March 03, 2014

On Crimea

Jerry Pournelle has thoughts.

The Wall Street Journal this morning in a lead editorial says flatly that the Russian de facto annexation of the Crimea cannot be allowed to stand. That is because they are crazy...

He goes on from there. It's short but has a good deal of historical perspective so I urge you to read the whole thing.

Brian Wang has an nice collection of links giving a good overview of the problems the U.S. President faces in making good on his threats. One of the biggest seems to be that the sort of divestment and sanctions policy threatened by SecState Kerry is likely to clobber European banks. I particularly note that China is quite vocally supporting Russia. The fact that after making grand pronouncements of red lines and consequences the US did nothing is a precedent that China is no doubt very pleased with as it looks at the territorial disputes it has with its neighbors.

I don't for a minute think that getting involved in any way is a good or wise. I certainly don't think that there is anything the President could have done to stop this, nor was it in our interest to poke the bear over it. I do think that the loud and empty bluster was supremely ill advised.

The Ukrainians suffered greatly under Stalin to the point that they aligned themselves with Hitler against him. There are reportedly still elements amongst the revolutionaries who look fondly at those who did so, though how influential they actually are is unclear.

The Russians are securing Sevastopol, which, being their only warm water European port is as vital to their economy as the pipelines that cross the Ukraine. The Crimea and western Ukraine are ethnically Russian (60% or more) and so the Russian claims of protecting their own are not entirely fatuous.

This is a nasty business and it apalls me that we are involved on any policy level beyond sending some aid.

Then there is this piece that Ace linked to...which just seems rather....odd.

I know there are people who comment here who know a lot more about this than me...have at it in the comments.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:52 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
Post contains 365 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I kinda wanna say "Let it burn" just so the world can see what it's like when the US cat is belled, when the World's Policeman has the Blue Flu. when they finally start begging us to intervene like we used to, only we can't because we've reduced our military to pre WWII levels (Back when they used to have to practice maneuvers with chunks of 2x4 instead of rifles and attack trucks with "tank" painted on the side.)

Posted by: Mauser at Tue Mar 4 06:51:26 2014 (TJ7ih)

2 You'd think we could at least manage a bit of quid pro quo about it.

It's not like we can stop them - they're in their own backyard and we're certainly not about to provoke nuclear war over the Crimea, which at least has a plausible claim to being Russian. That said, Russia gets up to plenty else that we're not necessarily happy about, concerning political support for the likes of Syria. You'd think that we could cut them slack here (where our national interest isn't really implicated) in exchange for some slack there (where their national interest isn't really implicated, other than some arms sales).

A more aggressive administration would do so while noting that gee, all those natural gas pipelines, protecting them running through hostile territory is awful difficult, isn't it? (For that matter, we're perfectly capable of blowing up pipelines anywhere we please, and could probably rig it so that it looked like Chechens or something...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Tue Mar 4 15:27:29 2014 (zJsIy)

3 And to think the interested parties just secured a permission to export NK-33 again only a month ago in RF Security Council, and it was hard won against Russian hardliners who saw U.S. military might being propped by Russian companies (I'm not making that up - that was the primary argument against granting the export license). The implication was that if NK-33 is granted a license, the RD-180 will default to extension as well. Crimea threw all this maneuvering into question again. Interestingly in all that, Russia and its government is a collection of diverse interests, some are loonier than others.

Sadly the recently discussed F1B is much too big and expensive to be useful as a replacement for RD-180.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Mar 4 20:08:52 2014 (RqRa5)

4 I hadn't known about that, thanks! Of course there is also the little Soyuz problem.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 4 20:53:11 2014 (DnAJl)

5 Yeah, well... We're well on our way to rectify the Soyuz problem, except for a small detail that everything save Dragon is designed to fly on Atlas. Also, no amount of money can move schedule left closer than 2016, so we're looking at a little gap even with Dragon.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Mar 4 21:10:05 2014 (RqRa5)

6 BTW, I did not see it mentioned in the media, but Russia makes something like 80% of world's titanium and exports most of as pre-fabricated components (if I remember correctly). An embargo is going to hurt Boeing fiercely. It's something we might want to ask Mauser about.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Mar 4 21:16:51 2014 (RqRa5)

7 Yeah, Titanium is very, very important in aviation, and yeah, as far as I know, pretty much all of it comes from Russia. (Titanium Dioxide is common as dirt, but getting the titanium metal out of it is a b*tch.).

For example, the vertical fin that I install on roughly every other airplane (I'm on the Surge line, and South Carolina barely counts) has massive titanium footings on it where it bolts on. And those bolts are Titanium too, all over an inch in diameter and a several hundred dollars each, since they have chips in them that tell you how tight they are.

One thing to remember though, Titanium is NOT stronger that steel, just lighter.  Likewise, it's NOT lighter than aluminum, just stronger.  That middle ground gives it significant advantage over the others.

It's just a real pain in the butt to work with.  It's tougher to drill a hole in than either.

Posted by: Mauser at Wed Mar 5 04:48:46 2014 (TJ7ih)

8 (For that matter, we're perfectly capable of blowing up pipelines anywhere we please, and could probably rig it so that it looked like Chechens or something...)

Apparently a huge refinery in Tatarstan was on fire overnight.  Although that might credibly be an ethnic-solidarity thing with the Crimean Tatars.  I dunno, I'm not exactly clear on the exact practical relation between the Volga Tatars and the Crimean Tatars - it may be less than the apparent commonalities.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Wed Mar 5 07:43:58 2014 (1F2S/)

9 As for the so-called "elements", they were not so elementary in past Ukrainian governments, as evidenced by bestowing the Hero of Ukraine award upon Stepan Bandera, subsequently cancelled. Can't wait to see if the current government is going to reinstall it. If a government of Norway acknowledged Quisling with the highest state order, it would be taken with a certain gravity, but here it's merely "elements".

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Mar 5 15:56:38 2014 (RqRa5)

10 Orbital announced today that they are looking for alternatives for NK-33 and... wait for it... all alternatives they are considering are Russian too. I cannot believe how perfect their timing is.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Mar 5 16:12:03 2014 (RqRa5)

11 Preparations for war are ongoing and they are taking grotesque shapes. Ukraine's government is asking businesses to supply fuel, because apparently the wartime reserves are found not there, and units are unable to reach deployment positions. Russians in Crimea were shooting at a Ukrainian recon plane from small arms and Youtube video demonstrates them digging in... quality WWII trenches! The leader of Ukrainian Navy, fregate U130 "Getman Sagaidachnyi" was redirected to Odessa (because Sebastopol harbor was blocked by a sunk ship), where it's stuck without support, while members of the crew are said to desert and arrive to Crimea one by one. All this is funny, but Ukraine is clearly preparing for all-out war to retake Crimea, according to their measure and abilities anyhow. This is nowhere near over yet.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun Mar 9 23:54:10 2014 (RqRa5)

12 Parts of Gen. Tenyukh (Defence minister) report to Rada leaked and paint rather sad picture. Results of full mobilization yielded 6,000 men ready to fight out of 41,000 table order. They seem to lack the strength to kick the paramilitaries out of Crimea and must focus on resisting further Russian aggression in eastern provinces, while hoping they have time to bring the armed forces into order. It's very sad, I had no idea it was this bad.

The air defence is especially poorly showing due to most of their equiplement being unusable. Fast replenishment is impossible with all of it being Russian-made. Measures taken after the 2001 shot-down of Russian airliners took their toll.

Second worst is aviation. Most of their kit is Russian as well, but they have some spares, flight-worthy aircraft, and ammo/bombs/missiles. They pulled their flight demo group into war posture and it formed the most fight-ready squadron. Still, their readiness is below 20%.

Army had the best showing men-wise, but they are plagued with broken equipment and a critical lack of fuel. Hopefuly they won't get caught with their pants down like their Crimea comrades at least.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Thu Mar 13 16:34:11 2014 (RqRa5)

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