Thursday, March 6, 2014

Have I got a deal for you...

This is a political post.

I'll be honest, the first time I looked since this "dust-up" I had a little trouble finding the Ukraine on the map...and I like looking at maps. But I didn't comment because a) I had other priorities and b) and didn't know all the facts, except that the photos made it look like a baby civil war taking its first steps. And as it turned out, I was right.

The pictures I glanced at of the Yanukovych's estate were impressive, and the boat restaurant was a nice touch. In my opinion, I think his departure may have allowed them to sidestep a great deal of bloodshed, despite the deceptively named "military exercises" Russia's has decided to have and the mysterious troops with no insignia who just happen to speak Russian. Sure, not Russian though. Really. Sure.

So what to do? How about Ukraine just sell Russia the Crimean peninsula?

Why you ask? Because that's what it's all about. Unlike our own forays in retaliation in Afghanistan or outright revenge in Iraq, the Russian's major goal right now is securing the port of Sevastopol. This city on the Black Sea is the home of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet. Without Sevastopol, their ability to field a navy in Atlantic ocean is severely hampered for six months a year by this pesky thing called ice. It is a major strategic point, hence the designation geopolitical argument. This major base became part of the Ukraine in 1991 when they declared independence and since the Russians have LEASING it from Ukraine. Because they had no choice.

And geopolitically speaking, even as a novice, I'm going to guess that having your main southern military port under your own control is generally a preferable situation.

Up until a few weeks ago, the ownership mechanic wasn't really a problem, because Ukraine relied on Russia for quite a bit of its resources meaning even the previous western leaning leaders had understood their role. Despite overtures from the EU about membership the then current Yanukovych government was pretty much pro-Russian. This would be understandable after Russia cut-off the gas in 2006 and 2009 during the winter months, plunging the country into cold and darkness, to pressure the government to be pro-Russian. The whole thing was a sham of sorts, independent but not really. However, a large part of the general population did and still do believe the ruse and are interested in joining the European Union. Hence this, well, let's be honest, coup of sorts.

So, again, how about Ukraine just sell Russia the Crimean peninsula for 150 billion rubles? Or maybe just Sevastopol, the surrounding ten or fifteen miles for 100 billion, and we'll throw in the undercoating, no charge?

As it appears, Ukraine will have be split into it's East, West and Crimea component parts, which is already a stye in Putin's eye - he wanted it whole in his quest to rebuild old Russia. No, he's got to walk away with something. So Sevastopol, which is home to five Russian naval units including subs and surface ships, and where they're already "protecting" Russians frightened by recent events would be the perfect prize.

You see, while the Republicans here scream at the top of their lungs that this whole event exposes a truth, that Obama's foreign policy appears weak to the rest of the world, the reality is that Putin letting his country's major southern military port slip out of his hands will actually make him weak.

Further, here is an opportunity to learn from our previous mistakes in um, ...Nation Advising? Effectively the EU and America are now backing an off brand coup, which is some ways is reminiscent of change friction in Egypt - the banning of political parties, sweeping changes that upset the general populace, etc. Which means the whole thing could fall apart as quickly as that did. So even when this tense part is over, this whole thing is not gonna be over soon. But just so we're clear, everybody needs to holster their weapons and clear their throats. Words are needed here. Careful well thought out words.

But first things first. Putin. He's not leaving the Crimean peninsula. Way too much at stake. And they think we're all for sale anyway. So, Tell you what, Sevastopol, the land and a I'll throw in a flat screen TV. Forty inch plasma. 95 billion. My manager is gonna kill me. 

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