Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Power Vertical

Podcast: A Year Of Living Dangerously

It began -- appropriately for our times -- with a post on a young man's Facebook page. It grew into a revolution that overthrew a president. And it was followed by an undeclared war that rages to this day.

One year ago, the Euromaidan began. And neither Ukraine nor Russia will ever be the same again.

On the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," we look at how this landmark event has changed Ukraine and Russia -- and where each may be headed.

Joining me are Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and author of Sean's Russia Blog, and Alexander Motyl, a professor at Rutgers University-Newark and author of numerous books and articles on post-Soviet affairs.


Podcast: A Year Of Living Dangerously
Podcast: A Year Of Living Dangerouslyi
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Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.    

Tags: Ukraine,Russia,Power Vertical podcast,Euromaidan,Ukraine Crisis

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by: Bob
November 21, 2014 23:46
"Joining me are Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and author of Sean's Russia Blog, and Alexander Motyl, a professor at Rutgers University-Newark and author of numerous books and articles on post-Soviet affairs."


Some choices.

Not clicked into, on account of having a good enough grasp on their limits and a recognition of more erudite commentary on the subject. .

by: nodrog from: Capo Codo
November 22, 2014 15:56
Thanks Bob... this is great stuff!
I know Mr. P. thinks he's one tough SOB, but he must awaken every day to the realization that his previous day was not good. At some point he'd be wise to take stock of where he's led Russia and where does he really want it to go? He's only got a few months, by my reckoning, to sort this out, otherwise his huge country will come unglued. My question: Does he really have any time, or has it all slipped away. Maybe in April or May we'll know.
In Response

by: Bob
November 22, 2014 16:48

Neocons and neolibs, as well as some others, have too much wishful thinking geared towards the false belief that Russia is worse than it actually is.

At last glance, Ukraine is in far greater trouble than Russia, with the West having some noticeable problems of its own.

One of the Euromaidan activists said that Ukriane must dramatically improve itself in order to see the Donetsk and Lugansk areas become more attracted to Kiev. He's the chap who if I'm not mistaken is an Afghan. Either way, he's definitely a non-Slav from an area with a predominating Muslim background.

In Response

by: nodrog from: Capo Codo
November 22, 2014 20:41
Not sure where “neocons and neolibs” fits into this, but I agree Ukraine has its work cut out… getting rid of corruption and deadwood, etc. At least Ukraine will have western help. As for Russia, well, other than North Korea, who else really cares? Putin’s advisors should have seen at least some of this mess coming 6-8 months ago.

Come spring, things will be different.
In Response

by: Bob
November 22, 2014 22:36
Neocons, neolibs and those supporting their slant on Russia carry some misguided influence. The Western aid slated for Ukraine falls well short of what's actually needed. The West is more at fault for what transpired in Ukraine.
In Response

by: nodrog from: Capo Codo
November 23, 2014 14:14
Agreed, the aid to Ukraine from the west will be limited, very limited. Most of the rebuilding will come from within Ukraine, but it will be far better and more capable as they look westward than to the east where, by then, the situation will be even bleaker than today. BTW, Belarus should have a much easier time making the switch. Mayday will witness the beginning of a new chapter. Russia and North Korea, as they hold hands watching history unfold, will get the best view in their front-row seats. The trolls of St. Pete (a-hem!) will also have lots to write about, so 2015 will be a good year but with lots of hard work ahead.
In Response

by: Bob
November 25, 2014 15:08
You've an overly simple and inaccurate way of looking at things.

Russia is much more like the West than North Korea.

Ukraine will have considerable difficulty existing under the EU AA preferences.

It seems much better for Ukraine to develop simultaneous ties with the EU and Russia - something that Yanukovych (his faults aside) had pursued before he was ousted in a coup.

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
November 23, 2014 14:52
Nice podcast, with considerable food for thought.

I spend considerable time monitoring the Russian news and various Russian talk shows where they discuss current events. Given the Kremlin’s control over the major media, most of these talk shows are very one-sided and categorical-particularly when discussing the conflict in Ukraine, the role of America, and Russia’s place in the world today. RFE often provides the opposite perspective from that of the Kremlin-sponsored media, yet the tone in much of this podcast shared much of the same partisan, smug and know-it-all attitude found in the Russian media.

Just a couple of examples:

“Putin has backed Russia into a small corner; he has transformed Russia into a rogue state”
“Russia is Belgium with nukes”
“China, unlike the West, is not a wimp”
“Russia has lost any sort of German or European support”
“Ukraine today has an extremely strong civil society; it is ‘light-years’ ahead of the political class”
“we need to make Ukraine the central tenet of our Russian policy; Ukraine must succeed”
“Ukraine is the West Berlin of today”

If George Kennan were alive today, I suspect that he would not advocate a containment policy toward Russia. The Kremlin’s “aggressive” policies over the past year have to a large degree been in response to perceived provocations from Washington since the end of the Cold War. To suggest that the Kremlin leadership is acting out of pure malice/aggression conveniently avoids examining those Western/US actions which have provoked a Russian response.

Mr. Motyl’s injunction that Ukraine is the new W. Berlin and that the West has an existential stake in ensuring that it becomes a ‘success’ and is fully accepted into Europe (presumably by arming and providing Kiev a modified Marshall plan) is almost certainly a recipe for greater disaster. Like much of Ukrainian society, the Ukrainian military is beset with corruption and split loyalties. There is also a small, but significant percentage within the Ukrainian security establishment who pledge allegiance to an aggressive Ukrainian nationalism. Providing Ukrainian forces with advanced weaponry makes for good political rhetoric; the reality of how they might be employed is far messier. Imagine the Russian outrage the first time an American shell kills innocent civilians in the Donbass. I think that Dr. Guillory’s advice to refrain from arming the Ukrainians is the more prudent.

I would like to think that after our recent ‘brilliant successes’ with arming folks in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria, American politicians will see the shallowness of merely sending more weapons into a conflict region. Alas, there are legions within the Washington beltway and within the MIC who will profit from a larger conflict in Ukraine. I fear that this conflict has the potential to grow much worse.

All wars ultimately end with some form of negotiation. Instead of containment and/or escalation, RFE pundits might want to consider approaches which call for greater engagement and that awful word ‘compromise.’
In Response

by: Bob
November 24, 2014 15:55
As stated by you (I'm not clicking into that discussion), Guillory is making a Captain Obvious counter-point to Motyl's extremism.

In terms of offering a viable alternative to Motyl, there're more knowledgeable sources than Guillory on the subject of Ukraine.

On a number of issues including the former USSR, Western mass media isn't so objective as some suggest.
In Response

by: Ian Hague from: New York
November 25, 2014 17:46
Your argument seems to be less about the Ukraine crisis and the sources of Russian conduct than about US foreign policy.

Here are some things you're missing: (1) Ukrainian society is no longer split. One of the significant points made in this podcast is that Putin's aggression in Ukraine has created a Ukrainian national identity where the really wasn't one before. With the exception of spies in the employ of the FSB (and we shouldn't expect Ukrainian military and intelligence agencies to be anything but riddled with spies having Russia as a neighbor) the Ukrainian military is not divided. As for corruption in its ranks, there is certainly bound to be a lot, but from what I have been seeing less than is the case with the Russians who after all are fighting a war of conquest with mercenaries and muscle from organized criminal gangs.

(2), If, as you say, "The Kremlin’s “aggressive” policies over the past year have to a large degree been in response to perceived provocations from Washington since the end of the Cold War", why now? Why this issue? What is in the current Russian "perception" of provocations from Washington that leads them to violate every security understanding in Europe since WWII by invading a neighboring country and annexing its territory. If the Europe and the West are to 'compromise', about what shall it be? That Russia has the right to invade states perceived as being in its "sphere of influence"? Poland was once part of the Russian empire. Are we to acquiesce in Russia undermining its sovereignty?
In Response

by: Bob
November 25, 2014 19:31
Don't kid yourself, Ukrainian society remains split - something that the propped Podcast seems to have ignored - based on what you say. Voting trends in Odessa, Kharkov, Kherson and Mariupol indicate such. Note how post-Soviet Ukraine has previously exhibited shifting voting trends.

The "Putin's aggression in Ukraine" bit is simplistic BS, downplaying the key factors that led to the current situation.

Your "why" point reveals ignorance. There was a coup against a democratically elected Ukrainian leader, followed by a series of increased nationalist anti-Russian stances, offending many within the Soviet drawn boundary of Ukraine.

Matters like Kosovo and (to some extent) northern Cyprus set a standard for Crimea's changed status.

Poland doesn't have much of a border with Russia and doesn't have much of an ethnic Russian and/or non-Russian pro-Russian speaking population.

It's okay for Western nations to bomb outside their borders unlike others. Such is the gross hypocrisy.
In Response

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
November 25, 2014 22:14
Thanks for the comment. You might be correct. As an American, I tend to view things from a US perspective. But you must admit, that the participants in this discussion were suggesting a certain policy approach that Western/American governments should adopt vis-à-vis Russia and Ukraine.

I suppose if you were to exclude the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, what you say about Ukrainian unity might be true. However, I’m not sure of the depth or breadth of this unity. RFE had an interview about a month ago talking about the situation in Mariupol. Sounded like many of the locals would pledge allegiance to whatever side could provide stability and a decent opportunity for the future. As winter gets colder and the economic situation even more dire, many Ukrainians in these border regions may begin to question their loyalty to the government in Kiev.

I have no doubt that there are true patriots wearing Ukrainian uniforms. A military, however, reflects the values and characteristics of the country it purports to defend. Despite the solemn pronouncements and the trappings of democracy, Ukraine remains rife with corruption.

Yes, I agree with you that the situation in E. Ukraine is even more criminalized/lawless than in Russia or Ukraine. Should this region become a Russian protectorate, it will likely take months (maybe years) for the Kremlin to establish its mandate.

Why now? Good question and it’s tough to unscramble history’s sharper turns. My guess is that some within the Kremlin perceived Yanukovich’s removal as a threat/opportunity, and by seizing Crimea they could exploit Russian nationalist feelings and quell any chance of protests spreading to Moscow. And the justification for abrogating treaties? The current Kremlin leadership did their realpolitik calculations and determined that this annexation would help to guarantee regime survival.

Yes, the political leadership of the US ought to develop policies and take actions which are in America’s best interests. Given its history and culture, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than the US. Still, instead of speculating about where the West/NATO/US draw the line with Putin, I suggest forums like RFE at least consider common approaches, where leaders from all countries involved work toward a negotiated settlement.
In Response

by: Bob
November 26, 2014 12:14
Being a "Ukrainian patriot" doesn't necessarily mean taking an anti-Russian stance - something that's overlooked by a media which prefers a certain kind of Ukrainian perspective.

Pro-Russian citizens in Ukraine had good reason to feel uneasy about the Western neocon/neolib and flat out anti-Russian leaning coup taken against Yanukovych.
In Response

by: Peter
November 26, 2014 15:12
A.) All Societies are split. Ukrainian society has united considerably around certain goals, however, despite your purported voting trends.

B.) The "key factors" that led to the current situation are: 1) Russia violated its guarantee of Ukrainian security under the Budapest Memorandum; 2) Russian armed forces occupied the territory of a neighboring, neutral, sovereign state; 3) the Russian government arms, supplies, and commands mercenaries and special forces to conduct a "hybrid war" against that neighboring, neutral state; 4) When the Ukrainian army achieved the upper hand, the Russian regular army invades Ukrainian territory; 5) A ceasefire is agreed to which the Russians and their proxies never adhere to; 6) Russia continues to agitate the situation and conduct offensives against Ukraine.

C.) As for Yanukovych, he was elected "fairly" according to the OSCE, but given all the recent troubles with the OSCE's monitoring mission, I'm curious as to how trustworthy their election monitors were in 2010. Nevertheless, Yanukovych annihilated his own mandate when he refused to sign the EU Association Agreement (something he had promised from the start of his presidencies), signed the "Dictatorship Laws" into effect (which would not even have passed the Rada, had anyone actually counted votes), and then shot 100 protestors. He then fled to a neighboring, aggressive state and was dismissed from office by a Parliamentary vote. Don't lie about a fictional "coup". If Yanukovych really believes he was ousted illegally, he should say so in a Ukrainian court.

D.) Finally, if you're suggesting that "Russia" should be wherever "Russians" live, then by that same logic, it should not be where they don't live. If the Russian Federation wants Crimea and Donbas, it should cede independence to Tartarstan, the North Caucasus, Bashkoria, Tannu Tuva, Karelia, the Far East, etc etc. I think you'll find Russia gets the worst of the bargain.
In Response

by: Bob
November 26, 2014 19:10

Nothing "purported" about what I said about the voting trends in Ukraine.

An internationally brokered February accord on how Ukraine was to be governed for the remainder of this year, was violated by the Turchynov-Yatsenyuk regime with the overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected president. This was followed by a series of enhanced anti-Russian measures under the influence of the disproportionate ministerial appointments of Svoboda members.

You falsely attribute a noticeable Russian army invasion of eastern Ukraine, when something less that has been evident. There's ample evidence indicating that the forces affiliated in one way or another with the Kiev regime violated the aforementioned ceasefire arrangement in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.

On trusting monitors, there's plenty of reason to second guess the result of the vote that brought Yushchenko to power. Yanukovych prudently sought a better EU AA for Ukraine, while not pledging a move towards the Customs Union/Eurasian Union. It's not truthful to say that he shot protestors. There's evidence showing blood on the hands of some of his opponents. He was chased out of Kiev by the unruly mob which has acted undemocratically. The behavior of the Turchynov-Yatsenyuk regime reveals a situation where rule of law was greatly compromised. Hence, Yanukovych's departure in a coup. There's a prior RFE/RL piece describing his overthrow as being in the category of a coup.

Your whataboutism on Russia is pathetic. No republic or region there seeks to leave it. meantime, there're clear signs that some areas outside Russia would like to rejoin it. For obvious reasons, no one wants to become a part of Ukraine.

by: Jack from: US
November 23, 2014 17:31
and the new country was born: Uk-ruin, all thanks to sleepless efforts of US government who installed incompetent and corrupt thugs in Khyiv. It is funny how US propaganda tries to present their stooges in Khyiv as new democratically elected officials. Both Yatseniuk and Poroshenko were ministers in previous Ukrainian governments and they are as corrupted and incompetent as those governments were

by: sandy miller from: usa
November 24, 2014 00:01
Bob...stop insulting Ukraine...this divorce between Ukraine and Russia has been coming for centuries. The West had nothing to do with it. Russia has had it's foot on Ukraine's neck for centuries. Ukraine has been fighting for it's independence probably more than any other country in the world isn't it time for Russia to let it go? But you're right the west should be doing more to help them.
In Response

by: Bob
November 24, 2014 15:50

For accuracy sake, you shouldn't give a faulty impression of the past. The concept of a separate Ukrainian natonal identity is something relatively new in terms of popular acceptance.

Many in Ukraine don't share your anti-Russian slant. The lack of respect for that position is what has led to the increased tension there.

Russia and for that matter the West can only be faulted so much
In Response

by: Peter
November 25, 2014 15:03
"The concept of a separate Ukrainian natonal identity is something relatively new in terms of popular acceptance."
No, it isn't. A Ukrainian national identity developed among the Cossacks, townsmen, clergy, even some peasants, of Ukraine in the mid-17th century, the same time it developed in other countries. They called themselves "rusyny" back then, "ukrayintsi" is a newer term, but they still had an identity as a separate and distinct people and nationality. As far as "popular acceptance" goes, we have trolls like you to thank for the lack of that. So shut up and read a history book.
In Response

by: Bob
November 25, 2014 17:22

You more resemble a troll than yours truly.

The ancestors of today's Ukrainians felt a part of Russia, albeit with a recognition of its differences. Keep in mind how China has two main languages under one identity.

The Cossacks were (and are) by no means exclusive to the territory of contemporary Ukraine. That identity differs from the present Ukrainian context. Moreover, the Cossacks in contemporary Ukraine tend to be among the more pro-Russian of people in that former Soviet republic.

My knowledge of history extends beyond the biased preference exhibited by the main North American Ukrainian studies venues.
In Response

by: Peter
November 26, 2014 02:10
"My knowledge of history extends beyond the biased preference exhibited by the main North American Ukrainian studies venues." - It doesn't, it doesn't even reach it, but keep dreaming.

The extent to which ancestors of today's Ukrainians "felt a part of Russia" differed from region to region and era to era. Do you really believe that Ukrainians/Ruthenians living in Poland-Lithuania or Austria-Hungary "felt a part of Russia"? Because no one sensible would think that. I'll concede to what you meant to say, that Ukrainians/Ruthenians living within the Russian Empire acknowledged they were subjects of the Russian Empire (some even did so proudly), but the vast majority of those same Ukrainians by no means felt themselves to be Russians. Most members of the Ukrainian upper-classes throughout the 17th, 18th, and especially 19th centuries understood that they were neither Russians (whom they called Muscovites to accentuate that difference) nor Poles. They understood they belonged to their own distinct Ruthenian/Ukrainian nationality.

If you want to follow ancestors further, into the Middle Ages, you'll find that regional identities were strongest. Men from Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Pereiaslav and the surrounding lands considered themselves "rusy". Men from Galicia considered themselves Galicians, men from Polatsk considered themselves Polatsk men, men from Novgorod considered themselves Novgorod men, men from Suzdal considered themselves Suzdal men, etc for every principality in the Rurikid realm. The term "rus" as a demonym didn't really spread from outside the Kyiv-Chernhiv-Pereiaslav triangle until the 13th century, when the Rurikid realm had already fragmented beyond repair, and even then, most people who used that term only applied it to themselves and others within their principality. IE, during the Reign of King Danylo of Halych-Volhynia, the Galicians/Volhynians were "rusy", but men from other principalities were not. So, no, there was no "Ukrainian" identity back then, but neither was their a unitary "Rus", much less "Russian", identity throughout the region.

"Cossacks" is a very vague term that describes many unrelated peoples. Modern Russian Cossacks are nothing at all like the Zaporizhian Cossacks of 16th, 17th, and 18th century Ukraine. The groups are totally different. Zaporizhian Cossacks (and other Ukrainian Cossacks such as those registered in the Polish-Lithuanian army or those within the town regiments throughout the Left- and Right-banks during the Hetmanate era) had their own customs, colors, arms, formations, and traditions that differed significantly even from their contemporaries on the Don and further east, and have no relation at all to later Imperial Russian Cossack hosts, which were really nothing more than Cavalry formations in the Russian army. The difference to today's Cossacks is even greater. Though you seem to have misread my post. I never suggested that Cossacks were exclusive to Ukraine, only that "a national identity developed among the Cossacks... of Ukraine".

At any rate, Ukrainian Cossackry came to an end in 1775 when Tsarina Catherine torched the Zaporizhian Sich. Any "modern cossacks" in Ukraine are imitators or imports, or more likely, Russian mercenaries.
In Response

by: Bob
November 26, 2014 12:46
It's really ignorant to compare the mood in present day Galicia with what was evident centuries ago - even 100 years ago. Rus existed as a single entity with related city states. ("Kievan Rus" is a latter day term for that entity.)

No modern day nation has a prior centuries past that's so precise to its present. Russians, Ukrainian and Belarusians are much more closely related than each is with the Poles. For their part, the Poles don't feel part of the Rus period. Nation states have been known to comprise people of more diverse backgrounds than what's evident among Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians.

A Novgorod prince changed his locale to Kiev, which thereafter had a run as the lead Rus center. Russian history traces its roots to Novgorod in 862 and thereafter. A Kiev crown prince is credited with developing the land in the Moscow area. Centuries of close, cooperative interaction, over a vast land mass.

FYI, Prince Daniel wasn't anti the northern part of Rus. Nevsky and Daniel were known to be in agreement and on good terms. In the Habsburg ruled portion, Russian forces were enthusiastically greeted by the ancestors of present day Ukrainians, in the late 1840s. During the Russian Civil War, the Galician Ukrainian army en masse agreed to come under the command of the Whites.

The Cossacks have had a feeling of kinship among themselves. Cossacks in what's now Ukraine sympathized with Pugachev. Skoropadsky and Krasnov had a similar relationship. This group is generally pro-Russian in outlook and of a primarily Rus background. Try finding a non-Orthodox Christian Cossack. The Cossacks are considered like an official symbol of Ukraine, while tending to be among the more pro-Russian of groups in that former Soviet republic. In and outside of Ukraine, there's a good enough representative number of people with genuine Cossack roots.

As for the present, Galicia and Volhynia are just a small portion of Ukraine's population. There's hope for much better improved Russo-Ukrainian relations in the coming years, if not months.

All of these points aren't intended to challenge the recognition of different countries with a prior link to each other.
In Response

by: Peter
November 26, 2014 19:13

I never compared the "mood in present day Galicia" to anything. You denied that a Ukrainian national identity has either historical recognition or roots, and I refuted your false assertion.

Now I will refute another one. Kyivan Rus existed as a unitary state for only a brief time. "Rus" as a people never existed as a single cultural or national entity. In fact, an "old-Russian nation" never existed. The Kyivan Rus "empire" existed initially as a conglomerate of tribes which spoke different languages and had their own customs and traditions. Christianity introduced a state religion and literary language (Old Slavonic) but did little to assuage the regional differences between the principalities. Kyiv-Chernihiv-Pereiaslav was always the core of the realm, and its connection to the other principalities was weak. The common descent from Volodymyr the Great (Rurik was considered unimportant until Muscovite ascendancy in the 14th century) among all the princes kept the realm together until the death of Mystyslav in 1132. Within days of Mstyslav's death, his brothers Yaropolk and Yuri Dolgoruky were at war over control of Kyiv. After that, the princes' attraction to their appenage principalities given under the Liubech Congress in 1097 broke what little dynastic cohesion ever existed. Whatever "close cooperation" took place lasted only during the reigns of Volodymyr and Yaroslav, and then again briefly during the reigns of Monomakh and Mstyslav. At all other times coercion and conflict formed the basis of relations between the principalities.

I never said King Danylo (he was crowned King by a Papal Legate) was "anti-northern part of Rus". I said that Galicians and Volhynians considered themselves to be "rusy" and considered Novgorod men et al not "rusy". Monarchs can have good relations with those they consider foreigners.

As to Ukrainians "enthusiastically" greeting Russian forces, their numbers were not large, and they certainly never constituted a majority. Russophiles in 19th century Galicia were influential because they recieved subsidies and support from Russia, but they were never numerous. The Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA) never agreed to come under the command of the Whites. Don't lie. The UHA signed an alliance with the whites, an alliance which lasted less than 6 weeks (by the end of which time Denikin's army had collapsed), and it kept its own command structures and independence. Nevertheless the alliance was deeply unpopular amongst the rank-and-file of the UHA. The Ukrainian National Republic never signed any alliance with the Whites, in fact it was at war with the Whites until Denikin's ultimate defeat.

Cossacks in the 18th century and before were incomparably different than those in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. You can't use Ukrainian cossacks' sympathy for Pugachev as evidence of "cossack kinship". Pugachev rebelled against Catherine "the Great" who annihilated all Ukrainian autonomy and took steps to further enserf the Ukrainian peasantry, including lower-class cossacks. Pugachev's and poor Ukrainian cossacks' goals aligned.

Skoropadsky was not a cossack. He was descended from Cossacks, it's true, but he was not a Cossack. He was an Imperial Aristocrat. Ukrainian Cossackry ended in 1775, as I already said, when Catherine razed the Zaporizhian Sich. Krasnov commanded cossacks, but he certainly wasn't born into Russian cossackry. The relationship between Krasnov and Skoropadsky was probably based on their creme-de-la-creme Imperial Aristocratic upbringings, rather than a fictional cossack "kinship".

And now, for the 3rd time, UKRAINIAN COSSACKRY CAME TO AN END IN 1775! Any Ukrainian who claims to be a "cossack" is either a revivalist or an immigrant. Ukrainians acknowledge their Cossack history, but this does not make them Cossacks any more than Knights or Legionaries.
In Response

by: Bob
November 28, 2014 02:31
Peter you earlier second guessed how the ancestors of today's Ukrainians under Habsburg rule viewed Russia. I provided direct examples to show that a definite kinship existed. Plenty of personal; family stories as well.

Once again, the entity was "Rus". "Kievan Rus" is a latter day applied term. The "literary language" you refer to suggests something along the lines of a unitary language. Your "tribes" point is put mildly debatable. Likewise, another point of yours is very much challenged, given Daniel's relationship with Nevsky and the shared Rus legacy between Suzdal-Muscovy with Galicia.

Yes, countries the world over have had periods of civil strife. What you say is nothing new and doesn't successfully refute my contentions.

You're the one lying in your characterization of what happened during the Russian Civil War between the Galician Ukrainian Army and the Whites. The Galician Ukrainian Army in fact agreed to come under the command of the Whites. This was motivated in part because the weak Petliura sought help. Poland agreed to help Petliura if he agreed that all of Galicia would be Polish, in return for him being a Polish stooge. In turn, Galician Ukrainian politicians for good measure either said nothing about the White-Galician Ukrainian alliance or supported it. Petliura's weakness was in part predicated by the Red, White and politically on the fence groupings that were evident on the present day Ukrainian territory that was part of the Russian Empire.

Your false definition notwithstanding, Skoropadsky was a Cossack. Krasnov came to be accepted as a Cossack leader. Cossacks Mazepa and Pugachev eventually lost on account of most Cossacks coming to favor the Russian government.

Catherine took a unitary approach on some matters, which wasn't intended to favor one region over the other.

by: Mamuka
November 24, 2014 02:03
The idea of Russia as a "Rogue State" is intriguing, and could explain the increasing drift toward isolation. And the discussion of a "Containment" policy and the timeless lessons of Kennan's "Long Telegram" was also engrossing. But our congenial host cut to the core of the entire mess very near to the end when he spoke of Putin's urgent need to keep the "kleptocratic elite" under control and on his side-- a task which will become more challenging with politicial isolation, falling oil prices, and Russia's drift toward Beijing-- a partner who, as the podcast notes, will not be so easily fooled.
In Response

by: Bob
November 25, 2014 15:11
Russia appears less isolated than the closed minds who suggest that it's all alone.

At last notice, the likes of Lucas are whining about the "soft" EU attitude taken against Russia. There're also the BRICS and others who prudently don't accept the neocon/neolib/flat out Russia hating line.
In Response

by: Ian Hague from: New York
November 25, 2014 18:00
I am neither a neo-con nor a neo-liberal, but I think you are completely wrong, Bob. The "BRICS" (itself an idea invented by a neo-liberal at Goldman Sachs) do not represent an alternative pole in the global system and therefore a resource for Russia to use in trying to square the circle of its doomed Ukraine policy. China is exploiting Russia by buying its energy on the cheap and not returning the favor diplomatically. Brazil and Russia are really more competitors on global resource markets than allies. An India has taken its arms purchases elsewhere, because of the Russian industry's declining quality.

There is no "non-aligned movement" anymore, Bob. Russia will either buy in to the normative system underlying civilized interactions with other states or it will not. There is no Third Way. Given the trajectory of its economy over the next several months, I have every confidence the Russian people at least will realize how mistaken the Kremlin's current course is. To Putin and his cronies, however, I fear there will be no awakening from their stupor. They may find themselves going the way of Ceaucescu.
In Response

by: Bob
November 25, 2014 19:42

Besides the neocons and neolibs, I previously mentioned some others like yourself. What you say isn't accurate.

China has given credence to Crimea's referendum, by saying that it's valid unlike some other referendums. You're apparently unaware of the recent UN General Assembly vote on glorifying Nazism. The trade relationship among the BRICS is by no means finalized. Russian trade with India and China has considerable potential.

Russia is willing to exist in a civilly consistent way. Countering that are the stances taken by neolibs, neocons and some others.

Ceaucescu, the West's favorite Warsaw Pact dictator, as evidenced by how carter downplayed the human rights abuses in that nation. Ditto the thunderous ovation its delegation received in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

Post-Soviet Russia has more in common with the West than with Ceaucescu.
In Response

by: nodrog from: Capo codo
November 28, 2014 19:09
As horrible as all this has been for Ukraine, it does seem possible that good may somehow begin to appear in 2015. If corruption can be greatly reduced and a national identity can emerge, which is already happening, Ukraine’s struggle will not have been entirely in vain. As for Russia, it’s anyone’s guess, but maybe the ruble’s latest exchange rate foretells the outcome.

by: Mamuka
November 28, 2014 01:40
K tomu zhe (skhvata shoris), I just saw an article that the price of oil is heading for $72. On this blog (Power Vertical) they have often said that $90 is the pain threshold for Vova and his druzhban. How could this play into power politics for Ukraina? Or even Abkhazeti and Samachablo (ha)? Does humanitarian aid for "independent" states outweigh the need to give the oligarkhi/bolshiye shishki their dividends? We shall see, we shall see...

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or