Ain’t that the cutest little thing »« All gods sort of blur together, I guess

The scary part is…

Ukraine is a mess, and Putin is mad. Not angry mad, but George-Bush living-in-militaristic-paranoid-fantasy-land mad.

The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? It is no easy task. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

And now Putin has given a press conference.

Slouching in a fancy chair in front of a dozen reporters, Putin squirmed and rambled. And rambled and rambled. He was a rainbow of emotion: Serious! angry! bemused! flustered! confused! So confused. Victor Yanukovich is still the acting president of Ukraine, but he can’t talk to Ukraine because Ukraine has no president. Ukraine needs elections, but you can’t have elections because there is already a president. And no elections will be valid given that there is terrorism in the streets of Ukraine. And how are you going to let just anyone run for president? What if some nationalist punk just pops out like a jack-in-the-box? An anti-Semite? Look at how peaceful the Crimea is, probably thanks to those guys with guns holding it down. Who are they, by the way? Speaking of instability, did you know that the mayor of Dniepropetrovsk is a thief? He cheated “our oligarch, [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich” of millions. Just pocketed them! Yanukovich has no political future, I’ve told him that. He didn’t fulfill his obligations as leader of the country. I’ve told him that. Mr. Putin, what mistakes did Yanukovich make as president? You know, I can’t answer that. Not because I don’t know the answer, but because it just wouldn’t be right of me to say. Did you know they burned someone alive in Kiev? Just like that? Is that what you call a manifestation of democracy? Mr. Putin, what about the snipers in Kiev who were firing on civilians? Who gave them orders to shoot? Those were provocateurs. Didn’t you read the reports? They were open source reports. So I don’t know what happened there. It’s unclear. But did you see the bullets piercing the shields of the Berkut [special police]. That was obvious. As for who gave the order to shoot, I don’t know. Yanukovich didn’t give that order. He told me. I only know what Yanukovich told me. And I told him, don’t do it. You’ll bring chaos to your city. And he did it, and they toppled him. Look at that bacchanalia. The American political technologists they did their work well. And this isn’t the first time they’ve done this in Ukraine, no. Sometimes, I get the feeling that these people…these people in America. They are sitting there, in their laboratory, and doing experiments, like on rats. You’re not listening to me. I’ve already said, that yesterday, I met with three colleagues. Colleagues, you’re not listening. It’s not that Yanukovich said he’s not going to sign the agreement with Europe. What he said was that, based on the content of the agreement, having examined it, he did not like it. We have problems. We have a lot of problems in Russia. But they’re not as bad as in Ukraine. The Secretary of State. Well. The Secretary of State is not the ultimate authority, is he?

Hey, what was that drill we learned in grade school? Duck and cover? That works, right?

Comments

  1. raven says

    Hey, what was that drill we learned in grade school? Duck and cover? That works, right?

    Oh, PZ you weren’t paying attention!!! That could cost you and your family their lives!!!

    1. You duck and cover while the nuclear bombs are falling.

    2. Then you go home and get in your fallout shelter and wait a few months or years. If you don’t have a fallout shelter you:

    3. Go home and gather your survival gear, canned food, guns, and camping gear while you wait for your parents to come home. When your parents come home, you drive out the designated evacuation routes into the mountains and wait a few years until something happens.

    4. This assumes your parents weren’t vaporized in a nuclear explosion. The directions never mentioned what the kids were supposed to do then. I think you spend quality time with your pets until you all die of radiation poisoning and starvation.

    We had duck and cover drills. This was a handout the school gave us to take home.

  2. DaveL says

    A direct transcript can be found here. It sounds a little less crazy than New Republic’s rendition, but still not nearly lucid enough.

  3. raven says

    Hey, what was that drill we learned in grade school? Duck and cover? That works, right?

    I was a young kid at that time.

    And took those drills and the post-nuclear attack instructions very seriously. Why wouldn’t I, they were from adult authority figures, the leaders of our society? And had our best interests and continued survival as their priority.

    This all brings back fond memories that I managed to bury. Not knowing if I was going to even live to graduate from…grade school.

  4. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Raven @1,

    And don’t forget to clean under your fingernails.

    That’s the part that everyone forgets, and it could be fatal.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    The man needs a nickname. How about “Razz” Putin?

    Or, if things go badly, Vlad the Butcher?

  6. machintelligence says

    Real duck and cover instructions:
    Go to an interior hallway, preferably without windows. Get face down on the ground with your coat covering your back. If you see a flash — put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye!

  7. schism says

    1. You duck and cover while the nuclear bombs are falling.

    2. Then you go home and get in your fallout shelter and wait a few months or years.

    2a. A couple generations later, your descendents travel to the remains of the American west coast and shoot giant scorpions with laser guns.

  8. says

    Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin?

    Oh fuck, could someone please save us from the tough-guy-vs.-though-guy frame before it causes real harm?

  9. raven says

    Hey, what was that drill we learned in grade school? Duck and cover? That works, right?

    We had instructions on the post nuclear survival plans from the school to take home to our parents.

    Which I believed completely, being very young.

    1. I used to gather canned food, camping gear, first aid supplies, and so on and put them in one place. My parents never said much but a week later, they would put them all back.

    2. Also used to collect plans for fallout shelters which were every where and nag them to build a fallout shelter. They never did build one.

    3. And then, would go out in the back yard and start digging holes and collecting flat rocks and broken bricks to line it with. To build a fallout shelter. They would find them and make me fill them in. Which disappointed me no end. “Don’t you realize we are all going to die, the pets need it, and besides I’ll let you use it too.”

    I suspect about then, they really wondered if having kids was a good idea.

    Speaking of which, I do have a shovel and a backyard. Hmmm. Not again!!! I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.

  10. Louis says

    Duck and cover? Under KINDLING!? Fuck off!

    Anyway, you lot have nothing to worry about. I need my gas supply to stay on and we’re paying that crazy fucker to do it. I’m not sure HOW, but if my balls get cold I’m writing a letter, dagnabit.

    Louis

  11. frog says

    Dammit, Generation X did not come to adulthood just as the Cold War ended only to see this shit start up again just as we’re getting into political power. I mean COME ON.

    I bought a house built in 1953. I’m extremely disappointed it didn’t have a bomb shelter.

  12. frog says

    One hopes that the rest of the former Soviet folks remember how dangerous leaders were dealt with in those days. Putin is probably more paranoid than most, and probably contributed to a lot of those events, but I’m sure there have been chemical developments since then.

    Come to think of it, his behavior might be explained by that.

  13. Randomfactor says

    And this is the guy the religious right has been worshipping lately. Palin and Giuliani too.

  14. mathilde says

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

    It seems that Merkel was not quoted correctly:

    The German government, through the conservative, Merkel supporting daily Die Welt, denied the correctness of that quote. Die Welt writes (my translation):

    The chancellery is unhappy about the report in the New York Times. Merkel by no means meant to express that Putin behaved irrational. In fact she told Obama that Putin has a different perspective about the Crimea [than Obama has].

    (source: moon of alabama)

  15. Rich Woods says

    A friend of my father’s built a fallout shelter in 1963. This was such an unusual thing to do in rural England that he made the front page of the local newspaper (a positive write-up, I was told; he wasn’t dismissed as a loon).

    I remember visiting his house when I was ten or eleven, maybe a year or two after Dad had told me about the shelter. I’d always imagined an impregnable underground bunker beneath the house, packed with survival gear, but what Arthur showed me and my brother was a single-skin brick building about ten feet on a side, being used as a garden shed. The only thing which distinguished it from a normal garden shed was it being made of brick rather than wood, and being sunk about a foot and a half into the ground. It had a large south-facing window. Fortunately the RAF base a few miles up the road was to the north.

  16. anteprepro says

    Oh fuck, could someone please save us from the tough-guy-vs.-though-guy frame before it causes real harm?

    The frame is borderline farcical, as stated.
    Reminds me of this . (Warning: you’d be best off just muting)

  17. says

    In fact she told Obama that Putin has a different perspective about the Crimea [than Obama has].

    I have no way of knowing what she said to Obama, but this is clearly bullshit.

    “Hi Barry, I just wanted to speak to you for a moment to say that Putin thinks differently than you. Just in case you didn’t know. You see, he’s looking at it from the perspective of a Russian president. But you’re the president of America! They’re like, way way apart. Do you have a map handy?”

  18. abusedbypenguins says

    I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
    ‘long as I got my plastic jesus.

  19. sirbedevere says

    I just saw a post on Facebook “gloating” that Sara Palin warned a few years ago that if Obama was re-elected Russia might invade Ukraine. Had the tag line “She doesn’t seem so stupid now, does she?”

    Now quite aside from the issue of whether Palin actually did warn about this (did she?) one has to wonder what kind of president we could have elected under whom Russia would not have invaded Ukraine, given that they invaded Afghanistan under Ronald Reagan, probably the most hawkish president of the last 50 years.

  20. carlie says

    Real duck and cover instructions:
    Go to an interior hallway, preferably without windows. Get face down on the ground with your coat covering your back.

    Nah, that’s the tornado drill instructions.

  21. Moggie says

    I was just going to say: I hope Sarah Palin’s Russian expertise can be called on before it’s too late.

  22. mikeyb says

    No worries, John McCain and Lindsay Graham will be coming to the rescue with all their military wisdom such as a healthy dose of Hitler and Neville Chamberlain references.

  23. NitricAcid says

    Putin’s perspective is definitely different. His perspective is that Ukraine is a vassal state with delusions of independence, and needs to be reigned in after daring to flirt with the EU.

  24. urbanwitch says

    I watched The Atomic Cafe some years back, and found it absolutely hysterical! I really enjoyed watching the picnickers ducking under their picnic cloth. I found it hard to believe any adult took this seriously at the time.

  25. Nick Gotts says

    It seems that Merkel was not quoted correctly – mathilde@16

    Come on now: the NSA would have heard every word, and I’m sure their translators are top-notch :-p

  26. Who Cares says

    @19(Area Man):
    Actually that is a correct translation . The second section says:
    The image of a delusional Putin was perfect and spread internationally.
    This is however not the reality. The Merkels office isn’t happy with the New York Times article. Merkel didn’t want to give the impression Putin behaved irrational. What she said was more along the lines of Putin having a different interpretation of what is going on in Crimea. Which is the reason Merkel wants a fact finding mission.
    This fact finding mission is less about facts as about agreeing on the facts. The idea being that the US, Europe and Russia find a common ground about what to do with the situation in Crimea.
    [end free form translation]

    Thing is that the Ukraine is an artificial state. It is part Poland, part Russian (after ww2 that is) and in 1954 Crimea was added.
    We’ve had other states like that dissolved into it’s parts. Why can’t that be done here as well. Crimea is going to have a referendum on seceding at the end of the month. Don’t expect them to be wanting to stay in the Ukraine. The question being do they want to be fully independent or be absorbed by Russia. There is a good chance that the east part of the Ukraine will eventually do the same.
    And that is the real question. Why doesn’t the west accept that in this case but essentially initiated the process in other places.

  27. unclefrogy says

    If Putin and the oligarchs who are his support want to be rich and powerful they must act with an eye on the markets that generate that value the need to support that wealth.
    The reaction of the market to his actions was decidedly negative therefor he had to show the market. I think what we are seeing in this press conference is his reluctance to do that. He wants to act anyway he wants but the reaction of the markets on the Oligarchs was very negative and they are his support so he is backing down. That is what the market news is reporting basically thus we see a rally in the market.
    Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,
    uncle frogy

  28. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I don’t like this. I’m not sure what the world can actually do, but I definitely don’t like this.

  29. Who Cares says

    For what I personally think. Putin (and thus by extension Russia) is stupid to want those parts of the Ukraine back. Russia on it’s own is creaking barely along and then he want this basket case of an economy added? Sorry to say by the age of the cold war USSR isn’t coming back.

  30. raven says

    Thing is that the Ukraine is an artificial state. It is part Poland, part Russian (after ww2 that is) and in 1954 Crimea was added.

    With two main ethnic groups, Russians and Ukrainians that apparently don’t like each other.

    1. We saw what happened in Czechoslovakia. They just split up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and no one much cared.

    2. Then there is Yugoslavia where they split into 5 states and…well, that one didn’t work so well.

    3. A lot of people are calling Ukraine a failed nation state. It’s politically unstable, an economic basket case, and divided by ethnic problems. How much worse could it get?

    4. We just saw that. The Russians could invade and take it over.

    I’m not saying the Ukraine would be better off splitting into a few parts based on ethnic and political differences. But they might be. The Russian eastern part gets to be Russia and the western Ukrainian part goes wherever they choose to go.

  31. lopsided says

    I think this will be Putin’s Iraq. In retrospect, the beginning of his end.

  32. unclefrogy says

    The reaction is being touted as a victory of free markets. OK
    here is how I understand this “victory”
    Markets are to a very large part at the mercy of emotions they are not all together rational. They thrive on stability and react negatively to instability. The remarkable thing is the speed of the reaction. The result of communications and market interconnections and the software that manages a very large part of that market

    we are really becoming a world market

    the nice thing about fallout shelters was it was a kind of self burying tomb like aspect of them
    uncle frogy

  33. says

    The BBC is now reporting that the Russian military has test fired an ICBM. I am sure that will defuse the situation.

    As Putin is ex-KGB I am not surprised he is prone to some unusual thinking patterns. Both the KGB and FSB have a long history of paranoia and developing conspiracy theories. The KGB was quite good at obtaining information but struggled with its interpretation. When the information they received did not show what they expected of the main adversary conspiracy theories were often constructed to explain why this was the case, rather than taking the evidence at face value. Mixing this kind of broken thinking with a rather authoritarian and autocratic leader is probably not a recipe for solid analysis and decision making.

  34. rq says

    Yup, that was an awesomely peaceful transition for Ukraine.

    The Russian eastern part gets to be Russia and the western Ukrainian part goes wherever they choose to go.

    See, there’s no unified opinion in any of the parts of Ukraine. Some people want to be part of Ukraine, some want to be part of Russia, and some want to be part of neither. Even in Crimea, two Jewish leaders (that is, leaders within the Jewish community) have come forth with pronouncements that they support the new government in Ukraine, and that the Jewish communities have no wish to become a part of Russia.

    We’ve had other states like that dissolved into it’s parts. Why can’t that be done here as well.

    Because Putin won’t let that happen without at least trying to keep a part for himself.

    I think NitricAcid @25 has it about right.

    The curious bit? Why so much outrage this time around? This isn’t the first time Putin has made similar land grabs (Chechnya, Abkhazia). It probably won’t be the last, either, unless Russia crumbles out from under his feet.
    This is scary.

  35. dreikin says

    If Wikipedia is to be believed, duck and cover is actually effective – surprisingly so. The reason being that after a certain distance away, the primary dangers are line-of-sight burns and falling glass from broken windows. And close up, shelter can provide more protection than you may expect:

    To highlight the effect that being indoors, and especially below ground can make, despite the lethal open air radiation, blast and thermal zone extending well past her position at Hiroshima,[12] Akiko Takakura survived the effects of the 16 kt atomic bomb at a distance of 300 meters from ground zero, sustaining only minor injuries, due in greatest part to her position in the lobby of the Bank of Japan, a reinforced concrete building, at the time of the nuclear explosion,[18][19] and to highlight the protection conferred to an individual who is below ground during a nuclear air burst, Eizo Nomura survived the same blast at Hiroshima at a distance of 170 meters from ground zero.[20] Nomura, who was in the basement of what is now known as the rest house, also a reinforced concrete building,[20] lived into his early 80s.[21][22][23]

  36. rq says

    The fact that the Russian army held military exercises on the coast of the Baltic Sea (Kaliningrad) just the day before yesterday, of course, has nothing to do with intimidation tactics of any kind.

  37. doubtthat says

    Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin?

    What does that even mean? Why are they framing this scenario as a stand-off between Putin and Obama? It’s terrifying. Foreign policy as a game of chicken between two people who will not be personally affected in any way by whatever decision ends up being made.

    How is Obama supposed to show he’s tough? Just start bombing a lot of people who aren’t Putin?

  38. atheistblog says

    Well now its official that PZ is also US nationalistic cold war russian hater. Were Saudi King was mad when he sent troops to Bahrain to quell protesters in favor of monarch and theocracy ? You didn’t ramble that much back then. All congress members including Democrats and liberals except only one, were mad, not just Bush. Don’t just put all these on Bush and praise obama as cool, wasn’t obama mad when he kills all those innocent civilians and kids with his drone ? You don’t ramble obama as mad, you are only like to say he does few bad things but ask to thing about republicans. Obama is no different than bush and putin, but you won’t call obama as mad. What a hypocrite.
    When obama, and UK quell occupy protesters it’s not a big deal, would you accept occupy throw obama ? I would, but you would like to say give a chance to democracy right ? You can’t simply throw government in democracy if you don’t like and if can protest them, then what’s the point of democracy ? Why the deposed ukraine president is any different than US wall street plutocrats and all millionaire congress members and obama, they are living very good life, big houses while cutting food stamps, but giving money to corporate farms. Do you want to depose all the elected members because you are protesting their corruption ?
    You are just that old white male still addicted to cold war era. As long as you don’t call obama as mad, you calling Putin mad is total hypocrisy. The only difference between US and Russia or rest of the world is, in US corruption is legal, outside it is not. What a brilliant idea americans have, call corruption legal in here, and blame, laugh, and call mad the rest of the world. It’s not just Bush, even now Obama and rest of the congress will go to war for any of their corporation, plutocrats in the name of national interest. What putin is doing is same, he is going to war for his oligarchs. You the one always praise liberals as somehow pure but not republicans, you were the one praised msnbc, maddow as good, fox as worst and blamed Jon Stewart as not fair. You are the one blogging that you gonna vote obama despite his all favors for wall street, you didn’t vote green party, 2 women candidates. You are as hypocrite as all those neocon and neoliberals.

  39. David Marjanović says

    A direct transcript can be found here. It sounds a little less crazy than New Republic’s rendition, but still not nearly lucid enough.

    It sounds a lot less crazy, actually. However, Putin is clearly scared. He’s forming his opinions during the interview (will he send the army? no, absolutely not, no… that would be the last resort…), has a rather charming view of just how bad corruption is in Russia and uses a really weird example, and… generally… *sigh*

    Thing is that the Ukraine is an artificial state. It is part Poland, part Russian (after ww2 that is) and in 1954 Crimea was added.
    We’ve had other states like that dissolved into it’s parts. Why can’t that be done here as well. Crimea is going to have a referendum on seceding at the end of the month. Don’t expect them to be wanting to stay in the Ukraine. The question being do they want to be fully independent or be absorbed by Russia. There is a good chance that the east part of the Ukraine will eventually do the same.

    You’re way oversimplifying it.

    1) The parts that have at various points belonged to Poland were never anywhere near homogeneous, and following WWII there are almost no Poles left anywhere in Ukraine.
    2) There was a very clear border between the Czech and the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia before the parts separated. The Russian-speaking and the Ukrainian-speaking populations of Ukraine are hardly segregated at all: in the far west almost nobody speaks Russian natively, in the far east most people do, and in between you get the whole spectrum.
    3) In the Crimea, some 60 % of the population is Russian; about a quarter is ethnically Ukrainian; most of the rest is Crimean Tatar and would immediately riot in panic if the Crimea rejoined Russia. The Jews have been mentioned, then there are Greeks and Armenians and it goes on.

    As Putin is ex-KGB I am not surprised he is prone to some unusual thinking patterns. Both the KGB and FSB have a long history of paranoia and developing conspiracy theories. The KGB was quite good at obtaining information but struggled with its interpretation.

    Bingo!

    Putin feels surrounded. He believes NATO is out to isolate Russia and hold it down.

    Chechnya, Abkhazia

    And South Ossetia.

  40. Scr... Archivist says

    That New Republic piece cannot be more wrong.

    Putin squirmed and rambled. And rambled and rambled. He was a rainbow of emotion….

    Get real. Everybody knows that rainbows are not allowed in Russia.

  41. says

    atheistblog, first of all, slow down and construct sentences that actually make sense. Your rambling mess is nearly unreadable.

    But have you actually read Pharyngula before? You do not seem to be very familiar with the attitudes that have been expressed here about Obama, the US government, or really, any of the topics you have brought up.

  42. David Marjanović says

    You are the one blogging that you gonna vote obama despite his all favors for wall street, you didn’t vote green party, 2 women candidates. You are as hypocrite as all those neocon and neoliberals.

    He voted against the Republicans.

    You might as well not have voted at all.

    Seriously, do I need to explain the American two-party system to you? The only way to get rid of it is to change the constitution.

  43. Amphiox says

    Atheistblog, might I suggest you step away from that word salad and actually READ what PZ has written here? Because it is pretty clear from that barfage you call a post @42 that you haven’t reading anything at all except the title.

  44. raven says

    How is Obama supposed to show he’s tough? Just start bombing a lot of people who aren’t Putin?

    How soon we forget.

    Gordon Liddy, Tough-guy Image . – Google News
    news. google.com/ newspapers?nid=2457&dat=19730412&id…

    Justice Department sources tell us Liddy once held his hand over a burning candle until the flame scared through the flesh of his hand and burned the nerve …

    While we are reviving the Cold War, Gordon Liddy used to hold his hand in a candle flame until the flesh was charred. (Gordon Liddy was the head of the Watergate breakin team.)

  45. says

    Lindsey Graham was mentioned in comment #24, and yes he has galloped in with an explanation and a blame-the-president meme: “It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression. #Ukraine”

    Please stop, Lindsey, you are hurting my head. Russia has had a problem with Ukraine for more than a decade, in fact for several generations. The Benghazi attack was in 2012 and Putin is not known to have had anything to do with that. Russia did not invade Ukraine because some flea brained terrorist types attacked Benghazi.

    Senator Graham is crackers. Also, this is not throwing red meat at the base by a Republican whackadoodle, it is throwing rotten meat everywhere.

  46. rq says

    And South Ossetia.

    I knew there was one I kept forgetting.
    And those are the armed territorial grabs; a few (such as happened in Latvia) have occurred simply by redrawing the originally-agreed-upon borders in favour of Russia, and then signing a new treaty, ostensibly without any force or pressure involved.

  47. otranreg says

    @38 rq

    The curious bit? Why so much outrage this time around? This isn’t the first time Putin has made similar land grabs (Chechnya, Abkhazia). It probably won’t be the last, either, unless Russia crumbles out from under his feet.
    This is scary.

    How are Chechnya and Abkhazia Putin’s ‘landgrabs’? Do you even know the causes of both (especially the second) Chechen wars? And the desire of the Abkhaz people for self-determination has certainly been induced by the naughty regime more than twenty years ago.

  48. ck says

    @Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Given his other posts in countless other threads, I think the simplest translation would be, “PZ is a bad man! Very bad! Evil, even!”

  49. David Marjanović says

    the desire of the Abkhaz people for self-determination

    Putin used their desire to consolidate his power, decrease that of Georgia, and give Georgia an incentive not to join the dread, dread NATO.

  50. rq says

    otranreg
    And Chechnya just annoys him.

    The First Chechen War took place over a two-year period that lasted from 1994 to 1996, when Russian forces attempted to regain control over Chechnya, which had declared independence in November 1991.

    (from Wikipedia)
    and

    The War of Dagestan began on 7 August 1999, during which the Islamic International Brigade (IIPB) began an unsuccessful incursion into the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan in favor of the Shura of Dagestan which sought independence from Russia. […] Much better organized and planned than the first Chechen War, the Russian military took control over most regions. […] Russia installed a pro-Moscow Chechen regime. In 2003, a referendum was held on a constitution that reintegrated Chechnya within Russia, but provided limited autonomy.

    (same source)
    … And then they (the Russian anti-terrorist operation) pulled out in 2009, supposedly, but Chechnya is no longer independent.
    Also, invading Russian territory means Russia gets to defend itself – this is not permission to invade in turn. So yes, I would say it was an attempt to regain some territory, under the justification of protecting Dagestan.

  51. NitricAcid says

    The reason for the outrage this time is that Ukraine is a lot larger and closer to the West than Georgia, Chechnya, or any Ossetia. You ask your typical North American about the Chechnians, and you will likely get a blank look. Ask them about the Ukrainians, and (at least if you’re in the prairies), the person you’re talking to will start listing off his or her Ukrainian ancestors and relatives.

  52. wbenson says

    PZ: If you rely on crazy translations, Fox, or CNN, you could only assume Putin is crazy. See DaveL at comment “4” for a proper translation. My take is that 10% of Ukranians vote National Socialist and are pretty much card carrying Nazis, both in spirit and methods.. These folk are recognized as anti-Semitic by international Jewish groups. They maintain Mussolini style militias that were instrumental in overthrowing the democratic government of Ukraine. Kiev itself votes 20% National Socialist (Svoboda).

    After Ukraine “throws of the yoke of Moscow”, don’t be surprised when they begin passing the collection plate to pay for gas they currently (but not for long) buy from Russia with a 50% discount.

    Wanna bet?

  53. says

    Since Sarah Palin was mentioned several times up-thread, I feel obligated to offer an update. This is cross-posted from the Lounge:

    Sarah Palin is once again demonstrating her legendary expertise in foreign affairs:

    Lookit, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates. We are not exercising that peace through strength that only can be brought to you courtesy of the red, white and blue, that only a strengthened United States military can do.

    Poetry, absolute poetry. /sarcasm

    Of course, Palin has a platform for this nonsense. Sean Hannity interviewed her on Faux News.

  54. rq says

    NitricAcid
    See, even knowing that, it’s the kind of reason that makes me very sad. And rather hopeless, and a bit scared.

  55. unclefrogy says

    I write or communicate poorly which ever you prefer but even I have a hard time with
    @ 42
    it sound almost like machine translation
    uncle frogy

  56. Rob Grigjanis says

    schism @7:

    your descendents travel to the remains of the American west coast and shoot giant scorpions with laser guns.

    Reference to Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley?

  57. David Marjanović says

    And Chechnya just annoys him.

    Also, it allowed him to be a War President™, like… someone else around the same time.

  58. David Marjanović says

    Reference to Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley?

    Or to the Fallout games? Though in Fallout Tactics at least, you stop encountering “radscorpions” long before you get your first laser gun.

    (Near the end, you have to use a laser machine gun on a robot. Immensely entertaining to watch.)

  59. says

    wbenson @63:

    @unclefrogy – don’t like how foreigners talk, do you?

    I don’t think that’s what unclefrogy was getting at.
    I also had a problem understanding atheistblog’s comment @42. As a follower of this blog, nothing in atheistblog’s comment matches my perception of PZ. The comment reads as if it is disconnected from PZ’s actual opinions. Atheistblog is projecting everything and the kitchen sink at PZ and it is clear they have reading comprehension issues.

    Also, I think you may be making assumptions about where unclefrogy lives.

  60. David Wilford says

    Laser machine gun? I think I saw one in action during The Lego Movie… ;^)

  61. Nick Gotts says

    If you compare the translations from New Republic and that from the Kremlin, linked by DaveL@2, it’s clear that at least one is seriously dishonest. Some of the comments to the New Republic version, from Russian speakers who do not appear to be Putin admirers, nevertheless indicate that the New Republic version is a distortion. For example, “miseret” says:

    Well, this interview looks pretty confusing for the one who doesn’t speak Russian and cannot find whole text. But I can read and understand Russian and when I am reading right now whole text of Putin’s conference I find his words logical. I don’t say, these words are right, but not so paranoiac as Julia writes. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think that a good journalist should not use such cheap and provocative method to discredit. She constantly talks about Russian propaganda but in fact does the same. She makes Putin a paranoiac by cutting his words and ignoring the sense.

    Putin is a vicious, tyrannical liar, but I’ve seen nothing previously to indicate that he is delusional, and Merkel denies the report that she said he was.

  62. David Wilford says

    Putin can say whatever he likes. It’s what he’s done that matters.

  63. says

    @29:

    Actually that is a correct translation.

    I don’t doubt the correctness of the translation. I doubt whether Merkel is telling the truth.

    Germany has worked hard to cultivate good relations with Russia and has a lot of influence as a result. Merkel doesn’t want to screw that up on her watch, and the report that she called Putin a nutcase was deeply embarrassing. It may be that she said nothing of the kind. But if she did, she had every reason to bullshit her way out of it.

    And whatever she did say, there must have been more to it than “Putin has a different perspective”, which would be an insult to Obama’s intelligence.

  64. stevem says

    re @49:

    Lindsey Graham was mentioned in comment #24, and yes he has galloped in with an explanation and a blame-the-president meme: “It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression. #Ukraine”

    …cutting you off right there. your refutation of that meme is incorrect. Graham is not implying Putin had anything to do with Bengazi(!!) .No, Dear Mr. Graham is implying that Bengazi(!!) was Obama showing how weak he is, and not a threat; too weak to keep Putin in line. So Putin sees Bengazi(!!) and just marches into Ukraine. And Lindsey is clutching his pearls and fainting to the couch.

    Every bad thing that happens anywhere in the world is always blamed on Obama. And when Congress (Boehner) refuses to work, they blame Obama for not negotiating.

  65. unclefrogy says

    wbenson

    I do not mean to derail but I am a human of the planet called earth by the inhabitants.
    I do not usually have a problem struggling with thick accents in english, my only language.
    I do not particularly recognize national boarders as anything but some what arbitrary divisions with different histories, people are the generally similar with different histories.
    regardless of the hype, software language translators while improved in the last few years have a long away to go before they are anyway near Star Trek’s universal translator. try them out with difficult sentences or complex ideas a see for your self.
    if your ideas are not stated particularly clearly in the original language the translation will not improve it.

    uncle frogy

  66. frog says

    NitricAcid @56: Don’t be silly. Americans have seen Bridget Jones’s Diary. They’ve heard of Chechnya; they just don’t know what it is.

    More on topic, this was inevitable after the Ukrainians ousted their president. The Russians are never going to give up access for their fleet at Sevastopol. They think the Ukraine is going to ditch them and align with Europe (which was basically the reason for the uprising, yes?), so where does that leave the Black Sea fleet?

    Even if the whole idea of the Black Sea fleet is outdated, I wouldn’t bet on an old KGB man being willing to let it go.

  67. weatherwax says

    Drugs are a wonderful thing.

    Unless you happen to be the leader of a nuclear armed nation.

  68. beardymcviking says

    All this talk of fallout shelters reminds me how much I really want to build one. Not for the bombs you understand, but for the bushfires.

    I wonder if they’ve put Morwell out yet…

  69. says

    Is there a place where you can buy gold (plated) symbols from the various religions? Scripty things with holes in them, crosses, stars of david, and whatever other religion’s “trademarks” there are?

    All of the sacred symbols that you HAVE to respect because well..

    I have in mind a photo project that will get me hated by the majority of the world.
    Which at this point would actually be kind of a cool experience.

    (Hey, I’ve been through some strange shit, I’m desensitized… need to increase the dosages to get the same thrill)

  70. rogerfirth says

    The man needs a nickname. How about “Razz” Putin?

    How about “Victor Prizeef”? (Nod to John Travolta. I have to believe clams or Xenu had something to do with that.)

  71. brianpansky says

    @72
    David Wilford

    Putin can say whatever he likes. It’s what he’s done that matters.

    i see what you did there.

    you are taking phrasing which you personally *do not* accept when it is applied to the pope, and you are trying to apply it to putin.

    this is an insincere thing to do, and also a poor contribution to this thread.

  72. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    beardymcviking

    Oh, I’m with you on the fire bunker thing. We just had a roof vent whirlygig installed and I need to climb up and make sure that it’s reasonably sealed against embers.
    The Hazelwood mine is still burning out of control and causing significant smoke problems down wind. No direct fire danger to Morwell or surrounds at this time.

    From the VicEmergency website.

  73. says

    Wait just a minute, brianpansky.

    What Putin does is wrong, and what he says are weak lies and apologetics. Parallels to the pope are obvious.

    David Wilford is finally starting to understand!

  74. Terska says

    What is the justification for claiming Ukraine is an artificial state? Most European countries didn’t exist until the end of WWI. Ukraine’s population is more than a third of Russia’s. It is larger than all European countries except Russia. It’s nearly 78% ethnic Ukrainian and only 17% Russian although many ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as a first language because of Soviet policies of wiping out ethnic identities. If the Putins wants part of Ukraine let him have the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It’s a Russian mess to begin with.

    If Ukraine is half Poland then Poland is half Germany and Ireland is English. Smaller European nations have suffered at the hands of more powerful neighbors for too long.

    Ukraine has been starved, oppressed, looted, slaughtered and contaminated by it’s neighbors. It is entitled to govern itself even if it does it badly.

    Russian speakers were and are under no threat in Ukraine. It’s just Putin’s excuse for a macho land grab and to try install a stooge leader that will serve his corrupt supporters.

    Diplomats need to arrange a face saving exit for Putin. He over reacted to events in Ukraine.

  75. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Parallels to the pope are obvious.

    David Wilford is finally starting to understand!

    We can only hope.

  76. brianpansky says

    @84
    Weed Monkey

    hmmm ok, i had thought wilford was basically shouting “hypocrite” or “double standard” or something…

    i think i need to get a better grasp on the issues here…

  77. weatherwax says

    This morning CNBC was interviewing an American businessman living in the Ukraine, and he repeated something a Czechoslovakian acquaintance had said. When the American asked him if the Russian invasion was comparable to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he said is was much closer to the German seizure of the Sudetenland in 1938.

  78. says

    All currently existing states are artificial.

    A natural state would be a state whose boundaries are defined by geographically and ecologically occurring boundaries.

    Ha, I kid. The second is also artificial.

  79. Nick Gotts says

    The British Press, from what I heard on a BBC Radio 4 press review, do not consider that Putin was rambling or delusional. Adjectives used ranged from “impressive” through “confident” to “swaggering”; so I think the New Republic report is crap.

  80. Nick Gotts says

    From the BBC’s live feed:

    The naming by Kiev’s new government of one of the country’s richest men, metal baron Sergei Taruta, as Donetsk regional governor is a sign that powerful oligarchs – many of whom once supported former President Yanukovych – are now behind the new authorities, Reuters says.

    What was that about:

    A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters

    again, PZ?

  81. says

    That was my wishful thinking.

    Don’t worry, I’m watching this mess and seeing all my pollyannaish views getting shattered and stomped on.

  82. rq says

    are now behind the new authorities

    I would say, “are still behind the new authorities”.

  83. Nick Gotts says

    PZ@95 – the true scientfic spirit!

    Diplomats need to arrange a face saving exit for Putin. – Terska@85

    You’re assuming he needs one. I don’t see it. I imagine what he wants is:
    1) Effective control of Crimea (for geostrategic reasons), whatever its eventual legal status.
    2) Ukraine kept out of NATO and the EU.
    3) Cushy billets for whatever Ukranian oligarchs and politicians he thinks he can rely on to safeguard Russian interests.
    4) No serious sanctions.
    He already pretty much has (1), and (4) looks fairly safe, as the main western powers have too much to lose by applying any. (2) and (3) he can probably achieve with the levers of refusing recognition to the new Kiev regime, gas supply and prices, dangled offers of financial aid, and threats of further military intervention. It’s by no means obvious either NATO or the EU would admit Ukraine anyway. Does NATO really want to poke the bear with so sharp a stick? Does the EU want an economic basket-case stuffed with fascists?

  84. rq says

    Does the EU want an economic basket-case stuffed with fascists?

    To be fair, it already has Greece…

  85. rq says

    Also,

    Does NATO really want to poke the bear with so sharp a stick?

    NATO has poked that bear before (see: the Baltic states). Russia didn’t like it, but now they’re under NATO protection, so it’s a whole different level of response for Russia to deal with (theoretically speaking, of course). It may work out in Ukraine’s favour, if admitted.

  86. David Wilford says

    What Putin still wants is a Ukraine that’s within the Russian sphere, meaning no EU membership and absolutely no NATO membership. It’s not clear that Putin’s goal is attainable, given the Russian occupation of the Crimea and the corresponding polarization of Ukrainian opinion against Russia, meaning there’s no chance in hell of another Russophile being elected PM of Ukraine anytime soon, and even if there was there’s even less of a chance in hell that they’d be able to make a deal favorable to Russia. There’s maybe a bit better of a chance in hell for a Ukrainian nationalist PM to cut a deal that basically Finlandizes the Ukraine as a neutral state that accepts a Russian military presence in the Crimea but lets the Ukraine have somewhat closer economic ties to Europe, but no military ties. That might be enough for Putin, and might be acceptable to Ukrainian nationalists.

  87. Nick Gotts says

    rq@98,

    True – and Hungary. I should have said another economic basket-case stuffed with fascists.

    rq@99,

    NATO has poked that bear before (see: the Baltic states). Russia didn’t like it, but now they’re under NATO protection, so it’s a whole different level of response for Russia to deal with

    True again, and partly what Putin is so miffed about: western leaders lied, saying NATO would not expand after the Soviet Union collapsed, then took advantage of Russian weakness to expand it. The occupation of Crimea may be in part a pre-emptive move, because if NATO now invites Ukraine in, it would seem to be taking on an obligation to force Russia out of Crimea.

    Another interesting bugged phone call, this one between Catherine Ashton (EU “foreign minister”), and the foreign minister of Estonia, Urmas Paet. The most interesting bit is near the end, where Paet tells Ashton that “Olga” (this must be Olha Bohomolets, coordinator of the medical units on EuroMaidan, who refused to join the new government) has told him that those on both sides* shot by snipers, police and demonstrators, were shot by the same people; and that there is increasing evidence that behind the snipers was someone from the new coalition. But surely, surely, nice, liberal, Ukranian nationalists-and-not-really-fascists-even-if-they-use-Nazi-iconography-you-see-you-have-to-understand-the-historical-context, wouldn’t do such a thing?

    *Some secondary reports say he says there were snipers from both sides. He doesn’t.

  88. Nick Gotts says

    Update to #101 from BBC live feed:

    Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Olga Bogomolets says she did not know what type of wounds were inflicted on “military people”. “I have no access to those people,” she adds. She did say she had requested a full forensic criminal investigation into the deaths in Maidan Square.

  89. David Wilford says

    A perspective from a recent visitor to the Ukraine that touches on the social media aspects of the crisis there:

    … I’ve been completely riveted by the events of EuroMaidan, the fall of the Yanukovich regime, the anticipation of Putin’s response (if you have any sense for that part of the world, you knew it was coming) and the present invasion of Crimea. As a long time TPM reader, I’ve really enjoyed your perspective on the events and I think you guys have hit the main points quite well, but hopefully I can add some depth to what is going on. There is a massive social media presence from both the Ukrainian and Russian side and a fascinating back and forth taking place. The propaganda coming out of Kremlin has been massive and omnipresent. Basically the Putin press conference gave you all the bullet points. The current government are Nazi, ultra-nationalist, anti-semites, there is chaos in the streets, Russian speaking citizens are under thread, Ukrainian troops are abandoning posts in Crimea, etc..

    I’m sure you knew all that, but what’s interesting has been the Ukrainian response. The Maidan organizers and basically citizen journalists all over the country have been systematically debunking every single point and posting responses on youtube. Just to give you a taste, unfortunately it’s very hard to appreciate for non-native speakers.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/great-reader-email-sorta

  90. rq says

    nationalists-and-not-really-fascists-even-if-they-use-Nazi-iconography-you-see-you-have-to-understand-the-historical-context

    Did somebody call them that? Or did somebody just say they weren’t all fascists?
    Also, it may be helpful to remember that the current government is still not necessarily representative of the people of Ukraine since (a) much of it is built from the remnants of the old opposition (and, being in the opposition, it’s difficult to say exactly what kind of popular support they may enjoy in the current situation), and (b) Ukrainian elections are only scheduled for May 25. I’m sure there were dirty tactics on both sides, and to see this proven true (a current member of government having ordered the snipers), I wouldn’t be particularly surprised.

    Oh, and the new governor in Donetsk is reportedly a pro-Russian. I guess the good news is that means he’s not a fascist.
    Also, while on the subject of fascists, there is skewed information on both sides. Some interesting sources calling the Ukrainians fascists.
    (Yes, some of them are fascists. Not all of them, though, and I’m sticking to that. Anyway. It remains to be seen how much governmental power the fascists may or may not gain in the upcoming elections, because a strong presence now doesn’t necessarily mean a strong presence in the future.)

  91. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Nick,

    *waves*
    Economic basket-case – check
    Stuffed with fascists – maybe not stuffed so half-check.

    Hey, you got another one less than a year ago!

  92. Nick Gotts says

    Stuffed with fascists – maybe not stuffed so half-check. – Beatrice@106

    Over 10% of the vote at the last election, over 30% in some western Oblasts and over 50% in Lviv; and now several cabinet ministers, deputy head of security (and possibly the head as well) plus the prosecutor’s office. I’m not up to date on the position in Croatia, but I certainly had my doubts about their admission.

    Did somebody call them that? – rq@105

    Not in those exact words, unsurprisingly, but read David Wilford’s and Terska’s contributions in this and the previous Ukraine thread (e.g. Wilford’s latest @103 and @107). Their whole angle is that there’s absolutely no need to worry about the paramilitary gangs using Nazi symbolism, the hero-worship of Stefan Bandera, the fascists in the cabinet. Wilford is stupid enough to think that because a liar says something, it must be false.

  93. Nick Gotts says

    It remains to be seen how much governmental power the fascists may or may not gain in the upcoming elections, because a strong presence now doesn’t necessarily mean a strong presence in the future. – rq@105

    True, but in a revolutionary situation, it is typical that a broad coalition is the first successor to the old regime, but the initiative then passes to radical factions – and there is no doubt that the neo-nazi paramilitaries were to the fore in fighting the old regime’s police, and possess both kudos from that, and plenty of weapons. Moreover, Putin’s intervention will strengthen their hand. Nor will fascists have the slightest compunction in rigging the elections if they possibly can – if the elections actually happen. Three months is a long time in a revolutionary situation, and can an election take place when a significant chunk of the country is under foreign occupation?

  94. rq says

    Turns out that conversation between the Estonian minister and Ashton may not have been perfectly accurate. Olga Bogomolets has accused the Estonian minister of misrepresenting her words.

    Nor will fascists have the slightest compunction in rigging the elections if they possibly can – if the elections actually happen.

    Don’t worry, Putin will be rigging them from his side, too, but all that matters is that the international community and observers declare them fair and democratic. And a foreign occupation is no excuse not to have elections – the Russian team has pretty good experience with that kind of thing. (That bit about elections for the parliament is rather significant, as there was only one party presenting candidates and voting was obligatory. Potential opponents were simply arrested. I believe they received about 99.5% of the vote. Fair and democratic, indeed!)

    Also, that ‘significant chunk’ has apparently declared itself willing to be annexed to Russia. Referendum to follow. It feels like they’re doing it backwards – shouldn’t the referendum come first, and then the declaration of annexation?

  95. David Wilford says

    Meanwhile, there’s Russian protest tourism:

    In Donetsk, when the crowd took control of the Parliament building on Monday, the Soviet-era ballad “Russians Don’t Surrender” blasted from loudspeakers and Mr. Khudyakov huddled in conversation with the leader of Donetsk Republic, a local organization demanding greater autonomy from Kiev. Back home, Mr. Khudyakov is better known for having founded several nationalist vigilante groups with the tacit blessing of the Russian government.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/world/europe/russias-hand-can-be-seen-in-the-protests.html

  96. Nick Gotts says

    rq@110,

    Turns out that conversation between the Estonian minister and Ashton may not have been perfectly accurate. Olga Bogomolets has accused the Estonian minister of misrepresenting her words.

    Yes, as I noted@102. More exactly, the Daily Telegraph says Bogomolets has said that! So we have two accounts of what she said: we don’t have her own words in either case. However, listening again to the tapped call, it’s not clear how much Paet is attributing to her specifically, but it is clear he says he believes those from both sides were shot by the same snipers, and that he thinks the shootings were probably ordered from the (then) opposition side. It’s not obvious why an Estonian centre-right politician would say that if he at least didn’t believe it.

    Putin will be rigging them from his side, too

    Certainly he would if he could, but how could he? Unless a lot changes between now and then, there won’t be any elections in the only part of Ukraine he controls (Crimea), because neither Putin nor the Crimean Parliament recognises the new regime’s right to call one. He’ll presumably rig the Crimean referendum, assuming he actually wants to annex Crimea (it’s possible he doesn’t: the request to be annexed could genuinely be a local initiative by the Crimean Parliament, or more likely it could be a tactical move to increase pressure on Kiev).

    It feels like they’re doing it backwards – shouldn’t the referendum come first, and then the declaration of annexation?

    FWIW (not much of course), the Crimean Parliament has said the request for annexation depends on the referendum result.

  97. David Marjanović says

    It’s by no means obvious either NATO or the EU would admit Ukraine anyway.

    Don’t know about NATO, but the point about the EU is irrelevant right now. It takes years of negotiations and lawmaking to reach official candidate status; and having that status is still no guarantee you’ll be allowed to join in the next 10 years.

  98. Nick Gotts says

    From the BBC:

    Andriy Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said there was a “critical situation” on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders.

    He accused Moscow of sending “subversive agents” into those areas to try to create a pre-text to deploy troops in the same way it has done in Crimea.

    Mr Parubiy said Kiev’s parliament will vote on Thursday to establish a National Guard of 20,000 people – recruited from activists involved in the recent pro-Western protests as well as from military academies – to strengthen Ukraine’s defences.

    The National Guard, he said, would be deployed to “protect state borders, general security and prevent “terrorist activities”.

    Mr. Parubiy may well be telling the truth about the Russian threat: we’ve already seen what Putin is capable of. But there’s another point worth noting. Parubiy was one of the founders of the Social-National Party of Ukraine, forerunner of Svoboda, which has a number of ministers in the new government. As if the name wasn’t a heavy enough hint, the Social-National Party used the “Wolfsangel”, a symbol beloved of neonazis, as its logo. Parubiy will soon be in charge of a paramilitary organization of 20,000; but he is now, reportedly, an ex-Nazi, so what could possibly go wrong?

  99. David Wilford says

    It’s now long past scary in the eastern Ukraine:

    Just wanted to send you a quick note on events in Ukraine. I realize most of the world is concentrated on what’s going on in Crimea, some are already moving on. I just wanted to point to something else that’s going on.

    There is some really dark stuff happening in eastern Ukraine. As you know it’s the heartland of the Russian speaking population in Ukraine (and Yanukovich’s base), and there was some thought that Putin might invade there, if things went completely off the wall. While that hasn’t happened, there have been many, semi-credible reports that busloads of Russian “tourists” have been coming over to basically start trouble, give the appearance of instability and maybe even the pretext for a Crimea style referendum. Obviously the pro-Maidan side is certainly pushing that angle, and it’s hard to say what’s actually going on without being there, on the ground.

    In any case, there have been some violent confrontations, especially in Donetsk (Yanik’s hometown) and yesterday all hell broke lose. From the reports I’ve read, a pro-united Ukraine demonstration was winding down and people were heading home, when some of those people were attacked by what I can only call a pro-Russian lynch mob. Apparently up to 3 people are dead and dozens were injured. The video might be more shocking then anything I’ve seen at Maidan.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-fog-and-rumblings-of-war