Russia: We won’t intervene in Ukraine

posted at 9:21 am on February 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

That’s the good news. The (potential) bad news? They want a return to the status quo ante, at least in part, before holding any more elections — and they want the West to stay out of Ukraine in any sense:

 Moscow pledged Tuesday it would not intervene in the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine but said the country should not be forced to choose between Russia and the West.

“We confirmed our principled position of non-intervention in Ukraine’s internal affairs and expect that everyone follows similar logic,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We are interested in Ukraine being part of the European family, in all senses of the word,” he said after talks with Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

But he added: “We agree that… it is dangerous and counterproductive to force Ukraine into a choice — either you are with us or against us.”

That is a bit of a false choice anyway. There are very few voices calling for an all-or-nothing orientation toward the West, even in western Ukraine. The foreign minister of France, Laurent Fabius, denied that the EU was asking for any such arrangement.  On the other hand, Viktor Yanukovich stiffed the EU in favor of an economic bias almost totally in favor of Moscow despite deep unpopularity with such reliance on their former Soviet masters in much of the country.

Perhaps this, then, is a fallback position for Moscow, and a realization that Yanukovich isn’t likely to be welcomed back to power in Ukraine. The relatively strong response from the West — including the rapid deployment of a high-ranking State Department official to Kyiv — must have caught Moscow off-guard. The statement from Lavrov notably omits any reference to the deposed president, and instead demands a return to order from the new authorities, after watching the statue of a Russian Empire field marshal  get knocked down like those of Lenin:

The foreign ministry also Tuesday lashed out at the toppling of a statue of Russian field marshal Mikhail Kutuzov in the western city of Lviv, calling it a “barbaric and Russophobic action.”

“We demand that the new Ukrainian authorities stop this lawlessness,” it said.

Who are the new Ukrainian authorities? Right now, it’s still not clear. The Ukrainian parliament delayed the formation of a new government for another couple of days, despite the EU’s insistence on having a government in place before assistance on debt can be transmitted:

Ukraine’s interim authorities balked at forming a new government Tuesday as horse-trading among parties in parliament continued, despite pleas from the European Union to quickly pave the way for an emergency aid package.

Activists on the Maidan, the protest epicenter formally known as Independence Square, expressed dissatisfaction with the roster of familiar faces that the parliament has been considering for top posts following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych over the weekend.

“We need totally new people,” said Yaroslav Kazmyrchuk, 70, who described himself as a pensioner and a revolutionary. He said the protest on the Maidan — where a large crowd gathered Tuesday morning — would continue until it was clear that all the “bandits” would be removed from power. …

A Maidan council has been established by a group of prominent activists to consult on ministerial choices. According to a statement it posted, “We will check each candidate to be proposed by the new parliamentary majority” to be sure that no one who is rich, or who worked for Yanukovych, or was involved in human rights abuses, is selected.

“Each member of the new government must secure the Maidan’s approval,” the statement said.

That may be a noble concept, but it also may end up paralyzing the parliament on putting Ukraine back on its feet. All sides will have to find ways to compromise enough to make government work, or the state could collapse. At that point, Russia may have its pretext to intervene, at least to secure the Crimean peninsula and its primarily ethnic-Russian population. Reform can’t happen overnight, and the Maidan has a narrow window in which to demonstrate that it can govern as well as lead.


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So, why are we?

Akzed on February 25, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Will Russia cut of the natural gas supply? Perhaps they will have some “maintenance” problems?

Kermit on February 25, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Wow, this guy looks serious.

ToddPA on February 25, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Russia: We won’t intervene in Ukraine

“The check’s in the mail.”

“Of course I’ll still love you in the morning.”

“I promise I won’t …”

Flora Duh on February 25, 2014 at 9:29 AM

And we should trust Putin because. . . why, exactly?

I’m waiting for a staged event where a Russian is killed, necessitating the deployment of Russian tanks.

rbj on February 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Will Russia cut of the natural gas supply? Perhaps they will have some “maintenance” problems?

Kermit on February 25, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Of course, my Ukrainian comrades, ALL decisions have “unintended” consequences. We wish you all the best of luck!

NavyMustang on February 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Maybe they can offer up their ice dancers to lighten the mood.

hillsoftx on February 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Now that the Olympics are over it’s back to the daily hell which is Russia, they need something to distract the people from that.

Bishop on February 25, 2014 at 9:32 AM

No Prague Spring?

NotCoach on February 25, 2014 at 9:33 AM

I’m surprised. Given Putin, I expected Russian tanks in western Ukraine sooner or later.

LashRambo on February 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Maybe they can offer up their ice dancers to lighten the mood.

hillsoftx on February 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Or get the state police choir to sing “Get Lucky” again.

Happy Nomad on February 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

…who believes him?

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2014 at 9:42 AM

OT- Everybody needs to go to Drudge and see the picture of Adolph Merkel.

Happy Nomad on February 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

O/T

Check out Drudge with the pic of Merkel and Netanyahu, hilarious…in a weird way.

msupertas on February 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Happy Nomad on February 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Great minds, Nomad.

msupertas on February 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

You guys underestimate how cautious and methodical Putin is. At this stage, intervention in Eastern Ukraine is not an option for him.
And Crimea is difficult as well – the peninsula is completely dependent on mainland Ukraine for gas, electricity and first of all water (no aquifiers there), what is he going to do with it?

What he IS going to do is to start distributing Russian passports to the residents of Crimea (80% of them ethnic Russian), so at some point (5-10 years down the road?) he can perhaps move to “defend Russian citizens in distress”. That’s how the Abkhazia scenario played out.

buridan on February 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Aww man, I wanted to be the first to mention that!

Fathom on February 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Aww man, I wanted to be the first to mention that!

Fathom on February 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

The Hitler mustache, I mean…..

Fathom on February 25, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Riiiiighttt.

BKeyser on February 25, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Putin doesn’t have to do a thing. He ‘controls’ much of the country through ethnic numbers and the Crimea with the same and his naval presence. Throw in Ukraine’s total dependency on Russia for its energy (and to a great extent, the Eu’s, as well) Chesty Putin is in the catbird’s seat. Toss in the continued non activity of the toothless and feckless EU and the impotent O’ administration into the mix, in combo with the infighting within the demonstrators’ masses sure to come, and all the Russkies have to do is await the cry of “Uncle” from Ukraine…

vnvet on February 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

They have never stopped intervening…

Russia’s biggest naval base in on Ukraine territory.

albill on February 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Never trust the Russians…

mnjg on February 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM

“We demand that the new Ukrainian authorities stop this lawlessness,” it said.

Russia is to the Ukraine as Americans are to the Obama administration.

fogw on February 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM

I have a question. Does Russia consider the Crimea as part of the Ukraine?

Blaise on February 25, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Is it just me, or do I sense that President will breathe a sigh of relief, and turn to other things, claiming victory, while Putin either waits a few weeks and then interferes with either Russian troops or surrogates in the Ukraine supported and supplied by the Russians?

After all, when did Putin’s words match his actions. And more importantly, when did President Obama’s words mean anything but words?

TKPedersen42 on February 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Ukraine is important – I have no problems giving them money.

The only POSITIVE thing about the EU is it has made it impossible for the member states to be attacked by anyone else. I know a lot of people don’t see a lot of value in this to us – but it could help prevent us from sending another few hundred thousands of America’s sons and daughters to Europe to straighten things out when the shit hits the fan again.

We need to isolate the Russians and the Chinese – and pulling the Ukraine into the sphere of the EU would be one critical step in that direction. The EU needs to close the gap – ALL THE WAY TO THE BORDER OF RUSSIA.

HondaV65 on February 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I’m surprised. Given Putin, I expected Russian tanks in western Ukraine sooner or later.

They don’t need to yet. The opposition is in disarray and they know there isn’t going to be any military push back from the EU or NATO if the need arises to secure the country by force. They’ll play the long game but the result will be the same, they (their Ukraine proxy) will control the ports and pipelines.

lowandslow on February 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I’m surprised. Given Putin, I expected Russian tanks in western Ukraine sooner or later.

LashRambo on February 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM

I didn’t.

Remember what happened in Georgia, the Russian advance fell into chaos around Gori as their army started acting like a bunch of barbarians, pillaging and looting. Ukraine is a MUCH bigger country, and worse, the eastern sector is friendly to Putin. What happens if discipline fails and the army runs riot in Eastern Ukraine before they can get to Kiev?

My attitude is that if Putin could not conquer and annex tiny Georgia, then he lacks the ability to conquer Ukraine.

What he IS going to do is to start distributing Russian passports to the residents of Crimea (80% of them ethnic Russian), so at some point (5-10 years down the road?) he can perhaps move to “defend Russian citizens in distress”. That’s how the Abkhazia scenario played out.

buridan on February 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

If Putin is going to conquer Ukraine by force, the time to do so is now when the US and EU are too weak and feckless to act militarily, and Ukraine is in political and economic chaos and disorganized with the collapse of the government. If he waits ten years, he will likely face a stable Ukrainian government and could be facing different political conditions in the US/EU that make an invasion much tougher.

Doomberg on February 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Russia: We won’t intervene in Ukraine

(crosses fingers of both hands, and toes of both feet)

Ukraine’s interim authorities balked at forming a new government Tuesday as horse-trading among parties in parliament continued, despite pleas from the European Union to quickly pave the way for an emergency aid package.

Activists on the Maidan, the protest epicenter formally known as Independence Square, expressed dissatisfaction with the roster of familiar faces that the parliament has been considering for top posts following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych over the weekend.

They had better work out a deal quickly, since Russia might consider a power vacuum and a divided opposition as a sign of weakness, and a time to regroup and strike.

A Maidan council has been established by a group of prominent activists to consult on ministerial choices. According to a statement it posted, “We will check each candidate to be proposed by the new parliamentary majority” to be sure that no one who is rich, or who worked for Yanukovych, or was involved in human rights abuses, is selected.

The Maidan protesters might need to reconsider their aversion to rich people. A rich pro-Western Ukrainian might have ties to the business community, and potential Western clients, who could help establish trade with the West that can help build Ukrainian businesses and provide jobs. A Ukrainian version of the Koch brothers could go a long way in rebuilding the economy, so that Russian socialism loses its appeal.

Steve Z on February 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Wow, I feel much better now.

Especially since Obama can No Longer Boycott a Russian sponsored Olympics if they do.

jaydee_007 on February 25, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Who would trust a man who would steal cash from his own starving citizens?

ajacksonian on February 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Remember what happened in Georgia, the Russian advance fell into chaos around Gori as their army started acting like a bunch of barbarians, pillaging and looting. Ukraine is a MUCH bigger country, and worse, the eastern sector is friendly to Putin. What happens if discipline fails and the army runs riot in Eastern Ukraine before they can get to Kiev?

My attitude is that if Putin could not conquer and annex tiny Georgia, then he lacks the ability to conquer Ukraine.

Actually Russia easily defeated the Georgian army and could certainly have taken all of Georgia if they had wanted to. The Georgians started the war by invading South Ossetia, and the Russians halted their advance once the Georgians were driven out.

Jon0815 on February 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM

WW3 Alert: Russians Begin Massing Troops On Ukraine Border, Russian Marines On ‘War Footing’ In Crimea

The Russians had begun massing troops at Belgorod, 25 miles north to the Ukrainian border. Rostov on-Don and Sevastopol also on high alert

Today at 12:00 of Temryuk port (Russia) should arrive in Sevastopol large landing ship “Nikolai Fil’chenkov” with 200 soldiers on board. In this Monday, Feb. 24, citing its sources from the Crimea, the chairman of the Ukrainian faction “Freedom” Oleg Tyagnibok correspondent MFN.

He also noted that “on February 22-23, … IL-76 flights airlifted from Kubinka (Moscow region) to Anapa personnel of the 45th Airborne Special Forces units and four Il-76 flights from Pskov to Anapa more division relocated. And from Sochi Anapa airlifted six Mi-8 aircraft (obviously, Mi-8 – MFN) “- said Tyahnibok.

Just buying time and shaping the battlefield.

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Putin will not allow the loss of Sevastopol. The protestors had better take that into account.

Rancher on February 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Never trust the Russians…

mnjg on February 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM

I tend to agree, but at the very least should follow Reagan’s guiding principle when dealing with the Russians: “Trust BUT Verify”.

It would not be the first time the Russians reneg on a promise.

Norwegian on February 25, 2014 at 2:23 PM

<strong>Vigilante units to defend Crimea city against ‘fascist’ threat from Kiev

It is over 70 years since the people of Sebastopol fought the desperate eight-month siege against invading Nazis that is commemorated on memorials around this port city.

But many residents of this town of 340,000 on Ukraine’s Crimean peninsular are gearing up to fight them again.

“We don’t want what happened in Kiev to happen here. Nazis and bandits have seized power there. And if we have to fight, we’ll fight with everything we can get our hands on,” said a member of the local chapter of the Night Wolves biker gang.

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Russia extends offer of citizenship to Crimea

The Russian MPs from the Liberal Democratic party delivered the message that Crimeans could claim Russian citizenship.

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 6:55 PM


Ukraine Fears Separatism as Pro-Russia Protests Erupt in Crimea

Monday night, the city council in the Crimean city of Sevastopol elected Aleksei Chaliy, a Russian citizen, as mayor as more than a thousand supporters gathered around city call, chanting “Russia, Russia, Russia” and “A Russian mayor for a Russian City.” And earlier Monday, Sevastopol police chief Alexander Goncharov said his forces would refuse any “criminal orders” from Kiev.

A Russian mayor elected in Sevastopol. (Emphasis is mine.)

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Ukraine Crisis: Putin Holds High-Level Security Meeting Amid Crimea Deployment

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a high-level security meeting with top officials in the country hours after Moscow’s reported deployment of vessels in the autonomous Crimea region in Ukraine further raising the stakes in the geo-political crisis.

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Russian Bear plays the waiting game on Ukraine

Moscow could choose to openly back separatist-minded groups in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that hosts the base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, further splitting Ukraine. Ignoring pleas for help from pro-Russian groups in Ukraine could shatter Putin’s carefully manicured image of the tough ruler eager to confront the West, encouraging his foes back home.

Putin will never give up Sevastopol. (Emphasis is mine.)

Kaffa on February 25, 2014 at 7:15 PM