Russia to NATO: Hey, explain your moves in eastern Europe

posted at 8:41 am on April 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Let’s see if we can guess who’s who in this New Cold War scenario. Troops and materiel have been shifted around on one side, and the other side demands an explanation of what intent lies behind those moves. This refers to the massive buildup on the Russia-Ukraine border, right, with NATO demanding the answers? Er … not exactly. In this case, it’s more like the classic line, “Mom — he hit me back!”

Russia says it wants answers from NATO regarding activities in eastern Europe, after the Western military alliance said it would step up defenses for its eastern members.

Russia’s move to annex the Crimea region from Ukraine last month has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, and raised fears among its eastern European neighbors. …

“We have posed these questions to the North Atlantic Alliance. We are expecting not just any answer but an answer fully respectful of the rules we have coordinated,” Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told a joint news briefing with his Kazakh counterpart on Thursday.

Responding to criticism from Kiev and the West over the presence of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, Lavrov said Russia had the right to move forces on its territory and said they would return to their permanent bases after completing military exercises.

“Russian troops in the Rostov region will return to their bases after completing military exercises,” Lavrov said, referring to an area near the Ukrainian border.

Well, then, the response practically writes itself. NATO’s units will end their “exercises” when Russia’s do the same. It’s a little late to complain about NATO’s lack of respect for “rules we have coordinated” when Russian forces just dismembered Crimea from Ukraine and threaten to partition it further. Lavrov gives a pretty good demonstration of diplomatic chutzpah in this demand.

Just the same, there are indications that NATO’s message may finally have gotten through to Moscow. Pro-Russian demonstrations of the kind Moscow used to justify its action in Crimea are dissipating in the key Donetsk region:

The new billionaire governor of the Donetsk region has no intention of allowing Moscow to carry out another Crimean-style annexation here in coal-mining, steel-making eastern Ukraine, which lies temptingly along the Russian border.

Serhiy Taruta, a steel magnate appointed just a month ago by the Kiev government, intends to hold this Russian-speaking ground for Ukraine by keeping order and improving people’s lives in the poverty-strapped steppe.

Donetsk was roiling with fear and violence as he took over. Russian television propaganda persuaded many here that fascists from western Ukraine were on the way to rampage through the east. Suddenly protesters in the city of Donetsk were shouting under the Lenin statue for a referendum that would allow them to join Russia. On March 13, a pro-Russian crowd set upon pro-Ukrainians. A 22-year-old pro-Ukrainian was knifed. He died on the way to the hospital. …

The annexation of Crimea, however, stirred latent pro-Ukrainian sentiment. Public officials began speaking out against the rumors. Last weekend was quiet. Now the guards at Taruta’s government office are down to a handful of riot police, with only a few strands of barbed wire strung near the front door.

Taruta has a message for the West, too:

With perhaps 40,000 Russian troops massed on the nearby border and making him uneasy, he had a special message for Washington, which in 1994 persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise to protect its territorial integrity. “There have been guarantees,” he said, “and they need to be carried out.”

He’s not the only Russian-speaking Ukrainian seeking a restoration of the nation’s territorial integrity. Crimea must be returned, demanded … Viktor Yanukovich?

Former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted after asking Russian troops into Crimea, admits that his decision was wrong, calling Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula “a major tragedy.”

In an interview with The Associated Press and Russian channel NTV, he said he made a mistake when he asked Russia to intervene, a move many Ukrainians view as treason.

“I was wrong,” he said through a translator. “I acted on my emotions.”

Yanukovych, who is currently residing in Russia, said he hoped to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to return Crimea.

“We must set such a task and search for ways to return to Crimea on any conditions, so that Crimea may have the maximum degree of independence possible… but be part of Ukraine,” he said.

Don’t expect Ukrainians to be too impressed by this admission of presidential immaturity. Security officials in the new government in Ukraine accused Yanukovich of ordering the murders of Euromaidan protesters. Kissing up to Kyiv now won’t improve his standing in Ukraine, nor will undermining the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin’s Crimea annexation make him more popular in Moscow. If Yanukovich keeps “act[ing] on my emotions,” he may need to find a new place for asylum.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Maybe Yanukovich isn’t impressed with his modest assigned apartment.

workingclass artist on April 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

What will Dear Feckless Leader do?

A. Golf
B. Vacay
C. Fundraise
D. All three

ConstantineXI on April 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Isn’t there a treaty between NATO and Russia dictating who could have how many troops where? Wasn’t that a part of START I or START II? Have to prep for teaching a class so I don’t have time to delve into it.

rbj on April 3, 2014 at 8:59 AM

It was a very bad move by Russia in the long run.

But a good move for the short term.

The US made promises to the Ukraine, and 0bama reneged.

The US also made promises to eastern Europe that 0bama reneged.

Europe was reminded what the Russian bear is really like and it is now up to them to defend themselves and ween themselves from Russian commodities. It will be better for them, better for the Russian people and better for us. But that is for the long term.

0bama helped Russia in the short term. Hopefully Russia will continue to spit on their ally in Washington.

cozmo on April 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Uh-oh…is that the start of a Red line being drawn by the Red commies of Russia?

Meanwhile…
Putin Defies Obama in Syria as Arms Fuel Assad Resurgence

albill on April 3, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Russian side note about the failing Russian ecomomy:
Gazprom’s $910 Billion Gaffe Shows Putin Economy Waning

albill on April 3, 2014 at 9:12 AM

If Yanukovich keeps “act[ing] on my emotions,” he may need to find a new place for asylum.

Yanukovich is saying just what his Russian masters wants him to say. “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, let me come back and Russia will leave the Crimea.”

And if that happens, then the Russian then have total control of the Ukraine, without any real effort.

Yanukovich is not apologizing. Does Morrisey really think Yanukovich is kissing up to Kyiv?

Walter L. Newton on April 3, 2014 at 9:13 AM

D. All three

ConstantineXI on April 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

$10.10

Electrongod on April 3, 2014 at 9:14 AM

NATO to Russia: STFU

Red Cloud on April 3, 2014 at 9:16 AM

If Yanukovich keeps “act[ing] on my emotions,” he may need to find a new place for asylum.

I’m told that North Korea is really lovely during spring…

ujorge on April 3, 2014 at 9:21 AM

With perhaps 40,000 Russian troops massed on the nearby border and making him uneasy, he had a special message for Washington, which in 1994 persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise to protect its territorial integrity. “There have been guarantees,” he said, “and they need to be carried out.”

…if you want your guarantee…you can keep your guarantee…Period!

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The worm turns – or, is it beginning to spin? Russia annexes the Crimea, poises thousands of troops along the eastern border of the Ukraine, and now wonders what NATO is up to when it just begins to awaken from its deep slumber? Apparently, Kerry and The One were too busy trying to destroy Israel and resurrect O’care to pay enough attention to talk NATO into rolling over and going back to sleep. Now, they have to placate a “shocked” Putin, while pulling what teeth NATO has left. But, I feel confident these two cowards and their feckless European tools are up to the ‘challenge’.

vnvet on April 3, 2014 at 9:36 AM

NATO has not invaded another country nor annexed its territory.

Rather than asking NATO to explain its actions, the Russians should be asking why their peer nations would be inviting NATO in. They might learn a lot about the reasons “Russophobia” exists.

unclesmrgol on April 3, 2014 at 9:55 AM

I was just reading up on Finland, who has a long history with Russians attacking and annexing territory. Suddenly, there seems to be a great upsurge in enthusiasm for higher military spending. Sweden is also pondering the same thing (though to be fair–how could they not? Their military has a current readiness of 1 year required to activate. Which means Liberia could conquer Sweden.)

Vanceone on April 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

They might learn a lot about the reasons “Russophobia” exists.

unclesmrgol on April 3, 2014 at 9:55 AM

It is not a justified fear?

astonerii on April 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Crimean voters separated Crimea from Ukraine.

The election was held under the gun all right – the fascist coup in Kiev terrified Crimean voters. That’s how the massive majority came about – not through Russian soldiers poking people with bayonets and telling them to vote the right way or else.

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:16 AM

It is not a justified fear?

astonerii on April 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Not for Crimean voters, no.

And certainly not compared to the West Ukrainian junta, which freed corrupt oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko, who wants to burn ethnic Russians in Eastern and Southern Ukraine with nuclear weapons.

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:16 AM

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Ya’ don’t say?

cozmo on April 3, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Hey David–the 70′s called. They want you to know that reading Pravda might not be the best way to get information about the world.

Then again, it’s probably more accurate than MSNBC…..

Vanceone on April 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM

What will Dear Feckless Leader do?

A. Golf
B. Vacay
C. Fundraise
D. All three

ConstantineXI on April 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

How are we supposed to take you seriously when you leave out:

E. Pen harshly-worded statement

Come on, man. I’ve seen your A-game. Bring your A game. Be your A game. ;)

dreadnought62 on April 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Crimea must be returned, demanded … Viktor Yanukovich?

Okay… we’ve officially descended into farce territory…

JohnGalt23 on April 3, 2014 at 10:56 AM

obama is a true gnatbrain

Schadenfreude on April 3, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Hay all you obama lovers. What do you think about this: Obama has just handed over the ISS to the Russians. He has suspended all Russian contracts to provide service for the US to the ISS. As soon as our last astronaut leaves, it belongs to them. I know, as soon as we get out of that boondoggle, we can feed more dhimocraptic voters.

Old Country Boy on April 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM

The US made promises to the Ukraine,
cozmo on April 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM

ROTFLMAO… Go read the Budapest Memorandum, we promised to send a sternly worded letter, but only if Ukraine were nuked.

oscarwilde on April 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:16 AM

David Blue on April 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Ya’ don’t say?

cozmo on April 3, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Well, that is what the people who I know, who have family living in Ukraine tell me. I suppose they all could be liars and Marxist agents of the Kremlin though.

oscarwilde on April 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

obama is a true gnatbrain

Schadenfreude on April 3, 2014 at 11:11 AM

My mistake. My source is different, and not as good as your source. Of course, you know, the only ARMED people allowed on the ISS are Russian cosmonauts. Maybe the other astronauts are really ninja trained and impervious to bullets.

Old Country Boy on April 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Well, that is what the people who I know, who have family living in Ukraine tell me. I suppose they all could be liars and Marxist agents of the Kremlin though.

oscarwilde on April 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Funny. All the self appointed experts who never lived in the region nor the country somehow feel their opinions are way more valid than those proffered by locals there.

Even funnier is this blog entry in itself, trying to make fun of Russian request to NATO to explain NATO’s recent build up in the region. What about the 6 more USA jets that were just added to an air base in Baltic region, that was not a “build up” by NATO? How about us, the USA, asking Romania earlier this week if we can add another 1500 troops to the Black Sea naval base, was that not a NATO “build up”?

The difference is that Russia has massed the troops WITHIN THEIR OWN BORDERS and I have yet to see some international law that forbids that, as already pointed out last week by a NATO big wig in EU. But USA and NATO adding equipment and troops OUTSIDE THEIR OWN BORDERS is somehow fine with this crowd, it seems. Strange, to put it mildly, that this dichotomy is not as “in your face” as it should be.

What next, we should not be placing our own troops within our own borders with Mexico, as we actually SHOULD?

Never thought I’d see the day of so many so called learned people repeating obvious leftist propaganda and calling it “truth”.

Shame that once conservative sites now post obvious lies and omissions. Instead of learning history and facts.

riddick on April 3, 2014 at 7:50 PM