Ukraine

U.S. Troops in Poland Amid New Killing and Hostage-Taking in Ukraine

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US Army

One hundred and fifty American paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team landed in Poland today and an additional 450 soldiers are set to arrive and begin conducting military exercises in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by next Monday.

"It's a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe, and the message is to the people of those countries and to the alliance that we do take it seriously," said Defense Department Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. "We're looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year."

According to Politico, the White House is considering piling on even more sanctions against Russia for its role in destabilizing Ukraine. 

A group of diplomats including Secretary of State John Kerry met in Geneva last week and hammered out an agreement to "de-escalate" the crisis in Ukraine. Six days later, the situation has only gotten worse.

Yesterday, a Ukrainian politician, Vladimir Rybak, and another man were found dead near the separatist-occupied city of Sloviansk. The Ukrainian government alleges that separatists "tortured to death" the two men, prompting the government to resume the "anti-terrorist" operation it was conducting before the Geneva agreement.

And, there's a growing list of people being taken hostage by militant separatists. Simon Ostrovosky, an American journalist with Vice was briefly detained after a press conference with a self-proclaimed "people's mayor" of Sloviansk.

Several pro-Russian separatist leaders have previously said that they will not back down until there is a referendum on the secession of eastern regions of Ukraine.

Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here.

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  1. I miss the cold war.

      1. Without clicking the link, is that Hunt for Red October?

        1. Fred Thompson FTW.

        2. More importantly it’s Fred Thompson, the poor man’s Joe Don Baker.

  2. More pointless dickwaving from the Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winner-In-Chief.

  3. Whatever it costs to fly Biden and Kerry around to make fools of themselves, it’s got to be cheaper than this waste of time.
    Hey, lefties! Tell us about how BOOOOOOOSH spent all that money on wars!

    1. Good to know that somewhere in Cleveland, there’s a Miss Dyngus.

    2. My hometown pride has never been greater.

  4. Four countries. Six hundred soldiers. That’s a lot of front to cover. Perhaps the Finns can send some ski troops around to tie down several Russian divisions.

  5. ?ber-conspiracy theory of the century:

    9/11 was an inside job perpetrated to give an excuse to
    1) destabilize the lands south and east of Russia
    2) give large-scale operational experience to a US military long dormant
    3) in preparation for a major power play and invasion in Asia by the US
    4) to soften up Asian lands for colonization by interstellar aliens
    5) who gave an ultimatum to the United States in the late 1980s by communicating telepathically with Ronald Reagan, which melted his brain, and was covered up as symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

    1. Blockbuster!
      Do we cast Rosie O’donnell as the love interest?

      1. Change “love interest” to “alien host mother” and I see nothing but green lights, baby!

  6. An entire platoon of Paratroopers all the way from Italy. This is really starting to escalate out of control.

  7. Ukraine is kaput — there’s nothing we can do now but wait for the inevitable.

    Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia — those are a different story, and organizing a defense against Russia is appropriate. How we’re going about it is stupid and counterproductive, but basing in Poland may be a good idea (and a good excuse to get the hell out of Western Europe for cheap).

    1. Ukraine is kaput

      The traditional fate of small countries when they are invaded by a larger country, at least in the absence of any effective international opposition.

      Good job, getting through another article on this without mentioning the words “Russian soldiers”, “war crimes”, or “invasion.” Walter Duranty would be proud.

    2. Ukraine is kaput — there’s nothing we can do now but wait for the inevitable.

      Hmmm…I’m not sure what this means. It doesn’t look good but I think Russia is biting off more than it can chew.

    3. This is an awful crisis, but it’s having one hugely beneficial side effect: motivating Europe to defend itself. Sweden in particular.

      Among other things, it wants to buy 10 more fighter jets and two more submarines to improve the defense of the Baltic Sea and the island Gotland.

      http://www.foxnews.com/world/2…..g-by-830m/

      I believe that Europe has become an incubator for the SocDem virus because America paid for its defense. If the Euros and others have to pay for their own defense, it will be a mortal blow to social democracy.

      1. “If the Euros and others have to pay for their own defense, it will be a mortal blow to social democracy.”

        Instead of sending out checks to 30 year old hipster artists and 60 year old retirees they would just send them to 20 year old soldiers and 50 year old retired veterans, huh? Yeah, that is a blow to social democracy…

        1. Yeah. They’d have to pay for their own defense, at great expense to paying people to do jack all. It would also relieve the American taxpayer Mr. Blue Tulpa.

          1. Because most defense spending is not ‘jack all?’

            1. Not in countries with small militaries and belligerent neighbours you obtuse twat.

              1. I do not think Russia is belligerent to Germany or the other big SocDoms.

                1. But my overall point is that switching from more traditional Social Democrat type spending to an equivalent amount of military spending is hardly a blow for government or social democracy.

                  1. Your point is wrong and I am tired of your hair-splitting twaddle.

          2. Cyto, I suspect that payments to people doing jack-all would not decrease. They would simply adopt the American model:

            Borrow it.

            Because in the long run, we’re all dead, and you can’t collect from the dead.

            Oh, those people who won’t be dead when the bill comes? Fuck ’em.

            1. Nope. Can’t do that if you’re not a reserve currency nation.

        2. Unlike hipster artists, soldiers are of use to society and one of the few legitimate purposes of government is to pay soldiers to provide for the defense. Granted, anything beyond paying for that is excess, but it’s not even remotely in the same category as paying hipster artists to do nothing and it is certainly the case that Europe, Japan, and Korea have been free riders for some time now. I don’t know about you, but it seems a lot better to me that Sweden pay for Swedish security than that the US pay for it.

          1. “Unlike hipster artists, soldiers are of use to society”

            Some small amount perhaps, if threatened, but any more than that is not obviously better than paying hipster artists (heck, I may like their art I am subsidizing while I may vehemently disagree with the latest war over ‘our interests’).

    4. “Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia — those are a different story, and organizing a defense against Russia is appropriate.”

      And you should organize a voluntary army of like minded people (call them ‘Reagan Brigades’ perhaps) and go do that, but please leave me and my pocketbook out of it.

      1. You use a pocketbook!

        HaHa

      2. Your pocketbook is already in those countries to the degree that we trade and interact with them. Moreover, your pocketbook is already on the line wrt Europe, which is littered with useless and expensive bases. I far prefer having 1) more useful bases which 2) cost less and 3) have some foreign policy purpose, which is what moving troops from Western Europe to Poland would accomplish. It is not in our interests for Russia to establish an expansionist land empire in Eastern and Central Europe, for Russia to control Europe’s access to gas, or for our credibility wrt our alliances and NATO to be horribly impugned by failing to defend our allies.

        In Poland’s case, I see it as particularly disreputable to abandon a country which committed troops and funds in good faith to our foreign policy stupidity of the last decade, when what they ask for is merely that we honor the promises we made to them for their direct security (something that is in fact in our interests to do).

        1. No, no, no. It is Poland’s job to defend Poland. The credibility of the USG is not an end to itself and if it has to be sacrificed to preserve peace then so be it. American has no use for troops in Europe.

          1. It is Poland’s job to defend Poland

            True, but we can certainly help them when it is in our own interests and/or when we have already made a commitment to do so. I’d rather base troops in Poland than Spain, Germany, or Italy as it is far more relevant to our security.

            1. How is Poland ‘relevant to our security’ in a way that would not justify a great deal of military intervention around the world?

            2. I’d rather the USG focused on protecting individual rights than very weak ‘interests’. Russia isn’t even that strong Eastern Europe can more than hold its own. It’s up to them to get it together there’s not much America can do except drill for and export tons and tons of natgas and oil.

              1. I’d rather the USG focused on protecting individual rights than very weak ‘interests’.

                In this case, both coincide. There appear to be rumblings of what happened in Ukraine occurring in Estonia — one of the freest countries in the world, with a vibrant civil society and extensive freedoms of the political, social, and economic variety. They are far freer on every front than Russia, and I see no outcome to a Russian invasion on Crimean lines that would be positive to liberties.

                I do agree that Eastern Europe should get their act together, but considering that we have been a large part of preventing such a thing from taking place it is a bit much to suddenly abandon our commitments and tell them to take care of themselves in their current atrophied state — even if we had no interests in the region.

                1. Again, this sounds like Estonia’s problem and not our problem. Their lack of preparedness is primarily their fault.

        2. Organize brigades of volunteers without funding? Sounds like the Ukrainian National Guard. That hasn’t worked very well…

          1. It’s a very new force.

        3. “Your pocketbook is already in those countries to the degree that we trade and interact with them.”

          That is a rather weak reed, that we should militarily defend whomever we trade with.

          “your pocketbook is already on the line wrt Europe, which is littered with useless and expensive bases”

          I oppose them of course, but somehow I doubt military adventurism in Poland is going to lead to the closing of bases elsewhere, but rather would by laid on top of that existing expense.

          “It is not in our interests ”

          Our collective interests?

          “I see it as particularly disreputable to abandon a country which committed troops and funds in good faith to our foreign policy stupidity of the last decade”

          One good folly not only deserves another, but begats it, huh?

          1. That is a rather weak reed, that we should militarily defend whomever we trade with.

            If only I’d said anything approaching that level of stupidity. We should protect those we have committed to protecting and for whom it is in our interest that we protect.

            Our collective interests?

            Yes, much like we can have a collective interest in defense (as is generally recognized by libertarians in their acceptance of the validity of “defensive war”).

            One good folly not only deserves another, but begats it, huh?

            No. It is not “stupidity” to prevent Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe, and it should be rather obvious (and not stupid at all) why Poland should wish to protect itself from that outcome — unlike our foreign policy in Iraq. I am pointing out that in Poland’s case, we have an obvious instance of Poland helping us out (as misguided as our request might have been).

            Lastly, “military adventurism in Poland” =/= bases in Poland. I don’t recall a whole lot of “military adventurism” in Spain or Iceland despite our basing rights in the country.

            1. “We should protect those we have committed to protecting and for whom it is in our interest that we protect.”

              Then why your talk about my ‘pocketbook already’ being in Poland because we trade with them?

              “much like we can have a collective interest in defense ”

              That is some pretty attenuated defense!

              “It is not “stupidity” to prevent Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe”

              It is for us to undertake it, since we are nowhere near Eastern Europe. Besides, we paid Poland well for their huge contribution to the Iraq War folly, so there is no reason for us to involve ourselves in what could be an exponentially greater folly on their behalf.

              And lastly, yes, putting military bases in a nation half a world away in such a current hot spot is either military adventurism itself or a very likely potential for it.

              1. Then why your talk about my ‘pocketbook already’ being in Poland because we trade with them?

                Because it is true and explains why we might have positive relations with other countries which are both organic and necessary.

                It is [stupidity] for us to undertake it, since we are nowhere near Eastern Europe.

                If we were doing so unilaterally, I’d agree. In this case, we’d be selling them arms and using our diplomatic pull to get the regional powers working and training together and with us, and committed to defending each other. We might also want to shift bases from Western to Eastern Europe — which as far as I’m concerned is a good move, since COLA will be much lower and we could scrap a whole bunch of bases in W Europe in exchange for 1-2 bases in Poland.

  8. So from an opportunism tourism perspective, should I be buying tickets to the Baltic states now or wait until Ukraine has been completely eaten up?

    1. Depends–are fares cheaper on Aeroflot? And if you are talking about your usual kind of tourism, you might want to get over there before the Russians lock the back door, if you catch my meaning.

      1. Oh Aeroflot. I flew Seoul to Istanbul on Aeroflot in 2008.

        A quick random search says it’s $1082 rt LAX to Warsaw flying KLM with a stopover in Amsterdam each way. Aeroflot is a dollar more, but I’d have to have a 5h and 13h stopover in SVO, which closely approximates what I believe hell to be like (I had an 8h there a few years ago and it was all scoop-nosed blond women, Britney Spears music, $9 sandwiches and cheap gin with a drunk Swede who was going to Thailand to marry a Thai woman and suggested strongly that I do the same).

        your usual kind of tourism

        Hurtful, db. Mostly correct, but hurtful.

        1. I truly meant no offense, sir.

          1. None was taken. It was false offense for the sake of jest.

            Besides. If I end up with an 11h layover in Amsterdam I could make up for whatever I’m missing in Poland or Estonia. Of course Dutch doesn’t add anything to my peoples of the world jesse has improved international relations with, whereas Estonian and Polish would.

            1. I was just sad you didn’t comment on the double entendre.

              1. Doesn’t it ruin double entendre when you make an explicit comment on it?

                Nobody wants to be Ted Turner

                1. Probably.

                  *hangs head*

        2. Viking style tourism, wasn’t it?

          Except instead of plunder its purchase and instead of rape its consensual and no killing (that I am aware of)….and all happens to be in an area within longship reach, right?

          1. no killing (that I am aware of)

            The “that I’m aware of” part is the most important part.

            longship reach

            *blushes*

            1. “longship reach

              *blushes*”

              I see I have a second career as a set-up man/straight man, yes?

              1. I had always assumed straight man was a first career for you.

        3. You do not want to waste 13 hours of your life in SVO.

          1. No, I fucking hate that airport. 8 hours there was more than enough. Although if I plan enough in advance I can do a transit visa and do a day tour of Moscow’s historical sites instead of just sitting in the airport.

            1. BTW, ever.been to Spain? I’m headed over to Barcelona on business for a couple of days and am looking for interesting sights to see that don’t inolve driving or talking in Spanish.

              1. I haven’t. Barcelona is on my list.

                A friend of mine and her fiance went. I gave him a copy of Homage to Catalonia and she was pissed when they came back because he had gone from not being that interested (and leaving her in charge) to wanting to scour the countryside around Barcelona to see the places Orwell talked about. He enjoyed the shit out of the trip though.

                1. It’s funny how being.featured in works of art can bring real places to life and make them more interesting. I had a great time in the southern Nevada area touring around places from Fallout: New Vegas.

            2. Snowden does say the SVO is better than a cage at Gitmo.

              1. Having listened to the current Britney Spears single for 8 hours on repeat on old loud speakers, I would like to respectfully disagree with Mr. Snowden. Also, $9 cold case sandwiches in plastic triangles, 3? half-pint bottles of water.

                And there’s really no seating anywhere. I ended up cuddling up to a group of Koreans who were also stuck there and sitting on flattened cardboard and drinking Hite with them.

                1. “I ended up cuddling up to a group of Koreans who were also stuck there and sitting on flattened cardboard and drinking Hite with them.”

                  Sounds like some sort of disaster aftermath scenario.

                2. I haven’t been to SVO since 97. Once you passed immigration, there were no vendors — no food — no drinks.

                  1. You could tell it had been built without vendors in mind. There were tables with vendor goods clogging up the walkways. A standard airport shop with magazines and bottled water had been put in a room someplace to one side and the prices were exorbitant even by airport standards. There was a lounge area up a small flight of stairs which served aggressively mediocre food for high prices. There was also an indoor smoking area which was right by the water fountains and in no way segregated from anything else.

                    1. We’d get to the airport 3 hours before flight time. Two hours to get through customs and immigration. Then 30 minutes of standing around in the pseudo-prison that was the departure hall. Then boarding the aircraft.

                      Everyone onboard always applauded at lift off. One flight out, the pilot came on shortly after take off to say there was a worrisome indicator going on and off in the cockpit. An hour later, he came back on to say that if the aircraft did develop a problem we would divert to Finland and not have to go back to Moscow. This was greeted with load cheers.

                    2. Also, there were not connecting flights out of SVO. You had to fly into SVO and clear customs & immigration. Then you had to drive 50 miles away to another airport to fly to other destinations in Russia.

  9. I read in USA Today that Ukraine arrested 3 Russian GRU officers.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but is there any reason the Ukrainian government can’t infiltrate its own cities with its own agent provocateurs and whip up anti-separatist mobs/militias? And assassinate Russians? It might provoke an invasion but that might happen anyway.

    1. “is there any reason the Ukrainian government can’t infiltrate its own cities with its own agent provocateurs and whip up anti-separatist mobs/militias?”

      How about – ‘it would be farcically stupid and ineffective?’

      1. Why? It worked for Russia.

        1. Ukrainian Defense Official – “Ok guys – I’ve got it! To whip up enthusiasm against an actual foreign invader, we’ll fake being those foreign invaders and make trouble!”

          Rest of room – “……”

          Ukrainian Defense Official – “What? Why are you guys looking at me like that?”

          1. You may have misunderstood me. They wouldn’t be faking Russians but copying their tactics. Creating and instigating pro-Ukraine mobs and militias to disrupt the incipient insurrection.

    2. is there any reason the Ukrainian government can’t infiltrate its own cities with its own agent provocateurs and whip up anti-separatist mobs/militias? And assassinate Russians?

      …because it would be ineffective in addition to immoral, given that there are plenty of ethnic Russians who have lived there as long as any Ukrainian?

      Kill the provocateurs, sure, but I don’t see any good reason to kill random Russians for the hell of it.

      1. I mean Russian nationals from the GRU and insurrectionist subversives working with them.

  10. There was a Finn posting here a couple of years ago, whining about ‘cowboy Americans’ and how Europe had moved beyond such matters. I asked that he not call Uncle when the bear starts knocking at his door.
    Now, he may be right in that Finland isn’t worth the fuel, but the rest of Europe ought to be working on the matter, while the US packs bags and leaves them to their own devices.

    1. Well, if I had to bet if any nation in Europe is capable of defending against invasion, my money would be safest on Finland. The populace.is.armed.to the teeth, they have an active recreational shooting culture (promoting shooting skills) and they seem pretty fierce.

      1. What are Finnish gun laws like?

        1. Relatively permissive, as I understand.

      2. Maybe if the Russians get distracted and bogged down, the Finns could get Petsamo and Vyborg back!

        1. One name: Simo H?yh? aka ‘White Death’.

          H?yh? was credited with 505 confirmed kills of Soviet soldiers in less than 100 days.

          1. As far as WWII bad asses go, that dude is pretty much tied with the the crazy Japanese guy who refused to believe WWII had ended.

            For my money, the Finn wins.

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