So Far, Russia Is Not Impressed

The United Nations Security Council has just finished meeting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This summary of the proceedings is from The Interpreter. First, poor Samantha Power set out the U.S. position:

Now US Ambassador Samantha Power is speaking. Her demands are that Russia pull back from Ukraine, and international monitors are deployed to Crimea. Power wants to create an international mediation unit to end the crisis in Crimea.

The bottom line of Power, however, is that Russia has worked unilaterally, and this does not respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.

Unilaterally! That’s the harshest word in the Obama lexicon, but somehow I don’t think it has the same significance for Putin. The Russian ambassador responded:

Russia has finally spelled out exactly what its given justification for invading Crimea is. According to their logic:

* The EU, the UK, and the US incited the protests and fueled the revolt.
* Yanukovych signed a deal with the opposition politicians that would keep him in power until, at least, early elections in December.
* The “armed militants” broke this agreement by taking over government buildings, therefore:
* Yanukovych is the legitimate leader of Ukraine and the people in charge are radicals,
* “Kiev,” the catchphrase for these radicals ho are now running the country, is sending provocateurs to takeover government buildings in Crimea (interjection — there is literally no evidence that this is true). Therefore:
* The government of Crimea has asked Russia to send troops to restore order, and Russia has done so unilaterally because the West helped conspire to remove a democratically-elected government and put these radicals in charge.
* The bottom line: the international community needs to help remove the radicals and enforce the February 21st agreement (which, by the way, would require reinstating Yanukovych back as President).
* If this is not done, Russian troops will defend Crimea, and possibly attack Kiev to make it happen.

This is just like Soviet Union days. The Russians don’t care that their “justification” consists of obvious lies. They don’t expect to be believed, they expect to be obeyed.

Barack Obama also spent an hour and a half on the telephone with Vladimir Putin, expressing his grave concern over the Russian invasion. An hour and a half of listening to Obama would cause most men to say “uncle,” but Putin is made of sterner stuff. This is the statement he issued after his conversation with Obama, in its entirety:

In response to the concern shown by Barack Obama regarding possible plans of the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative criminal acts by ultra-nationalist elements, which are in fact encouraged by the current authorities in Kiev.

The Russian President stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and health of Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that in the case of further spread of violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population.

Note that Putin specifically threatens to take the eastern half of Ukraine. He was evidently not impressed by Obama’s deep concern.

There is nothing surprising about any of this. Neither we nor the “powers” of Western Europe are in a position to do anything to oppose the Russian military. This situation has been a long time brewing. Maybe the diplomats can think of some clever sanction that will persuade Putin to retreat from Ukraine, but I doubt it.

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