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Thread: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former Owne

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    Default Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former Owne

    Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former Owner
    September 18th, 2009

    Barack Obama's chances of re-election in three and a half years' time may be evaporating at unprecedented speed, but his presidential ambitions could still be realised in another direction. He would be a shoo-in to win the next Russian presidential election, so high is his popularity now running in the land of the bear and the knout. Obama has done more to restore Russia's hegemonial potential in Eastern and Central Europe than even Vladimir Putin.

    His latest achievement has been to restore the former satellite states to dependency on Moscow, by wimping out of the missile defence shield plan. This follows on his surrender last July when he voluntarily sacrificed around a third of America's nuclear capability for no perceptible benefit beyond a grim smile from Putin. If there is one thing that fans the fires of aggression it is appeasement.

    Despite propaganda to the contrary, 58 per cent of Poles were in favour of the missile shield. But small nations must assess the political will of larger powers. Thanks to President Pantywaist's supine policies, the former satellite states can see that they are fast returning to their former status. The American umbrella cannot be relied upon on a rainy day. They have been here before. Poles remember how a leftist US president sold them out to Russia at Tehran and Yalta. The former Czechoslovakia was betrayed twice: in 1938 and 1945.

    If the word is out that America is in retreat, it will soon find it has no friends. The satellites will pragmatically accept their restored subordination, without openly acknowledging it, and co-operate with their dangerous neighbour, ushering in a new generation of Finlandisation.

    Bringing unstable states like Georgia into Nato would be a liability, not a defence. The crazy notion of a US-Nato-Russian combined defence policy has all the staying power of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Ronald Reagan, assisted by Margaret Thatcher, implemented the sensible principle that Russia, from the time of Peter the Great, respects only strength and steely political will. A pushover in the Oval Office is the best news Russian expansionists have heard since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Barack Obama is selling out America and, by extension, the entire West. This is a catastrophe for America and the wider world.

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    Ukraine Is Headed for National Bankruptcy

    Russia would be the natural partner to step in and help, but at considerable cost to Kiev's independence.

    JANUARY 17, 2010, 7:41 P.M. ET
    WALL ST JOURNAL

    By CHRISTOPHER GRANVILLE

    Ukraine's presidential election yesterday—which appears headed to a second round run-off on Feb. 7 between the two leading candidates, Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko—unfolds against the background of financial ruin.

    It has long been obvious that the defeat of the incumbent, Viktor Yushchenko, who has painted himself into the anti-Russian nationalist corner, would produce a political rapprochement between Ukraine and Russia. Mr. Yanukovych is committed to non-alignment (meaning no application for NATO membership) while Ms. Tymoshenko promises to submit to popular referendum any decision to join a military alliance (in practice ruling out NATO membership, which, as revealed by a long series of opinion polls, is opposed by a solid majority of Ukrainians). What seems much less widely appreciated is the prospect of this geopolitical shift being magnified by Ukraine's imminent national bankruptcy—casting Russia in the role of "Abu Dhabi" to Ukraine's "Dubai" in the sense of easing the financial distress of a closely related neighbor.

    In October 2009, the IMF suspended the latest planned disbursement of $3.8 billion (€2.6 billion) from its $17 billion rescue loan to Ukraine, citing the need to wait for the presidential election campaign to run its course before the Ukrainian authorities would be in a position to pursue responsible economic policies. In the meantime, the IMF has quietly helped keep Ukraine's funding crisis at bay by a series of expedients, culminating in approval for a drawdown of $2 billion of the Ukrainian central bank's foreign-exchange reserves to meet this month's $900 million payment for imported Russian gas.

    From now on, however, the cupboard is bare. Total austerity will be the only way to preserve Ukraine's reserves and prevent another run on the currency—which would be ruinous, given the mountain of public and private debt denominated in foreign currency (exceeding 100% of GDP at the start of the crisis). The newly elected president, and whatever government emerges from the presidential election, will have to abandon their election promises by slashing public spending (the budget deficit reached around 12% of GDP in 2009, largely financed by printing money) and passing on higher energy costs to domestic consumers. Failure to cut spending will lead to widespread defaults. Already, the state-owned energy and railway companies (Naftohaz and UkrZaliznytsya) have been unable to meet their contractual obligations on foreign loans and entered into restructuring negotiations with their creditors.

    This would be a daunting task even for a leader elected on a tide of national unity and with a popular mandate to face up to the crisis. But no such political capital can be generated by Ukraine's presidential election. The reason for this goes deeper than the country's well-known East-West divisions. A no less fundamental problem is the lack of functional institutions. As things stand, control over the executive is divided between the president and the legislature. This is the real cause of Ukraine's chronic political chaos—not the personal rivalries of the leading politicians and the business groups that finance them.

    The only solution is radical constitutional reform to cement the supremacy of the parliament as the sole institution in which the country's deep internal divisions can be accommodated and managed. Amending the constitution requires two-thirds parliamentary majorities, which could only result from a coalition of the main political forces based in the center and east of the country (and now led, respectively, by Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yanukovych). But after slugging out the battle for the presidency, those two leaders will transfer their struggle to the parliament—quite likely precipitating an early parliamentary election. This is not exactly the ideal environment for getting the IMF program back on track and staving off financial collapse.

    Yet this analysis still does not capture the full extent of Ukraine's plight. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the country miraculously escapes its political trap with the emergence in the next few weeks of a strong leader in control of both the presidency and the parliament, and hence able to take decisive policy action. Even then, with IMF loan disbursements renewed and with some recovery in battered investor confidence, Ukraine would face massive external financing gaps. A recovery in the price of Ukraine's exports (mainly ferrous metals and bulk chemicals) would be offset by the closely correlated moves in the prices of its (energy) imports—and any temporary decoupling of those prices is unlikely to be in Ukraine's favor, given the surge in Chinese steel production.

    Above all, Ukraine has $37 billion in external debt falling due in 2010. Even assuming, in this miracle scenario, that half of that could be refinanced (despite the bitter taste left by recent defaults), the financing gap would remain above $10 billion in 2010—rising to $15-$24 billion in 2012-13 as the IMF disbursements first cease and then themselves start falling due for repayment.

    The only plausible way to plug these gaps is to tap the huge savings of the Russian government. Will Ukraine ask for such assistance from Russia and, if it did, how would Russia respond?

    Fears for Ukraine's sovereignty mean that a Russian bailout will always be regarded by Ukraine's mainstream political class as a last resort. But a national insolvency would be seen as an even greater threat to sovereignty than being bailed out by Russia and, most important of all, would jeopardize the power and wealth of Ukraine's entire political and business establishment.

    Mindful of its humiliation in Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, the Russian leadership will respond cautiously. Nevertheless, Russia will now be sucked into the Ukrainian crisis—motivated by potential geopolitical gains and asset-acquisition opportunities on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a natural interest in doing what it can to prevent a financial and economic debacle in Ukraine, for the sake of regional stability and given the importance of bilateral trade and still strong economic links between the two countries.

    Is this prospect a good thing or a bad thing? There will be strong views on either side, with much crowing and hand-wringing. One way or another, Russia bailing out Ukraine should be seen as a natural development—as natural as, for example, the response of the U.S. to the Mexican peso crisis in 1994.

    Mr. Granville is managing director of Trusted Sources, an emerging-markets research company.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    Black Sea challenge by U.S. set to keep Russia on edge

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    A storm is gathering in and around the Black Sea as Russia faces a mounting challenge from the United States, which is beefing up its military presence in former Soviet satellite countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

    One look at a map of the region shows the critical geopolitical importance of the Black Sea, as its southern coast connects to the Middle East via Turkey and its northern coast adjoins Ukraine, which is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet and which houses 80 percent of the pipelines supplying natural gas from Russia to Western Europe.

    In Romania, the U.S. has spent $50 million since last year to expand bases to accommodate 1,700 troops. The principal facility is the Mikhail Kogalniceanu Air Base located in Constanta, facing the Black Sea. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is said to maintain a secret detention facility at the base.

    There is nothing new about the U.S. maintaining military bases in Romania, which dates back to the beginning of the Iraq war. What is important is Washington's announcement of its intention to use them indefinitely. In May, a marine corps unit centered around a tank battalion was dispatched to the Mikhail Kogalniceanu base for the first time.

    In Bulgaria, meanwhile, the U.S. plans to expand bases there to accommodate 2,500 troops. The core facility is the Bezmer Air Base, about 50 km from the Black Sea southern coast. When the project is completed, the U.S. will have a strategic air base in Bulgaria comparable in scale to the air bases at Inzirlik in Turkey and Appiano in Italy. Joint American-Bulgarian air force drills were conducted in May.

    The American move to strengthen its defense capability in countries formerly under Soviet influence is not limited to Romania and Bulgaria. It is also conspicuous in Hungary, although that country does not face the Black Sea. For several years the Papa Air Base in Hungary has functioned as a base for the U.S. Air Force's state-of-the-art Boeing C-17 transport aircraft, making it one of the crucial strategic air transport centers outside of the U.S.

    It is important to note that all these moves represent only the initial step that Washington has taken to expand its military presence in the Black Sea region. Upon completion of these base expansion projects in 2012, two-thirds of the highly mobile Rapid Reaction Corps of the U.S. Army in Europe will be concentrated in Romania and Bulgaria.

    This means that the U.S. front line of defense is shifting from the eastern border of Germany to the Black Sea, which is adjacent to the Middle East, the Caucasus and Russia.

    Another source of Russian uneasiness is a move to revive a plan to establish a U.S. missile defense system in Europe. Even though President Barack Obama is said to have abandoned a project involving Poland and Czech Republic, it is said that a similar system will be completed in Romania and Bulgaria between 2018 and 2020.

    Romania is ready to accept deployment of 20 SM-3 anti-ballistic missile units, currently installed on American naval vessels with the Aegis Combat System. These missiles could later be replaced with the more advanced terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missiles. They will also be deployed in Bulgaria.

    Meanwhile, it has become more likely that the X-band radar system, which the U.S. originally planned to install in the Czech Republic, will be set up in Israel.

    U.S. destroyers carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles have made a number of calls on Georgian, Romanian and Bulgarian ports since the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

    A leading official of the Russian Navy stated recently that an increased U.S. presence in the region would bring about a "dramatic change in the military balance in the Black Sea" and present a "serious threat to Russia." He went on to say that Russia would counter these American moves by further strengthening the Black Sea Fleet.

    Washington responded by bluntly claiming that the deployment of the missile defense system is designed to prevent Iran from attacking Europe with its missiles. But anyone with even the most rudimentary military knowledge would admit that Tehran has neither the technology to develop long-range missiles nor the need to attack Europe. Russia's sense of crisis is not groundless.

    The only consolation for Moscow of late came in Ukraine's presidential election in February, when pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko lost to pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych. Subsequently, the Ukrainian legislature passed a new law, permitting the Russian Black Sea Fleet to continue using the facilities in Sevastopol for another 25 years.

    Even so, Moscow does not have any effective means of countering Romania and Bulgaria, which seek to strengthen their military collaboration with the U.S.

    The whole world puzzles over Washington's motivation for seeking a greater military presence in the Black Sea region, since it hardly can be interpreted as mere expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    Nor is it possible to understand the true motive of the U.S. by reading the Quadrennial Defense Review, announced in February. It appears all but certain that the waves of the Black Sea will only get higher.

    This is an abridged translation of an article from the July issue of Sentaku, a monthly magazine of political, social and economic affairs.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    ISRAEL: Air force helicopter crashes in Romania during drill

    July 26, 2010 | 7:34 pm



    An Israeli military helicopter crashed in mountainous central Romania on Monday during an exercise with the Romanian air force. Seven people, six Israelis and a Romanian observer, were on board. Romanian authorities said the bodies had been recovered; the army informed the families the six were missing and released their names. An air force mission including army officials, medical and rabbinate teams, is heading for the site in the morning.

    Israeli air force commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan and his Romanian counterpart, Maj. Gen. Ion Aurel Stanciu have agreed on a mutual investigation of the incident by both militaries, said an army announcement.

    The CH-53, Sikorsky -- or "Yasur" by its Israeli name -- was taking part in the Blue Sky 2010, an 11-day joint aviation exercise in central Romania when the helicopter lost radio contact midday Monday. Two Israeli helicopters had been in the air for two hours when they were separated by clouds; when visibility cleared, the lead helicopter had dropped out of contact, apparently crashing into a mountainside in that time, air force Brig. Gen. Nimrod Shefer told an Israeli website.

    Israeli sources cited bad weather and poor visibility, but European media mentioned a malfunction that had been repaired last week on one of the Israeli helicopters. Local television interviewed a witness who saw the helicopter lose altitude as smoke came from its rear rotor.

    The exercise has been suspended.

    The veteran Sikorsky remains a top choice for carrying heavy loads and deploying large numbers of troops in the battlefield. Israel obtained the transport helicopters from the U.S. in the 1960s and has been using them ever since. The fleet is pushing 50 but has been revamped over the years. The army has extended its operational life and revamped its "Yasurs" with advanced navigation, avionic systems and electronic warfare systems. This "workhorse" has been involved in some of Israel's most complex operations but also in some of the worst accidents.

    Deciding to replace helicopters is complicated and expensive; it's also unlikely to happen in the near future, wrote Amos Harel.

    Israel's air force signed an agreement to cooperate with Romania's air force a number of years ago. It is keen on training crews in different terrain and weather conditions, especially high-altitude flight. Israel is small and lacks the expanses needed for long-range training. Its highest grounds border with Lebanon and Syria.

    "We are in Romania in order to train our soldiers in territories most similarly resembling our areas if fighting," said IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu Monday evening, explaining that the helicopter was participating in an exercise to train the air force in unknown mountainous terrain to prepare it "for war or special operations." In April, the Jerusalem Post reported that now locked out of Turkey, Israel's air force was looking for new training grounds -- especially ones offering long-range mission possibilities.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was following reports with concern and discussing developments with the defense minister and chief of staff, said a late-night statement that reached out to the families of the crew. Onboard the helicopter, belonging to the air force's "Night Birds" squadron, were four pilots and two airborne mechanics, as well as a Romanian military observer.

    Air force members called the crash a tragedy.

    -- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

    Top: the MH-53J Pave Low III heavy-lift helicopter, in U.S. service. Image in public domain.

    Bottom: Witness describing events to Romanian television. Credit: www.videonews.ro

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    This where I think Putin's initial focus will be, to reorganize, strengthen and bring these former sattelite countries back under Russia's influence.

    The Obama Administration won't do much to stop this development and would allow this activity to become bargaining chips for it's own foreign policy.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    Will Obama Abandon Eastern Europe?

    President Barack Obama's recent statement to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, for incoming President Vladimir Putin, that he would be more willing to give into Russian demands after the election indicates re-election of Obama could be a disaster for the United States. Obama's statement is particularly disturbing because it comes on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred because Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev thought President John Kennedy's mishandling of the Bay of Pigs and weak response to the Berlin Crisis of 1961 indicated Kennedy was indecisive and weak. Khrushchev thought the Soviet Union could take advantage of that perceived weakness to place nuclear missiles in Cuba.

    Thinking about the Cuban Missile Crisis reminds me that I got a haircut on Friday, October 26, 1962. As I rode my bicycle home from Buff's Barber Shop late that afternoon I wondered if my school would still be there on Monday morning or if I would still be alive.

    Russia's attitude to the missile defense system the U.S. has placed in Eastern Europe to protect against missiles from Iran implies Russia, or at least Putin, isn't convinced the Cold War is completely over. Or, maybe Putin wants the appearance of a conflict with the U.S. so he can use the threat of a foreign enemy to suppress freedom of speech in Russia.

    The mistake many Americans made after World War II was in thinking that "communism" was the enemy instead of Russia. The Soviet Union was never anything more than a fancy name for the Russian Empire. To rephrase Marx, in Russia "socialism[communism] was the opiate of the people."

    Many believe that Putin is not really confortable with democracy. Many Russians are complaining that he stole the recent election.

    Putin probably is smart enough to realize he cannot afford a military invasion of Eastern Europe, but he may want to be able to intimidate East European governments into having closer relations with Russia, particularly in the economic area.

    If Putin can get the U.S. to retreat from its promises to protect Eastern Europe from missile attack, he may think he can convince East European governments that America can't be relied on to protect them. He might then attempt to intimidate them into abandoning ties with the west in favor of a close relationship with Russia.

    Such a threat could produce a major crisis that Obama would be incapable of handling because he isn't a leader.

    Nikita Khrushchev decided to place missiles in Cuba because he misinterpreted President John Kennedy's inexperienced handling of the Bay of Pigs and the Berlin Crisis as weakness. Will Putin decide Obama is weak after Obama in effect has said that appeasing Putin is more important to Obama than doing what the American people want?

    In the second presidential debate in 1976 President Gerald Ford in a slip of the tongue said, "there is no Soviet domination of eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration." He later said he meant to say that he wouldn't recognize such domination.

    Obama cannot claim that his statement to Medvedev was a slip of the tongue without appearing incompetent.

    In October, 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin in Moscow and discussed the percentages agreement that accepted Soviet spheres of influence in southeastern Europe. After World War II ended Stalin expanded Soviet control well beyond the percentages suggested by Churchill by sending in groups to establish Soviet style dictatorships.

    Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt had to give concessions to Stalin because they still needed Soviet help to defeat Germany. They believed they would need Soviet help to defeat Japan.

    Obama has no such need for Russian support against foreign enemies. He has no need to appease Russia in eastern Europe.

    Would Putin interpret an Obama "retreat" from eastern Europe as an opening to try to help Russia friendly groups in eastern Europe replace their governments with governments friendly to Russia, possibly by using questionable tactics? If that happened would some American politicians respond by trying to start a new McCarthy type era?

    Former President Bill Clinton needs to remind Obama that reelection doesn't insure a full term of office. Clinton was impeached after being reelected and barely escaped removal from office. President Richard Nixon was forced to resign after a landslide victory because his supporters used questionable campaign tactics.

    If Obama gives in to Putin and Putin takes advantage of him to create a major crisis, Obama could face impeachment. The charge wouldn't be corruption as was the case with Clinton and Nixon. The charge would be "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" (i.e., treason).

    http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/scie...astern-europe/

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    Did the Obama administration enable the invasion of Crimea?

    Posted by Tom on Sunday, March 16, 2014



    We Russian liberators are so popular we have to wear masks so people won’t kiss us.

    As of this writing, Russia is seizing control of Ukraine’s Crimea region through a “referendum” being held at the point of bayonets. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on the eastern Ukrainian border. At least part of a sovereign state is about to be seized by its neighbor, and a larger war looms.

    How much of this is our fault? Not just the West’s fault — and there’s plenty of blame to go around in Europe — but America’s fault, and more specifically, the Obama administration’s fault? Did the White House somehow “cause” or “enable” the invasion of Ukraine?

    Let’s dispense with the partisan nonsense and get to the simple answer: “No.”

    Now let’s add the inevitable word: “But.”

    This question matters, because if American foreign policy is inadvertently enabling Russian aggression, then it needs to change. Critics of the administration are certain that Barack Obama got taken, personally, by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    As Peggy Noonan wrote over the weekend:
    Mr. Putin doesn’t move because of American presidents, he moves for his own reasons. But he does move when American presidents are weak. He moved on Georgia in August 2008 when George W. Bush was reeling from unwon wars, terrible polls and a looming economic catastrophe that all but children knew was coming.

    Mr. Bush was no longer formidable as a leader of the free world.

    Mr. Putin moved on Ukraine when Barack Obama was no longer a charismatic character but a known quantity with low polls, failing support, a weak economy. He’d taken Mr. Obama’s measure during the Syria crisis and surely judged him not a shrewd international chess player but a secretly anxious professor who makes himself feel safe with the sound of his voice.
    After five years of “the world only hates us because of George Bush” criticisms from partisans of the Obama administration, they had to know this was coming. And while the President’s supporters may be smarting from Noonan’s imagery, they cannot have it both ways: they cannot argue that the Obama administration has been masterful in averting conflict (in, say, Syria?), but that when it comes to Russia, nothing could be done, as if Presidents and their foreign policies are completely irrelevant.


    I think Noonan was more accurate to say, as she did later in her piece:
    Mr. Putin didn’t go into Ukraine because of Mr. Obama. He just factored him in.
    I’ll get back to that. But let’s back up and start by reviewing where we are.

    The people of Ukraine (or of much of Ukraine) took to the streets to dump a president, Viktor Yanukovich, who was little more than Russia’s man in Kyiv. When Yanukovich was run out of town (taking several billion dollars with him as a consolation prize), Putin reacted not as a cool and confident player of the international game, but as a hot-headed tyrant, increasingly detached from reality and showing all the political sophistication of a teenage girl locking herself in the bathroom and screaming about pills and razor blades.

    He invaded.

    This is where it gets tricky. How much responsibility does U.S. foreign policy, and the leader of the Free World — a title, sadly, that means something again — bear for this? And what do we do now?

    Let’s stipulate that Putin was going to do something. There was no way he wasn’t going to react to this affront, to this personal insult and repudiation of his attempts to extend Moscow’s power. Forget all the political science, strategic analysis, and general claptrap about “interest.” That’s how Westerners think, and while it’s not irrelevant, it doesn’t help much in this particular situation.

    Indeed, when it comes to “interest,” think of it this way: Putin already had everything he wanted. The new government in Kyiv was too weak to kick Russia out of Crimea, to sever economic relations, join NATO, or do any of the other things that ran against Russian interests. If anything, the only reason all those things are on the table is because Putin, through his actions, has put them there.

    Putin may well have known those policies would be in play if he invaded. He didn’t care. As the New York Times reported:
    The decision to invade Crimea, the officials and analysts said, was made not by the national security council but in secret among a smaller and shrinking circle of Mr. Putin’s closest and most trusted aides. The group excluded senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the cadre of comparatively liberal advisers who might have foreseen the economic impact and potential consequences of American and European sanctions.

    “It seems the whole logic here is almost entirely the product of one particular mind,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian analyst and editor of the quarterly journal Russia in Global Affairs.

    The decision centered on one man acting mostly on emotion. Consider this from the Times report:
    Diplomats and analysts [in Moscow] suggest that the Kremlin’s strategy emerged haphazardly, even misleadingly, over a tense and momentous week, as an emotional Mr. Putin acted out of what the officials described as a deep sense of betrayal and grievance, especially toward the United States and Europe.

    This is not because the West actually betrayed Putin, but because he’s increasingly operating in a low-information environment in which no one wants to give bad news to The Boss. And Ukraine sending Yanukovich packing was bad news indeed.

    So could Putin have been stopped? This leads to all the pointless what-ifs: what if Bush or McCain or Romney were in office? What if we hadn’t tried the disastrous “reset” with Russia? What if we hadn’t caved in Syria?

    Posing this as a binary question is where we go off the rails. No one moment, image, statement, or policy was the trigger. Rather, American foreign policy gave Putin far more latitude than he might otherwise have had in the way in which he chose to act.

    He could have done any number of things short of using force: he might have had Russian forces come out of their bases for a time, as they did early on. He might have turned off the gas lines (which he’s done before) to Ukraine. He might brought Yanukovich to Moscow and demand his reinstatement, or else.

    Instead, he’s invaded Ukraine’s south, and is poised to launch a far wider war if he so chooses.

    Here, I think it is impossible to avoid reaching the conclusion that Putin felt virtually unconstrained in the face of a U.S. administration that has made clear it has no interest in foreign affairs. This, of course, is what the American people want: most people can’t find Crimea on a map and have no interest in doing so. Of course, that’s why we’re a republic, not a direct democracy: our leaders are supposed to know better than us. But right now, heeding Mencken’s dictum, the administration is giving the people what they want.

    Really, it’s even worse than we think. Putin hasn’t acted against American objections; rather, he’s acted as if the United States of America doesn’t even exist.

    Despite all the lousy historical analogies flying around, there is some precedent for this: Soviet leaders acted the same way (and with the same lack of information) when America was on the ropes in the 1970s. The Soviet Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, later recalled that once Richard Nixon was out of office and the Ford administration was tied in knots, Kremlin leaders didn’t “seriously consider” American objections to Moscow’s adventurism in places like Africa. Weakness, or even the perception of weakness, matters in Moscow, and both the White House and the American people have shown plenty of it.


    The President speaks to Putin during the crisis, from Florida.

    For this, we have only ourselves to blame. President Obama has long shown a reluctance to think about foreign affairs, with an approach that borders on an annoyance with the entire subject. This has led to a “box-check” mentality in foreign affairs in which we do not solve problems so much as dispose of them as quickly as possible.

    Intentionally or otherwise, the President has projected a lack of seriousness about international relations, from the wince-inducing “I’ll have more flexibility after the election” gaffe to Dmitri Medvedev, to the decision to head to Florida for some golf while Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border.

    The President’s message is clear: foreign affairs are just a chore and a distraction.

    The Russians, by contrast, are playing hardball. They are still steeped in the Cold War game of deducing our intentions from every signal we send, and they have apparently drawn the appropriate conclusion: that they can do anything they want.

    “Sure,” Putin and his advisers might reason, “Angela Merkel will complain and we’ll field some angry calls to Moscow. David Cameron will issue stodgy objections, but we here in the Kremlin never liked him or took him seriously. But since they’re at their desks in Berlin and London, the rest of the EU is dithering over something as small as sanctions, and the President of the United States is out on the links in Florida, how seriously do we have to take any of this?”

    The answer, of course, is not very seriously. Without America, what can Europe do to Russia? Not much. And so we have to assume that when considering policy options in Moscow, nothing was off the table, and there were no constraints on any of Putin’s choices, or certainly none put there by the Americans.

    Indeed, this was yet one more rematch in a series of contests we’d already lost. The Putin-Lavrov team had already faced down the Obama-Kerry team over Syria, where even token military action against a maniac using chemical weapons against children produced little more than a paralyzed White House that found itself asking for help from Moscow, a fumble that resulted in nothing. Russia, in exchange for a virtual guarantee of Western inaction against its client, has graciously pretended to pressure Syria into pretending to care about cooperating with the UN for a little while, a charade that’s already over.

    Meanwhile, our entire Iran policy — and it is, in a way, a “policy,” I guess — was predicated on Russian cooperation. The Iranians were mocking the “agreement” at the speed of Twitter before John Kerry was even back in Washington, and the chances of any further restraint on Iran’s nuclear program are low and getting lower.
    Yes, yes, I know the next question: so what could President Obama have done, and what can he do now?
    No one event could have prevented Putin acting, in some way, against Ukraine, but it didn’t have to be this way .

    He’s been insulted and humiliated, and he is not the kind of man to let a slap like that go unanswered. But this invasion and subsequent war scare might well have been prevented by better policy earlier on.

    Had the United States made clear early on, for example, that a “reset” does not mean a “complete identity of interest,” that halting NATO expansion didn’t mean “we no longer care about NATO,” that cancelling missile defenses in Central Europe did not mean “we’re more annoyed with our allies than our opponents,” that “we do not seek war in Syria” did not mean “anyone can do anything with any weapons anywhere,” perhaps Putin might have hesitated, or chosen a less bombastic response than an invasion.

    For years, I’ve been advocating unilateral moves, including unilateral reductions of nuclear arms, as a show of strength, not of weakness. (I’ll get to the nuclear question as well in another post.) We could have cancelled missile defenses while adding more NATO assets to Poland and other central European states — you know, like we’re doing now, finally.
    We could have halted NATO expansion while engaging the Russians in a serious discussion that left Ukraine outside NATO but not outside the rules of modern civilization itself. We could have proceeded with cancellation of any modernization of tactical nukes in Europe while improving our conventional forces — God forbid, even thinking ahead, for a change — instead of quietly sniping at our own allies in “new NATO.”

    And yes, we could have attacked Syria with a barrage of cruise missiles and then let the Russians figure out how to ask us to stop. That would have kept them, and their monstrous client in Damascus, busy for a while.
    All is not lost. The Crimea will be under Putin’s thumb for as long as he wants it to be, but a wider war with all of Ukraine is another matter entirely. There is no military role for NATO in that war, but if Russia would like to return to its Soviet roots as a pariah state, we can arrange that. Our UN team finally came out of its torpor last week, with Ambassador Samantha Power finally standing up, at least rhetorically, to the Russians. Even China has decided that maybe Putin’s a bit too crazy for their taste these days; the Russians stood alone in their veto of the Security Council’s resolution refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Crimean “referendum.”

    There are people in Moscow who want a new Cold War, including Soviet-era relics like Aleksandr Prokhanov, a writer much loved in the old days for his odes to the Soviet military. But I doubt that most Russians want to go that route. Putin’s popularity rests outside the cities, mostly among the people who represent the past and not the younger Russians who represent their country’s future. If we’re going to target Russia, we have to target the right Russians, and not the ones who agree with us.

    This isn’t an argument for or against sanctions. Sanctions of some kind are now unavoidable, so we might as well get on with it, in a business-like way, and without hesitation and the constant use of conditional language and passive constructions that seem to infest American statements lately. Nor am I arguing for increased military activity among the NATO nations. Most of it is too little, too late, and in the case of military measures, needlessly provocative at this point.

    No, Putin has taken our measure, and the measure of our President, and he has assessed us accurately. The Crimean issue is beyond our reach, Ukraine is in danger. This is now about the next series of crises, which at root will be about the future of Russia and its place in the world.

    If Putin persists, we should make it clear that we are willing to isolate Russia until it stops holding its breath and having these repeated tantrums. Specifically, we should flood Ukraine with aid. No more quibbling about “where it might end up,” please: we’re a country that spends $52 billion a year on our pets, so I think we can spare several billion to stabilize whatever part of Ukraine Putin doesn’t invade.



    The G-8? That’s already over. No more G-20 meetings, either. All that “inclusiveness” has gotten us exactly nowhere. The United States is the richest, more powerful, most culturally pervasive (and yes, admired, whether people admit it or not) country in the world, and we should act like it — including organizing our European allies to show Moscow what it really looks like when East-West political and economic relations actually fail, and when the U.S. and its nearest friends decide to start acting like they’re in charge again.

    This kind of sharp, sudden divide with Europe and the West will — I hope — have a serious effect on Russian politics, especially on the already tenuous generational divide in the Russian polity. If we’re going to fight for the future of Russia, our policies and our public diplomacy have to be aimed at the people who are going to make that future.

    Russians are used to traveling at will, interacting with Europe and the rest of the world, and participating in global life as citizens of a normal country. If Vladimir Putin prefers that they no longer be capable of doing so, then far be it from us to stop him from inflicting misery on his own people. But we should make clear, every single day, that Russia’s misfortunes in 2014 and after are the sole responsibility of one man.

    If President Putin wants to be the undisputed master of Russia, then let us make him carry the full responsibility of his actions, and explain them to his own people. He can start with the tens of thousands who poured into the streets of Moscow on Saturday to demand he stop menacing a country where so many Russians have friends and relatives.

    At the least, we and our allies have to begin acting as if this is a serious, world-changing crisis, and to send a far clearer message to Putin that time is running out for Russia to return to the family of nations of which it has waited so long to be a member.

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    White House Takes U.S. Military Support For Ukraine “Off Table” – One Hour Later The Russia Assault On Ukraine Bases Begins…

    Posted on March 19, 2014 by sundance


    Nothing empowers aggressive action like telling the bully you’ll do nothing to stop him.


    WASHINGTON – The White House said Wednesday that President Obama is not actively considering military force as an option in the crisis in Ukraine.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said military action is “certainly not at the forefront of discussions” among the president and his top advisers, saying that Mr. Obama is looking instead at imposing further economic sanctions against Russian leaders for the takeover of Crimea. “You can expect further costs to be imposed on Russia,” Mr. Carney said. (link)

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former

    President Obama says Putin is acting out of weakness rather than strength

    President Obama says he told Russian President Vladimir Putin the only way to solve the problem in Syria is a political transition that keeps the state and military intact, but is inclusive with President Assad transitioning out of power. (Reuters)

    In his first remarks on Syria since Russian airstrikes began, President Obama said the United States would continue its fight against Islamic State fighters and other extremists, but said "we're not going to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia."

    The president advocated international negotiations to forge a coalition government from Syria's warring factions, but he warned that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad must leave office at the end of any transition talks.

    "The problem here is Assad and the brutality he has inflicted on the Syrian people, and it has to stop," Obama said during a White House press conference Friday. "We are not going to cooperate with a Russian campaign to simply try to destroy anybody who is disgusted and fed up with Mr. Assad’s behavior."

    He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had to step up military activities in Syria not out of strength but out of weakness and because Assad's government was failing.

    "A military solution alone, an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population, is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire, and it won’t work and they will be there for a while if they don’t take a different course," Obama said.

    Obama defended his decision not to get more involved in the Syrian conflict, including by sending more weapons and American troops.

    The president said, “I have to make a judgment based on once we start something we have to finish it and do it well, and do we in fact have the resources and the capacity to make a serious impact, understanding that we still have to go after ISIL in Iraq and an Iraqi military weaker than any of us had perceived.”

    Amid the wave of refugees fleeing the region, Obama said: “I am under no illusions about what an incredible humanitarian catastrophe this has been.” He called the images of children who have drowned seeking safe havens “heartbreaking.”

    He dismissed some proposals for other, more aggressive strategies in Syria as “half-baked ideas” and said that when those who advance them are pressed for military and funding details, “typically what you get is a lot of mumbo jumbo.”

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former


    Russia Offers to Support Tajikistan…But There's a Price

    A lack of strategic options could see Tajikistan move further into Russia’s embrace

    October 1, 2015

    In mid September, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would help Tajikistan’s embattled President Emomali Rahmon combat political instability. Putin’s declaration was triggered by gun battles in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, which resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people. Russia’s outreach to Rahmon was a vital show of support, as Tajikistan’s military and political institutions are extremely weak. Nevertheless, Putin’s offer demonstrates the extent to which Tajikistan’s multi-vector foreign policy has given way to an increased dependency on Russia.

    In recent years, Tajikistan has tried to dispel arguments that it is a satellite of Moscow, by diversifying its economic and defense linkages. The slow progress of EEU accession talks and a 40 percent decline in remittances from Russia in 2014 provided further impetus for Tajikistan’s diversification process. The Central Asian country has received substantial foreign investment from countries like China, South Korea, Qatar and Iran, as it attempts to insulate itself from Russia’s economic malaise. But these investments have not translated into strong alliances. Western nations have paid little attention to the Tajikistan crisis and China is unwilling to intervene militarily in Central Asia.

    Therefore, Russia is the guarantor of Tajikistan’s political stability and is poised to further consolidate its economic and military hegemony over the impoverished country. Russia will likely prop up Rahmon, but only if Tajikistan becomes a member of the EEU. Should violence in Tajikistan escalate, Rahmon might have no choice but to turn to Russia for indirect military assistance in defusing the crisis.

    Exploiting a Vulnerability


    The weakness of Tajikistan’s central government has been a consistent feature of the country’s post-1991 political history. Despite major vulnerabilities, Rahmon has been able to cling to power because the Tajik people fear that any attempt to unseat him would replicate the chaos of the 1992-1997 civil war. In that conflict, between 50,000 to 100,000 Tajiks were killed, 1.2 million Tajiks were displaced, and an economic meltdown left a large portion of the population dependent on foreign assistance.

    The recent outbreak of violence in Tajikistan suggests that public apathy may no longer be sufficient to help Rahmon retain power. If this is true, Rahmon will require foreign assistance to prop up his regime. As Tajikistan derived more than half of its economic output from Russian remittances in April 2014, Rahmon is likely to seek support from Russia. Tajikistan’s outreach to Russia will occur even though deeper Russian involvement will undermine its sovereignty.

    Alexei Malashenko, a leading expert on Russia-Central Asia relations at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told me in a recent interview that Tajikistan’s burgeoning political crisis could push the country deeper into Moscow’s orbit. Malashenko argues that Rahmon has become internationally isolated due to his leadership failures. Russia is the only country willing to provide personal support for Rahmon, but this assistance is likely to be conditional on Tajikistan’s accession to the EEU. According to Malashenko, Tajikistan will almost certainly accept EEU membership, because Rahmon regards ceding control over Tajikistan’s trade policy to Moscow is a more acceptable option than chaos, which would embolden ISIS. In the unlikely event that Tajikistan does not accept EEU membership in the next one or two years, Malashenko believes that Russia will withdraw support for Rahmon’s regime. This move will inspire other countries, like Iran, to turn against Rahmon out of fear that his continued leadership without Russian backing will destabilize Tajikistan and fuel Islamist insurgencies.

    Tajikistan’s dearth of strategic options will inevitably soothe deep divisions about EEU membership amongst the country’s elites. Even though Tajikistan has signed the CIS Free Trade Zone Agreement, and the majority of Tajiks polled consistently show support for integration in the Russian-led customs union, EEU skeptics remain vocal. Rahmon has rhetorically emphasized Tajikistan’s political independence from Russia, and has trumpeted the close trade links he has forged with China. Tajik business leaders fear the country will restrict its growth potential by integrating more closely with the customs union’s struggling economies. Kyrgyzstan’s ongoing border dispute with Tajikistan is another sticking point, especially since Kyrgyzstan’s open borders policy could exacerbate instability in both countries. These concerns are still legitimate, but the gravity of the current crisis could cause even these dissenters to grudgingly accept EEU membership.

    Rising Military Dependency


    Russia possesses a considerable and well-established military presence in Tajikistan consisting of 6,000-7,000 troops in the 201st military base, and an airbase in Kyrgyzstan that can easily reach Tajikistan. Russia’s military buildup in Tajikistan has been a gradual process that started with its peacekeeping role in the 1990s civil war and expanded into a modern base presence in 2004. Russia’s military capabilities have returned to the spotlight in light of Putin’s recent speech to the CSTO warning of a potential spillover of instability from Afghanistan to Central Asia.

    Despite the rhetoric emanating from the Kremlin, Russia is unlikely to militarily escalate in Tajikistan to resolve the current crisis. Even though ISIS has recruited ethnic Tajiks from Afghanistan and the CSTO is keen to demonstrate its capacity to provide rapid ground assistance in Central Asia, Syria remains the focus of Russia’s counter-terrorism efforts. Tajikistan is on the periphery of Russian strategic interests, and the Russian public pays minimal attention to developments in Tajikistan. Therefore, the deployment of new troops in that country would be very difficult to justify.

    Nevertheless, Russia might provide indirect assistance to Rahmon, as he attempts to repair fractures within the Tajik military. General Nazarzoda’s mutiny, which sparked the recent violence in Tajikistan, follows a long trend of defections by military officers from the Rahmon regime. RFE/RL recently reported that in the past two decades, four Tajik generals and two Tajik colonels have been accused of plotting attacks against the government. Opposition military figures were disgruntled with Nazarzoda’s promotion to the Deputy Defense Minister post. In light of these problems, Russia could deploy existing forces from its military base to help Rahmon enforce order in the Tajik military. Russia could also provide some economic assistance to Rahmon, in order to co-opt regime opponents in the military with patronage.

    While the scale of Russia’s involvement in Tajikistan will depend on Rahmon’s willingness to comply with Putin’s demands and the gravity of the Islamist threat, Tajikistan will likely pivot towards Russia, as it has no viable alternative options. The weaknesses of Tajikistan’s political institutions could cause the country to undergo an uneasy return to political stability and rocky transition to EEU membership.

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    Default Re: Barack Obama: President Pantywaist Restores The Satellite States To Their Former


    Kazakh and Russian Leaders Hold 13th Meeting in 2015

    “Kazakhstan has been, continues to be, and will remain the closest and most reliable neighbor and ally of Russia.”

    October 15, 2015

    On October 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a state visit to Kazakhstan to discuss a wide range of issues including economics, energy, regional security and international crises in Ukraine and Syria. According to TASS, the meeting between Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the 13th between the two this year.

    In a joint press statement, the two leaders emphasized the close ties between their countries, pointing to the Eurasian Economic Union as a vehicle for their cooperation in the economic realm. After months of economic hardships–due to a collapsed ruble and low oil prices–both sides optimistically highlighted several areas of economic cooperation. These included thousands of cross-border business ventures in oil and gas as well as assembly plants making locomotives and – they plan – helicopters.

    “Despite the complicated external conditions, the drop in the price of our main export items and the fluctuation of currency exchange rates, we have nevertheless managed to retain the high intensity of trade and economic relations,” Putin said.

    As if it needed to be said again, after 13 meetings this year, Nazarbayev, according to RFE/RL, said “Kazakhstan has been, continues to be, and will remain the closest and most reliable neighbor and ally of Russia.”

    Putin called the bilateral relationship “a true allied relationship in every sense of the word.”

    Among the agreements signed during the visit was a document relating to the Caspian Sea and an agreement on cooperation in missile launches. With regard to the Caspian–the status of which remains a topic of ongoing discussion between the five littoral states–Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed on amendments to an existing agreement on delimitation of the northern Caspian’s floor.

    “We have great plans for joint oil production in the Caspian Sea,” Putin said. He continued, saying that the amendments would “allow companies from both countries to launch the development of the major Struktura Tsentralnaya oil field.”

    According to Trend, citing RIA Novosti reports, Putin and Nazarbayev also signed off on a cooperation agreement relating to missile launches from the Russian airbase at Dombarovsky. Given the airbase’s location near the border, the agreement will permit Russia to use “a land plot on the territory of Kazakhstan as an area for falling parts.” Originally built as an ICBM base, Dombarovsky has been adapted for commercial satellite launches as well.

    Nazarbayev, who hosted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week, continued in his expert balancing act. While the meat of the discussion between Putin and Nazarbayev occurred behind closed doors, it’s safe to say Ukraine was discussed. In their joint press statement, Nazarbayev reiterated his stance about the “implementation of the Minsk agreements”

    Putin didn’t directly mention Ukraine in the joint press statement, instead highlighting Syria. The Russian leader said he briefed Nazarbayev on “the main results of the Normandy Four meeting in Paris and on the development of the situation in Syria and our actions to suppress terrorist activities in that country.” Kazakhstan has hosted two rounds of negotiations among Syrian rebel groups, although neither led to a substantive breakthrough. Last week Russia launched cruise missiles at targets in Syria from ships in the southern part of the Caspian, a show of force that at least in effect, though perhaps not intent, could be seen as intimidating by other Caspian states.

    With regard to the Central Asian region, both Nazarbayev and Putin expressed concern about Tajikistan and the deterioration of security in northern Afghanistan. Nazarbayev floated an idea for a forum, “Islam Against Terrorism,” which Putin endorsed. But as of yet, it’s unclear what Nazarbayev really has in mind.

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