danalwyn: (Default)
As befits the actual nature of the situation, it's now been several weeks and there's been no sign of war in Ukraine. In fact, things have gotten a little calmer, with the Russians deciding to withdraw a battalion of the 15th Motor Rifle brigade back to its home base.

The BBC article and every analyst in the world will tell you that this doesn't mean much. The Russians have about 40,000 troops surrounding Ukraine, and the withdrawal of the 500 or so troops in a motor rifle battalion isn't going to seriously affect the balance of combat power. It could just be that this was a group that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and hence got roped into standing guard while only half-ready for war. It could be just a standard bureaucratic shuffle given significance only by coincidence.

But it adds strength to the narrative - the threat of war is over. At least in Ukraine the standoff is getting less and less tense. Despite a lot of posturing, Crimea was an easy sell, and a place Russia already controlled. The early idea of a Russian army marching lengthwise across Ukraine, laying waste to the countryside and returning the country to Soviet rule, just hasn't been panning out. Nobody seems to want WWIII today. Of course the pundits will spin it all sorts of different ways, US strength, European weakness, Russian weakness, whatever, but the truth is probably closer to inertia. It takes a lot of effort to rock the boat in this day and age - and the Russians don't seem to want to expend that effort. Neither does anyone else. Easier to pretend it never happened.

Don't worry though, I'm sure the Koreans or the Nigerians will soon provide a new place for those who missed out on their war to be all worried about.
danalwyn: (Default)
So I have to admit, I didn't get Crimea right. I was betting on an independent quasi-Abkhazia in place of Crimea, a sort of Russian puppet state, not outright annexation. Annexation is a dangerous step, since it's the first outright annexation of a major territory by a larger country that I can remember since India and Sikkim, and with even less justification. It was peaceful at least, which means that things weren't terrible but it doesn't exactly set a good precedent for an uncertain future.

Not that this is necessarily bad for the West, or even for Ukraine, but it's certainly not a good thing. A return to land-grabbing power politics could make the next few years very interesting for Central Asia, where the borders aren't very clear, although in the end it probably sows the seeds of people's destruction. It's just not going to make this next year any more comfortable.
danalwyn: (Default)
Apparently I'm in a Really, Really weird mood )

Sigh. I don't even know what I was trying to say, but I said it, and the world is probably poorer for the experience. It doesn't deserve me being grumpy at it tonight. I'll try and make it a better world ... tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't curse me in turn by making the Ukraine interesting again.
danalwyn: (Default)
Within twenty-four hours there may be a war in the Ukraine. Or there may not. It's hard to tell. At this point, most speculation is trash, and will rapidly become unhinged by events. What I have noticed is that, at least among the commentators I read, there is a fairly narrow window of possibilities to the only question that matters: How will this all end?

The Road We Might Take )

That being said, nobody really knows what's happening next. The current bet seems to be on some level of unpleasant, realpolitik sanity prevailing, but really? Sanity has usually been the first thing to go in these affairs, so hang onto your hats and don't trust in it too much. But still, so far Russia tries to keep things under control, so don't prepare for the end of the world quite yet.
danalwyn: (Default)
So how can I distract my mind from the horrific problems of my comfortable, pampered, upper-middle-class existence? By reading about the misfortunes of others, or course! And seeing how everything else seems to be blowing up around us this week, it's pretty easy to find something else to get all depressed over.

And the news, it is depressing )
danalwyn: (Default)
There are a lot of things I should be writing about. I'm not writing about any of them now.

Instead, courtesy of Tyler Cowen, I bring you one of the most WTF-inducing sentences to ever start a news article:


A German student created a major traffic jam in Bavaria after making a rude gesture at a group of Hell's Angels motorcycle gang members, hurling a puppy at them and then escaping on a stolen bulldozer.


There is no conceivable universe I can think of where this makes any amount of sense whatsoever, yet it continues to sit there in factual smugness. Is it June Fool's Day in Bavaria or something?

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