So Vlad sees the collapse of Ukraine -- by Ukrainian incompetence -- as his victory and he sees Crimea's vote as vindication for Russia and all things Moscow instead of a matter of Hobson's Choice. Vlad the Vanquisher likes to lord it over the Americans -- and John McCain and others like to do the same (i,e, "Obama makes America look weak"). But the facts portray a very different story, a distance from the political agendas of tough guys.
Old Cold Warriors like McCain, without a policy solution in their arsenal, may think Obama makes America look weak but Bush and his Republicans made America look stupid.
Like Vietnam, Bush squandered $3 trillion in cold war skirmishes (Afghanistan and Iraq) to arrest the so-called "domino effect" without success. The idea of legacy armies in full battle dress attacking ghost-like terrorists and guerrillas went out decades ago but McCain must have missed that newscast.
Crimea is a pity, and likely victimized by Moscow pressure, but the reality is that Ukraine is a failed state without a government, a constitution that can be enforced, an army that can be called upon to defend its people or an economy. If I lived in Crimea I'd vote for the devil I know (Moscow) rather than the devils to come (Kiev). Besides that, Crimeans live off Russia already and its military base, facilities and indirect employment as a result. To boot, they are ethnically Russians.
Crimea was an afterthought bone tossed into Ukraine in 1954 that has never assimilated and always been controlled by Moscow as a result of its military operations there, both economically and politically
My guess is that during that walk in the garden in London, Russia and America's foreign ministers basically had a conversation that went like this:
Russian: You know we're going to crow and brag and gloat about this because it's really neat and has fallen in our laps. And you know we're going to continue to destabilize eastern Ukraine too in order to get that piece of property which is really very very Russian.
America's John Kerry: I know, I know but you know we have to raise a rumpus and impose sanctions but we will give plenty of notice about those sanctions so that your companies and oligarchs won't be crippled and so we can still look like we're not completely laying down over this. The problem is the Germans who want to look like they are a superpower but don't want to behave like one by upsetting those gas and export shipments from and to Russia. Oh, and tell Vlad we have to kick him out of the G8 -- but only for a year or so -- to provide the optics of isolation.
That's my guess. There was ample notice given to the Russians to move assets out from under sanction damage and -- best of all -- the missing Malaysian airplane is grabbing global mindshare away from the Ukrainian standoff.
Next segment in this Ukraine reality show will be the May 21 election. The outcome is totally predictable whether the process is fair or not. The east-west divide in the country will fall politically where it does ethnically and the stage will be set for another referendum in eastern Ukraine to leave Kiev's hegemony and join Russia's or become "independent".
At the end of the day, the breakup of Ukraine has little to do with Russia or with Washington. The Ukrainians have never gotten their act together, for whatever reason, and frankly at this point in time don't deserve anyone's loyalty, Ukrainian or Russian or Crimean.
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