Russia, Syria, and Ukraine

Daniel Drezner argues that everyone has lost in Ukraine, but that Russia has lost most.


MikeD said...

Well, I suppose that's ONE way to look at it. "Putin lost because he didn't get the whole of Ukraine". I suppose if that's your view, then he "lost" in Georgia too. But that's ludicrous. He won. And he won without a major war. He is in control of the Crimean peninsula entirely, and in de facto control of the eastern half of the country. Moreover, our feckless leadership has not done a thing to assure other former Soviet republics that we will do a damned thing to help them in the event the Russian bear comes calling. He's siezed the Sudetenland from Georgia (if you'll pardon the metaphor), he's now taken the Rhineland back in the Ukraine. Now, Syria's no Austria or Poland, but perhaps that just means he's a wee bit smarter than his Twentieth-Century counterpart.

Ymar Sakar said...

Nobody that has two brain cells to rub together at the executive level, would trust the US now, except as a backstabber.

Even Bush's decisions not to allow Saddam to surrender is being analyzed as being on par with Ghaddafi and others. When a reputation and a divine shield is destroyed, a nation will never get it back. Not this century at this.

Grim said...

That's my understanding too, Mike, which is why I was taken by the alternative opinion. On the other hand, I have read that Russia has lost a lot more soldiers in Ukraine than they are letting on. It may be that the shift to Syria is an admission that furthering Ukrainian ambitions is too costly.

MikeD said...

Well, he didn't stop the offensive because he was getting bad press, that's for sure. He sputtered out, much the same (though for different reasons) as he did in Georgia. And I suppose there may be something to the idea that he doesn't want to risk public opinion (at home in Russia, he doesn't give a fig for opinion elsewhere) turning on him. So he shifts the focus elsewhere. But by any measure of "success" that doesn't require "absolute victory" he's won. He won in Georgia (despite not getting everything he wanted), and he won in Ukraine (despite not getting everything he wanted), and I frankly see no reason he's not going to win in Syria. Who's going to stop him?

And that's the point in all of this. Nobody has yet stopped him. Oh sure, we brushed him off in Georgia through well placed "humanitarian assistance" which kept him from utilizing his air superiority, but that was a previous Administration who did that. The current (feckless) Administration all but gave him carte blanche on the Ukraine, and really, the only thing that stopped him there was the resistance of the Ukrainians themselves (and their Eastern European allies). Who will oppose him in Syria? ISIS? They have no major allies (one of the few "good" things about them is they did their level best to piss off everyone around them). The Turks? I suppose they will be a little sad that they lose their excuse to keep killing Kurds, but I'm sure they'll get along fine with the Assad regime. After all, they have since his father came to power. No, the Russians have themselves a new client state and a de facto alliance with the Iranians.

E Hines said...

No, the Russians have themselves a new client state and a de facto alliance with the Iranians.

And both of them have access to year 'round warm water ports on the Med, and through that to the open ocean (Iran just has to consolidate its Iraq corridor).

Another problem I had with the linked article was the author's underlying premise that Putin thinks like us--like the author. Of course, Putin does not. His pain thresholds are not ours, his pain points are not ours, his imperatives are not ours, his motives are not ours. There's no reason at all to suppose he'll behave like us, or respond appropriately to the things we're doing to him--since those things are only things that would hurt us were they done to us.

An astute observer like Putin would read the things we're doing to him and recognize straight off the things we fear. Or at least that Obama and his admin cronies fear.

Eric Hines