Comment on Crimea in English
Pit bull politics

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is not the ruthless aggressor whom the West makes him out to be, argues Gabor Steingart, the publisher of Germany’s leading financial newspaper Handelsblatt.
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The West is engaged in what Americans in their more clear-headed moments would call “pit bull politics” – a policy of shoot-from-the-hip attacks driven by instinct, not reason. Pit bull politics is politics with teeth bared but no brains in sight. In Crimea, the political situation looks this this at the moment: NATO forces are being moved closer to the border with Russia, economic sanctions are being drafted and a firestorm of abuse is raining down on the Kremlin. Some compare Putin with Stalin. Hillary Clinton compares him to Hitler, but for those who choose, Count Dracula and Emperor Nero are still available.

But in matter of fact, Putin is one of the more peace-loving leaders around. Without significant resistance, about half of the population of the former Soviet sphere of influence were allowed to depart and head for the West, including the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Georgians, Kazakhs, Moldovans and now Ukrainians. Fourteen pro-Western states have emerged from the former territory of the USSR. Three of those have adopted the euro. Ten former Warsaw Pact states have even become members of NATO. „Realpolitik’’ begins with a recognition of mutual realities. And the most important reality in our time is this: The Soviet empire is collapsing and if there is anyone who can turn this dangerously destructive process into stability, it is Putin.

Crimea, the home of pit bull politics, belongs to Russia as Vermont does to the United States. Most of the population is Russian. It is the base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. In its 240 years of statehood, the Crimea belonged to Russia for 171 years and it was only due to a vodka-induced whim of the former Communist Party boss, Nikita Khrushchev, that it was incorporated into the Ukraine, which was itself predominantly Russian at the time, on February 19, 1954.

If Putin gives up Crimea, he gives up a chunk of his own self-image. His aggression is politically, militarily and historically necessary to his continued status as a major world leader. Today he is in a similar situation to the young John F. Kennedy in October 1962, when Moscow had begun stationing nuclear missiles in Cuba – in the United States’ own backyard. Kennedy quite rightly did not care at all about Cuban national sovereignty and with a spectacular marine blockade, which he referred to as a Cuban „quarantine,” he forced the Soviets to turn back.

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  • Although I am not aquainted enough with the situation, thank you for this more open and analytical assessement of the ongoing crisis. However, taking the last decades into account, I perceive your view as closer to reality than that of other publications which in somes cases remind me more on propaganda than on neutral Western style situational analysis. The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy represents obviously a strong strategic pillar of the Russian Armed Forces. It goes without saying that it is bizzare and adventuresome to expect an other reaction of the Russian Federation. Its reaction is rather comprehensible (but still moderate)from a mililitary perspective alone considering the political, social and economic Ukranian instability. Accordingly, the protection of this strategic pillar has priority over economic issues. Taking other geographic subjects to enthusiastic policy projects into account that we saw over the last years, it is to be expected that this instability will rather grow than decline. Another inevitable and traceable conclusion in the decision making process.
    This crisis must end as soon as possible. It massively destroys individual, societal, political and economic value. Particularly not that of most of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti crowd, but for sure that of the average people living in rural areas and other cities of the Ukraine.
    Taking the map and the financial situation of the Ukraine into account, why not considering to let the Russian Federation buy (or lease) this piece of land say for 15 billion US$. This could support the Ukranian recovery and could provide a potential buy-in by Ukrainians.
    At least I hope that I will not have to see the pictures of Ukrainian children like that of Syrians in the course of these unbearable UNICEF PR campaigns who have fallen victim to the lukewarm Western policy caravan characterized by leaving unfinished projects behind and realistically assuming public forgetfullness already in the short-term...

  • Although I am not aquainted enough with the situation, thank you for this more open and analytical assessement of the ongoing crisis. However, taking the last decades into account, I perceive your view as closer to reality than that of other publications which in somes cases remind me more on propaganda than on neutral Western style situational analysis. The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy represents obviously a strong strategic pillar of the Russian Armed Forces. It goes without saying that it is bizzare and adventuresome to expect an other reaction of the Russian Federation. Its reaction is rather comprehensible (but still moderate)from a mililitary perspective alone considering the political, social and economic Ukranian instability. Accordingly, the protection of this strategic pillar has priority over economic issues. Taking other geographic subjects to enthusiastic policy projects into account that we saw over the last years, it is to be expected that this instability will rather grow than decline. Another inevitable and traceable conclusion in the decision making process.
    This crisis must end as soon as possible. It massively destroys individual, societal, political and economic value. Particularly not that of most of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti crowd, but for sure that of the average people living in rural areas and other cities of the Ukraine.
    Taking the map and the financial situation of the Ukraine into account, why not considering to let the Russian Federation buy (or lease) this piece of land say for 15 billion US$. This could support the Ukranian recovery and could provide a potential buy-in by Ukrainians.
    At least I hope that I will not have to see the pictures of Ukrainian children like that of Syrians in the course of these unbearable UNICEF PR campaigns who have fallen victim to the lukewarm Western policy caravan characterized by leaving unfinished projects behind and realistically assuming public forgetfullness already in the short-term...

  • Ja, richtig. Die EU-Politik war viel zu aggresiv. Die Einkreisungspolitik der EU, Östliche Partnerschaften, war blöd. Der schwedische und der polnische Aussenminister haben das vorangetrieben. Wie konnte Berlin das erlauben. Deutschland hatte eine intelligentere eigentlich im Archiv - Wandlung durch Annäherung. Siehe Uebrigens den Interview von Henry Kissinger von Charlie Rose.

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