Skip to comments.Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality: Putin Channels Nicholas I
Posted on 02/26/2014 7:54:56 PM PST by No One Special
The situation in Ukraine continues to be fraught. The Rada is quite predictably having difficulties forming a government, even though every moment without one delays the countrys ability to deal with a looming economic crisis. Many in the Euromaidan movement are deeply suspicious that what will emerge from the legislative haggling will be a case of Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss. Pro-Ukrainian Tatars scuffled and then routed a group of pro-Russian demonstrators in front of the Crimean parliament.
In other words, the typical chaos of a revolution.
Though Putin remains silent, other Russian rhetoric is vituperative and hysterical. Most notably, the Foreign Ministry-you know, the entity that is supposed to be where suave diplomats craft high sounding language-more resembles an agitprop outlet. You really have to read the whole thing to get the full effect.
One thing jumped out at me:
We are deeply concerned about the actions in the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada in terms of their legitimacy. Actually referring to the revolutionary appropriateness only, they are stamping decisions and laws, including those aimed at deprivation of humanitarian rights of Russians and other national minorities living in Ukraine.
There are calls to prohibition the Russian language almost fully, lustration, liquidation of parties and organisations, closing of undesirable mass media, removal of restrictions for propaganda of Nao-Nazi ideology.
The course is to suppress those, who do not agree to this, in different Ukrainian regions by dictatorship and even terrorist methods.
There are threats to Orthodox sanctities.
Note the assertion that Russians are a national minority group in Ukraine. This lays the predicate for future Russian government intervention in the country, in a sort of Sudetenland strategy. Also note the invocation of Orthodox sanctities.
This is right out of the 1830s, the age of Nicholas I, who stood for Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality. There it is, all in one MFA statement.
Nicholas I backed his words with bayonets and sabers, notably in Poland and Bessarabia. Today Russia rattled sabers, putting troops amounting to about one-third of the Russian Army on alert in the western part of the country. Notably, the troops included airborne troops and long-range military transport aircraft, the very units that would be used to intervene in Ukraine.
I dont believe anything is imminent. But nor do I believe Defense Minister Shoigus risible statement that the alert has nothing to do with Ukraine. Using alerts and maneuvers is a time-tested way of sending signals about capabilities and intent. Thats what is happening here. It is a way of showing that there are forces to back up the Foreign Ministrys words.
Given the chaos in Ukraine, Putin has many measures short of war that he can use to influence the situation. Economic pressure: yesterday Russia invoked health fears relating to African swine flu to threaten an embargo on Ukrainian agricultural imports. The Russians cast doubt on the ability of the Ukrainian government to maintain safety standards in light of the ongoing chaos. Gas. Bribery. Fomenting civil strife in Crimea and other areas with large populations of Russian speakers. Fomenting conflict within the Rada (never a difficult task: given the prevalence of fisticuffs there Klitschko should feel right at home).
I anticipate that Russia will engage in a full-spectrum campaign using all of these measures to achieve the long term project of bringing Ukraine to heel. Military action is not imminent, but the creation of the predicate for intervention and the demonstration of the ability to undertake it is clearly intended to intimidate Ukraine, and to keep it from getting too close to the west and to deter it from acting too aggressively in response to other Russian provocations.
Remember that Russia did not roll into South Ossetia or Abkhazi precipitously. That only followed a long campaign of active measures within these regions, blood curdling rhetoric directed at the Georgian government, political operations within Georgia, and a steady campaign of military measures short of war (e.g., shooting down Georgian drones, building military roads and railroads to the border of the disputed territories).
Anticipate similar pressures here. Ukraine is in for a long battle against an implacable foe, one who is no doubt all the more determined to avenge the humiliation suffered at the very time he expected to bask in the glory of a successful Olympics.
very good article. Accurate—Russia will not act—only re-act. But, it forced to act they will be swift and bloody. Time to take things one step at a time and seek the peace table rather than follow ancient hates.
Ukraine is throwing off the Russian yoke, which was being reimposed by the dictator wannabee Pooty-Poot. Any crackdown on organizations by Ukraine is to obliterate Putin’s fifth columnists.
Thanks No One Special.
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