The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Does Sprint Nuclear Ability Matter? How much? Ukraine Edition

Ukraine is talking about getting nuclear weapons.  Interesting.  Or perhaps, worse:

According to translated news sources within the country, Ukraine interim representative threatened Russia with nuclear weapons, if Russia does not remove their troops from within the Ukrainian borders.

Mikhail Golovko said in a live interview that,“Russia can not win in this situation, it is a violation of all international norms and guarantees … If they are violated, we reserve the right to recover a nuclear weapon. Resume nuclear status and will be quite different to communicate, “ he said.

Golovko said that Ukraine has all the necessary technology to recreate nuclear weapons, for these purposes must be “3-6 months,”

This is insane.  Putin now has reason not to annex Crimea, but to conquer the entire country.  You don’t talk about doing something like this, you just do it.

Ukraine should never have given up its nuclear weapons. The lesson on nukes is clear. As the joke ran in the 2000’s “Iraq was invaded because it had no WMD, not because it did.”  Libya gave up its nuclear program, Qaddafi got sodomized by a knife.  Meanwhile North Korea is still pissing in America’s face whenever it wants.

But Ukraine did give up its nuclear weapons.    As such, threatening Russia with them is crazy, just crazy.  At the least, as Putin, I would now want to decommission all of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors and establish surveillance to ensure they aren’t trying to get nukes.  And if they are: bomb them into dust, just like the Israelis do whenever they think they can get away with it.

Of course, nuclear reactors are hard to decommission safely with military force, aren’t they?

Just bad all round.

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Some Perspective on Russian Intervention in the Ukraine


The 2012 IMF/Ukraine Negotiations


  1. I’m just gobsmacked at how outrageous this whole thing has become. This is one of those crises in FP that historians write about 100 years later asking, “WTF were they all thinking?”

    Who in their right mind says things like this without the means to back it up?

  2. Bruce Wilder

    RT was quick to fold this “rhetoric” into its propaganda.

  3. bob mcmanus

    “Who in their right mind says things like this without the means to back it up?”

    People trying to provoke a brutal invasion and guaranteed a safe haven in Europe and a big check.

    Never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by conspiracy.

    Of course the US, EU, and Ukrainian elites knew exactly what Russia would do. Russia is not going to abandon its warm water port and Black Sea Fleet and buffer from NATO.

    They knew Russia would invade.

    So the remaining question is why?

  4. “Who in their right mind says things like this without the means to back it up?”

    “People trying to provoke a brutal invasion and guaranteed a safe haven in Europe and a big check.”

    That’s not going to happen. Plus, that’s a whole ‘nuther level of ugly cynicism even my cynical mind can’t fathom.

  5. oh noes! Ukraine might have weapons of mass destruction!

  6. bob mcmanus

    I always dislike conversations analyzing policy where I am supposedly much smarter than Ivy League grads with twenty years experience and infinitely more resources.

    If we knew Russia would protect its assets, then CIA and State knew.

    And it’s the easiest excuse to pretend you’re an idiot because the liberal elites prefer that explanation. They think they are smarter.

    “Damn, gotta be some WMDs around here somewhere. I really truly believed it. Facepalm.”

  7. Ian Welsh

    I do not worship at the altar of ivy league educations. Known too many of them. They are bred and trained to be conformists.

  8. Z

    Made-for-Onion headline currently in the nytimes web edition: Obama Accuses Russia of Breaching International Law


  9. Yeah, there’s another shoe waiting to drop here. Are they maybe trying to draw Russia into some kind of drawn out, expensive armed conflict in Ukraine? Pray for the Ukrainian people if so.

  10. Ian Welsh

    That would be very bad. If Putin gets drawn into a guerrilla war in the Ukraine, he will depopulate it if necessary to win. He killed hundreds of thousands in Chechnya without hesitation, methodically.

  11. David

    Ukraine wanting to get nukes, wow.
    We can call this Russia’s Cuban missile
    crisis. Maybe this analogy will bring
    a little understanding to the western blockheads.
    OK, I am probably hoping for too much.

  12. ks

    The really crazy thing is that the threat is for future action – “I’m going to nuke you in 3 months…”. I’m not sure if it’s idiocy or a conspiracy but, either way, it’s a potential disaster.

  13. Jerome Armstrong

    I do like being able to go straight to the source, with all the translators out there now. Even with twitter, though you have to go to the individual tweet.
    A couple of good ones:

  14. The Raven

    Crimea has fallen. I fear for its non-Russian citizens.

  15. Jessica

    I agree that a protracted guerrilla conflict in Ukraine would be a disaster for the Ukrainian people.
    However, Putin might face a different situation at home than with the war in Chechnya. Russians would view killing Ukrainians very differently from killing Chechens. Chechens are objects of intense race-like prejudice. Ukrainians are seen as brothers.
    At a minimum, it would be like the difference between Jackson State and Kent State.
    When things reach this point, I remember that according to then US Secretary of State Brzezinski, the US began aiding Islamist forces in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion (not after it) with the express purpose of provoking a long, drawn-out war.

  16. heeheehee

    I can tell you for certain that Russians do not view Ukrainians as “brothers”. They consider Ukrainians to be backstabbers.

  17. bob mcmanus

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

    AFR:”Ukraine is our neighbor, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.”

    Are they really trying to provoke a war with Russia?

  18. Jessica

    “I can tell you for certain that Russians do not view Ukrainians as “brothers”. They consider Ukrainians to be backstabbers.”

    But don’t they see them as backstabbing brothers?
    If Russia wound up killing as many people in Ukraine as in Chechnya, would the Russian people really be OK with that?
    I used the Kent State analogy deliberately. When the four students were shot, there were plenty of people who thought something like “those dirty hippies finally got what they had coming to them”, but there was still a shitstorm and the system could not have repeated that too many times without being forced to change one way or another (maybe less repressive, maybe a lot more, but different).
    Wouldn’t that be the case in Russia now too?

  19. Celsius 233

    Ukrainians were treated very badly by Russia (Soviet Union) and thus welcomed the German army when they invaded Ukraine (WWII).
    Khrushchev went in (after WWII) and slaughtered ten’s of thousands of Ukrainians as pay back.
    A little history goes a long way towards knowledge and understanding Jessica…

  20. BDBlue

    Of course, the Germans also rewarded the Ukrainians’ welcome with slaughter as well. I’m only part of the way through Bloodlands and it’s already crystal clear that the one overriding truth seems to be that it sucks to be Ukrainian because your always stuck between Russia (in one form or the other) and its rivals (in one form or another).

    And, yes, this entire thing is just crazy. I’m no expert in that part of the world, but couldn’t Russia shut off energy to a large swath of Europe. By Europe, I mean the countries our ruling elite actually seem to care about such as Germany.

  21. Jean-Louis Desranleau

    Remember cossack gen. Vlassov, He was Ukrainian sided with the nazis and his troops committed bloody murder where ever they went. Then Stalin got his revenge. In all actuality please check the 2012 Uke. electoral map and you will see a country directly split in 2. For now whe only hear about the Kyiv (western part) of it, the eastern part, if it wakes up and it did will go to referendum on partition, leaving the Kyiev half of the country with a 35 billion $ in debt while the eastern part will go scott and debt free. US-EU-Banksters loosing all the way, but the biggest loosers will be the Ukrainians.

  22. Ian and commenters, thanks, as always, for rational, nuanced, provocative discussions. I always learn a lot by coming here, even if the situation is so complicated and crazy and constantly changing it makes my head spin.

    I’m sorry I can’t afford to contribute right now, Ian, but I do send your blog link to all and sundry on my mailing list and in the blabbosphere. Trying to spread the word in my own small way.

  23. Jessica

    @Celsius 233,
    Yes, that* would explain why Ukrainians would want to be out from under Russian control, but it does not in any imply that Russians for their part would look at Ukrainians in the jaundiced way many of them look at Chechens.
    I still think that if Putin winds up killing large number of Ukrainians, particularly civilians, there is a possibility of this having repercussions among his own people.
    *That and the suppression of Ukrainian nationalism by the czars and the famine in the 1930s during collectivization, which killed millions of Ukrainians and is considered by some to have been deliberate genocide. (Although much of what we are referring to as western Ukraine was part of Poland until 1939 and was not part of that famine.)

  24. Yesterday I linked to Dimitry Orlov’s article on the Ukraine situation over at a Naked Capitalism discussion on The Archdruid’s (John Michael Greer) essays on fascism. FYI: Orlov’s definition of fascism is “militarized bigotry”.
    “In light of all this, some people might wonder: were the people in Washington and in Brussels always eager to favor fascists, or is this a new thing for them? I believe the answer is that it doesn’t matter. Their assigned job is to destroy countries, and this they do well.”
    Yes, more shock doctrine, economic hit men an nefarious NGOS who screw populations everywhere.

    I also just finished “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking; A memoir of food and longing.” Highly recommend. It is the history of the Soviet Union as told through the food. In her chapter on the 1940s and WWII, she mentions Stalin’s scorched earth policy of burning the crops in the Ukraine and demolishing all the farm equipment before the invading German army. Hunger and starvation for the people. There is no “good war” or “greatest generation”.

  25. C

    It’s disingenuous of Greer to skip over the fact that in the end Weimar rallied together and elected “lesser-evil” Hindenburg in order to keep Hitler out of the President’s chair (“Better a zero than a Nero”). That…didn’t work out quite as hoped, which rather undercuts his reading of Weimar history as a sort of long-running sensible-centrist morality play.

  26. markfromireland

    @ Jessica March 2, 2014

    “I can tell you for certain that Russians do not view Ukrainians as “brothers”. They consider Ukrainians to be backstabbers.”

    But don’t they see them as backstabbing brothers?

    The key word there is ‘backstabbing’. Moreover fratricidal strife is notoriously vicious.

    If Russia wound up killing as many people in Ukraine as in Chechnya, would the Russian people really be OK with that?

    Yup. Russians believe in being secure. They have no intention whatsoever of being the next set of victims of American war making.


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