World View: Henry Kissinger Says Vladimir Putin Wants a Way Out

World View: Henry Kissinger Says Vladimir Putin Wants a Way Out

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Henry Kissinger says that Vladimir Putin wants a way out
  • Crimea’s parliament votes to secede from Ukraine and join Russia
  • United States and European Union apply sanctions
  • India charges Kashmiri students with sedition for cheering Pakistan at cricket

Henry Kissinger says that Vladimir Putin wants a way out

Henry Kissinger is the most brilliant geopolitical analyst that I’veseen in my lifetime, so what he says, even when counter-intuitive, islikely to be correct. He was interviewed on TV by Charlie Rose onThursday, and said the following:

“No Russian I’ve ever met finds it easy, or evenpossible, to consider Ukraine a totally separate country. It waspart of Russia for 300 years. The history of Russia and Ukrainehave been intertwined for several hundred years before that. Sothe evolution of Ukraine is a matter that moves allRussians.”

As I described yesterday, Russia is claiming that there are noRussian troops in Crimea, and that the Russian-speakingtroop-like people are really local militias over which Russiahas no control.

As I said, this is a blatant lie, as many reporters have spoken toRussian soldiers in Crimea who SAY that they’re Russian soldiers.According to some estimates there are 16,000 Russian soldiersin Crimea.

Kissinger says that lying about the soldiers is cynical, but it’s agood sign, because it provides a way for Russia to back down.Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is going to suffer a major loss ofprestige over the Ukraine crisis, no matter how it turns out,according to Kissinger, and Putin knows this. So far, Putin has donewhat he was forced to do. But now, since he’s said that there are noRussian soldiers in Crimea, he doesn’t have to issue a public orderfor the Russian soldiers to evacuate. Instead, he can just allow themto melt into the population. Although Putin will suffer some loss ofprestige from this outcome, it’s not as bad as other scenarios,according to Kissinger.

Kissinger also commented on Thursday’s hour-long phone call betweenpresident Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Kissinger said that he’salways advised presidents he’s worked for not to talk to other headsof state, unless their staffs had done a lot of preparation inadvance. “There’s a danger when you put two egos together, and theytalk unprepared. If they disagree about something, then to whom willthey be able to appeal to get a resolution?”

Crimea’s parliament votes to secede from Ukraine and join Russia

Just when everyone was hoping that events in Ukraine were beginning tosettle down, they took a dangerous new turn early on Thursday when theParliament of the Autonomous State of Crimea voted to separate fromUkraine and become part of Russia. There will be a referendum onMarch 16 with two questions:

  • Do you support the reunification of Crimea with Russia?
  • Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea in 1992, leaving it as part of Ukraine?

The question that receives more “yes” votes will be considered the

The interim government in Kiev immediately said the vote wasunconstitutional, since regional governments can’t vote to secede fromthe nation. According to acting president Oleksandr Turchynov:

“This will be a farce, this will be falsification,this will be a crime against the state, which was organized by themilitary of the Russian Federation.”

Any attempt for Crimea to secede from Ukraine would be rejected byKiev, and might trigger a violent confrontation between federal forcesand regional forces, the latter supported by the Russians.

Most commentators are predicting that because of the ethnic Russianmajority in Crimea, the choice to secede and join Russia will win thereferendum. However, a BBC reporter in Sevastopol said on air thathe’d spoken to a lot of ordinary people who said that they wantRussia’s protection, and they want Kiev to protect their rights, butthey don’t want to become part of Russia. He said that it’s far fromcertain that the secession side will win the referendum. Kyiv Post

United States and European Union apply sanctions

The sanctions that the United States and the European Union imposed onRussia on Thursday were pretty meaningless. Certain meetings havebeen canceled, certain individuals won’t be allowed to travel tocertain places, and so forth. It was all pretty symbolic.

What’s interesting is that an emergency European Union summit onUkraine that had been going on for several days would have ended onThursday with no sanctions imposed whatsoever, if it hadn’t been forthe Crimean Parliament vote for secession. Leaders of EU membernations that had rejected sanctions because they would just inflamethe issue further changed their minds, and the talk of the secessionreferendum ended up galvanizing Europe’s response. The symbolicsanctions were approved, along with a statement that said that tradesanctions would be employed if Russia escalated further. (No oneseriously believes that the EU would ever apply trade sanctions toRussia, since Russia would retaliate, with devastating results to bothsides.) CNN

India charges Kashmiri students with sedition for cheering Pakistan at cricket

A group of Kashmiri students in an Indian university were charged withsedition on Sunday when they cheered for Pakistan at a bigPakistan-India cricket match, and then celebrated when Pakistan won.The sedition charges, which might have resulted in 3-year prisonterms, were dropped on Tuesday, but other charges of “disruptingcommunal harmony” and “causing damage to public property” are stillbeing investigate. However, the students have all been suspended as aThe suspension affects all 67 students in the Kashmiri community,since no one was willing to identify the specific few students who had

The suspended students are saying that the damage to property was doneby the Indian team supporters, who vandalized their rooms. Thesecharges are not being investigated. Hindustan Times (India) and Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC

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