Is Moldova next?

posted at 10:41 am on March 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer from a different context, who’s next on the Vladimir Putin Hit Parade? Now that Putin has claimed the right to intervene on behalf of supposedly-beleaguered ethnic-Russian minorities, the field to his west is wide open to all sorts of possibilities. Allahpundit tweeted out this alarming report from Der Spiegel on Moldova, on the other side of the Black Sea, which hints that Putin may be busy trying to generate a pretext for action there:

If Mihail Formuzal had his way, the revolution in Kiev never would have happened. Then, Moldova would choose Russia instead of Europe, and the planned Association Agreement with the EU would already be history. The 54-year-old Formuzal is president of the autonomous Gagauzia region in Moldova. In early February he carried out a referendum by polling the approximately 155,000 members of the Gagauz Orthodox Christian minority here.

He wanted to know if they’d rather be part of the Russia-led Customs Union or work with the European Union. The result: 98.5 percent of the participants voted for Russia — 68,000 votes to 1,900.

In Moldova, the Gagauz are considered Moscow’s fifth column. “We aren’t against the EU, we’re pragmatic,” says Formuzal, a former Soviet artillery major, as he sits in an office on Lenin Street with a massive granite Lenin perched in front of his window. “My son is studying in Giessen, in Germany; Europe’s biggest shoe salesman, Heinrich Deichmann, is Gagauzia’s greatest patron,” he says. “We like all European values, except your gay marriage.” …

Moscow is now in the process of infiltrating the last pro-European republics in its sphere of influence. Moldova is especially important to the Russians: a country, smaller than the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalia, almost entirely surrounded by Ukraine except for a border it shares with Romania. The republic, which left the Soviet Union in 1991, only has three million inhabitants.

Until 2009, the communists led the country — but now a pro-European coalition is in power. Moldova long ago agreed on the text of an Association Agreement with the EU and it is supposed to be signed in August. This makes Moldova and Georgia the only ones of the six original former Soviet republics risking rapprochement with Europe.

But will it actually happen? The Kremlin is currently expending significant effort to loosen Europe’s grasp on Moldova — and using the Gagauz to do so. The Gagauz capital, Comrat, is a sleepy town in the south Moldavian steppe where the only language spoken aside from Gagauz is Russian and people watch Moscow’s Channel One.

There are a couple of problems with the Moldovan scenario, though. First, Moldova is landlocked and shares no border with Russia. Even if Ukraine gets partitioned, Moldova would still have no border close enough for Russian intervention. Putin would have to violate Ukrainian airspace and likely Romanian airspace to intervene — and Romania is a NATO member. Moldova simply doesn’t have enough strategic value to Moscow to run that risk. Besides, only 5.8% of Moldova’s population (~3.6 million overall) is ethnic Russian, which makes for a pretty poor pretext.

But what might have that much strategic value? Look more toward the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, where a quarter of the population or more in both are ethnic Russian. Both border Russia, and together with Lithuania block access to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg in East Prussia a century ago). Guess what Russia was doing this week in Kaliningrad?

Russian naval warships and coastal troops conducted live fire exercises Monday in the country’s western Kaliningrad and Leningrad Regions, a Ministry of Defense spokesperson said.

The exercises, part of a combat readiness test ordered by President Vladimir Putin last week, come amid a growing international crisis as evidence mounts that Russian troops have been deployed across Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. …

A spokesman for the Western Military District, which borders Ukraine, said that a broad range of weapons systems, including ground troops, tanks, and naval artillery and air defense missiles, took part in the Baltic Fleet exercises.

The Baltic Fleet units engaged dummy air, sea and land targets simulating enemy forces, including tanks, aircraft and submarines.

Putin’s declaration of sovereignty on the basis of ethnicity has echoes in recent history, and that’s all bad, as I argue in my column for The Week today:

Russia now claims to act as the protector of ethnic Russians as justification for occupying the Crimean Peninsula — against the wishes of Crimean Tatars — and possibly most of eastern Ukraine soon.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how dangerous this could be in a region of former Soviet satellites. According to the CIA World Factbook, ethnic Russians comprise 17.3 percent of Ukraine’s population. Nine percent of Georgia’s population speaks Russian as a first language. In the formerly Soviet Baltic states of Estonia (24.8 percent ethnic Russian) and Latvia (26.2 percent), the issue is more acute. Together with Lithuania (only 5.8 percent ethnic Russian) they form a bridge to the disconnected Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. With their large Russian populations — a vestige of decades of Soviet occupation — it’s not difficult to imagine that Putin could create a pretext for action by stirring up unrest among ethnic minorities there, although those two states were wise enough to join NATO soon after their independence. Despite the current inept response from NATO, it’s almost impossible to imagine that Russia could get away with that kind of play.

Russia may not be the only country watching this precedent, either. The Balkan wars largely settled the deconstruction of the former Yugoslavia at the expense of Serbia, which fought to control its former provinces. If mistreatment of ethnic minorities justifies military occupation, how long before a future expansionist Serbian regime starts making trouble in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where ethnic Serbs comprise 37 percent of the population? Or Montenegro, which is 32 percent ethnic Serbs and has access to the Adriatic?

Belarus is a loyal satellite of Moscow, and provides a strategic pathway to Kaliningrad and a secure flank to the Baltic States. If the West doesn’t get its act together soon, expect to see unrest among ethnic Russians in both Estonia and Latvia very soon — and Putin sharpening his troops with more war games to “protect” them.

Addendum: Stephen Schwartz wrote yesterday that “Ukraine fever sweeps the Balkans,” by which he means popular uprising against autocratic governments. With the Putin precedent in mind — especially considering the close relationship between Russia and Serbia — that could provide opportunities for a hypothetical expansionist government in Belgrade, too. This is the danger of allowing for claims of jurisdiction by ethnicity.


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Putin wants to resurrect the USSR…

OmahaConservative on March 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Soviet Union Rebirth now friends with a much stronger China.

Oil Can on March 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Heinrich Deichmann, is Gagauzia’s greatest patron,” he says. “We like all European values, except your gay marriage.” …

Dog Eater found out about this and immediately went to DefCon 2.

Bishop on March 4, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Putin can do anything he wants, pretty much. Realistically, the US and EU are too weak, cowardly, and feckless to stop him. No action will be taken unless he tries invading Germany and western Europe.

Doomberg on March 4, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Looks like Putin is getting the band back together.

HumpBot Salvation on March 4, 2014 at 10:47 AM

There is little that the United States and Nato can do militarily BUT sending a couple of US warships into the Black Sea would be sending a far better and clearer message to Kiev than inflicting John effing Kerry on them in a show of support.

Especially since Obama bears so much of the responsibility of making Ukraine unable to respond to Russian agression.

Happy Nomad on March 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM

No action will be taken unless he tries invading Germany and western Europe.

Doomberg on March 4, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Too optimistic by half.

de rigueur on March 4, 2014 at 10:49 AM

In a word, yes.

And Obama will do zilch as the Soviet Empire is rebuilt by force.

Marcus Traianus on March 4, 2014 at 10:49 AM

So, Putin gas adopted Samantha Powers’ “Responsibility to Protect” which used as an excuse to attack Libya? Kinda hurts when the enemy uses your strategies against you? Obama had no more authority to attack Libya than Putin does for Ukraine.

Techster64 on March 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

This is the danger of allowing for claims of jurisdiction by ethnicity.

Come on, Ed. Chamberlain was just a misunderstood genius ahead of his time.

NotCoach on March 4, 2014 at 10:53 AM

It looks to me that the EU has done nothing except push a variety of unrest throughout the land. Russia and China embracing is a good indication that they generally reject the EU relationship.

So I wonder if Putin is doing what he thinks needs to be done to counter the EU more than anything.

Lourdes on March 4, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Obama had no more authority to attack Libya than Putin does for Ukraine.

Techster64 on March 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Obama’s use of force in Libya was unconstitutional and the congress let him get away with it.

With Obama in charge I don’t want are aircraft carriers anywhere near the Black Sea. This idiot would start a war to help him keep the Senate.

Kaffa on March 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Now that Putin has claimed the right to intervene on behalf of supposedly-beleaguered ethnic-Russian minorities

…can’t wait until Mexico claims the right to intervene on behalf of supposedly-beleaguered ethnic-Mexicans in this country………..oh wait!

KOOLAID2 on March 4, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Dog Eater found out about this and immediately went to DefCon 2.

Bishop on March 4, 2014 at 10:44 AM

…no!…he’s going with the whole extended family to Key Largo Florida for 4 days of golfing!

KOOLAID2 on March 4, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Yes, Moldova is ‘next’ after Ukraine. I have no doubt that Putin’s ideal scenario involves all of Ukraine as a puppet state. Whether that comes before or after other areas depends on the details.

Fenris on March 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Now that Putin has claimed the right to intervene on behalf of supposedly-beleaguered ethnic-Russian minorities, the field to his west is wide open to all sorts of possibilities.

Hm. Another ultra-nationalist leader claimed the right to intervene on behalf of “supposedly-beleaguered minorities” of his particular lot, and got away with it several times. (Between 1933 and 1939.)

Gee, now what was his name?….

clear ether

eon

eon on March 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

The best historical analogy is Hitler’s annexing of the Sudetenland in 1938. He invaded under the same pretext, that the ethnic Germans in the western and northern parts of Czechoslovakian adjacent to Germany were being oppressed by the native government and needed protection and should therefore be brought under Germany’s umbrella.

And like Putin, he took the area without firing a shot.

HugoDrax on March 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Well,..dis is interest’n,…Le ReVenge:

Moldova, Georgia Brace For Russian Retaliation After EU Pact

By Claire Bigg

November 29, 2013
*****************

Georgian and Moldovan leaders were all smiles as they finished initialing their Association Agreements with the European Union,

a key milestone in their bid for membership of the 28-nation bloc.

Despite the happy faces and handshakes, however,

the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania,

deepened fears of harsh retaliation from Russia in both countries.

The Kremlin worked aggressively — and successfully — to prevent Ukraine from signing its own EU pact.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych walked away from the deal just days before its expected signature in Vilnius.

Hours after the November 29 initialing ceremony,

Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca called on Moscow not to shut down the communication line with Chisinau.

“We hope to continue to have a good dialogue with our colleagues in Moscow, in the same way as I talked just recently with Russian Prime Minister [Dmitry] Medvedev, to discuss all the problems and try to find solutions,” Leanca said.
(More…..)
============

http://www.rferl.org/content/feature/25184812.html

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

KOOLAID2 on March 4, 2014 at 11:03 AM

China, not Mexico…

The few million Chinese have a net worth more than the Mexican population.

Or maybe it breaks up into Chinese and Mexico parts? I dunno.

Oil Can on March 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

MeanWhile,………………..

Retweeted by CIGeography
Ville Kostian ‏@Kostian_V 1h

#Russia-n air forces violate #Turkey’s airspace http://en.trend.az/news/incident/2249083.html
Expand

https://twitter.com/CIGeography

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:11 AM

“Mr. Putin … throw up a wall or something!”

– Barky’s greatest quotes

ShainS on March 4, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Humpbot +1. Winner!

cmsinaz on March 4, 2014 at 11:14 AM

No action will be taken unless even if he tries invading Germany and western Europe.

Doomberg on March 4, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Too optimistic by half.

de rigueur on March 4, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Unless a chastising speech, another of Bammy’s Red Lines(tm)and somewhat sternly worded phone call or letter counts as action.

Bammy’s downsized armed forces won’t be much use. Besides they’ll be preoccupied with gay troops performing in fund raising activities.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Hm. Another ultra-nationalist leader claimed the right to intervene on behalf of “supposedly-beleaguered minorities” of his particular lot, and got away with it several times. (Between 1933 and 1939.)

Gee, now what was his name?….

clear ether

eon

eon on March 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

George Bush Senior Senior.

Bishop on March 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Moldova next?

Certainly offers a prospect.

Moldova has yet to be really “incorporated” into the European mainstream. The economy in Europe over the past decade has not helped. That promise of freedom, liberty, and a Volvo in every garage way back in the mid-90′s just hasn’t panned out so well. They are still Bessarabia as far as Western Europe is concerned…land of gypsies, and drugs, and all that.

I can see them actually voting in a national referendum, and an honest one at that, to re-assimilate into Russia, if for no other reason that Russia can offer them more in terms of cash/trade than can the EU.

Now, about the Baltics…

That is not going to be an easy task for Russia. Well incorporated into NATO, a huge chip on their shoulders, still, for the decades of forced integration into Russia after WWII, and each having a viable economy, and each having close ties to not only Western Europe but the US also.

The Konigsberg/Kaliningrad enclave notwithstanding, the Baltics do not want to be part of Russia. That Kaliningrad thing? Artificially designed to keep that enclave Russia since the USSR breakup…of military significance to Russia…and cannot exist without Russia.

There, there may be a problem waiting for a Putinesque solution.

coldwarrior on March 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

The best historical analogy is Hitler’s annexing of the Sudetenland in 1938. He invaded under the same pretext, that the ethnic Germans in the western and northern parts of Czechoslovakian adjacent to Germany were being oppressed by the native government and needed protection and should therefore be brought under Germany’s umbrella.

HugoDrax on March 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

How do you say lebensraum in Russian.

Happy Nomad on March 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Obama had no more authority to attack Libya than Putin does for Ukraine.
 
Techster64 on March 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

 
Ah, but now there’s precedence.

rogerb on March 4, 2014 at 11:18 AM

So, it appears that whoever signed on with the EU, or thought about doing so,
has a Bulls-Eye Target on there country!!

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:22 AM

CIGeography ‏@CIGeography 8h

Find all three versions of our #Crimea Invasion map at http://cigeography.blogspot.com #Ukraine #Russia #euromaidan #invasion pic.twitter.com/4jMj0xVE07
===========================

https://twitter.com/CIGeography/status/440758550902472704/photo/1/large

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Putin wants to resurrect the USSR…

OmahaConservative on March 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

I understand that there are many Russians dreaming of resurrecting the Great Russian Empire, one way or another, who agree with him in bringing back wayward entities into the Russian fold.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

As dear leader turns to Hus budget….

Quick we need a squirrel
-lsm

cmsinaz on March 4, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Thank Gawd Barry and Lil Joey know what to do

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Z4rGQi2cQ

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Having been to Latvia I can say they really really dislike and distrust the Russians. They are a NATO member so if Putin has eyes on them who will blink? If he invades and NATO does nothing then there is nothing to stop him from reclaiming all the former Soviet states. NATO may not be able to do anything, they have let themselves become a paper tiger, all those socialist programs cost a lot over there and the military is a shell of themselves. When does Obama go on vacation again? ABC said that Sec Lurch was “racing” to Kiev, CBS just said he was going, regardless he won’t do squat except babble on about how terrible this all is and by the way, climate change is our greatest danger don’t forget.

major dad on March 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Perhaps we should tell Putin that we are sending troops to Cuba because millions of Americans have Cuban heritage and family still in Cuba and we have to protect them. To that end we are sending 100,00 troops to Guantanamo to “protect our interests.” Think he’d like that?

Curmudgeon on March 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

ABC said that Sec Lurch was “racing” to Kiev, CBS just said he was going, regardless he won’t do squat except babble on about how terrible this all is and by the way, climate change is our greatest danger don’t forget.

major dad on March 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The trip to Kiev is meaningless. Kerry should be landing in Moscow. In the meantime the US/NATO should be parking a couple of warships in the Black Sea on “training exercises.” There is little the West can/will do militarily but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be sending clear messages.

Happy Nomad on March 4, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Unless a chastising speech, another of Bammy’s Red Lines(tm)and somewhat sternly worded phone call or letter counts as action.

Bammy’s downsized armed forces won’t be much use. Besides they’ll be preoccupied with gay troops performing in fund raising activities.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

You forget, Obama has a big stick. Trust Sheriff Joe on that one.

de rigueur on March 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Ukrainian political crisis
2m
Secretary of State John Kerry after viewing streets of Kiev, Ukraine: ‘The United States extends it’s deepest condolences to those whose grief is very fresh … We have, at this moment, evidence of a great transformation taking place, and we stand with Ukrainians in that transformation’ – @ajamlive blog
read more on aljazeera.com

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Hungary is next.

albill on March 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

whats next?
anything russia wants.
we cannot stop it.

dmacleo on March 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 2h

Secy Kerry visits protest site in Kiev where 67 civilians shot Feb 20. (TV pool photo by Shayhla Bezdrob, Fox News) pic.twitter.com/FC8rvNQ4Ln

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/440853088157450240/photo/1/large

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

As dear leader turns to Hus budget….

Quick we need a squirrel
-lsm

cmsinaz on March 4, 2014 at 11:25 AM

cmsinaz:Yups:)
================

President Obama 2015 budget proposal
7m
President Obama sends Congress $3.9 trillion election-year budget focused on economy, job creation – @AP
end of alert

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

You forget, Obama has a big stick. Trust Sheriff Joe on that one.

de rigueur on March 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Oh yeah, and Reggie Love could surely confirm that too.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Moldova next?

Certainly offers a prospect.

They are still Bessarabia as far as Western Europe is concerned…land of gypsies, and drugs, and all that.

Perfect fit for Russia and their mobster culture.

Now, about the Baltics…

That is not going to be an easy task for Russia. Well incorporated into NATO, a huge chip on their shoulders, still, for the decades of forced integration into Russia after WWII, and each having a viable economy, and each having close ties to not only Western Europe but the US also.

Agree. If Putin touches any of the Baltic states, WWIII is done deal.

The Konigsberg/Kaliningrad enclave notwithstanding, the Baltics do not want to be part of Russia. That Kaliningrad thing? Artificially designed to keep that enclave Russia since the USSR breakup

coldwarrior on March 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Konigsberg is interesting. Visited the area a couple of years ago. Was surprised to encounter a number of ethnic USSR Germans relocating there from Kazakhstan.

If Russians were actually serious and honest about their Crimea propaganda talking points, they would give Kaliningrad Oblast to Germany. The area has no historical connection to Russia whatsoever and was just artificially settled by Russians after the forceful removal of ethnic Germans who had lived there for centuries.

Norwegian on March 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Nothing guns up support for a leader with failing economic ideology than a good land grab war….

Um….wait… Uh oh….

KMC1 on March 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Agree. If Putin touches any of the Baltic states, WWIII is done deal.

Yeah, and the PRC is watching and thinking if Putin can do this, so can we. WWIII it will be.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Why not? An opportunity for the world’s totalitarian fascists in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Pyonyang, etc, doesn’t come along but once a century or so.

slickwillie2001 on March 4, 2014 at 12:02 PM

“Moscow (AFP) – Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the United States if Washington agreed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, a Kremlin aide said on Tuesday, warning that the American financial system faced a “crash” if this happened.

Related Stories

Kremlin aide warns US of response if sanctions imposed: RIA Reuters
Putin: Yanukovych has no political future Associated Press
‘Don’t be doormat’ Russia warns cash-starved Kiev Reuters
Oil prices spike on Russia sanctions fears Associated Press
Ukraine mobilises army as West warns Russia AFP
“We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves,” said Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev.

He told the RIA Novosti news agency Russia could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its “wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South.”

Russian firms and banks would also not return loans from American financial institutions, he said.

“An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system,” he added.

He said that economic sanctions imposed by the European Union would be a “catastrophe” for Europe, saying that Russia could halt gas supplies “which would be beneficial for the Americans” and give the Russian economy a useful “impulse”.

Glazyev has long been seen as among the most hawkish of the advisors to President Vladimir Putin but many observers have seen his hand in the apparent radicalisation of policy on Ukraine since the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych.

Economists have long mocked his apocalyptic and confrontational vision of global economics but also expressed concern that he appears to have grown in authority in recent months.

A high ranking Kremlin source told RIA Novosti that Glazyev was speaking in the capacity of an “academic” and his personal opinion did not reflect the official Kremlin policy.

Glazyev descrived the new Ukrainian authorities as “illegitimate and Russophobic”, saying some members of the government were on lists of “terrorist organisations, they are criminals”.

“If the authorities remain criminal then I think the people of Ukraine will get rid of them soon,” he added…”

http://news.yahoo.com/russia-warns-could-reduce-zero-economic-dependency-us-083926261.html;_ylt=AwrSyCVd_hVT7BUA4C3QtDMD

workingclass artist on March 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

There are a couple of problems with the Moldovan scenario, though. First, Moldova is landlocked and shares no border with Russia.

Ed, I’ve got one word for you: Transnistria. I don’t know about the logistics of using it, but the fact is that Russia does have one vassal state — albeit unrecognized — within Moldova, and about 50 miles from Comrat. If they wanted Gagauzia, they’d probably have to hold some area in-between, but, if you think a Russia-sponsored force wouldn’t do that, another word (or word-and-a-half): Nagorno-Karabakh. Putin didn’t invent Russian expansionism in the name of defending minorities.

calbear on March 4, 2014 at 12:10 PM

UK Telegraph blog post:

“I’ve already explained why meaningful trade and financial sanctions against Russia are a non starter – everyone would lose from such action. Europe would be pushed back into recession, Russia into financial meltdown. This is not the sort of self harm Europe is prepared to contemplate right now. Indeed, thanks to the indiscretion of a UK official, who was snapped going into Downing Street with his briefing documents on display for all the world to see, we know this to be the case. Trade and financial sanctions have already been ruled out.
Whatever. This doesn’t seem to have stopped the Russians threatening retaliatory action against the threat of the non sanctions. One possibility, says the Kremlin economics aid Sergei Glazyev, is for Russia to abandon the US dollar as a reserve currency, or to figure out a way to use a new payments system that was not reliant on US dollars for international transactions. Good luck with that one.
I’ve written before about the inevitability of decline for the dollar as the world’s major reserve currency, but this process is on a very long fuse and basically depends on China eventually displacing the US as the world’s largest economy.
That’s not going to happen any time soon. In the meantime, the dollar remains overwhelmingly the currency of choice for international transactions, and is the middle currency in virtually all transactions. For instance, if you were looking to buy Singapore dollars with Russian roubles, you would typically first buy US dollars with your roubles and then swap them into Singapore dollars. The US dollar is also the pricing currency for virtually all commodity transactions, including crucially, oil. Repeated attempts to set up alternative pricing arrangements have all come to nothing.
Then finally, more than 60 per cent of the world’s central bank foreign currency reserves are held in dollars. The euro, the next biggest reserve currency, comes nowhere close. This is not about to change. In other words, Russian threats are as vacuous as Western ones. Hey ho…” – Jeremy Warner

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jeremywarner/100026745/so-russia-is-going-to-abandon-the-dollar-as-a-reserve-currency-good-luck-with-that-one/

workingclass artist on March 4, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Agree. If Putin touches any of the Baltic states, WWIII is done deal.

Yeah, and the PRC is watching and thinking if Putin can do this, so can we. WWIII it will be.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Putin won’t “touch” the Baltic states until they’re melting down internally over social, economic, and ethnic unrest. At which point the Russian army will invade to protect the ethnic Russians and the EU/U.S. won’t do a thing because the situation will be as muddled and untidy as Ukraine today.

Won’t happen overnight, but Putin’s patient and even knows how to take a step back in order to advance two steps forward. He’s ex-KGB and the Soviets used to be very good at destabilizing other countries.

Although the numbers are down, there are a little over 1 million ethnic Russians living in the Baltic States, comprising 27% of the population of Latvia, 25% of Estonia, and 6% of Lithuania. A quarter of the population in two of the Baltic states is ethnic Russian. Heck, in Ukraine they’re only 17%!

de rigueur on March 4, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Brings new meaning to the slogan: “We didn’t cross the border the border crossed us.”

Mexico better not get any ideas!

ChipDaddy on March 4, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Right now it seems that Putin is setting the scene ([perhaps in coordination with China–he’s been seen recently with ChiCom leader)-to push his advantage with our blustering, blowhard, Chief Jellyfish to the limit–overflights on US territory, warship visiting Cuba, Crimean invasion etc.Meanwhile China has made aggressive moves toward Philippine-owned islands and is threatening Japanese and Taiwan territory. I believe the Russian and Chinese think that the west has no dynamic leaders and will attempt to expand their territory and influence to the limit-thinking they can get what they want by threats alone.

MaiDee on March 4, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Brings new meaning to the slogan: “We didn’t cross the border the border crossed us.”

Mexico better not get any ideas!

ChipDaddy on March 4, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Meh! Mexico’s been invading the US for decades already….not just officially nor militarily.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 12:22 PM

coldwarrior on March 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

They don’t need to send in the military.
Just call in that favor from Frank Moses….

“We have a small nuclear problem in Moldova.”
“You gave Ivan a favor?”
“Moldova sucks!”

dentarthurdent on March 4, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Meh! Mexico’s been invading the US for decades already….not just officially nor militarily.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2014 at 12:22 PM

So we shouldn’t be surprised when the Mexican army comes across the border “to protect their citizens”.

dentarthurdent on March 4, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, ………………..:

Russia’s participation in peacekeeping operations

At the same time, Russia has a special responsibility for maintaining security in the CIS. So,

joint peacekeeping forces of Russia and Moldova

http://eng.mil.ru/en/mission/peacekeeping_operations/more.htm?id=10336232@cmsArticle

are still in Transnistria for peaceful settlement of the armed conflict and on the basis of the appropriate agreement.

In addition, the Russian troops are peacekeepers of the Collective Security Treaty. This contingent was formed in October 2007. It is intended, above all, to participate in peacekeeping operations in the territories of the CSTO member states (under the decision of the Collective Security Council of the CSTO), as well as outside of these states (on the basis of mandates from the UN Security Council).

It is worth noting that today the role and importance of peacekeeping in development of the Russian Armed Forces are increasing. The reform of the Russian Armed Forces, in particular, assumes an increase in the willingness of our military units to participate in international peacekeeping operations – both for maintaining eace and security in conflict zones and protecting the interests of Russia and the lives of its citizens.
===============

http://eng.mil.ru/en/mission/peacekeeping_operations.htm

http://eng.mil.ru/

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

It’s ok guys, we’ll just inform him that this sort of thinking is very 19th-century. Just imagine how embarrassed he’ll be! Those plans will derail in the blink of an eye.

TKeaten on March 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

In Afghanistan we depend on Russian fuel and supply routes to keep NATO/U.S. forces operational there. They can also cut off energy supplies to Europe.

That is their leverage.

We can counter that leverage by opening up American energy, like natural gas / oil, for export driving down energy prices which would hurt the Russian economy and give the Europeans more leverage. We should also now build the missile shield in Poland, and other arms sales to Poland and other Eastern European countries.

We also need to call it a day in Afghanistan and get out. As long as we stay there the Russians can hold us hostage, and not to mention keep their flank protected. Let the Russians deal with Afghanistan. The Sunni Jihadist there basically are a threat to Russia, China and Iran (Note: the Iranians are Shia and the Taliban are Sunnis and the Iranians nearly went to war with the Taliban in the late 1990s).

People who defend the idea that we must stay in Afghanistan are basically sacrificing American national security to the Russians. To me that is not a good situation and shows a total lack of understanding grand strategy by Neo-Cons. Reagan got us the heck out of Lebanon when he realized it would take away from our Cold War efforts against the Soviets. We need more Reagan-Cons and less Bush-Cons in American foreign policy.

William Eaton on March 4, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO members. Any incursion into those countries would be WW3.

jawbone on March 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Is Moldova next?

Let’s ask Sarah Palin.

Nomennovum on March 4, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO members. Any incursion into those countries would be WW3.

jawbone on March 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Any incursion into those countries would be WW3 WW4 WW5.

Nomennovum on March 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Any incursion into those countries would be WW3 WW4 WW5.

Nomennovum on March 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Correction. Any incursion into those countries would be like Czechoslovakia 1938 – 1939.

Nomennovum on March 4, 2014 at 1:44 PM

********************* ALERT ********************************!!

Ukrainian political crisis
59s
Report: Russia test-fires intercontinental ballistic missile, defense ministry says – RIA via @Reuters

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM

canopfor on March 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM

How many ethnic Russian Jews live in Israel? If you are Putin, why not start making much greater plans than just restoring the old USSR?

SLMeyer on March 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

With Obama in charge I don’t want are aircraft carriers anywhere near the Black Sea. This idiot would start a war to help him keep the Senate.

Kaffa on March 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Too late. – Greece.

TerryW on March 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

I just noticed an interesting factoid about Moldova in the Wikipedia. The name of the national anthem is translated as “Our Language”. The problem is that the Moldovans are unclear about whether their language is Romanian or Moldovan, which are basically the same language anyway.

thuja on March 4, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Next Moldova, then Slovakia, then the Carpathian Mountains of northern Romania. Got to get the oil you know

Brock Robamney on March 4, 2014 at 5:49 PM

This makes Moldova and Georgia the only ones of the six original former Soviet republics risking rapprochement with Europe

There were fifteen Soviet republics.

burt on March 4, 2014 at 6:52 PM