Putin proudly confirms plan to invade and annex Crimea was preplanned

posted at 4:41 pm on March 10, 2015 by Noah Rothman

Vladimir Putin has maintained the risible claim for over a year that Russia, compelled by circumstances beyond its control, rushed to the rescue of Russian-speaking Ukrainians when Moscow invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

When a Russian news outlet obtained the details of a Kremlin report that indicated that Moscow had planned to invade and dismember Ukraine even before the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s government, it put the lie to Putin’s claim.

“Muratov said the Russian document appears to have been drafted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 15 last year,” read a McClatchy report on the Novaya Gazeta scoop. “He said the overall strategy included plans on how to break Ukraine into autonomous sectors, immediately attaching now war-torn southeastern Ukraine to Moscow’s tax union, with a longer term plan for annexation.”

Still, the Kremlin stuck to its story. The Russian government insisted that the operation to protect Crimea from the chaos unfolding in the rest of Ukraine was a spontaneous reaction to the crisis precipitated by Yanukovych’s ouster. Russian officials insisted further that the decision to annex the Crimean Peninsula into the Russian Federation was an organic reaction to the results of a hastily organized referendum on secession.

Apparently, Putin isn’t even pretending anymore. In a televised interview, the Russian president revealed that he called an emergency meeting in February of last year just following Yanukovych’s flight from Ukraine. It was then that Putin made the determination to reintegrate Crimea back into Russia.

“He would have been just killed … We got ready to get him out of Donetsk by land, by sea and by air,” Putin said about his meeting in the Kremlin with commanders of Russian special forces and Defense Ministry officials.

Yanukovych later resurfaced in the southern Russian city of Rostov and has not been back to Ukraine since his ouster.

“This was on the night of Feb. 22 through to Feb. 23. We finished around 7 in the morning. And, while saying goodbye, I told all the colleagues: ‘We have to start the work on Crimea’s return into Russia,’” Putin said.

This brazenness is behavior that the world has come to expect from Vladimir Putin, and observers are starting to awake to the terrifying reality that the strongman in command of a powerful army, the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and nearly 12 percent of the earth’s total landmass is no democrat. What’s worse, the militarism and quasi-fascism embraced by the Kremlin, Mikhail Iampolski opined in Newsweek, is being embraced by the average Russian.

The ego is crushed by an idealized, narcissistic leader, any attempt on whose authority is understood as an attack on the entire group and all its members. The leader deprives the group of reflexive thought, responsibility, a sense of guilty, and so on. A member of the work group is ready to accept his or her own limits and the difference of the Other, while a member of the basic assumption group aggressively denies both.

Such groups are infantile and regressive, and their ideal is total homogeneity, the removal of all difference, and, as the French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu wrote, the lost paradise of El Dorado. They are often highly destructive and completely subordinate to their leader, and easily move from panic to aggressive messianism.

Such a quasi-fascist consciousness, which has taken hold of the masses in Russia, is difficult to reconcile with the growing historical significance of victims, each of whom slowly takes on more and more individual features. The victims are individuated, as Gilbert Simondon would say, while the narcissistic “hero” of the paranoid/schizoid type becomes more and more savage in the eyes of the world, losing his individual characteristics.

Where once this loss of individuality was not always significant, where homogeneity could be considered a virtue, now, in the Era of the Witness, the “victors” find themselves erased from history due to their very facelessness. The crowd’s homogeneity ceases to be aesthetically appealing.

The fruits of Putin’s effort to transform his country into an aggressive and paranoid state are ripening. Russian lawmakers are inculcating a sense of fear and aggression toward the West, and the United States in particular. Today, The Washington Post’s Michael Birnbaum noted, anti-Americanism is more pronounced in Russia than at any point during the Cold War.

These are dangerous times.


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Comments

Obama should be more like Putin – Giuliani

This is the man you want Obama to emulate? Some conservatives are out of their minds I tell ya.

weedisgood on March 10, 2015 at 4:44 PM

I forget, what did the czar say when we took over Mexico?

Akzed on March 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM

That Newsweek excerpt should be read aloud in a Leonard Pinth-Garnell voice. Bad. Very bad.

cbenoistd on March 10, 2015 at 4:53 PM

The man doth reach too far. At some point, even Germany may fight back. While Poontang is moving West, the ‘Stans will be moving north. The Bear better watch its back. Even s..t finds its own level, eventually.

vnvet on March 10, 2015 at 4:54 PM

I forget, what did the czar say when we took over Mexico?

Say thirski, my friend.

cbenoistd on March 10, 2015 at 4:56 PM

When a Russian news outlet obtained the details of a Kremlin report that indicated that Moscow had planned to invade and dismember Ukraine even before the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s government, it put the lie to Putin’s claim.

Putin lied? Next thing you’ll be telling me is that Hillary was a bit loose with the truth in her presser today.

rbj on March 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

Are Hot Air columnists just stupid about geopolitics? Do they bother to learn even the basic facts before they post about a place they know nothing about?

When a Russian news outlet obtained the details of a Kremlin report that indicated that Moscow had planned to invade and dismember Ukraine even before the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s government, it put the lie to Putin’s claim.

“Muratov said the Russian document appears to have been drafted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 15 last year,” read a McClatchy report on the Novaya Gazeta scoop. “He said the overall strategy included plans on how to break Ukraine into autonomous sectors, immediately attaching now war-torn southeastern Ukraine to Moscow’s tax union, with a longer term plan for annexation.”

A plan drafted when the pro-Russian Ukrainian president had already been under heavy pressure for three months to resign because of streets protests organized by the pro-Western side of the Ukrainian public is not evidence of anything other than Putin decided to have a contingency plan if his fairly-elected man was tossed out of power.

The Euromaidan protests had been going on since November of the previous year, and the Ukrainian government felt compelled to escalate its tactics against the protesters in mid-January. In late January, the Ukrainian Prime Minister resigned after the violence escalated without quelling the protests.

So Putin’s response was fitted to the circumstances as they were developing, and not a strategic search for lebensraum, as dumb Rothman apparently wants his dumb audience to believe.

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 4:57 PM

A case of “not only the Crimeans voted“?

Horatia on March 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM

apparently wants his dumb audience to believe.

You really turned me around here.

cbenoistd on March 10, 2015 at 5:01 PM

Obama thinks he can hall-monitor the 7′, 350# bully.
Oh well.

Tard on March 10, 2015 at 5:05 PM

You really turned me around here.

cbenoistd on March 10, 2015 at 5:01 PM

If you believe Rothman’s evidence is damning proof that Putin is taking some strategy from Hitler, circa 1938, then you’re not turnable; you’re institutional.

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Putin proudly confirms plan to invade and annex Crimea was preplanned.

Imagine that. If I were living in Riga, or Tallinn, or Vilnius, hell, even Helsinki…I’d not be taking out any 20-year mortgages.

But, Vladimir, you can’t do that sort of thing. It is against international law. We have treaties. Agreements. We had that “reset” button and everything, have been more flexible. Stop it right now, or else.

Or else what, feckless leaders of the West?

And Obama’s promise to fundamentally change the way we are governed gets a bit closer…metaphorically, of course.

Or not.

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 5:18 PM

Imagine that. If I were living in Riga, or Tallinn, or Vilnius, hell, even Helsinki…I’d not be taking out any 20-year mortgages.

Putin’s been in charge of Russia fifteen years. What’s he waiting for?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:25 PM

Obama should be more like Putin – Giuliani

This is the man you want Obama to emulate? Some conservatives are out of their minds I tell ya.

weedisgood on March 10, 2015 at 4:44 PM

the drug addled always have trouble with the concept of respect not actually meaning like or admire.
they are so used to hero worshiping people that they equate the feeling of respect for a person with undying infatuation/love for someone.

you respect a vipers ability to kill you, most don’t like vipers though.

dmacleo on March 10, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:25 PM

The propitious moment.

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Putin’s been in charge of Russia fifteen years. What’s he waiting for?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:25 PM

flexibility in someones second term….

dmacleo on March 10, 2015 at 5:33 PM

The propitious moment.

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Hitler conquered nearly all of Europe, and then proceeded to immediately lose it, in the time it’s taken for Putin to conquer an area about the size of a large California county.

If Putin waits much longer for that “propitious moment,” he’ll die of old age. Conquerors generally move when they’re younger and still have the energy for more than flexing their chest muscles for a photo op.

flexibility in someones second term….

dmacleo on March 10, 2015 at 5:33 PM

Whose? Obama’s or Bush’s?

Or have you forgotten that Putin invaded South Ossetia during Bush’s second term?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:46 PM

Putin’s been in charge of Russia fifteen years. What’s he waiting for?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:25 PM

Obama.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Had Hitler waited until 1942 to invade Poland, and had waited until Poland was fully in hand, consolidated, and then and only then invaded France, that theater of war would have turned out vastly different. Hitler’s premature invasion of Russia was his undoing more than anything else. And had Japan not bombed Pearl Harbor until after the 1942 US midterm elections, and had marshaled their forces after consolidation of China and Southeast Asia, that theater, too, would have turned out vastly differently.

Both jumped the gun.

Sentiment in the US up until FDR got in on the British side was tepid toward being involved in anything having to do with Europe. Took Pearl Harbor to get us into it. Our support of the Brits, after the fall of France, after Poland was invaded, enabled us to gin up our industries toward a wartime footing long before we actually went to war.

Putin frommy studies over the decades, is not one to jump the gun. He is looking long term. In Russia,and in several parts of the world, as are the Chinese.

A good leader is not fettered by thoughts of getting too old to carry out national destiny. Petulance is the downfall of many many leaders throughout history.

And, a good leader strikes when and where he believes best for his goals, not at a point determined by an adversary.

Georgia was the first step. Yes, we were all Georgians back then, and then the luster wore off, and Georgia is not only a good bit smaller, but is looking at the possibility that Russia will go it again. Crimea…was the second step. Leaning on the Central Asians former republics is ongoing. Who is in a position to stop Putin, outside of going nuke?

Putin understands treachery. He also understands that he does not have to sit in a side chair at Russia’s National Defense Control Center trying to micromanage any campaign. He has staffed that out. He takes care of the larger issues, as best he can, not always totally according to script, either. But, he knows he knows squat about military tactics and strategy. Not his job. He is a leader, not a manger. Big difference.

Hitler failed because he believed deeply that he alone was the preeminent military genius of his time.

He was not.

A French battalion just showing up when the Wehrmacht moved into the Saarland in 1933 would have ended that conquest with barely a shot being fired. he had to invade bacause that was the only part of Germany that was not under Berlin’s control, and a lot of opponents to Hitler had moved there. The fact that a Papal Concordat was signed by the Vatican and germany to protect German Catholics in the Saarland, and which forbade military conquest ended up being a mere scrap of paper, not the last Hitler tossed aside.

Hitler also did not organize and staff out critical military and diplomatic functions, nor even command structures. He tried to run everything, himself, micromanaged Germany into a bloody defeat.

Putin has spent a good part of the last decade-plus staffing out the Ministry of Defense, and upgrading the military…especially after the Keystone Cops performance in Georgia.

Putin might end up where Hitler ended up, but, along the way he will gain from the fecklessness and indecision in the West. And sometimes a fait accompli is better than slugging it out after giving your enemy advanced notice. Can be less bloody that way, too.

Always attack an enemy when they are down. Or disorganized. Not united. At each others throats. Weak. Lacking in will.

Simple rule of warfare.

Again, who is out there ready and willing to stop Russia from moving the border markers a few yards or miles? A little bit at a time? Not the hill to die on? For us? The West?

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 6:46 PM

Or have you forgotten that Putin invaded South Ossetia during Bush’s second term?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 5:46 PM

Right after the Democrats won a blow-out election based on projecting weakness. Bush’s hands were tied.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2015 at 6:47 PM

Putin proudly confirms plan to invade and annex Crimea was preplanned

How can Russia “invade” a place that their military has occupied for centuries? There military was in Crimea long before your so-called “invasion”, Noah, and they remained there after your “invasion”. The only thing that changed was American propaganda.

FloatingRock on March 10, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Right after the Democrats won a blow-out election based on projecting weakness. Bush’s hands were tied.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2015 at 6:47 PM

Wrong.

Bush did the Surge right after the new Congress was seated and Pelosi was in charge, so if Bush was handicapped in his handling of foreign affairs by the Democrats in control of Congress he had a strange way of showing it.

Also, Putin didn’t invade South Ossetia until August 2008. And Bush basically did nothing because there was nothing he could do.

Stop being such a hack. You’re a prime example of why conservatives are having such trouble convincing the American people that they are ready to lead again.

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 7:34 PM

Cold Warrior,

Had Hitler waited until 1942 to invade Poland, and had waited until Poland was fully in hand, consolidated, and then and only then invaded France, that theater of war would have turned out vastly different. Hitler’s premature invasion of Russia was his undoing more than anything else. And had Japan not bombed Pearl Harbor until after the 1942 US midterm elections, and had marshaled their forces after consolidation of China and Southeast Asia, that theater, too, would have turned out vastly differently.

No, it wouldn’t have.

Sentiment in the US up until FDR got in on the British side was tepid toward being involved in anything having to do with Europe. Took Pearl Harbor to get us into it.

Again, not true. The American public supported land-lease before the U.S. ever entered the war. Polls show the U.S. was in favor of supporting the British well before Pearl Harbor and even before land-lease They just didn’t want to fight in it.

The Soviets did most of the heavy fighting against Hitler anyway, and it’s doubtful U.S. troops were even needed to beat Hitler. The U.S. military presence might have cut the war short a couple of years, but that’s about it.

Where the U.S. military was handy was in keeping the Soviets out of western Europe.

Putin understands treachery. He also understands that he does not have to sit in a side chair at Russia’s National Defense Control Center trying to micromanage any campaign. He has staffed that out. He takes care of the larger issues, as best he can, not always totally according to script, either. But, he knows he knows squat about military tactics and strategy. Not his job. He is a leader, not a manger. Big difference.

This is just a bunch of blather.

Putin hasn’t added one percent to the territory of Russia in fifteen years, despite having small and weak states all around his country.

Again, who is out there ready and willing to stop Russia from moving the border markers a few yards or miles? A little bit at a time? Not the hill to die on? For us? The West?

Clearly Bush wasn’t ready and willing to stop Putin seven years ago, and yet Putin waited another six years before taking little old Crimea and fiddling around in Eastern Ukraine. At this rate he’ll be in his eighties when he gets to the Baltic states.

Wake me in a century when he finally gets to Krakow, will you?

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 7:47 PM

Nice lede pic.

The Russian government ticks me off…but, I love watching their military parades.

I have to admit some grudging admiration for countries that aren’t afraid to publicly show off their military men and equipment.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 10, 2015 at 7:55 PM

If Hitler had not gone off prematurely there would have been no Lend-Lease program at all….the US was still in the midst of the depression, even FDR’s Secretary of Treasury at the time admitted that the recovery wasn’t. Isolationism was gaining strength across the country, and only went in the dustbin after Pearl Harbor. Only after Poland was subjugated, and the Brits were actually at war, did FDR get the Selective Serviced law passed in 1940 and the mechanisms underway.

Had both Japan and Germany waited till that propitious moment…our ability to respond would have been different and limited.

No build-up of industry over three years prior to Pearl Harbor, no draft mechanism in place nor training cadres in place two years prior to Pearl Harbor. Many other events would not have happened nor programs up and running by December .

Thus, Hitler and Japan had waited until after 1942…our ability to turn on a dime and stop them would have been severely limited. Had there have been no Pearl harbor, even more so.

ChANGE s

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 8:12 PM

Crap….stupid notebook…

Anyway, if certain events had not happened from 1939 to December 1941, our response and our ability to respond would have been different.

When Putin invaded Georgia and annexed Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Spetnaz troops who spearheaded the invasion were using tactics and protocols straight out of the days of Zhukov and Konev. Seen on international television, the Russians while ruthless and deadly could have been decimated by any NATO force at the time, brigade sized, using current military SOP’s.

Putin saw this. That is when Putin’s build up of the Russian military got its current kick start.

They are modernizing, using more modern techniques, paying attention to new doctrines and methodology, as well as new equipment from small arms to missiles. While we in the West, and the US are downsizing, and dumping proven system, such as the A-10, as one example, Putin is not. It costs money. The recent oil glut set him back but not for long.

But, the days of massive NATO formations stationed all across Europe are gone. having such things as CENTAG, gone. US Seventh Army…a mere reinforced brigade, and two, if you at SETAF down in Vicenza.

When that propitious moment arrives, we will know.

Hopefully somebody at the White House will respoind to the email.

coldwarrior on March 10, 2015 at 8:22 PM

Cold Warrior,

You have no clue what you’re talking about regarding WW2 and “propitious moments.” Any propitious moment for Hitler and Tojo ended the moment Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and the Japanese Imperial Navy bombed Pearl Harbor. The rest was just details.

There will also never be a propitious moment for Putin to invade Eastern and Central European states like Poland, Germany, etc. Never. Not in a month, a year, or a decade.

Even the Baltic States, which are highly vulnerable because of their geography and large Russian populations, are not likely to end up on Putin’s dining menu because Putin will not want to take on NATO directly, unless there is first we provoke him into it.

You’re also out of your mind if you think Russia has the economic or industrial base to take on the task of restarting the Cold War. You’re more eager for the Cold war than is Putin.

Putin’s moves in Georgia and Ukraine have been defensive and reactive and contained to Russia’s border regions. They aren’t the sign of some new Cold War except to people who can’t move on from the past.

If you’re eager for a Cold War, start looking at China. They will soon be more than willing be your Huckleberry.

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 11:42 PM

CORRECTION:

…unless we first provoke him into it

Pincher Martin on March 10, 2015 at 11:43 PM

Taking over Ukraine, the Baltics, and other parts of the former Soviet Union does not necessitate using massive military force. Incrementalism and gradualism…have their usefulness. And a smart leader understands this. Bluster works when one is facing an opponent with no means or meager means of defense. Having to commit military forces when your opponent chooses is not the path to success in modern warfare. Merely look at today’s Iraq.

Putin has already ginned up a new cold war. It is easy to figure out what is most important to a nation…look at what they spend their money on when they have little money.

What has Russia spent a huge amount of government money on lately?

Putin’s moves on the Ukraine and Crimea were merely defensive moves? Really? What nonsense.

Securing military, air, and naval bases on Crimean soil (actually Ukrainian soil) defensive? Separating Ossetians and Abkhazians from the sovereign nation of Georgia defensive?

Looking to start a new cold war? Me? Forget it. Already worked though one in my lifetime. A sweet ride, to be sure. I have no desire to repeat it.

China is making wonderful progress using economic power, backed up by an advanced and advancing military power…and is willing to use it when the time comes. So, yes, it is prudent to look at China, same as to look at Russia.

We’ve already lost a few too many canaries in the coal mines.

Do we have to lose an entire species of canary before the 21st Century threat of Russian, Chinese (add a few other nations) gradualist expansionism is taken seriously?

This country can’t even figure out that we are an islamic-based and inspired existential threat…because, you know, the most beautiful sound on earth is the call to prayer, and anyone who slanders mohammed will not inherit the earth. And Russia is no threat because Putin is just too busy trying to build a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in every town and burg in Russia.

Frankly, having studied and worked the Russia program since the early 1970’s, I find the current dismissive attitude about reborn Russia to be a bit disturbing. From the White House to Foggy Bottom on down. The portents are there.

Georgia…Saar; Crimea…Sudetenland; Ukraine…Austria…and perhaps in time, Poland…Poland. But, Putin has made no secret about getting the near abroad to rejoin, voluntarily or otherwise, the former borders.

I trust Putin (and his closest circle) to be Putin and his closest circle…Putin is no saint, nor are his closest circle. Thugs in every meaning of the word (save for the Hindu part) and predictable and predictive behaviour is Putin’s tell.

But all this Russia nonsense is merely misunderstood…Russia has NO desire nor capability to launch a war anywhere at any time for any reason and peaceful coexistence is all Russia desires.

So we all can sleep better now. Thank you for your wonderful insight.

coldwarrior on March 11, 2015 at 5:36 AM