Beyond the Cusp

May 13, 2014

So Parts of the Ukraine Held an Election, Didn’t They?

This past Sunday there were referendums held in the Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on whether the republic should declare itself an autonomous region as an initial step towards seeking annexation into Russia. The initial indications are that the vote is trending towards autonomy and independence from Kiev with some reports claiming 89% favoring “self-rule.” Needless to report, but the Ukrainian government in Kiev announced before the voting even began that they would not accept the outcome due to suspecting that the vote may not be a valid representation of the citizens’ honest preferences. This was backed even further by a series of polling done a few weeks back. The  Pew Research Center poll from a few weeks back tallied 70% of eastern Ukraine opposing splitting from Ukraine, while only 18% favoring secession. A poll is already scheduled to be taken next week to vote on whether or not to request to come under Russian rule. The fact that the second vote was announced not only before the results of the referendum on secession were announced, but before the voting places had even opened leaves one to doubt the veracity of the current vote, and needless to say, the next vote might be suspect as well. Oh, maybe we should mention the claim that the turnout to vote was announced to be an impressive 75% of those eligible to vote. That is a truly unimaginable accomplishment as there is still a fairly high amount of residual violence still being perpetrated by both sides which should have made expected turnout somewhat more sparse than three-quarters of the population. Usually when there is an insurrection revolting against government forces who are trying to restore the rule of law and of the national government, most prudent and intelligent people do not venture out even to vote in a referendum being sponsored by the insurgents and opposed by the ruling government, especially when both sides are well armed and shooting has been more the rule than the exception. There are far more reasons against a high turnout at the polls and it definitely does not rouse any rational belief when the majority of pictures depict either red, white and blue Russian flags, red and blue Donetsk Republic flags and virtually no blue and gold Ukrainian flags as well as a very nice picture captioned by Reuters saying, “Armed pro-Russian casts vote.”


The most interesting item is most definitely not that European Union and United States spokespeople have joined with the Ukrainian government in Kiev in denouncing and calling into question the results and honesty of the referendum, but that Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the referendum to be cancelled or at least postponed. The idea is probably to have Vlad the Invader denounce holding the referendum at this time thus washing his hands of the whole issue giving him the deniability to claim he opposed the referendum while those tasked to bring about the secession and request for annexation by Russia carrying on just as planned by the Russian leadership. I realize any reference to a Russian leader making nefarious plans to compromise the Ukraine smells suspiciously of recalling Russian Dictator Joseph Stalin, and I really wouldn’t want to make any comparisons between Vladimir Putin and Joseph Stalin as that would appear to be overreaching to make slurs against President Putin. But that would also beg the question as to whether Vladimir Putin would even be displeased over being held to compare with Joseph Stalin or feel honored by such a comparison. Would such a comparison be any much worse than calling Putin Vlad the Invader and all of what that implies from a similarly nom de guerre of a Vlad who ruled in Romania. And as long as we are making slanted comparisons, my reaction to the 75% reported turnout at the polls and the 89% in favor of secession bring to memory the actual Stalin quote on elections which goes, “You know, comrades that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.” Please, is it just me or does Vladimir Putin remind one of a cross between Joseph Stalin and Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, nom de guerre Vlad the Impaler.


Beyond the Cusp


May 3, 2014

Another War Most Will Ignore, the Ukraine

The confrontation between the nationalist forces which currently rule in Kiev of the Ukraine and the Russian separatists in the eastern provinces of the Ukraine has exploded into a shooting war. Do not expect the United States or NATO to react with anything beyond maybe some harsh rhetoric. That is not to claim that nobody will react to the pending disastrous situation. We can expect Russian President Putin to react and use something first applied by President Obama when NATO interjected themselves into Libya known as R2P, the “Right to Protect”. R2P was used to claim that somebody had to do something to prevent the slaughter of innocent people when the probability of a civil war presented itself in Libya when forces there first showed signs of deposing Muammar Gaddafi from his dictatorial rule. Using that excuse the NATO forces aided the Libyan rebels providing them with air cover and tactical air support, or at least that was the official story. It has since been shown that the United States had also gone further and provided some of the disparate factions with weaponry which may have provided some of the impetus for the murder of the American Ambassador and three other Americans later in Benghazi, but that is another story. Meanwhile, what was so interesting about the use of R2P in Libya was how once it had been applied in Libya the same concept was not used again in other situations. The most glaring of such opportunities where one might have thought that R2P would have been implemented has to have been in Syria. Instead there have been well over one-hundred-thousand innocents murdered and millions forced to flee their homes and become homeless refugees in neighboring nations.


Now the violence in the Ukraine will present President Putin with his own situation where the use of R2P will be perfect to facilitate his intervention and conquest of the eastern provinces of the Ukraine and also provide a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula, a necessary possession if Russia is to retain that critical area and its sea port in Sevastopol. This will also allow Russia to gain control of the majority of the arms and military equipment manufacturing which is also situated throughout much of these areas in the Ukraine which were originally built by the Soviet Union. We can expect a Russian move to provide protection for the innocent victims of the overt violence being implemented by the Ukrainian government in Kiev which Russia has thus far refused to recognize and has classified as an illegal government resulting from a violent coup. Remember that one man’s revolution and quest for freedom is the other side’s illegal coup and forceful takeover of the governance. The Ukraine will now become one of the most ignored stories in much of the West as nobody desires taking on the risks and potential to fight the Russians once they decide they have sufficient reason to enter the eastern provinces of the Ukraine.


As long as Putin refrains from taking the entirety of the Ukraine and just occupies and eventually annexes three or at most four of the easternmost provinces, the West will scream a few threats while sitting on their collective hands. Should Putin continue an offensive and take the entirety of the Ukraine then there will be much noise and possibly some actual sanctions beyond the inconveniences thus far laughingly called sanctions that have thus far been applied. Once again the world will be sitting on their hands until the crucial and fateful step is taken, invading Poland. It was the invasion of Poland by the Nazis and the Soviets which began World War II and it may well be an invasion of Poland which triggers World War III. With the United States having already positioned troops in Poland, the die is cast and the line has been drawn and all that remains is to see if Putin decides to cross this line in the sand. Unlike the invisible moving line in Syria, the Western NATO nations very likely would react quite differently to the line at Poland being crossed as that would place the entirety of the NATO treaty and its relevance to the world today on the line. Poland is most definitely not Syria and this is something the world had best hope that Putin, or as we call him, Vlad the Invader knows and understands well.


Beyond the Cusp


April 8, 2014

Which Way Will Russia Turn?

Anyone believing that Russian President and former Colonel in the KGB will be content with simply occupying the Crimea is likely to be found sorely in error. The real question is where will Putin and the Russian military turn next. As far as a generally accurate list for targets, one can assume any nations previously a member of the Warsaw Pact nations which were subverted under Soviet control for the duration of the Cold War. The overriding evidence for such assumptions are the words spoken by Vladimir Putin, aka Vlad the Invader, to top Russian politicians and the Parliament in April of 2005 State of the Nation Address where he stated, “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.” Vlad the Invader is a man who sees his life’s mission as being bringing Russia back to its former glory with all the influence and including the satellite territories which she once commanded at the height of her Cold War years of, as Putin views them, glorious potential where Russia commanded the respect and fear of much of the rest of the world. There are some tactical necessities which the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula make as an obvious next step. Looking at a map one will notice that Russia has one glaring weakness as far as retaining complete control and ability to defend its newly acquired territory, a land connection from mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula.


In order to have an overland connection the Russians will necessarily need to annex additional provinces from the Ukraine including minimally the eastern lands including Lugansk, Donets’ka, Zaporiz’ka, and Khersons’ka with a high likelihood of also annexing Luhans’ka. All of these provinces consist of predominantly or significant Russian speaking and origin populations. There have been riots and partial takeover of government buildings already in Donets’ka with demands that a referendum vote to decide to separate from Kiev and join with Russia. Recent videos and information has confirmed these demonstrations became quite violent over this past weekend with some demanding that Russia send forces to assist and protect the Russian ethnic peoples from the illegal government which recently took control in Kiev through what these rioters view as a coup. One of the demonstrators who insisted on anonymity was quoted saying, “Without your support, without the support of Russia, it will be hard for us to resist the Kiev junta on our own.” The news has reported that some have requested that Russian President Vladimir Putin send “peacekeeping troops” to the region, this according to the National Post.


Early Monday interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had accused Russia of inciting the protestors and of sending in troops to perform more de facto invasions of the provinces on the Ukrainian-Russian border. He was quoted claiming that, “The plan is to destabilize the situation, the plan is for foreign troops to cross the border and seize the country’s territory, which we will not allow.” he added that people engaged in the unrest have “distinct Russian accents.” The fact that the Russian troops are presumably already stationed less than thirty kilometers, short of twenty miles, from the border makes the situation potentially more explosive and uncertain.


There have been other rumors and whispers of rumors that cloud the picture even further spinning off so many alternative scenarios that it boggles the mind. There were the reports that Poland called up their entire contingencies of reserves for training and preparations for possible conflict, something that had reportedly never been executed by Poland previously. Other words floating on the currents of rumor denoted Russian plans for the reabsorption of Bulgaria were coming in the not too distant future. I am sure if one were to investigate further that there are many leaders and “experts” who would point to other eastern European and central Asian nations as being eyed by Vlad the Invader as ripe plums sitting on low branches just begging to be plucked. The best hope going forward is that, for reasons unknown, Vlad the Invader hesitates sufficiently until there is leadership elsewhere which would be capable and willing to act to place restraints on what has the potential to be a resurgence of Russian imperialism establishing a renewed Russian hegemonic power over half of Europe destroying much of the European Union and directly challenging NATO. It is becoming obvious that should Vlad the Invader fully flex Russian military might and push forward Russia’s borders by annexing neighboring countries using the same planting of instigators working with local citizens of Russian ancestry that there is nobody currently in a position willing to oppose him in any meaningful manner. In the meantime, the world has to rely on President Obama leading the Western World in sanctioning Russian financial leaders denying them access to their funds in Western financial institutions. For some reason I have my suspicions that the Russian oligarchs have not placed large sums of their wealth in banks in New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles or, believe it or not, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Still, President Obama has proven that when it comes to foreign affairs, he is the man without a plan but with all the bluster and buffoonery of a Saturday morning huntsman asking the audience, and we quote, “Be qwiet, vewy vewy qwiet, I’m huntin’ wabbit.”


Beyond the Cusp


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