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Subject: Crimea - please give me an executive summary rss

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I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.
 
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tesuji wrote:
I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.


So you want spoilers?
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LeeDambis wrote:
What, again? There are only four or five threads on this, starting with the one about Protestors Under Attack in Kiev.

Executive summary:

Ukrainians had a deal with the west.
Russians offered them a deal.
Ukrainian president back-tracked and accepted Moscow's offer.
Ukrainian president was overthrown and fled to Moscow.
Russian troops, who are not Russian and are not troops, but freedom-fighter volunteers, seized control of military bases in the Crimea.
Spontaneous elections show 95% of Crimeans like Moscow better than Kiev.
Western powers, led by U.S., don't buy this yarn and want to impose sanctions.

Or something to that effect.



I haven't been following all those threads. I wasn't that interested in details, although I have somehow picked up most of what you've said.

It is possible that 95% of Crimeans really agree? That's a super high number for an election.

I read something about the vote happening while occupied by Russia and that making the vote suspect.

What I don't understand is what exactly Russia has been doing, what the people inside Crimea want, and why the West is so opposed if people voted to join Russia.

Normally with stories like this you also eventually see "analysis" articles coming out too, which explain more of the big picture and the significance of the events. I've been watching but haven't seen any.
 
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It also helps when the ballots are pre-filled out and stuffed into the boxes.
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LeeDambis wrote:
It's easy to get 95% agreement when those who disagree either boycott the election or aren't allowed into the polling places by those Russian troops who aren't Russian and aren't troops.




There is precedent, the beloved leader of Iraq received 99.97% of the votes in 1995 and the 100% in 2002!
 
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TheChin! wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:
It's easy to get 95% agreement when those who disagree either boycott the election or aren't allowed into the polling places by those Russian troops who aren't Russian and aren't troops.




There is precedent, the beloved leader of Iraq received 99.97% of the votes in 1995 and the 100% in 2002!


And I believe our beloved Kim Jung Un received 100% of the vote recently. I mean really, a guy that popular shouldn't be the rule of some little third rate shit hole, he should be here in the US! Imagine all he could accomplish if he were our president.
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COMPNOR wrote:
TheChin! wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:
It's easy to get 95% agreement when those who disagree either boycott the election or aren't allowed into the polling places by those Russian troops who aren't Russian and aren't troops.




There is precedent, the beloved leader of Iraq received 99.97% of the votes in 1995 and the 100% in 2002!


And I believe our beloved Kim Jung Un received 100% of the vote recently. I mean really, a guy that popular shouldn't be the rule of some little third rate shit hole, he should be here in the US! Imagine all he could accomplish if he were our president.


I was reading somewhere this morning, Assad got 96%.

We should be happy though. This is clearly the Crimeans picking their preferred government and going their own way! I hear it was a 75% turnout too, which is unprecedented!!!
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tesuji wrote:
I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.


Sevastapol, which is in Crimea, has been a critically important naval base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet for the past 200 years and they will do whatever it takes to ensure that remains the case.
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LeeDambis wrote:

Excellent. Thanks.

So how could this turn into a wider war?

What effect will sanctions have? Maybe make Putin more, or less, popular at home? I saw that some Russians (including Pussy Riot - there's an RSP morsel...) were protesting Putin's actions.
 
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tesuji wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:
What, again? There are only four or five threads on this, starting with the one about Protestors Under Attack in Kiev.

Executive summary:

Ukrainians had a deal with the west.
Russians offered them a deal.
Ukrainian president back-tracked and accepted Moscow's offer.
Ukrainian president was overthrown and fled to Moscow.
Russian troops, who are not Russian and are not troops, but freedom-fighter volunteers, seized control of military bases in the Crimea.
Spontaneous elections show 95% of Crimeans like Moscow better than Kiev.
Western powers, led by U.S., don't buy this yarn and want to impose sanctions.

Or something to that effect.



I haven't been following all those threads. I wasn't that interested in details, although I have somehow picked up most of what you've said.

It is possible that 95% of Crimeans really agree? That's a super high number for an election.

I read something about the vote happening while occupied by Russia and that making the vote suspect.

What I don't understand is what exactly Russia has been doing, what the people inside Crimea want, and why the West is so opposed if people voted to join Russia.

Normally with stories like this you also eventually see "analysis" articles coming out too, which explain more of the big picture and the significance of the events. I've been watching but haven't seen any.


Not a bad summary above, there are plenty of analysis articles coming out.

Election results are suspect, as the region is under "Russian" military occupation. Options on the ballet did not include maintaining the status quo, and most pro-Ukrainian people didn't bother voting.

Opposition from the West is based on the theory that you shouldn't be able to roll in to your neighbors territory, and call for a vote for the territory to become yours.

Other long term impacts include throwing a big wrench in any non-proliferation efforts, because Ukraine gave up its nukes in exchange for border protection from US and Russia (maybe NATO as well). So now nobody will want to give up nukes, for fear of this happening to them.

As to what Russia is thinking, it appears to be a mix of securing their port, and boosting Putin's popularity back home.
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It could also turn into a war if we have troops on the ground and James Blunt is not in the field.

It could also start if some hot head decides to follow the more stupid advice and shoots a Russian soldier for being "out of uniform".
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LeeDambis wrote:
What, again? There are only four or five threads on this, starting with the one about Protestors Under Attack in Kiev.

Executive summary:

Ukrainians had a deal with the west.



Don't forget: Russians decide to wipe their arses with the 1994 Russia-US-UK-Ukraine deal to respect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in return for Ukraine giving up its nukes.
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LeeDambis wrote:
tesuji wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:

Excellent. Thanks.

So how could this turn into a wider war?

What effect will sanctions have? Maybe make Putin more, or less, popular at home? I saw that some Russians (including Pussy Riot - there's an RSP morsel...) were protesting Putin's actions.

It could turn into a wider conflict if Putin feels emboldened by his success in Crimea. Russian soldiers wearing stripped-down uniforms parading around Sevastopol or Simferopol (cities in the Crimea) are one thing. Russian tanks in Kharkov (Ukraine) would be quite another. Russian tanks in Riga (Latvia, a NATO member) would be World War III.

It could also turn into a wider conflict if Putin is made desperate by sanctions which end up crushing the Russian economy. He could find himself in a use-it-or-lose-it power situation.

Neither of these is likely to occur because of who and what Putin is. He's been described as a cold, hard, calculating man. He spent his youth as a KGB agent in East Germany. He switched from KGB to anti-coup at exactly the right moment in 1991 and then moved up the ladder from St. Petersburg to Moscow and on to head Boris Yeltsin's security and intelligence service. He might be a public-image outdoorsman and he-man, but he approaches politics like a chess master. This is not surprising, considering that the KGB used chess-think to train its intelligence agents. Something to think about next time you read an article which claims that Putin is being "out-maneuvered" on the Black Sea chessboard: he's probably far better at the game than the article's author.

None of this, of course, changes the fact that Russia is a mere shadow of the military power that the Soviet Union once was. Putin is certainly aware of this. If he's as cold and calculating as claimed, he'll keep the game stalemated rather than fight from a losing position - as he did in Georgia by seizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia while withdrawing from the remainder of the country. That's the most likely endgame: a stalemate with Russia in control of a largely-compliant Crimea while Ukraine remains in control of its own affairs.

As for the effects of sanctions on Putin's power base, see this most excellent article, which was linked by one of our Russian fellow board game geeks.




Very good article.
 
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LeeDambis wrote:
He switched from KGB to anti-coup at exactly the right moment in 1991


IIRC Putin was a protege of Anatoly Sobchak, the Mayor of Leningrad during the 1991 August Putsch, who managed to keep the KGB paramilitary forces out of his city by negotiation while returning from vacationing in the Caspian. The KGB planned to arrest Sobchak when he arrived back in Leningrad, but Putin organized a guard to prevent Sobchak's capture.

If Sobchak hadn't kept the KGB out of Leningrad and been captured instead, things might have went very different in Moscow - the active opposition to the coup was very thin on the ground there. There were a lot of senior figures in the Army, KGB, and Interior Ministry who hesitated to back the putsch because the putschists failed to secure Leningrad. If Putin had jumped the other way, the putschists might have still succeeded despite their incompetence.
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LeeDambis wrote:
What we're left with is naked power politics. The Russians have it. They're daring the rest of us to take it away from them. We're not going to do that. Instead, there will be sanctions of still-undetermined severity, and Russia will recoup the Crimea as a Russian province and naval base.


The problem is that Russia won't be able to hold out economically. Yes, they can take the Crimea and all of the Ukraine as well. But the Ukraine, as the Crimea, is bankrupt and would be a drain on Russian resources. And Russia is tethering on the verge of an economic collapse that would make 2008 look like a hick-up.

What Putin wants is power. He used to base it on the oligarchs supported by a middle class. Now that middle class has abandoned him so he shifts his power towards a poorer, more rural, base. He's still got the oligarchs but they won't be enough to hold all of Russia, not if there's a popular surge against Putin since he doesn't have complete control over the military (in fact he's tried to consolidate his power there through negotiations and bribes, but he knows that if the military leaders see a chance to grab power for themselves they will). Neither is the secret police powerful enough to oppose the military - if Putin tried a purge of the generals he'd end up with a military uprising, and he doesn't have the physical power (i.e weapons, manpower) to fight that.

So he goes on an action that gains him popularity with the nationalist poor, while at the same time giving something to the generals (more power but diluted over a larger slice of the pie).

The question now is whether he'll try to grab half or all of the Ukraine. If he rolls all the way to Poland the government there will fall and Poland will become ultra-nationalist over night. There's too much fear of "the Bear" in Poland to ignore Russian troops on the border. And Poland is a member of Nato, which could involve other countries which would prefer to stay out.
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LeeDambis wrote:
obviously rigged vote on Crimean sovereignty

Can you point me to some sources that would substantiate this?

Everything I've been reading in the news suggests that everyone knew how the referendum would go because the majority of Crimeans are Russian and would prefer to be in the Russian Federation.

I know plenty of folks in this thread have suggested that the results show the election was rigged, but that's kind of silly. Mitt Romney won over 93% of the vote in the Republican primary in 2012 (up from 89% in the '08 primary), and that wasn't rigged. He was just very popular among Utah Republicans.
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Tiwsman wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:
obviously rigged vote on Crimean sovereignty

Can you point me to some sources that would substantiate this?

Everything I've been reading in the news suggests that everyone knew how the referendum would go because the majority of Crimeans are Russian and would prefer to be in the Russian Federation.

I know plenty of folks in this thread have suggested that the results show the election was rigged, but that's kind of silly. Mitt Romney won over 93% of the vote in the Republican primary in 2012 (up from 89% in the '08 primary), and that wasn't rigged. He was just very popular among Utah Republicans.


Mainly Crimea isn't Utah. Numbers like that in the entirity of the US would be considered (or just in a General) obscene.

More specifically, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea

Crimea is 56% Russian, 24% Ukranian, and 12% Tartar. Given the ethnic tensions and nationalism involved, the number they're talking about are nigh-unthinkable... excepting of course the possibility of Fraud.

Add in Russia's bad reputation for elections and the military presence, and it's pretty much a slam-dunk.

Edit: Bonus image;


Remember, over 90% is the claim.
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windsagio wrote:
Tiwsman wrote:
LeeDambis wrote:
obviously rigged vote on Crimean sovereignty

Can you point me to some sources that would substantiate this?

Everything I've been reading in the news suggests that everyone knew how the referendum would go because the majority of Crimeans are Russian and would prefer to be in the Russian Federation.

I know plenty of folks in this thread have suggested that the results show the election was rigged, but that's kind of silly. Mitt Romney won over 93% of the vote in the Republican primary in 2012 (up from 89% in the '08 primary), and that wasn't rigged. He was just very popular among Utah Republicans.


Mainly Crimea isn't Utah.

You're right. Crimea has fewer people and they live closer together.

Quote:
Numbers like that in the entirity of the US would be considered (or just in a General) obscene.

More specifically, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea

Crimea is 56% Russian, 24% Ukranian, and 12% Tartar. Given the ethnic tensions and nationalism involved, the number they're talking about are nigh-unthinkable... excepting of course the possibility of Fraud.

Add in Russia's bad reputation for elections and the military presence, and it's pretty much a slam-dunk.

Edit: Bonus image;


Remember, over 90% is the claim.

So, the numbers I've read put voter turnout in Crimea at about 75% and most of the Tatars are supposed to have boycotted the referendum.

I'll assume the ethnic breakdown you've given for the whole population matches that for the eligible voters. If all the Tatars boycotted and half the ethnic Ukrainians boycotted, then we'd have about 75% turnout. And 75% of those voters would be Russian. If the Russians all voted to go to Russia and 80% of voting Ukrainians also did, that would get to 95%.

That would mean all the Russians want to be in Russia (quite possible), 40% of Ukrainians want to be in Russia (quite possible, in that region, in response to Euromaidan), and none of the Tatars do (quite possible).

That doesn't sound like a rigged election to me. It sounds like democracy.

But if there's evidence beyond the numbers, then I could believe it.
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The ballot didn't even have an option to not secede.

Also see:
http://maidantranslations.com/2014/03/16/why-the-crimean-ref...

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Tiwsman wrote:

So, the numbers I've read put voter turnout in Crimea at about 75% and most of the Tatars are supposed to have boycotted the referendum.

I'll assume the ethnic breakdown you've given for the whole population matches that for the eligible voters. If all the Tatars boycotted and half the ethnic Ukrainians boycotted, then we'd have about 75% turnout. And 75% of those voters would be Russian. If the Russians all voted to go to Russia and 80% of voting Ukrainians also did, that would get to 95%.

That would mean all the Russians want to be in Russia (quite possible), 40% of Ukrainians want to be in Russia (quite possible, in that region, in response to Euromaidan), and none of the Tatars do (quite possible).

That doesn't sound like a rigged election to me. It sounds like democracy.

But if there's evidence beyond the numbers, then I could believe it.


First of all, to most people the 75% turnout number (which I almost posted myself as evidence but wasn't sure of the source) is only more evidence that it's crap to most people. That's a pretty high number to claim, especially considering the circumstances.

About your Utah example, here's the deal; if it were Russian members of the Military in Crimea, Romney-esque numbers would make sense, with the home-state same-party mormon angle.

You're ignoring the 24% of the population of Utah that's Democrats entirely, and you're ignoring the huge upward pressure he got from the religion angle.

An actual realistic comparison, if you wanted to look at states would be Texas in 2012, who voted about 56% Republican (which about matches the 56% of Ethnic Russians in the Crimea if you assume they'd all vote for Russia), and who had a 58% voter turnout rate in a fairly hotly contested 2012 presidential race.

~~~

It wasn't only a hack job, it was a sloppy hack job.

What is this, are we attracting RT correspondents all of a sudden or something? Can I get in on the cash, or is it invitation only?
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tesuji wrote:
I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.

Having cultivated and nurtured his Fifth Columnist strategy for the Crimea for a while, Vladimir Putin succeeded in getting a figurative foothold there. Putin especially desires its main seaport.

Putin apparently believed that Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics would serve to inoculate him from undue criticism afterwards. Although I predicted that he would crack down on Russian dissidents after the Olympics, I had not anticipated he would do anything of an outward expansion of Russia.

In my opinion, Putin is rebuilding the former Soviet Union since he believes it was a tragedy that it had dissolved. Since the Ukraine produces 30% of the world's grains, it would not surprise me if Putin made a grab for them as well.

If the West European countries were to enforce sanctions with more teeth in them, they'd likewise have to be prepared to make some sacrifices since some, if not many, West European countries get their natural gas from Russia via overland pipe. Also, West Europe's and Britain's economies are so intermingled with that of Russia that it could make them more unwilling to enforce stronger sanctions because they would have to bear the brunt of sacrifice in enforcing those tougher sanctions.


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ShreveportLAGamer wrote:


tesuji wrote:
I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.

Having cultivated and nurtured his Fifth Columnist strategy for the Crimea for a while, Vladimir Putin succeeded in getting a figurative foothold there. Putin especially desires its main seaport.

Putin apparently believed that Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics would serve to inoculate him from undue criticism afterwards. Although I predicted that he would crack down on Russian dissidents after the Olympics, I had not anticipated he would do anything of an outward expansion of Russia.

In my opinion, Putin is rebuilding the former Soviet Union since he believes it was a tragedy that it had dissolved. Since the Ukraine produces 30% of the world's grains, it would not surprise me if Putin made a grab for them as well.

If the West European countries were to enforce sanctions with more teeth in them, they'd likewise have to be prepared to make some sacrifices since some, if not many, West European countries get their natural gas from Russia via overland pipe. Also, West Europe's and Britain's economies are so intermingled with that of Russia that it could make them more unwilling to enforce stronger sanctions because they would have to bear the brunt of sacrifice in enforcing those tougher sanctions.




Saw... did not read.
 
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windsagio wrote:
Tiwsman wrote:

So, the numbers I've read put voter turnout in Crimea at about 75%

...

That doesn't sound like a rigged election to me. It sounds like democracy.

But if there's evidence beyond the numbers, then I could believe it.


First of all, to most people the 75% turnout number (which I almost posted myself as evidence but wasn't sure of the source) is only more evidence that it's crap to most people. That's a pretty high number to claim, especially considering the circumstances.

I don't know what you're talking about. Not every country has the dismally low turnout we have. According to Wikipedia, the second round of the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election had 69% turnout. In '04, it was 75%. This number seems kind of typical for voter behavior out there.

As I've said twice before (and now for the last time), I'm not excited by these numbers arguments claiming the election was rigged. They're just too reliant on assumptions about voter behavior that are based on a skewed, monocultural sample.

If there are actual facts suggesting the vote was rigged, though, I'd love to know about them.

windsagio wrote:
What is this, are we attracting RT correspondents all of a sudden or something? Can I get in on the cash, or is it invitation only?

Gosh, I hope you're not trying to imply that I set up an account here on BGG in 2011, claiming to be a board gamer from Utah the whole time, just to be ready to demand evidence in 2014 for a claim about a rigged vote in some corner of the world that people are more likely to associate with an underloved wargame or a Tennyson poem.

That would be not just rude, but stupidly rude.
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Tiwsman wrote:

If there are actual facts suggesting the vote was rigged, though, I'd love to know about them.


The problem is that RT, as well as the Ukrainian news services, have been playing the propaganda game since Day 1. RT ran pictures of 1000's of Ukrainians fleeing into Russia to "go home." Turns out the picture was actually at the Western border, and they were fleeing for fear of a Russian invasion.

The only evidence (and who knows who to believe) came from the Pravda news service. They showed the official totals from Sevastopol where the official stats show 474,137 people voted in the referendum. The problem? According to the most recent census of Sevastopol (taken just 5 months ago in 11/2013), there were only 383,499 living there. That includes children. So, unless it experienced a huge population boom during a period of political instability, there does seem to be some issue with elevated vote totals.

But, again, the propaganda is working overtime on both sides of the border, so who knows what truly went on. Knowing Putin's past, and the vision he's been putting forth for the future of Russia, I do have my doubts about the vote being 100% legit.
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ShreveportLAGamer wrote:


tesuji wrote:
I keep reading about developments in Crimea - election, Russian troops, sanctions, etc

These articles give me lots of pieces of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it all means.

What I'm missing is the big picture and analysis of the significance and implications for the future.

Please explain it to me briefly.

Having cultivated and nurtured his Fifth Columnist strategy for the Crimea for a while, Vladimir Putin succeeded in getting a figurative foothold there. Putin especially desires its main seaport.

Putin apparently believed that Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics would serve to inoculate him from undue criticism afterwards. Although I predicted that he would crack down on Russian dissidents after the Olympics, I had not anticipated he would do anything of an outward expansion of Russia.

In my opinion, Putin is rebuilding the former Soviet Union since he believes it was a tragedy that it had dissolved. Since the Ukraine produces 30% of the world's grains, it would not surprise me if Putin made a grab for them as well.

If the West European countries were to enforce sanctions with more teeth in them, they'd likewise have to be prepared to make some sacrifices since some, if not many, West European countries get their natural gas from Russia via overland pipe. Also, West Europe's and Britain's economies are so intermingled with that of Russia that it could make them more unwilling to enforce stronger sanctions because they would have to bear the brunt of sacrifice in enforcing those tougher sanctions.


So Putin was behind the Maiden demonstrations?
 
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