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Ukranian Conflict - pre WWIII?


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#1
RpgGamer
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I seem to have killed the Today thread, and this is a topic that deserves a lot more attention than I feel it's getting. Here's a brief history(grabbed off reddit):

 

  1. In 2004, there was the Orange Revolution which brought the "All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland)" party into power. The party is center-nationalist. There is a brief spurt of economic prosperity after this.
  2. In 2008, the US economic crisis spread to many places in the world including Ukraine. Ukraine has yet to recover from this crisis.
  3. In 2010, Yanukovich, of the "Party of Regions" wins the Presidential election. This party is considered highly allied wtih Russia.
  4. Yanukovich puts the former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko in jail for brokering a supposedly self-serving oil deal with Russia. Timoshenko is popular with the people.
  5. Yanukovich changes the constitution to give himself authority over the Parliament instead of the other way around, as it had been before.
  6. The deteriorating economic situation is primarily felt by the Ukrainian people in the form of stagnating wages, deteriorating public services, increasing unemployment, and an increase in crime. There was a common sentiment that the government and various institutions were corrupt (though this has always been the case, it was felt that it had reached a new extreme.)
  7. On going talks with the EU about joining the EU become stalemated over the issue of Yulia Timoshenko. The EU considers her a political prisoner, and wants her released as a precondition for consideration in joining the EU. Yanukovych responds by claiming this is impossible because it was a court decision that he cannot undo.
  8. In 2013, Moody and S & P gave Ukraine the lowest possible credit rating they are willing to publish. Meaning they cannot simply issue bonds to get loans like the US does. But they have a severe budget shortfall (about $15 billion). So for their budget they are actually forced to come up with cash. What this effectively means is that they have to negotiate very onerous terms on a 1 to 1 basis with entities who will loan them money. Ukraine negotiated with two critical entities: the IMF via the EU, and Russia.
  9. In November 2013, Yanukovych chose to cancel negotiations with the EU over the IMF loan, and negotiate solely with Russia. This outraged a large number of citizens. On November 21, 2013, people in Kiev started occupying Independence square, in Kiev, the site of the Orange Revolution, and protesting against Yanucovych's decision to cancel the EU deal. Cameras are set up above the square and at other crucial spots, to stream the protest live -- it was essentially covered live, uninterrupted for its entire duration.
  10. Russia announced that it was willing to loan Ukraine $13 billion (still $2 billion short -- so Ukraine would still default; though, of course, it could sell off assets). This just made the pro-EU protesters more outraged. Russia later offered the remaining $2 billion, but this just just made the protesters angrier. The general sentiment of the crowd was that doing deals with Putin is bad, and in the opposite direction that they want to go. The crowd didn't care about meeting the budget shortfall.
  11. Yanukovych issued a new law that effectively made protesting illegal. This sparked some outrage from the protesters. The resolve of the protesters just seemed to increase from this.
  12. Over time there were escalating clashes between the protesters and the state police (the Berkut) which came to try to contain the protesters. A few people were humiliated, a few people were beaten, and a few people were killed. This caused the protesters to get even more outraged, and they demanded that Yanukovych resign. The police periodically tore down their tents and barricades, but the protesters just rebuilt them.
  13. The opposition parties, "Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform" (led by former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko) and "All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland)" periodically, send representatives, nominally on behalf of the protestors, to periodically negotiate with Yanukovych to try to resolve the situation. Klitschko demanded "snap elections" (essentially immediate, or early elections) as his version of the protester's demand that Yanukovych be ousted.
  14. Each side periodically set deadlines for the other side to back down. When Yanukovych's deadlines were not met, he stepped up the police action, which lead to violence. When the protester's deadlines were not met, the protest spread to other parts of Ukraine and government buildings were temporarily taken over. The protest occurred during the cold of winter in Ukraine and has been continuous since they started 3 months ago. Russian sympathizers, typified by "RT" publicly claimed that the protesters were a) being manipulated by the west, b) were fascist entities, led by right wing racist groups, c) were the instigators of violence. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence of significant outside support for the protesters, their "violence" was typically limited to throwing molotov cocktails leading to 0 police deaths, and while there was right wing extremist representation among the protesters, there is no evidence that they performed any specific racist action or that their ideology was the general sentiment of the protesters. The cohesion of the protesters was premised on their one point of agreement: that Yanukovych must be ousted (the original goal that he sign a deal with the EU having been abandoned.) I think the protesters well understood that personal political agendas (such as espoused by Klitschko, or Timoshenko) were unlikely to be supported by everyone, and so people just stood behind the one thing that binded them together; the removal of Yanukovych. Incidents were typified by attacks against the media, then apologies by the government, claiming that there will be an investigation. The size of protest reached a peak of 500,000 people (about 1% of the entire population of Ukraine) by December 8.
  15. Yanukovych finally relented and withdrew the law that made protesting illegal. This calmed the protesters somewhat, but it didn't make them leave.
  16. On about February 18, 2014 the police step up their violence significantly and start using snipers to kill protesters. The death toll rises from a less than a half dozen to 70 people in a matter of days. (Reports of over a thousand injured). Numerous very graphic videos of people being shot show up on the internet. Protesters start shooting back and stealing Berkut equipment to shield themselves from the live fire.
  17. The protesters refused to leave Independence square and were demanding investigations into who made orders to use snipers (and live ammunition in general). Government troops from the ministry of internal affairs surrender to the protesters.
  18. The EU steps in and brokers a deal which includes early elections, and an investigation into the killings at Independence Square.
  19. On February 21, 2014 Yanukovych and numerous high ranking officials flee Ukraine.
  20. The parliament passes a law that restores the constitution, so that they regain authority over the president. They issue some sort of censure against Yanukovych that invalidates him as president. Oleksandr Turchynov of the "All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland)" party is named interim president. Yulia Tymoshenko is freed. An arrest warrant for Yanukovych is issued.
  21. On February 27, a very sophisticated but unmarked military force enters Crimea, a region with many Russian sympathizers, and which is home to a military naval base that Russia leases from Ukraine. They take control of the Sevastopol airport. The interim Ukraine government claims that these are Russian forces. Russian news sources claim these are Ukrainian troops (preposterous).
  22. On February 28, 2014, Yanukovych showed up in Russia and gave a televised press conference. The reporters were dominated by Russian journalists, but some pointed questions were asked. Yanukovych was defiant, insisting he was not responsible for giving orders to kill protesters, that their being armed was defensive, and that he was still the acting president who was only out of the country as a matter of personal safety. The conference was notable for having two gaffs in it: 1) Yanukovych broke his pencils in clear frustration at one question, 2) Yanukovych mistakenly referred to the Ukraine as a good trading partner, rather than referring to Russia as a good trading partner.

 

 

I've been looking into the BBC reports, and essentially the US is taking a pro-Ukraine stance, but doesn't really want to get involved, and Poland is mobilizing a lot of armor to the Ukraine border. The Ukraine/Russian border is tense, with Ukrainian reinforcement coming in, but so far no sign of invasion. (00:21 EST 3/4/14)

 

Now what does Russia have to gain from this? It's all about those trading ports baby. Here's a nice summary:

 

Because it contains a vital port - Sevastopol.

The Russians have to ask the Ukrainians for permission to use this port, they get a lease on it - they literally "rent" it.

This wasn't difficult with a pro-Russian president in Ukraine, however the Russians are very worried now, because there's been an uprising in Ukraine, and the pro-Russian president was turfed out, they may lose their lease on this port

If they lose the lease, they lose their power in the region. Putin is a very clever man, he knows that he can push a certain amount and there won't be any military repercussions - no one is going to risk a massive war - so in a way he's playing a game of bluff, he'll push forces into Crimea, take Sevastopol all for himself - it'll cost Russia money and international relations - but he obviously thinks that the gamble is worth it to control such a vital port

He doesn't have any strong opposition at home (running in opposition is "difficult" in Russia) and he pretty much runs the media - so he can convince the Russians at home, and those in the Ukraine that he is merely trying to protect them - this is something a lot of them believe

Try not to think of countries as friends, but more as businesses - this is a hostile take-over, internationally it's condemned, but to Putin, that naval port permanently in the hands of Russia is worth it



 

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#2
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tl;dr - brace for a shitstorm over the coming weeks.


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#3
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It will blow over in a few weeks for everyone in the west. Though I'm sure this will be big for Ukraine and Russia for years to come.



#4
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I don't think Russia can annex Crimea, let alone start WWIII. This conflict isn't in the interests of the Russian people, least of all big Russian businesses who depend on Russia's global reputation to trade worldwide, especially Europe. Yesterday alone, more value was wiped from the Moscow Stock Exchange than the cost of the entire Sochi Games, which itself is looking more and more like a mistimed and disingenuous PR display. Traditionally, you could say Russia can lean on the support of China in diplomatic disputes between the West but even China, in this case, is reticent to support Russia.

 

Ultimately, money talks, and If the situation lasts more than a few days or weeks in stalemate, as is currently the case, it won't be long until Putin starts to face more questions at home about what he's actually trying to achieve, why he's doing it, and whether it's in Russia's interests.



#5
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Bear in mind there are a lot of ethnic russians in crimea so russia is generally seen positively there..

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#6
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Not really. Crimean natives, the Tatars, were deported by the Soviets so the Tatars (who are also muslims by the way) would respond violently and bloodily if Russia itself were to annex them. Right now, the situation is rather about having a separate Crimean republic (which would be a Russian puppet, but nevertheless) or having it still incorporated into Ukraine.

 

There are lots of ethnic Russians in Crimea aswell, but not all Russians support Russian Federation and Putin, mind you.

Specially in the mainland Ukraine, which was in a state of turmoil between the more Russian Eastern part and Ukrainian Western part. But noone wants Russian Federation to annex or govern, the Russians and Ukrainians would rather unite against that country would there ever be the need to.


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#7
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It smells like a repeat of the Russian Revolution to me. Sure the Fatherland party and the "racist" right wing parties are getting along now, but that's only because they agree that Yanukovych sucked and Ukraine should be completely independent. Once Putin removes his presence from the area, there's bound to be a Civil war, because if anything all of this has made the conditions even worse for the Ukraine population than it already was. I hope that the EU supporters win out, since then they'll be bailed out by Europe, but there's a strong chance with so much Russian influence within spitting distance that it won't play out like that.

 

Isn't it ironic that America always backs the "sovereign independent nation" in these conflicts but then continues to dip fingers in Venezuela, Guam, Puerto Rico, and other "territories"?

 

And how coincidental is it that Germany hosted the Olympics just before invading Poland where Russia hosted the last and threatens to invade Ukraine?

 

On the other hand, Putin optimistically is the good guy in this situation. He's literally putting a gun to Ukraine's head to get their shit together. Sure it looks bad from every other nation's eyes, but he's sacrificing a lot of reputation and trade opportunity for the sake of bringing the Ukrainian people together. Ukraine had a pretty lousy government set up (granted, Russia played a hand in creating that scenario) and this gives them the chance to come together and prove themselves as a strong nation worth paying attention to. Because Putin still has not made any effort to actually start a war, he could always claim his bluff is for the good of Ukraine and World politics. It's kind of like the Tyler Durden approach to fixing Ukraine. Put them under duress, and they'll fight for their survival. 

 

Optimistically.

 

In reality, I see this as Putin feeling out where the other countries stand about his military force, his Eastern European influence, and who would side with who given another global conflict. Remember - he's ex-KGB. He's a really smart and very aware guy. Why he would play a part in screwing a whole country's worth of people is beyond me, but that can be said for any world leader's decisions around war talk. First and foremost he's looking out for Russia. He wants that port. Similar to how the US wanted Guam. It's kind of a sensory location for political influence. I say Western power will stay out of this conflict while silently rooting for Ukraine independence. China seems to be taking a similar, less public approach (but likely rooting for Russia). Of course, nothing global will come around until it's forced to. No one wants a world war. But I don't see Ukraine coming out of this well regardless of the events of the next few weeks. Civil war if not Russian annexation. Either way, Poland has reason to be nervous (as they've been mobilizing their borders for the past couple hours - 19:04 EST) 



 

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#8
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I wouldn't correlate different historical events, they usually have 0 relations to each other.

 

While I can see Russia annexing Crimea or creating a puppet state, I highly highly doubt they'd invade Poland. They're in NATO, Ukraine is not.


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#9
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What is becoming more and more worrying to the West is, frankly, the loonies that have taken over power in Ukraine. Between all the rhetoric from Russia and the United States, very few people seem to have noticed (or even cared) that one of the most populous countries in Europe is currently being run by an undemocratically elected coalition of right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis.

 

The likelihood that such a coalition is: a) representative of the Ukrainian population; and b) going to solve the deep socioeconomic problems which caused so much poverty which contributed to the rioting that toppled the previous government?

 

Not bloody likely.

 

If you were in Crimea, and you saw yourself as a dual-national between the Ukraine and Russia, would you be that fussed about Russian troops milling around? I probably wouldn't be, given their circumstances.



#10
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Isn't it ironic that America always backs the "sovereign independent nation" in these conflicts but then continues to dip fingers in Venezuela, Guam, Puerto Rico, and other "territories"?

 

America does things in America's interests. Anyways even if Russia did invade Ukraine, so what. They are a country right next door thats falling apart politically and the population doesn't like you much. Abeit economically and militarily inferior its still justifies intervention, just ask yourself what do you think America would do if the Mexican government collapsed on itself. Probably completely the same reaction.



#11
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Umm, Ukrainian parliament is still the same. They are not loonies. It is the parliament that was elected (legality is still somewhat opaque) during the previous parliamentary elections.

The whole government is there only until parliamentary and presidentiary elections in May.

 

China has officially supported Russian action. At least that is what the news coverage over here has said.


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#12
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Xi Jinping said that he had confidence Putin could resolve the political situation by negotiation, and that he supports efforts to ease tensions. That's not really the same as saying "You should definitely start moving a load of tanks in there and start ICBM launch testing on the border of the Eurozone."
 
As for your denial that it's a government of loonies:

The far right has also achieved a major breakthrough in the government. Some commentators have warned that their level of representation in the new Ukrainian government is unparalleled in Europe. The xenophobic Svoboda party controls the posts of deputy prime minister, ministers of defence, ecology, agriculture and the prosecutor general's office. Andriy Parubiy, one of the founders of the Social-National Party of Ukraine and a former leader of its paramilitary youth organisation, who later joined the moderate Batkivshchyna party and efficiently commanded self-defence forces in Maidan, is now the head of the national security and defense council.

Nazist paramilitary commanders in charge of the entire armed forces? Oh, fantastic... I bet the Russian ethnics in Crimea feel much safer now.



#13
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Crimea leaves Ukraine and joins the Russian Federation ..


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#14
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Hmm, I thought China has decided not to support the Russians in this. Maybe they changed their mind, maybe I read that wrong.

 

I thought about it being like a prelude to WWIII at one point, but a couple big differences. The biggest is that it seems no one is actually obligated to protect Ukraine. WWII was partly opportunistic, but as I understand it the whole thing started snowballing because of the mess of treaties that existed at the time, which dragged a whole bunch of countries into the conflict.

 

The other difference is the whole global trading thing that's come about since WWII (like the internet and the global stock market). I think Russia is already hurting quite badly on the global market. There is a lot more leverage, particularly against the largest nations which have specialized their economies, to pressure them economically. It's not a fast process, but the realization that a country can't survive without trade relations should be able to keep everyone more or less in line in the long run.



#15
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Cold war 2 sure, WW3 nah.

 

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Cold War never really ended with the dissolution of the USSR. The ongoing proxy wars, the tension over missile shields, over the status quo of other countries and etc. are mere testament to von Neumann's MAD doctrine.

 

Looking back into the days of the Hetman, later on during the Swedish Invasion/Deluge, and fast-forward to the WW... it is clear that Ukraine is nothing more than a bargaining chip between Muscovy/Russia and most of Europe. However, I think that they are going to be better off under the Russia's sphere of influence. Suppose a crisis erupt in much of Europe, and they struggle perhaps in one way or another to extend protection, in terms of military, economy, society etc., who is best equipped in helping them? What are the rationale for both sides in supporting Ukraine? History is always a good-to-source, a good starting point when dealing with something like this, from our perspectives at least. What happened to Ukrainians and its culture the last time they sided with Russia? with the 'West'/PL Commonwealth/British alliance/etc.? The last time anyone wanted to be 'global police' failed horribly (I am looking at Russia in Europe in 19th century), today we have the US following down the same path with (arguably) no better result so far. Look at Afghanistan, the British tried that...so did the Soviets, by the looks of it the US and some of its allies are just following this well-trodden path. Crimea...well they tried in the 16th century (they did right?), they tried in the 19th century, and now?

 

I remembered people mentioning about NATO involvement in the conflict should it escalate last month. Realistically, that won't happen. It is simply too close to 'home', they need a buffer state in Ukraine, from Russia. Missile shield? - Well the threat of Russia to Europe is zero. But there is no incentive for either side to undergo any degree of disarmament. Hence the tension. 

 

One may ask 'why' then, why Russia decides to 'occupy' Crimea. To protect national interests - just like what the US did - except under more scrutiny from other countries - because it's a competition - the Cold War continued..going beyond the scenes of Ice Hockey and the chess tournaments. Historically, they made a mistake in giving Crimea to Ukraine, I guess they had no idea back in the 50s that USSR would breakup. But just like the US, they don't sit back when  these 'national interests' come under threat (the potential for Ukraine to join the EU, being a gateway to become a closer associate of NATO, putting Russia at a strategic disadvantage in their little game). Given what has happened in recent years, where military intervention has become commonplace in the name of counterterrorism or protection of subjects and interests, and the 'illegal' stature of some of these campaigns, e.g. Libya (UN resolution) and Serbia NATO bombing, it is not unreasonable for Russia to commit something similar...at least from their perspective - and I believe that was exactly the point they made. Fairly well justified. But of course, we know that 'protecting national interests' is just an euphemism for a range of political purposes. Wars are very powerful means to secure a dynasty of governance or even just to get re-elected...nationalism is key. Leaders are very well justified in exploiting this 'weakness' if it will help their causes or that of their allies. But if countries may not wage a war without some sort of congress declaration then how else will they be able to do so without incurring excessive resistance from within their own countries? Ukraine opposition staged a revolution, following the rejection of the EU proposal. Are all revolution against 'oppressive' regimes desirable, and in the interests of the people? Based on various other revolutions, it is not necessarily the case.

 

WW3 is unlikely - at least not in the current Crimea/Ukraine situation. Countries have far more to lose in such conflict than there is to gain. Especially when 'they' have made such a mess in other parts of the world from their campaigns..can they really afford to start this? The world has evolved too much since 1945, especially with all the Internet, the surveillance (setting fire to the Internet...), the globalisation movement, the trades, organisations like EU, APEC, ASEAN and etc, improved living standards, living conditions, choices, and more vocal inputs and opinions from people in general, and of course, the media...it is not just the matter of starting a war (a world war) over something like this...it is about the livelihood of the billions of people that may be affected by it...the ramification is huge, and they simply cannot afford to do so. I can see them driving it along the lines of patriotism or nationalism, enforcing conscription perhaps? It is human nature, they don't support things that could put themselves at a disadvantage, let alone be part of it.

 

Defend the status quo.

 

(edited)


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#17
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Thought I'd wander by and mention that I made a total goof in my last post. It was pointed out to me that Europe imports a considerable amount of natural gas from Russia, more than I thought they did. That would make sanctions somewhat tricky. I also neglected to mention, or remember long enough to consider, that the American nuclear sector is somewhat reliant on nuclear disarmament, since uranium from disarmed Russian nuclear weapons makes up a substantial portion of the nuclear material used to fuel American nuclear power plants. If memory serves, this is a deal that needs to be renewed in the next couple years, which would make cutting diplomatic ties somewhat problematic on this side of the Atlantic as well.



#18
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WW3 is unlikely - at least not in the current Crimea/Ukraine situation. Countries have far more to lose in such conflict than there is to gain. Especially when 'they' have made such a mess in other parts of the world from their campaigns..can they really afford to start this? The world has evolved too much since 1945, especially with all the Internet, the surveillance (setting fire to the Internet...), the globalisation movement, the trades, organisations like EU, APEC, ASEAN and etc, improved living standards, living conditions, choices, and more vocal inputs and opinions from people in general, and of course, the media...it is not just the matter of starting a war (a world war) over something like this...it is about the livelihood of the billions of people that may be affected by it...the ramification is huge, and they simply cannot afford to do so. I can see them driving it along the lines of patriotism or nationalism, enforcing conscription perhaps? It is human nature, they don't support things that could put themselves at a disadvantage, let alone be part of it.

 

Defend the status quo.

 

(edited)

 

Sure the world has evolved, but that just changes the nature of war. WWII was easily defined by WWI, through the allies in treaties and motivation. This 'war', as you mentioned is a remnant of the Cold War which is a remnant of the Vietnam War, which is a remnant of the Korean War, which is a remnant of dropping nukes on Japan. WWIII in my eyes could easily be sparked by this power grab from Russia, seeing as it is the only country that can come close to a toe-to-toe match up with the American military. I feel like this is Russia calling out America for all its BS about sovereign nation protection.  



 

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#19
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Ultimately, wars come down to money, like most things in diplomacy.

It's in neither Russian or US interests to go to war, especially when (no offence to the Ukraine) the stakes are so low.

What happened with WWII was a sudden and uncontrollable escalation of diplomatic tension, after years of passively hoping Hitler would do as he's told and shifting the goalposts every time he didn't, following Germany's decision to occupy Belgium.

That isn't happening here.

#20
jasignhagj
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jasignhagj

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Russians are in Eastern Ukraine now. If no one starts shooting soon Putin might just get away with this with few consequences.






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