Bloomberg News reports that 60,000 Russian troops are massed across the Ukraine border. What are they doing there? They are apparently awaiting the results of the secession or consolidation vote concluding in Crimea. They are standing by to enforce the will of the people, of course, and perhaps extend it further into Ukraine. It is an impressive and audacious display of force.
Readers familiar with Hitler’s prewar playbook know what comes next. Timothy Snyder is the formidable historian of Eastern Europe and author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. In the New York Review of Books post “Putin vs. reality,” he provides a short course on the echoes that eluded John Kerry in his “Putin is so nineteenth-century” routine. (“This sort of argument, the need to protect the Volksgenossen, was used to significant effect by Adolf Hitler in 1938 in enunciating German claims to Austria and then to the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.”)
Anyway, what comes next as far as the Russians are concerned is what’s happening now. They’re pounding on that reset button for all it’s worth.
What have we got going? President Obama’s Team of Nitwits last convened to deliberate over policy in connection with Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria. At that time Putin turned out to be the key to their thinking. They are back on the case this weekend and will undoubtedly do another fine job, though this time around without Obama. He was apparently in a secure location somewhere outside Washington. Reuters reports:
President Barack Obama’s national security team discussed the Ukraine crisis in a session at the White House on Saturday after a last-ditch bid to find a diplomatic solution to the Cold War-style standoff with Russia floundered.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who just returned from talks with his Russian counterpart in London, was at the White House meeting along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
And then there is this: “Vice President Joe Biden leaves on Monday on a visit to NATO allies Poland and Lithuania to show support for key partners in the region. In Vilnius he will meet the presidents of all three Baltic nations, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.” Why not the best?