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July 18, 2014

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Does the Ukrainians have money?

No? (And I do mean daylit money, not all the spy stuff)

Then the Ukrainians were always going to lose. Same as the militarist Egyptians, and all the other loser regimes that depend on the generosity of other states.

I don't think you can negotiate or fight your way around it, and I think that Putin's general thrust is to simply keep the Ukraine's sovereignty in doubt until the West is tired of propping them up.

Sure, economic sanctions can weaken the Russian state economically, but there is no long term gain here, because Russia is too important to the economic fortunes of others, and much less intimidatable than the average third world country. There will always be more opportunities to poke back eg Snowden.

Lastly, I think this process of sanction ratcheting is playing itself out as a meaningful tactic because these tactic erode trust in international financial architecture and increase motives for creating inefficient versions. Comparable attitude by the NSA and it's collection habits leading to fracturing of the web.

#2 is dead on, and my feeling is that Putin's put to much into this now to back down in any obvious way. He has ways of doubling down that don't require going in full guns ablazin'. To some extent, that's why things got as far as the shoot-down in the first place.

Also, not to detract from the fascinating events in far-eastern Europe, but what's your take on Argentina?

There are two propaganda wars going on here. One is for the hearts and minds of those who were either pro kiev or neutral. The second was for those who are supporting the rebels.

Kiev has been winning with the first and MH17 certainly drove home a lot.

The second is interesting. The DNR has NOT been covering itself with glory and a lot of folks who /were/ supportive are no longer based on their behavior. The second part is, especially in the LNR but also in the DNR, there is a lot of fatalistic despair: "We have our republic, but what has it brought us? Misery? Starvation? This is not worth it!"

Now whether or not this turns into something past that either through Kiev doing a Lincoln or blowing it through anger and whatnot, that remains to be seen.

For the latter, it may be we see a Catalan or worse. Or an emigration of those sympathetic to Russia and a possible revanchist streak later. Or it might be Kiev does play this right and patiently rebuilds and does not attempt to clobber the Donbass.

It seems to me that the rebels' shortcomings have given Kiev a golden opportunity. Eastern Ukraine is not French Algeria; there isn't a century of horrible discrimination and abuse to overcome.

I don't think Poroshenko has to be Lincoln to win this one; he just has to avoid being Sherman. Which is going to be hard if the Russians are giving the rebels as much aid as it seems.

When I meant Lincoln, I was thinking of the end of his second inaugural address:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Its after the Ukrainian army takes town, how UAF behaves and how Ukraine acts which will be the most important.

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