, including all our territory, most probably a European-Asian space, this project is inevitable. I am sure that we will come to building a united military space as well. To say more precisely: we will build a united Europe, whose security will be based on the principles of collective security. Precisely, collective security’. These statements by key implementers of the strategy reflect the central strategic objective of asserting ‘irreversible’ Russian/Soviet hegemony over Eurasia, thus establishing the primary geographical component of the intended World Government.” — ‘The Perestroika Deception’, by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

      http://www.spiritoftruth.org/The_Perestroika_Deception.pdf

      and here’s more on the upcoming “Atlantic to Vladivostok” union…

      http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/interview/interview0004.html

  • Rossspeak

    Obama has issued the ultimate threat – he will boycott talks prior to the next G8 meeting. So there Putin – take that!!

    No doubt Putin is shaking in his boots tonight.

  • AndrewInterrupted

    I think he learned from the last red line, didn’t he?

  • The Bellman

    For Putin, this is domestic policy – on several levels – not foreign policy. His determination to ‘protect’ ‘Russians,’ and respond with force to popular uprisings, sends messages to his domestic opponents, and reinforces to his waning audience of populist nationalists that he’s the only one who can protect Russia’s dignity. Russians, not EU ‘diplomats’, ensure his influence.

    Plus he exploits moral relativism and moral confusion in the west; and, by seeking legal backing for intervention across Ukraine, not just Crimea, he maintains maximum freedom of action, ensuring the most complex possible options face the EU and the US. None can possibly know if he plans to invade until it’s too late, or unless they commit huge resource and risk portrayal as war-mongers can they even realistically prepare to deter it.

    It is very difficult to see how he fails to gain from this.

    • Noa

      A succinct, perceptive analysis, much more so that Mr Payne’s article.

    • Kate HA

      Superb, rational summary; “moral relativism” is the new religion of this batch of blubbering Billy Bunter politicians – over-indulged little boys with no experience of either meaningful political strategy or national obligation.

  • GenJackRipper

    Why would Obama need to care? He’s the president of the USA, not the world.

  • minh huynh

    obama already learn from his mistake, only bluffing. this time, Russia more serious than lastime Syria case, he is not tbat stupid to make himself look fool again

    • alabenn

      To late, he already has.
      Socialists never learn from their mistakes, otherwise they would have stopped believing in the nonsense around the time Stalin got his death total up to the 20+ million mark, they still believed after Mao doubled the Stalin total, there is no hope with these people.

    • The Laughing Cavalier

      Really?

  • Gary Smith

    Don’t go there ! All yea who does will perish . For gods sake have we learned nothing from history. East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet. Would we want Russia fucking with Scottish referendum no.

    • HookesLaw

      What a putrid comment. Totally facile as well.

    • Jambo25

      Apparently the British FO has already asked Putin to get involved in saying nice things about the UK and bad things about a possible independent Scotland.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and after all Fat Al has done for those commies, too…

        • Jambo25

          Story was reported in both he Russian and Scottish press.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …no doubt, and how treacherous of Putin to turn on his fellow commie Fat Al.

            • Jambo25

              Another one who thinks that insults trump rational argument.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …what insults, lad?

            • rtj1211

              Putin is not a commie. He just doesn’t let foreign raiders steal all Russia mineral assets for a song.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …call it whatever you like. He’s an corrupt authoritarian socialist, and you can call it fascist, communist or whatever you like, it’s all the same.

  • alabenn

    Well Fraser lets see what Obama is doing in Asia, the area you say he has turned his attention towards, China is slapping around its neighbours and its is waving its willy at Japan, Japan who the US is treaty bound to defend, would you as a Japanese citizen be very confident of him honouring this treaty, taking into account that the US was also treaty bound to help Ukraine via the Budapest-memorandum-, Britain is a signatory along with Russia.
    Everywhere Obama has turned his attention too ends up in flames, Syria, Egypt and Libya, even his ambassador there ended up in flames, expect trouble in Taiwan, The Philippines, and Japan to go along with Burma and other weak countries on its border.
    No one in the World respects or fears the US now and it shows in the contempt that is shown to Obama.
    Who actually won the Cold War, the West have certainly lost the so called peace.

    • rtj1211

      Nobody respected Bush’s lot either: they thought they were mad aggressive warmongers who caused more death and destruction than any Russian President since 1991.

      Human beings don’t want the first response to every disagreement to be killing innocent people.

      Wars benefit very rich people and always kill poor people.

      • alabenn

        Because the clowns at the BBC and the media projected him as a fool does not mean the rest of the world did, they also feared him because of his actions whether right or wrong.
        They openly sneer at the US because of Obama, because he is a little boy lost in his current occupation and if he lashes out as little boys are wont to do, it will be the wrong place/person that will suffer.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Barack Obama is no B A Baracus.

  • D Whiggery

    Obama is a disaster for the West.

    Either you issue a warning, specify the consequences if it isn’t heeded and carry them out when its not, or you stop issuing warnings.

  • starfish

    Whatever The One decides his cheerleaders in the BBC will laud his Solomon-like wisdom

  • Earlshill

    Putin won’t have to invade and Ukraine won’t be partitioned. The teenage revolutionaries in Kiev will run out of money within the next two weeks and the Ukraine Armed forces will step in and take control. Their arms are supplied by the Russians and their officer class is trained by the Russians. New elections will be held within six months and a new set of political puppets will be put in control.
    The interesting lesson of the last few months is the naivety of the EU negotiators who attached conditions to their offer of a free trade agreement (DCFTA) with the Ukraine which they knew would be unacceptable to the Russians. Why did they do this? Simple EU hubris?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The Speccie kids should hire you to write about this. Your post is the best thing I’ve seen written yet. The money will decide matters, I agree.

      It’s EU hubris, yes, but the Germans fear the Russians, and NATO still exists and wants to roll them back. And the West wants energy flows from the ‘Stan countries to come to them unfettered. So there’s method to this madness. And Putin wants to control the taps, same as ever.

      • anncalba

        Was in Crimea in October, just before the promised, and cancelled, referendum. Everywhere we went, we were told of the horror of the Germans in WWII, shown monuments to heroic resistance to the Nazis, and so on. The situation is far more complex than the media tell us.

    • global city

      Yes. The EU panjandrums have been given free reign in negotiations with Ukraine, presumably as a dry run for the day when they take over ALL foreign relations ‘on behalf’ of the members.

      Their ineptitude shines as brilliantly in Ukraine as it does in any area where the EU has exclusive competence. This is the future as far as dealing with the world, if we remain tied to this dead dog.

      We really should have nothing to do with this odd, continental elite construct.

      • Pip

        I would like to see a demand for a public enquiry into the EUs role in this and especially that of Baroness Ashton, she needs to be held to account.

        • Kate HA

          No chance. Such people are never called to account. The ghastly uninformed and linguistically illiterate Ashton – knows no other language but English – is a placement. She has NO political, diplomatic or foreign policy experience. She has NEVER been elected to represent any UK constituency.

          Her political career began in 1999 when she was created a Life Peer by the Labour Government. Under this government she was made the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Dept of Education and Skills in 2001 and subsequently Under-Secretary of State in the Dept for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice in 2004. She was made a Privy Councillor (PC) in May 2006. Ashton was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council in Gordon Brown’s first cabinet in June 2007. She was instrumental in steering the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon through the UK’s upper chamber.

          • Pip

            Simple solution, introduce a law that requires that all Government Ministers, Lords or Quango Chiefs must have been previously elected MPs.

      • Theodoxia

        Free rein.

        • global city

          Yes.. thanks!
          I’m afraid that correcting my mistakes and typos would take half the time you intend to spend on this forum!

    • Jambo25

      If that happens then the Ukrainian army will split and those from Western Ukraine will fight those from the Eastern Ukraine. It could end up as the Spanish Civil War on steroids.

      • Wessex Man

        It won’t end up as the Spanish Civil War because the West is so feeble no one will stand up for the Western Ukrainians as they didn’t stand up for Georgia. I bet Putin rubbed his hands and said lovely gubbly as the Amazonian Baroness Ashton wobbled in with the EU support.

        • Jambo25

          Well in that case welcome to Russia’s new Afghanistan.

          • Wessex Man

            no chance absolutely no chance and I say that with a sense of sadness, the Russians have slowly been building themselves up for this one in the certain knowledge there will be no Yank backing of the Ukrainians as there was the Afghanis.

            • Jambo25

              Wouldn’t be too sure of that. There was a sizable Ukrainian guerrilla war after WW2 which lasted, by some reckoning, into the early 50s. That was at a time when there were no ‘friendly’ borders next to Ukraine.

              • Tom Tom

                Yes but Kim Philby delivered them up on a regular basis

                • Jambo25

                  True. A lot of people who write into the Speccie and Grauniad probably still think he was a hero for doing that.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Putin ruthlessly snuffs out opposition, as we see in Chechnya. So will his proxies, once they solidify their position.

              • allymax bruce

                This will last for a few years, at least.

    • Whizjet

      And of course, the Russian hand on the gas pipe valve will have implications; and for more than just the Ukraine.

    • Bonkim

      Some truth in what you say.

  • Curnonsky

    Japan will now know that China will move to seize the Senkaku islands and Obama will not lift a finger. This is a watershed moment for the decline of American power.

    • George Hayes

      Obama is going to become Yanukovich of west…

      • Curnonsky

        Don’t forget, comrade, that in English we use “the” quite a lot (unlike in Russian). What has happened to the FSB language school?

  • George Hayes

    I’m an expat working in south of Russia and would like to suggest stop mentioning Putin and name people of Russia when discussing Crimea subject. Some of you should come here and see the rise of national unity and patriotic pride of Russians. Again, these are Russians, but not Putin. And before mentioning Sudetenland, remind oneself vast colonial conquer of countries not even in mere proximity of green and pleasant land of plenty Albion.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Putin.

      Putin.

      Putin. Putin. Putin. Putin. Putin.

      He’s the guy that runs the authoritarian state you mentioned, lad.

      • George Hayes

        What is differs us from mentioned state… Hoping to get referendum on EU closer to 3016. Isn’t it authoritarian?

        • Daniel Maris

          Look, if you want to pose as “George Hayes” please go back to KGB language school and complete the English course.

          • George Hayes

            I had one in MI6… It is my proamerican spellcheck on ipad! :))) Jobs did his job!

            • Daniel Maris

              No one says “mentioned state”. Old people might say “aforementioned state” but that would be very rare. Back to school.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, you have a point there. The EUSSR is an authoritarian state.

      • Daniel Maris

        LOL – you didn’t realise he’s a Russian Internetski? Calling him lad!! LOL

        • George Hayes

          Rather chap! Plebs!

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …is that what the voices are telling you, lad?

    • HookesLaw

      Putin is only in power because of rigged elections. He is not popular – which is probably why he wants to sabre rattle.

      Crimea is an autonomous parliamentary republic within the Ukraine. So it is already semi detached as the article outlines. There is a referendum about its future in May. That should be a free and open vote. The UN should make it so. But if it decides to become an autonomous republic within Russia instead – then so be it. Ukraine elections should be monitored as well.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, “the UN should make it so”, by waving their magic wand and jabbering incoherently and so forth and so on. And there should be voting. Free and open. And it should be monitored. Harumph.

        Glad we have all that said, so you can feel better about things, lad. I mean, it’s not like there’s a history of authoritarianism and corruption that would swamp you socialists’ blind belief in the UN’s and the EU’s magical powers to wave magic wands and so forth.

        So relax. You’re covered. The requisite jaw jacking to make you socialists feel better is accomplished. Carry on.

        • Daniel Maris

          You think Crimea is Ukrainian? I suppose from N America everything just turns into a sort of European mush.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …did the voices give you that idea, lad?

      • George Hayes

        Don’t mind on rigging elections, then Rebeca Brooks is my Prime Minister!

      • Daniel Maris

        That would be the best outcome for Ukraine. They really shouldn’t try and hang on to Crimea. Do a deal – a deal which allows Ukraine to become part of the EU.

      • rtj1211

        Bush was only in power because of hanging chads, too. The Labour Party of the UK organises strange postal vote practices.

    • Daniel Maris

      You’re an expat who can’t speak English? Not saying that’s impossible – just intrigued…sure you’re not at KGB Internet Infilitration Centre?

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Do we really need to go there again?
    Krimskoye and Beluga caviar will not tempt the BBQ burger boys, only the Hamburgers.

    • Jambo25

      Quite partial to black caviar on blinis with chilled vodka or Russian Champagne. Last time I had it was in a nice hotel restaurant along Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg. We were meant to be going on to the Mariinsky for some opera highlights but that scumbag, Putin, had taken it over for some G8 shindig so we ended up in the Smolny Cathedral for a musical presentation of Russian choral and piano music. How can such a cultured people end up with such horrible political leaders and systems?

      Incidentally, the Smolny is very beautiful and has superb acoustics.

  • London Calling

    Agreed Fraser…………the lines however are invisible to Putin let alone having color………….Obama may talk tough but really they are just words like naked aggression by the Ukraine……..lets see how far Putin is willing to play this out without losing face…………:)

  • colliemum

    This is now getting out of hand. Not the situation in the Ukraine, but in the reporting and in the ‘thought pieces’ of you journalists (I’m being polite).
    Hague speaks like someone who hasn’t done his homework – in last November, as Yanukovich refused to sign the infamous EU Treaty.
    Obama by now knows exactly what is happening on the Crimea – his fleet which was stationed in the vicinity of Sochi is now on the way back and in the Western Black Sea near the Crimea.
    Does it occur to you hacks that perhaps, just perhaps, he – and Hague – know what is really going on, and are playing Grand Theatre to look good for you lot? I mean – there’s the NSA, there’s our own little secret spy station: do you really think they’ve suddenly gone blind?
    What you lot better not forget is than one reason the world slid into WWI a hundred years ago was the propaganda on all sides which crowed that a war was needed – was inevitable – was going to be the right thing to do. Now we’re hearing the same again from you lot. Just stop it – we know more than you do.

    • The Bellman

      The ‘fleet’ sent to the Black Sea for the Olympics – as far as can be determined from open sources – consists of one frigate, the USS Taylor, which ran aground a few days ago; and the USS Mount Whitney, a command and control vessel; plus the land-based Black Sea Rotational Force of a battle group plus primarily of USMC with highly limited operational/tactical mobility. It’s not exactly the 6th Fleet and the 82nd Airborne.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    “What about that 1994 document signed in Budapest, theoretically obliging American and Britain to defend Ukraine?”

    .

    Of all the fantastical rantings in this blogpost, lad, this may be the most fantastical.

    Do you seriously believe that’s what happened in 1994 in Budapest, even “theoretically”? I mean, seriously, do you actually think that way?!?

    You Speccie kids really need to shut down those computers, go find some books, get quiet and start educating yourselves. It’s shameful what you blather. Take your time. You have a lot of work to do.

    • southerner

      That statement appears to have been removed from the original article. You think Fraser has actually read the Budapest memorandum properly now?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well first, he shouldn’t have to read it, to understand that what he was blathering was absurd. A proper understanding of historical geopolitics and diplomacy would surface that absurdity, and the blathering should never have come about. The blathering just revealed his ignorance and lack of education, for all to see. That’s what’s so shameful here… the flaunting ignorance.

        • southerner

          It is what passes for enlightened comment in much of the MSM these days. Little more than a teenage debating society.

    • global city

      Bizarrely, as I was reading your post Hague came onto the TV mentioning this fantastical document… seems that the claim is correct, just as it was with regards to Belgium and Poland!

      Scary things, airily made commitments.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No, it’s not correct. The US made no “treaty”, certainly, as those have to go through Congress. NATO didn’t commit to go to war over Ukraine, either.

        This is just Londonistan bubble claptrap, which they repeat to each other until they convince themselves it’s true.

        • McClane
          • the viceroy’s gin

            …was there some reason you directed your post at me, lad?

        • The Laughing Cavalier

          It is not a treaty but a Memorandum. iI does, however, place mutual defence obligations on the parties. Lawyers are poring all over it as we all write, searching desperately for loopholes.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            No, it places nothing on anybody, first and foremost because the only party that matters would be the US, and nothing in that document is valid or operative, as mentioned above. You know that now, and the people signing that knew it back then.

  • methodius

    Ukraine is not a real country, the sooner its splits up the better for everyone. Mind you there are plenty other examples in western europe, Belgium, Scotland, Catalonia…

  • CraigStrachan

    Crimea means a great deal more to Russia than to the United States. I expect Putin will be willing to go a lot further in securing Russian interests there than Obama will go in defending Crimean or Ukrainian sovereignty. As well that Ukraine understands that.

  • pp22pp

    The West has been stirring the pot in Ukraine in the sure and certain knowledge that it would provoke the Russians. They have finally succeeded. Why they want to restart the Cold War is beyond me.

    And the analogy of Hitler and the Sudetenland is frankly silly. Pure Reductio ad Hitlerum. You really do need to come up with some better analogies.

    • David Lindsay.

      The relevance of Hitler here is that the Western Ukrainians staffed his special SS squads and camps.
      Putin is thankfully bent on putting them down.
      And Obama does not have the balls to stop him.

      • Dicky14

        You do realise that was 70 odd years ago and is totally irrelevant?

        • David Lindsay.

          It is in the blood.

          • global city

            Funny how on most other measures you would be too liberal left to make such a stupid remark.

            • Dicky14

              I think he’d like someone to invade Germany or something. Funny how you never get Telemachus and Lindsay in the same room together.

              • David Lindsay.

                Understand that the fascist mob that high jacked Kiev earlier in the week are a threat to the educated Russian minority.
                In truth Obama needs to encourage Putin.

                • Jambo25

                  “Educated Russian minority”. Do you mean the group of thick necked paramilitary thugs we’ve been seeing on the news broadcasts?

            • alabenn

              Report him to the Labour politburo, he will be expelled for racism.

              • telemachus

                David is correct on this
                The Russians with their superior intellect and culture are revolted by the actions of the Ukrainians in the service of the Third Reich

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Too funny. Now you are posting your usual nonsense under two pseudonyms and agreeing with yourself.

                  And the Spectator condones this deceptive nonsense on its blog?

                • Kate HA

                  It is not deceptive nonsense. In reality the situation in the Ukraine is complex – too many invasions, too many boundary changes, too many conflicting identities, linguistic differences, historical loyalties. These people are an interesting mix of Austrian, Hungarian, Polish, Lithuanian and Russian. They ‘think’ and react differently to complacent Brits protected for centuries by the sea until that is, when NuLabour ‘invited’ in their chosen hordes of disaffected aliens.

                  We should not make the same mistake as our self-anointed political ‘Betters’ have made in their dealings with Islam.

          • Jambo25

            F.cking racist. Is it also in the blood of Russians to starve Ukrainians to death in terror famines?

            • George Hayes

              What a nonsense! Ukraine exist because of Bolsheviks!

              • Daniel Maris

                You’re getting a bit too excited there George. Remember you are supposed to be an English “gent” as they say at KGB language school.

                Incidentally is it the law that the Prime Minister of Russia has to be smaller than the Putin, difficult though that it must be to find persons to fit that role?

                • George Hayes

                  …an English “a-gent”?

              • Jambo25

                Ukraine was a part of the old Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth as long as it was part of Russia. The Western section was run by Austria-Hungary for more than a century. The lovely (mainly Russian) Bolshevik regime murdered up to 6,000,000 Ukrainians during the Terror Famine. Ukrainians have fought several wars to try and gain freedom from Russian control.

          • kyalami

            Fortunately, that remark is neither racist nor xenophobic.

          • Wessex Man

            You sad bast****!

        • Kate HA

          ” … totally irrelevant”? Not in Eastern Europe or Russia. The UK escaped occupation; those countries which experienced it have much longer memories … their versions of their own history is still taught with pride. I am in contact with a number of well-educated Poles and Russians; unlike our own dear land where the megalomaniac ideologues Blair, Horrible Harriet et al conspired to reduce British identity and pride to either shame or ignorance.

    • D Whiggery

      “Why they want to restart the Cold War is beyond me.”

      To keep Europe together.

      • pp22pp

        Good point.

      • MirthaTidville

        But very thoughtless since they have dismantled most of our armed forces, which the Russians haven`t, at least not to the same extent..

      • George Hayes

        EU is another Soviet Union with commissars and troika style apparatchiks, wondering around and counting our money…

        • Daniel Maris

          George, your English spelling is a little problematic.

          • Wessex Man

            is that the best you can do, sad.

      • Whizjet

        Great insight, and bang on the money.

        • D Whiggery

          It’s not exactly subtle is it. Provoke the Russian bogeymen just before the EU elections and even organize the Ukranian presidential election on the same day as the EU parliamentary elections.

          “Vote for Europa otherwise the Ruskies will invade us all!”

          • Whizjet

            It doesn’t need to be subtle – the majority of Western voters are focussed on their own ‘rights’, their own prosperity and whose fault it is that they do not have everything they want. They understand neither geopolitics nor basic economic arithmetic, only looking for that next flat screen TV, holiday, or date with Miley Cyrus.

      • Kate HA

        and expanding … the sparkling brilliance of Baroness Ashton’s demeanour and intellect will surely win the day!!

    • Pip

      It all boils down to the fact that the Shadowy Elite that control the West have hidden agenda that is not always in our best interests, this is why we all need to become more informed and vote accordingly before one day soon we find our Democracy taken from us by those who would control us. Out Political Class are merely hand puppets of this Elite, that’s why they rarely seem to be acting in our interests and that’s why they all need removing from power and many of them ought to be investigated and prosecuted for Treason and Malfeasance.

    • Tom Tom

      Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria – Keitel was hanged at Nuremberg for what NATO does on a regular basis

  • Daniel Maris

    You left out just one little thing Fraser – what exactly you expect Obama to do.

    Any military response would be highly irresponsible.

    Detachment of the Crimea in return for genuine respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity by Russia would be a good deal I think – but could Russia be trusted?

    Incidentally I don’t agree with you that Putin has nothing to gain from invading Ukraine. Had he done nothing, he would have been perceived as weak and the risk of copy-cat street protests growing in Russia would have been there. By sending in troops in unleashes unifying Russian patriotism.

    • George Hayes

      Right to the point… Absolutely correct!

  • Barakzai

    ‘The buck stops here,’ said the sign on the doughty Harry Truman’s desk. Obama wouldn’t understand that sign if he tripped over it.

    • David Lindsay.

      Yankee Presidents need a Blair to give them backbone.
      There is no Blair in Europe just now.

      • pp22pp

        Blair is a war criminal who told whoppers to get us involved in a ruinously expensive war in Iraq. He should be extradited to Baghdad for trial and (hopefully) slow execution.

        Not content with blowing up brown people in their own countries, he decided to import millions of them into ours, thereby wrecking the place. I believe he did it to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”.

        Britain does not need Blair. Europe does not. Nobody does. It’s an indictment of Britain that that evil man has not be punished for his crimes.

        • David Lindsay.

          I guess the point was that in Blair we had a Titan who by force of his personality drove George W to act as his action arm in sticking it to the Muslim dogs (to please the Pope)

          • colliemum

            A far better example would of course have been Mrs Thatcher, who told Bush I not to go wobbly, at the time of the First Gulf War.

            • David Lindsay.

              Major, hardly a ball of fire was the first Gulf war British PM.
              The key backbone in that war was Colin Powell who stiffened Secretary of State Baker to lead Barbara Bush(the de facto President) into war

      • D Whiggery

        It’s because of Blair that no-one listens to the West anymore. We no longer occupy the moral high ground and that was always our most powerful weapon. Thanks to Tony we threw it away.

        • telemachus

          I have been keeping a watching brief
          Whiggery, you have a powerful point
          Blair was a bad bad man
          Harrow down Hill woods in Oxfordshire showed us the colour of his moral compass
          And he was a notorious revisionist on all things social
          Thank God that his Chancellor kept him in check

          • Colonel Mustard

            But you still voted for him three times and endorsed him then as you endorse Miliband now.

            You are bogus. Bereft of integrity. A deceiver of unknown origin and peddling here for some unknown purpose. A dark, dissembling creature of mischief and provocation.

            ‘Watching brief’? Another reason not to bother with this blog which singlehandedly you have tainted from the very first day you arrived with your shape-shifting provenance.

            • Darnell Jackson

              Why don’t you just ignore him? It is pointless stressing about something you are unable to change.

              I enjoy your contributions and hope you continue to post them.

            • gerontius

              Why are you bothering to engage with him?

        • Whizjet

          DW – that one-liner is possibly the single most important point anyone has made.
          And the rest of the world knows it, too.

      • CraigStrachan

        “There is no Blair in Europe just now.”

        Thank f*ck for that.

    • Ron Todd

      The one on Obama’s desk reads ‘the buck starts here’

    • Daniel Maris

      Didn’t Harry Truman “lose” China?

      • Bonkim

        Good he did that – China and the US were allies then.

  • David Lindsay.

    Obama is a tissue paper tiger.
    Even if he were not what could he do?
    I do not see the American fleet within 1000 miles of Sevastopol.
    The American people remember the stories of Ukrainian camp guards and secretly support Putin.

    • Jambo25

      There’s that racism of yours again. What is it with you? Did Mrs Lindsay run off with a big, butch Ukrainian?

      • Wessex Man

        probably, it really is amazing that this Socialist ranter is trying to justify Russian actions with his disgusting comments relating to WW2, he seems to conveniently forget how many Ukrainians Uncle Joe dispatched before, during and after WW2.

        • Jambo25

          He also seems to forget that very large numbers of ethnic Russians fought for the Wehrmacht and SS as well. The Vlasov army, for example.

    • Kennybhoy

      Who are you? You are not “oor” David Lindsay…

      • gerontius

        He first put in an appearance some 3 months ago and has only made 101 comments.
        he’s an imposter I guess, trying to benefit from the real David’s reputation for good sense and moderation.

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