Some Clarity On Russia And Ukraine

Anne Applebaum has a really sober and accurate description of what has been going on:

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A reader adds:

For too long, news reports have spoken of the “Ukrainian rebels” as if the warfare underway in the Donetsk to Luhansk corridor were some sort of bona fide local uprising. It is true that the populace in this zone have pro-Russian sympathies. But the suggestion that they rose up against Kiev is nonsense. Everyone who has looked closely at these operations–starting with a study of the personnel who sprouted up out of nowhere as local “mayors” or “leaders” has come to the same conclusion–this is a very sophisticated covert operation of Russian intelligence, using Russian personnel with clear links to the Russian intelligence services (but covert nevertheless) in all the starring roles, drawing on support from regular Russian military as well as the elite Spetsnaz units, with money, weapons, munitions and logistical support all supplied with a go-ahead from the Kremlin. In other words, Putin really is calling all the shots–including telling the “Ukrainian rebels” to make a show of being independent.

Now, that being established, let us not lose sight of the fact that the United States decided back in the Bush years to rely principally on covert operations for its counterterrorism operations, and Obama fully embraced this.

This is the reason for the full militarization of the CIA, its outfitting with its own air force, and the revving up of JSOC as the covert military unit of the Pentagon. The Kremlin has tracked all of this very carefully, and it’s firmly of the view that if the Americans can wage covert war around the globe using the CIA/JSOC, so can they, using their Spetsnaz and their covert military operations. This in no way excuses MH17, of course, but it provides some important context.

The U.S. decision to turn steadily in the direction of covert warfare has consequences, and we see some of them in the tools used by the Kremlin to fight in Ukraine. It’s a darker, nastier world, and Obama’s decisions have made a significant contribution to that.

Notwithstanding that observation, I’d say his handling of the MH17 incident, and the rest of the Russian adventure in Ukraine, has been pitch perfect. I can hardly imagine where we’d be with someone like John McCain or Butters at the helm. Probably inching our way towards global thermonuclear war… over whether Donetsk and Luhansk are part of Ukraine or part of Russia (talk about issues which matter not an iota in terms of U.S. national interest).