Russia

Vladimir Putin: The Biggest Loser in Sochi and Ukraine

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With the rapid developments in Ukraine, it is difficult at this point to make any predictions. No one knows how far Russia's now-certain military intervention will go—or whether the revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych will succeed in steering the country toward freedom and prosperity. But one thing is already clear: the past two weeks' biggest loser is Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose rout in Ukraine has further soured the already dubious triumph of the Sochi Olympics. It is almost a storybook tale of hubris, humiliation, and poetic justice.

Both Sochi and Ukraine have been, for Putin, intensely personal high-stakes projects. The Sochi Olympics were going to be a showcase for the might and splendor of the new Russia. Ukraine was going to be the biggest piece in rebuilding the post-Soviet Russian Empire.

It is important to remember that the 2004-2005 "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine (its name derived from the ribbons worn by protesters in the huge demonstrations that led to Yanukovych's first ouster, forcing a revote after he stole an election) played a key role in shaping Putin's attitudes. The spectacle of his ally's downfall caused him to become far more hostile to domestic dissent and far more paranoid about foreign threats. 

In the official lingo of the Kremlin and its loyalists, "orange" became a generic term for subversive movements supposedly created and manipulated by Western powers for the purpose of installing friendly regimes. It is very likely that Putin and the Putinistas sincerely believe their own propaganda: the idea that people would spend days camping out on a square in the bitter cold simply because they are outraged by election fraud simply does not compute in their thoroughly cynical minds, so the alternative explanation must be that someone is paying them off. (That "someone," of course, is the perfidious West, and Uncle Sam in particular.) The pro-Kremlin media and leaders of loyalist groups have routinely spoken of "the orange threat" within Russia itself, using the word as a slur against the opposition.

In the last several years, Putin saw a chance to bring Ukraine back into the fold. The Orange Revolution ended in disenchantment as its leaders, President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, failed to improve the economy or rein in corruption and became mired in squabbles. The once-popular Yushchenko received just over five percent of the vote in the first round of the 2010 presidential elections; Tymoshenko was narrowly defeated by Yanukovych in the runoff. (In view of Russian complaints about pro-Orange U.S. interference, it is ironic that Yanukovych owed his victory in large part to an image makeover assisted by American political consultants with Republican Party ties.)

As Ukrainian journalist and political analyst Olena Tregub noted in a 2010 article, Yanukovych's victory did not represent a rejection of the Orange Revolution's ideals. While stressing friendly ties to Russia, he also advocated a closer relationship with the European Union, stating on more than one occasion that EU integration was a top foreign policy priority for Ukraine and was not only a strategic goal but a "civilizational choice." 

Last fall, it seemed that Yanukovych would live up to his promises: Ukraine was poised for a major trade deal with the EU that would have put it on track to eventual EU membership. But Putin was not about to let that happen. Moscow stepped in, employing its usual carrot-and-stick tactics to scuttle the agreement: threats of trade retaliation coupled with promises of benefits if Ukraine backed out. On November 21, Yanukovych announced that the deal was off—sparking nonstop protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the birthplace of the Orange Revolution. The announcement, on December 17, that the Kremlin was rewarding the Yanukovych regime with a big discount on natural gas and $15 billion in purchases of Ukrainian government bonds, further angered the opposition: the sweetheart deal—which Yanukovych openly admitted had been fast-tracked by Putin—was seen as evidence that the regime was selling out Ukraine's national interests. Few doubted that Russian largesse would benefit primarily Yanukovych and his cronies and henchmen, not ordinary Ukrainian citizens.

The rest, of course, is now history.

As the protests began on November 22, Ukrainian journalist Vitaly Portnikov wrote on the independent Russian website, Grani.ru: 

Putin must be overjoyed: he wanted to keep Ukraine from making the European choice, and he managed to pull it off. But in reality, he has lost Ukraine, because people will now link the collapse of their hopes not only with Yanukovych but with Russia. … Even as he engages in a mythical confrontation with the West and Europe, Putin de facto undermines his country's prestige in the eyes of the nations most favorably disposed toward Russia.

Just three months later, it looks like Portnikov's prediction has come true.

Even in the event of Kremlin-backed Crimean secession, the fact remains that Ukraine has decisively rejected Russia's patronage—and the question of "who lost Ukraine" for Russia has a simple answer: Putin. His determination to prevent Ukraine's rapprochement with the EU has backfired beyond his worst nightmare.

Indeed, intervention in the Crimea (where, at last report, Russian troop movements around Russia's naval base in Sevastopol have been accompanied by the activities of pro-Russia armed militias elsewhere) may backfire even more.  As Portnikov points out in a new column, while Russia may succeed in engineering Crimea's secession and turning it into a pseudo-autonomous client state, the costs of such a move (both political and economic) are likely to outweigh the benefits.  Crimea's economy revolves heavily around tourism—mostly from Ukraine. As a de facto occupied hot spot, the region will require major subsidies to stay afloat. What's more, even if most of its ethnic Russian majority supports Russia, divisions will still loom large. Besides the local Ukrainians, there are Crimean Tatars (280,000 strong and making up about 13 percent of peninsula's total population), who have little affection for Moscow; complicating matters even further, Turkey takes a strong interest in their situation.

The fact that this crisis unfolded right in the middle of the Sochi Olympics has an almost uncanny symbolism—particularly since the Olympics, like the dream of imperial revival, were a monument to Putin's hubris. Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russian program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin that the Olympics had never before been "so identified with the leader of the host country." And yet Putin's attempt to play Olympian god ran into a series of largely self-inflicted defeats—from the pick of a semitropical location with a climate ill-suited for winter sports and with no infrastructure to support the games (but one that just happens to be Putin's favorite vacation spot) to exceedingly bad pre-Olympics press over Russia's new anti-gay legislation.

What next for Putin? As he watches Ukraine, there is little doubt that the Russian leader has nightmare visions of Russia turning orange. In the short term, Ukraine's revolution will likely mean an even harsher crackdown on the opposition in Russia to prevent such a development; it is also likely that the violence of the past few days in Kiev will be used by Russian propagandists to frighten Russians into believing that authoritarianism is the only alternative to deadly turmoil. But if there's one thing the events in Ukraine show, it's that the best-laid plan of authoritarian strongmen often go awry.

An earlier version of this column appeared at Real Clear Politics.

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  1. Putin : “I still have armies in the Ukraine”

      1. Ironically, that guy looks more Russian than Ukrainian.

  2. Its a little early to say Putin was routed in the Ukraine. We’ll see, but the odds-on outcome is that Putin adds Crimea, at a minimum, to his budding empire. Strategically, that’s the most valuable part of Ukraine, because its the part with most of the gas pipelines. He could wind up as well or better off, in terms of leverage over Europe (and the “rump” Ukraine) than he was before.

    1. Putin can throttle the input of gas to those pipelines in case he wants to remind Europe where heat and chemical feedstocks come from. He actually did this back in 2005, claiming that Ukraine was bleeding off gas or weren’t paying enough for it. Germany was most affected, but ripple effects reminded everyone who it is that controls a noticeable amount of Europe’s energy supply.

      1. Let him do it. I am sure that a Western bloc can overcome some tinpot’s move to cut off his nose to spite his face.

        1. You may be assuming a level of political will/competence on the part of this Western bloc which may not materialize in practice.

          1. Playing the old antibear colonialist game is not a receipe for success.

            And Yurop has only got itself to blame for loss of energy sources; well, they still can buy a few Russian fast breeder reactors…

      2. Ukraine has large gas reserves. They can and will drill and Putin will lose that leverage.

      3. …bleeding off gas…

        In the nat gas industry, companies pay for pipeline access by buying a slightly larger volume than is delivered. Typically, this is between 1-3%, depending on how far the gas is pumped.

    2. It’s too bad Russian ally Syria is in the way of building a pipeline from Qatar through Turkey and the Bosporus to the EU, isn’t it?

  3. I think by now Putin already has occupied the whole Krim peninsula, so he seems to be doing just fine.

    1. Hmm.. Somehow I just can’t bring myself to believe that Putin is losing a lot of sleep right now. There’s been a lot of hand wringing coming from the west for years about him and his nation’s actions, but no real consequences. His opponents in this little game of risk are hapless and he knows it, so whatever missteps he might make, it never seems to cost him. What’s to worry about?

      1. Yeah, this. What does Putin have to worry about? The U.S. and NATO won’t intervene militarily, which pretty much leaves Ukraine on its own. I suppose some countries could impose their own economic sanctions against Russia, but I have a hard time seeing Europe doing so given their dependence on Russian gas. UN action is impossible because Russia has a veto. The simple truth of the matter is that Ukraine isn’t strategically important enough for anyone to really stop Putin and Russia from doing whatever they want.

        1. He can only push the EU’s energy dependence so far. Plans are already in the works for a direct pipeline from the Mideast once Syria is partitioned… then we’ll see what kind of “economic powerhouse” Russia really is.

          1. “‘once Syria is partitioned””

            Doesn’t that sound *intervention-y*?

            1. It could happen as a result of the rebel groups and Assad getting tired of fighting each other and splitting the country in two.

              Of course, I don’t think Putin is going to let that happen if he can help it. Assad knows he has to keep the whole country or he loses Russian support.

          2. In two months Putin is signing a deal to supply China with piped natural gas.

            Europe is becoming a secondary customer.

          3. The reason for the mess in the first place.

            The whole Middle East intervention was to deny Russia the power over energy. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria.

            Simple to see, though a spectacular failure on the U.S.’s part.

            Which is why Putin is so confident. He has won for the past decade.

  4. Words fail to describe how profoundly stupid this article is.

    1. You may want to explain instead of playing The Butthurt One.

      1. If words fail, how could he possibly explain?

  5. With the rapid developments in Ukraine, it is difficult at this point to make any predictions.

    Developments in Ukraine being rapid? That’s an understatement. Events are happening quicker than this article’s author can type, obviously.

  6. “putinistas”? I think the word you’re looking for is “putas”.

    -jcr

  7. “I. AM. POOOTIN! I make onions cry! Bow!”

    Anyway.

    “The Sochi Olympics were going to be a showcase for the might and splendor of the new Russia.”

    And then the hockey team sank.

    Putin went as far as to say the only medal that counted was hockey and that if they did not win nothing else mattered.

    Caviar in face.

  8. I would have agreed that Putin was the biggest loser of this Ukraine debacle for him so far.

    If your claim to legitimacy is based on having restored the world’s respect and fear of Russia’s greatness again, then what does that say about you if that respect and fear doesn’t even travel as far as Kiev?

    However, if Barack Obama’s speech, yesterday, about Ukraine ends up being treated as yet another “red line” speech a la Syria, then Obama’s going to end up being the biggest loser in this mess.

    It was Putin that saved Obama after the red line speech! Who’s going to save Obama stupid ass now?

    1. Ken, I suspect that “respect and fear”, or at least fear, is marching into the Ukraine as we speak.

      Best guess: right now Putin is gauging events to see if he wants to stop at Crimea, or go ahead and march his respect and fear all the way to Kiev.

      1. Crimea was autonomous before they joined Ukraine, and they were already autonomous within Ukraine.

        Putin may end up with two different fights on his hands.

        Just because the people of Boston go crazy at St. Patrick’s Day parades doesn’t mean they want to be invaded by a dictator in Ireland.

      2. He’s only moving into the parts of the Ukraine that are already chock full of ethnic Russians who want to be annexed. That’s some damn low-hanging fruit for a wannabe superpower.

    2. There is truth.

      Stolichnaya vodka soon.

    3. BO isn’t a loser in this at all. He gets to continue playing golf, sitting his dogs at the dinner table on fancy chairs wearing jewelry, and giving speeches and feeling important for another 3 years.

      US credibility, on the other hand, loses every time the dufus we elected as chief executive opens his mouth.

  9. If you guys really want to see a Fever Swamp, check out the comments to this article on Facebook:

    https://www.facebook.com/Reason.Magazine

    Yikes. I didn’t know there were so many Putin apologists in the world.

    1. I am so internet-retarded I 1) didn’t know Reason had a Facebook page, and 2) I’m so loath to ever go to facebook, I don’t even know how it works.

      All I see are people hating on Ron Bailey for ‘mocking’ creationists.

  10. I think Cathy’s giving a little too much weight to the sensibilities of the international community. Putin’s been an awful bastard for some time now, and the usual reaction seems to be a lot of hand-wringing and finger-wagging followed by business as usual.

    At this point I think he could invade Ukraine and nobody would bat an eye so long as he provided an adequate excuse for them to not get involved. If Russian peacekeeping forces moved into Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from oppression and political reprisals I suspect Europe would be more than happy to express concern from the living room couch. And I highly doubt that Turkey is going to mobilize so much as a letter-writing campaign against Russia.

    1. While I’m not Big Fan of Putin, this is Russia’s influence sphere and The West and their weatherwane socialistic demomomocracies better thread lightly. The EU and NATO have mainly demonstrated butterfingers and inflammatory remarks lately.

      And the brutal failure of the Yougoslav interventionist bombing and NATO’s moving closer to Putingrad (if need be, via Georgia) is fresh on the mind.

      1. “While I’m not Big Fan of Putin, this is Russia’s influence sphere”

        So much for what the Ukrainians want, eh?

    2. so long as he provided an adequate excuse for them to not get involved

      The Russian military provides all the excuses they need.

    3. As long as he’s just de facto annexing pro-Russian parts of Ukraine they probably won’t do squat. If he moves on Kiev, that’s another matter.

  11. At this point I think he could invade Ukraine and nobody would bat an eye

    Well, he has invaded Ukraine, and while eyes have been batted, NOTHING ELSE WILL HAPPEN.

    1. If Russian peacekeeping forces moved into Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from oppression and political reprisals

      It would still be an invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Army.

      1. CNN is running “Russia votes to send troops into Ukraine” at the bottom of the screen, not the honest “Russia votes to declare war on Ukraine”.

        I predict Chicken Kiev will be on the White House menu.

        1. How do you ‘declare war’ on a region you never accepted/recognized the independence of in the first place?

          And I thought that the ‘reasoned’ position of the libertarian foreign policy watchers here was “let them do it”?

          So, they’re doing it. Was this not expected?

          1. My understanding is that Russia recognized Ukraine’s sovereignty twenty years ago and reaffirmed it five years ago. Given the lack of insignia on the uniforms, Russia at least considers it a gray area, if not a possible act of war.

            And yes, you are absolutely right in that U.S. shouldn’t get involved. My Chicken Kiev comment was that Obama can’t help but insert himself in every little think in a hamhanded fashion which will piss off all sides.

            1. If BO didn’t make any threats of retaliation in response to Putin’s actions the neocons — who still control most of the allegedly conservative media — would pillory him for being weak on foreign policy.

              This isn’t a defense of BO, but rather an acknowledgement that his FP is based not on real US interests, but on avoiding as much criticism as possible while looting the treasury back home.

              1. ” the neocons — who still control most of the allegedly conservative media — would pillory him for being weak on foreign policy.”

                Bullshit. Just because the majority of people over the age of 50 actually remember and consider cold-war politics the defining characteristic of international relations does not make the ‘conservative media’ have anything in common with the Neocons – which if you are more honest, are a historical political anomaly in the US.

                One thing you should remember is that what defines the Neocons relative to other American political traditions is their notion of a Unilateral, Activist, Pre-emptive use of military force to achieve and maintain hegemony. They’ve had all of One example of their guiding principle at work: Iraq. Just because there is a strong “Do Something” contingent in the political right does not make them “Neocons” in any real sense.

            2. Cdr Lytton|3.1.14 @ 3:34PM|#

              My understanding is that Russia recognized Ukraine’s sovereignty twenty years ago and reaffirmed it five years ago.”

              Sure

              But given that the currently-‘Russian-recognized’ leader of the country is having brunch with Putin in the Kremlin… you’ll have a hard time explaining *who* they’d be declaring war against, exactly. There’s no extant, legitimately-recognized head of state in the Ukraine at the moment… and as I mentioned last week- the fact that status was allowed to exist for more than a few days virtually guaranteed this outcome. in any vacuum of recognized ‘statehood’, Russia was bound to isolate and secure their military assets.

              I’d suggested ways that diplomacy might have mitigated this- and was derided as a ‘meddler’.

              I’m just saying = the status quo is an outcome entirely to be expected given the attitude of those here who seem to think Diplomacy is “war or nothing”, somehow.

              That said, yes = Obama is completely retarded. Even the libertarian non-intervention ideal is preferred to his bullshit “Red Line” rhetoric and almost willful erosion of his own credibility.

  12. Kiev had better make some decisions quick instead of whining like a little bitch. I would recommend moving troops into Crimea en masse but not engaging the Russians for now.

    Ukraine has a lot of weapons and not a lot money-idea: sell the arms to the Saudis or whoever else will send them to Syrian rebels. Makes money and hurts Russia.

    1. Ukraine can’t defeat Russia militarily without western help. They won’t be getting western help.

      Selling to the Syrian rebels is very problematic no?

    2. I agree it won’t be easy though for Russia, but maybe they’re just interested in the Crimea and maybe eastern Ukraine.

    3. If the Euromaidan/Kiev folks want greater integration with the EU, they’re probably better off getting a divorce from the Crimea and the far eastern provinces. At some point they’re going to have to choose between that and Ukrainian territorial integrity.

      It’s a similar situation as with interwar Poland; they gained a ton of territory after WW1 but all it did was give them headaches dealing with anti-Polish ethnic minorities.

    4. If there is war, Ukraine should be fighting it in guerrilla fashion, I can’t imagine them standing up to Russia otherwise.

  13. This article is pretty optimistic. Sure, a lot of Ukrainians have rejected Russia through a popular uprising, but so what? Popular uprisings can be crushed under the weight of a boot. Does anyone believe Putin wouldn’t support such a move through a heavy-handed puppet that won’t negotiate or run like Yanukovych did? And who is going to stop him from installing such a regime? No one is going to run headfirst into WWIII (I hope).

    As for Sochi, up here in Canada the reviews have been overall positive, despite the weather and sometimes difficult transportation. It seems like no one really thought either of those things really detracted from the games.

    1. Russia’s army had difficulty with Georgia and that war cost Russia’s economy immensely. Right now, Russia is walking over Crimea because no one is fighting them and the population is friendly. The Russians have NOT taken the Ukrainian military bases there they are just sealed off. I read a news report recently stating that a Ukrainian base fought off an attempt by an unidentified group to seize it.

      Russia cannot simply waltz to Kiev. Ukraine has significant armed forces, and last I heard even some of the anti-Russian protesters were armed.

      1. Excellent point, but they’re waltzing into Crimea. What’s Ukraine going to do about that?

        1. Crimea is an extremely pro-Russian area that would be happy to be annexed.

          It’s like the US waltzing into Texas in the 1840s.

          1. I know, but this means war if Ukraine decides to say that Crimea is ours.

            Then there is the problem of the being of the wrong the ethnic group on the wrong side of the new border.

            The Mexican War was also a bit more than a waltz.

      2. Russia cannot simply waltz to Kiev.

        The very air you breathe is but a poisonous fume.

  14. Ukrain in the UE means all the brains run to France, Denmark, etc, even the UK, once in the EU, and the Ukrain fills with Islamists. Russia is defending it’s interests, and, in the end, it’s all about ability to project force. Here, Russia has the ability, and the west does not.

  15. I don’t think Putin is losing. Russia is fucked up thanks largely to Putin, but he’s doing as he pleases diplomatically and militarily outside of Russia.

    The poor Tartars in Crimea. Their liberty is about to turned back to pooh pooh.

    1. The Tartars better get their hands on some guns. Perhaps the Turkish government could be of assistance.

      1. The Tartars are Islamists, handing power to them rather than Russia would be a big mistake.

      2. Apparently they have some guns or can get them from the pro-western Ukrainians. I read a leader of theirs said not to militia up just yet, but I think they will very shortly.

        1. Chechnya #2, now with a hostile Europe next door! Just what Russia needs!

          1. Yep. I would send troops into a region with 58% Russians, 26% Muslims and a dysfunctional government.

    2. he’s doing as he pleases diplomatically and militarily outside of Russia.

      Er, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Militarily he’s had a brief incursion into Georgia (in a very pro-Russian region thereof), a largely ineffective campaign to aid his ally in Syria, and this kerfuffle in the most pro-Russian part of Ukraine. If you think that’s the extent of what he’d like to do if he could do as he pleases you have a much more benign view of his soul than I do.

    3. I have no sympathy for them after my last periodontal scaling.

  16. WHAT? Who lost what where? There will be consequences, I assure you. Yes, really, there will be.

    I have a big red bridge to sell in San Francisco too.

  17. Christiane Amanpour is one dumb beotch. She’s running her stupid mouth on CNN right now. She actually said the Russians in Crimea had no right, because of international law gobbledygook, to ask Russia to come and help them against Kiev. Cathy Young is about as smart as Christiane Amanpour.

    Obama is the James Buchanan of our lifetime. What an idiot.

    1. Spot on.

  18. I keep wondering why this is such an issue when if the de facto policy of the mag is ‘non-intervention’, isn’t this so much pissing up a rope? Why should our opinion on the issue matter at all, again? its *their problem*.

    1. You make a valid about Reason and non-interventionists. Reason’s and other non-interventionist’s problem is that they say non-intervention leads to more peace. Obama’s non-intervention into Syria has led to intervention into the Ukraine by Russia.

      And of course I’m of the opinion that libertarians should care about the liberty of their fellow man. That will always be an issue when live alongside such authoritarian countries like Syria and Russia.

    2. Non interventionism is not isolationism…. Concern about the situation, predictions of how it will end up, and the making of economic choices are not intervention.

      1. “Concern”?

        Why have ‘concerns’ if they don’t by definition guide any actual policy decisions?

        Economic choices? I thought those were things *individuals* made. Its not like we’d cut economic ties with Russia over this, right?

        1. Why have ‘concerns’ if they don’t by definition guide any actual policy decisions?

          Because not every thought of every waking moment has to have political consequences.

          Or am I not allowed to think that Justin Bieber sucks without demanding that his music be banned?

          1. “Or am I not allowed to think that Justin Bieber sucks without demanding that his music be banned?”

            That’s just the point I made, which you seem to glide past.

            Your economic decisions are purely your own. Don’t buy Bieber!

            But given that libertarian foreign policy is for determined neutrality: cutting any economic ties with Russia – or ANY particular policy change in reaction to their behaviors – would not be considered ‘acceptable’.

            “Concern” seems pretty meaningless if there is no ‘intervention-y’ consequence of any given amount of it.

            1. “Concern” seems pretty meaningless if there is no ‘intervention-y’ consequence of any given amount of it.

              That’s your opinion. You must not talk or write about much if you feel the need to back up your concerns with intervention.

              I’m assuming you weren’t concerned by the Hutus and Tutsis macheteing and raping each other with rifles and power drills some years ago, were you? Or did you favor intervention in Rwanda?

      2. Who said anything about isolationism?

    3. And of course, there’s nothing in libertarianism that requires nonintervention in foreign policy. The NAP stops at the border.

      1. No, but Reason’s default foreign policy is non-interventionism.

        1. It wasn’t always. In the old days, Michael Young and Ron Bailey occasionally went off the plantation.

          1. It’s getting better. We’re starting to see more commenters leave The Faith.

      2. That’s news to me. but then again, you’re not exactly considered the spokesman for Card-Carrying Libertarianism, Tulpy.

        1. I don’t think there is such a spokesman; hence the need to hash it out amongst ourselves without resorting to ad hominems.

      3. Who are you and what have you done with Tulpa?

        1. Don’t mistake this as an endorsement of your favored hyperinterventionism, which may not contradict libertarianism but it does contradict common sense, utilitarianism, and even the most rudimentary system of morality.

          1. Ah, so extorting money from me to spend on troops to help Muslims and their commie EU apologists fight Russia is somehow OK, and not a violation of thwe NAP, but approving this extortion for said reasons is somehow exporting the NAP. Gotcha.

            Except for 1 thing, the NAP is for individuals, not states. States, by their vwery nature, cannot endorse the NAP.

          2. Back to being a retard I see.

      4. I can’t wait for them to somehow figure out a way to count the Russians as “brown”, to trot out the “Americans like to bomb brown people, hrrr hrrr” meme…

        1. Who the fuck is “them?” The first part of your statement is absurd. The fact that Americans like to bomb brown people is indisputable.

  19. As Ukrainian journalist and political analyst Olena Tregub noted in a 2010 article, Yanukovych’s victory did not represent a rejection of the Orange Revolution’s ideals. While stressing friendly ties to Russia, he also advocated a closer relationship with the European Union, stating on more than one occasion that EU integration was a top foreign policy priority for Ukraine and was not only a strategic goal but a “civilizational choice.”

    So you’re saying the overthrow of a constitutionally elected government is justified by the lack of fulfillment of a vague campaign promise? Does that mean it would have been legitimate for anti-Iraq-war protesters to take over Washington, DC in 2010, chase BO from the White House, and then demand allegiance from Hawaii?

    1. Only you could read such a bizarre statement into the above paragraph. I am thinking the overthrow is more justified by the government’s corruption power-grabbing and general thuggery.

      1. A pretty thin reed to hang revolt on. There’s no evidence that’s actually increased under Yanukovych.

        1. Except for Yanukovych’s constitution changes, his opulent residence, and the murdered people. As goes Tulpa’s confidence in speaking on a subject, so goes his ignorance.

  20. Russia and the rest of the region is the biggest loser. Putin, however, is at the top of his game.

  21. This might be the dumbest article I’ve read at Reason. The Ukrainians are clearly the biggest loser, followed closely by American and British credibility. This is a complete win for Putin, who is free to play this anyway he chooses.

  22. Nothing the slightest bit spontaneous about the initial uprisings in Crimea:

    http://news.slashdot.org/story…..ary-action

  23. Bizarre article that is divorced from reality. Biggest losers are the Ukrainian people, followed by the pusillanimous Brawwk Obama and the inept John Kerry. Was this story published on purpose? If so, what was it?

  24. I am far more interested in what the author of this article really thinks about the Russian “incursions” into the Ukraine. I believe the author is a Russian and was born in Moscow when it was under the Soviets. I also recall that the Bolsheviks inherited the Ukraine from the Tsars when they (the Bolsheviks) took over the Russian Empire in 1917 and then later renamed it the Soviet Union/USSR. What is the United States going to do about this anyway. Go to war with Russia? I doubt it. Our Armed Forces are probably already exhausted by out adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is Obama going to do? Give Putin a stern reprimand? Whack Putin’s pee pee with a hickory stick? Make a speech in the UN and tell everyone how naughty Vladimir is. If Americans were not so dam stupid about history, they might have seen this country. Stuff like Ukraine and bread basket, and Ukraine and warm water ports. Natural gas too? Please Ms. Young, give us your real opinion. Thanks.

  25. Sorry for the misspelled words in my comments. I should have proof read better.

  26. Let’s try this again. If it double-posts, I apologize.

    Like so many others, I think the author has it completely wrong. And it seems to me that, at least in terms of American politics, one of the biggest losers in the events in Ukraine is Rand Paul. He criticizes those with a “Cold War mindset” the very same week that the Red Army rolls. Ouch. I’m a big fan of his, and there are some very compelling reasons for us to shift to a more isolationist foreign policy (even if no one likes the term). But the events of this week serve as a stark reminder that, as we turn more inward, geopolitics will continue and is likely to take a negative, and often very violent turn now that we’re no longer the world’s policeman. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves into pretending that other countries won’t continue to practice “politics by other means,” as Clausewitz put it. War will always remain a real threat.

  27. “Vladimir Putin: The Biggest Loser in Sochi and Ukraine”

    Only two days after its posted and this headline already looks ridiculously wrong.

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