Putin’s unchanging KGB script dates back to Stalin’s annihilations and deportation of whole nationalities in the 1930s and State Security head, Ivan Serov’s, razing of Eastern Europe. The model remains the same: Armored trucks and troops arrive out of nowhere, invited by some shadowy local organization. They take control of strategic facilities and communications, and announce a new regime elected by popular acclaim and cheered on by grateful residents organized by KGB operatives.
Western diplomats and media interpret Putin’s press
conference as a welcome step back from confrontation. His goals accomplished –
the securing of Russian forces in the Crimea and protecting Russian speakers
from ethnic violence – Putin has declared that he is walking back the military
option, although he reserves the right to protect the interests of ethnic
Russians as well as Russia’s
own interests in Ukraine.
Alarmingly, Western diplomats and media laud Putin’s support of elections.
Putin is going to allow the Ukrainian people to decide their own fate. Let’s
breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Vladimir Putin is rushing to complete his Blitzanschluss of
the Crimea. His Duma is drafting legislation
to “unite new subjects into the Russian
A referendum, originally scheduled for March 31, will likely be moved
up. The West will shortly face a Fait accomplish of the incorporation of
Ukrainian territory into the Russian
Federation. President Obama and the leaders
of Europe have only a few days, or even hours
to act. They cannot afford the usual telephone calls, consultations, and
Ukraine represents the Holy Grail of Putin’s restoration policy. If Ukraine is lost, his policy has failed, and Putin cannot accept defeat unless the costs of fighting the battle are in the stratosphere. He has already calculated that the costs, if any, will be modest and the returns exceptional.
Yes, Ukraine must focus on its immediate financial crisis and counter Russian machinations and threats, but its fate hinges on, to use hackneyed phrases, the creation of a rule of law and a stable democracy. Ukraine’s political elite and bureaucrats, of all political persuasions, have shown themselves incapable of these tasks in the past. Ukraine must turn to new and youngleaders– patriots not politicians — willing to follow guidance and discipline from their neighbors to the West.
In Putin’s Alice in Wonderland, it does not matter whether
white is black or up is down. Exonerating evidence is either ignored or not
permitted. The sentence is phoned to the presiding judge from the Kremlin,
while Putin denies any influence on the courts. They make their own independent
decisions, he asserts with a straight face. (Stalin would also tell wives of
victims that we would like to help but the courts have decided).
Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives by Hoover fellow Paul Gregory
Who Am I?
Paul R. Gregory is a Research Fellow, Hoover Institution Cullen Professor of Economics, University of Houston. He is also a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. He is chair of the International Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics. He serves as co-editor of the Yale-Hoover Series on Stalin, Stalinism, and Cold War. He has co-edited archival publications, such as the seven volume History of Stalin's Gulag (2004) and the three-volume Stenograms of Meetings of the Politburo (2008). Gregory is the organizer of the Hoover Sino-Soviet Archives Workshop that takes place in the summer at the Hoover Institution. His recent publications include Lenin's Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives (Hoover 2004) and Terror by Quota (Yale, 2009).