A Trump-Putin deal on Crimea could trigger a much bigger war, Israeli analyst says

A view of the Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea occupied by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru)

A view of the Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea occupied by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru) 

2017/01/04 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

President of Israel's Institute for Eastern Partnership Rabbi Avraam Shmulyevich

President of Israel’s Institute for Eastern Partnership Rabbi Avraam Shmulyevich

Avraam Shmulyevich, a leading Israeli specialist on ethnic issues in the former Soviet space, says that Kyiv might be forced to agree to a Trump-Putin deal on Crimea but that such a deal would “only convince the Russian dictator that he can invade other countries without being punished” and thus lead him to launch new wars.

“Putin himself has acknowledged,” the head of the Israeli Institute for an Eastern Partnership told Kseniya Kirillova in an interview published today by Radio Liberty, “that the Syrian war is a training ground for his army and that the state of his army has really improved.”

The Kremlin leader is “evidently preparing his country for war” in order, among other things, to preserve his own power by launching aggression abroad. The rest of Ukraine is less likely to be in his sights than the Baltic countries, Poland, or “some countries in the South Caucasus such as Azerbaijan.”

And in the current environment, Shmulyevich says, it is possible that Putin will reach an agreement with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan “about the participation of the Middle East or a dash into Central Asia,” a region Ankara has long coveted and one that Moscow would like to rebuild its power in.

With regard to a settlement on Crimea, he continues, “the return of Crimea is even more important for some representatives of the West than it is for the ruling Ukrainian elite.” That is because Kyiv wants to end the conflict as soon as possible, while some in the West want to maintain the principle of the inviolability of international borders by force alone.

That commitment explains the recent UN General Assembly resolution on Crimea, but Shmulyevich says,

“it is important to understand that for the majority of the Western establishment, returning Crimea to Ukraine is not as important as simply finding a way to resolve it in a legal fashion.”

Putin clearly understand this, the Israeli analyst argues, and that explains why he bases his actions on what he says was Khrushchev’s illegal transfer of Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR and on the fact that the Budapest Memorandum is null and void because none of its signatories has lived up to its provisions.

Putin’s people are also arguing that “the Helsinki Accords fixed inter-state and not intra-state borders, and that the state which signed them was not Russia or Ukraine but the Soviet Union.” Indeed, they point out, the only high-level international agreement both Russia and Ukraine have signed was the one creating the UN.

But from the point of view of Ukraine and the West, that too is a legal argument that undermines their case, Putin thinks, according to Shmulyevich. That is because when the Ukrainian SSR signed the UN treaty, it did not have Crimea within its borders, something other UN members may take note of.

What is thus likely to happen, he says, is a willingness in Kyiv to accept a deal if it formally keeps Crimea as part of Ukraine even if it does nothing to end Russian occupation, an arrangement unlikely to spark massive protests by Ukrainians given their reluctance so far even to declare war on Russia following Russia’s invasion and seizure of their territory.

In exchange, if such a deal were to be arranged, Russia would fulfill the Minsk agreements, returning the Donbas de jure but in fact retaining control there through the pro-Russian separatists on the ground who “redressed in Ukrainian uniforms” and with power remaining “in the hands of the local oligarchs.”

That would be a tragedy for Ukraine, Shmulyevich says; but a far greater tragedy would likely emerge from how Putin would read such a deal, as an indication that the West is not ready to stand up to him and that he can engage in more aggression with impunity.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Turtler

    It would certainly fit the previous pattern. Appeasement- or God forbid cooperation- with Putin tends to result in it. Obama’s appeasement of Putin after the invasion of Georgia helped lead to the Ukrainian War, which is much bloodier and larger than the invasion of 2008. So the pattern sadly fits.

    And as someone who got out the vote for Trump that is something I am going to have to resist.in the coming days. Made worse because of his ties with them. Time to dig in and prepare to fight if that’s what is going to be attempted….

    • WisconsinUSA

      I am sorry to hear that you got out the vote for Trump. What were your motives?

      • Ratzshite Crustyguy

        really what choice was there for Turtler; vote for the corporate slave or the ego slave. The guy who should of won Deez Nuts was not given a fair shake

        • WisconsinUSA

          deez nuts are in his cabinet now.

          • Turtler

            Still far less nutty than the rest.

          • WisconsinUSA

            so you like alex jones ?

          • Turtler

            Not really. He’s an expert troll and somewhat amusing, but he peddles utter nonsense (for instance, read about the bit about “False Flag Operations” on Infowars.

            As a Christian, I can safely say that the Great Fire of Rome was not a false flag op by Nero to blame Christians Christians were already outlawed throughout the empire on pain of death, Nero had scant reason to do it, and fires in ancient Rome were staggeringly common. To just give you one example).

            And above all, I don’t trust him in the least.

          • WisconsinUSA

            some of his favorite guests are in trumps administration. in fact even trump himself has been on his shows.

          • Turtler

            I am aware.

            To be honest, I don’t care. No matter how bad Alex Jones is, Jeremiah Wright is worse, and no matter how bad Wright is Bill Ayers is blood-on-his-hands worse.

            If Trump begins pogroms aimed at lizard men I will get my guns and fight, but until then I honestly do not care.

        • Turtler

          “really what choice was there for Turtler; vote for the corporate

          slave or the ego slave.”

          I frankly wasn’t even factoring in the “corporate” or “ego” issue. If anybody on the planet thinks that either person was not a massive, screaming egomaniac with a long history of wheeling and dealing with corporates, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

          My issue was with the rest.

      • Turtler

        Two words: Hillary Clinton. In short, she was probably the closest thing to a truly evil politician in domestic politics that I’ve seen in my lifetime. Between Benghazi, one of the worst intel leaks in a while, and the like I would have supported Sanders over her.

        • WisconsinUSA

          i used to think that way too until i finally woke up and started developing my own opinion instead of buying into all the fake news around the lady.

          • Turtler

            Ah, fake news . You fake news like how the attack on Kent State was by gunfire?

            The fact is by even a rudimentary reading of the Criminal Code and the findings of the investigation (as sworn by Comey under oath) Hillary Clinton is guilty of several crimes.

            Case in point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xNLLcS2Yx8

            Did the sources you went to form your opinion give you any refutations for those?

            (And the for the record, I am well aware that even for a truly dispicable person, Hillary Clinton has been smeared and libeled. which is why I have enerally discounted much of it. I don’t believe in the “Clinton Death List”, I don’t believe she has had anybody murdered, and to this DAY I still debate Milosevic apologists who blame Clinton for their idol’s crimes in the Yugoslav Wars.

            But that doesn’t mean that I am blind. And taking even the most minimalist, favorable impression of her conduct it makes her illegal. And frankly I was fairly well disposed to her until Benghazi, which may not have been illegal like the server, but which was still morally repugnant and indefensible.)

          • WisconsinUSA

            more fake news. the attack in benghazi started and finished in 42 minutes. but you expected clinton to move heaven and earth to save stevens. yeah right.

          • Turtler

            “more fake news. the attack in benghazi started and finished in 42
            minutes”

            No actually, the attack on Benghazi was a multi stage operation that began days before the final storming. In particular, there were several bomb attacks meant to destroy the perimeter walls in order to enable the storming.

            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/02/u-s-consulate-in-benghazi-bombed-twice-in-run-up-to-9-11-anniversary.html

            (Is the Daily Beast somehow “Right Wing conspiracy Theory” now?)

            This was well known, it was obvious the Benghazi Consulate was being targeted for attack, for weeks, and nobody took steps to counter it.

            “. but you expected clinton to move heaven and earth to save
            stevens. yeah right.”

            Yes, I do. But at minimum, I would expect her not to impede THE EFFORTS ALREADY BEING MADE to do so, as the White House Did when it ordered the Foreign Emergency Support Team to stand down..

            And I would ESPECIALLY expect them to provide Actual Fake News about the nature of the attack (which would have been a terrorist one even if it was about a youtube video, which it was not).

            See this:

            https://youtu.be/dKsiDV1LuJA

            Can you refute anything in it, or claim any bit of it is false?

          • WisconsinUSA

            more fake news you have their turtle. google “vanity fair magazine benghazi attack “. now i know how you could vote for trump. their was no “storming”. they just drove up to the gate.

          • Turtler

            “more fake news you have their turtle. google “vanity fair magazine
            benghazi attack ”

            A: Why the heck do I have to do the work you can do?

            and

            B: Notably, the article covers a very different perspective from those of the main compound defenders, specifically Woods, Dohrety, and Stevens (who all got killed, in part because they were under attack for much, much longer).

            The idea that it lasted only fortysome minutes is flatly contradicted by every single source that has closely studied the issue, including the book you yourself used. This is regardless of political affiliation or opinion.

            I suppose CNN is also biased?

            http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/06/politics/benghazi-attack-timeline/

            Sorry, but no. That isn’t how it works. At all.

            ” now i know how you could vote for trump.”

            Translation: you can’t actually refute anything Bill Whittle (or the generally left leaning FactCheck.org, or CNN) typed. You are just going to try and dismiss the entire thing out of hand.

            It doesn’t work.

            It will never work.

            You’ve been caught peddling fake news by absolutely anybody’s definition.

            “their was no “storming”. they just drove up to the gate.”

            What do you think storming is mate?

            A contested entry. Which is ultimately what happened.

            Again, fercripesake, do actual research.

            Don’t get your entire freaking understanding of the situation from a Vanity Fair article about several people rather disconnected from the main battle.

    • Mykola Banderachuk

      actually, it was the alliance signed between Hitler and Stalin that triggered World War Two, a Nazi and Russian communist collaboration to divide Europe.

      • Turtler

        Certainly it was, but Germany’s militarists (even before the NSDAP) and the Soviets had been allied for a while. The Rapallo treaties show that. But if the reich had started a world war in-say- 1934 it probably would have been over quite early.

        Appeasement is what gave Hitler strength.

      • WisconsinUSA

        this alliance happened after munich.

        • Turtler

          Molotov-Ribbentrop happened after Munich.

          The actual alliance was significantly older.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Rapallo_(1922)

          We know the German military under von Seeckt (who was in office from 1919 to 1926) went as to field test war games in which the Soviets and German military would be fighting as allies against the West. The alliance with the Soviets gave the Reichswehr the power and ability to basically disregard the compromise it made with the Republic and work to undermine it.

    • WisconsinUSA

      obama stepped into the oval office jan. 2009 . the attack on georgia happened when in 2008 ? the nation will regret the election of trump. the only good thing may be that the dems and repugs work together to shut him down.

      • Turtler

        “obama stepped into the oval office jan. 2009 . the attack on georgia
        happened when in 2008 ? ”

        Which was when Obama was a Senator well into the Presidential campaign of 2008, which would elect him. And saw Obama making several claims that Bush had alienated Putin the same vein of his other foreign policy criticisms of Bush. And in particular, he used it to hammer McCain (who is and always has been a Russia Hawk) during it.

        And when he was sworn in, he fulfilled those campaign promises by “detente”- or should I say reset?- with Putin over matters from Georgia to the Central European missile shields and we all see how Putin took that.

        So let’s not pretend that Obama’s history didn’t start until he was POTUS.

        “the nation will regret the election of trump. ”

        Perhaps.

        But it would have regretted the election of a felon legally incapable of holding Federal office even more.

        “the only good thing may be that the dems and repugs work together to
        shut him down.”

        Frankly, I doubt it.

        • WisconsinUSA

          “but it would have regretted the election of a felon legally incapable of holding federal office even more “. WTF are you talking about ?

          yes, obama really screwed up missile shield and his whole reset fantasy.

          lenin said ” push the bayonet in. if it is still soft keep pushing in . when you hit steel stop.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/40729524aa8560ba3116fee0c9d43e78c0eff985513e440e22a1f42a087e5aba.jpg

          • Turtler

            Same, and that’s why I am getting my guns ready for Trump. Just because I supported him does not mean I am (*quite that*) Naive. The butt kissings he has given the Polonium Psychopath and various other tyrants like Assad and Hussein have been all too public. So i think the threat of him going easy on Putin in the hopes of his own reset are very real.

            That’s why I’m digging in and preparing to fight it out if he does make that move. The world has already suffered a thousand bloody gashes from where the Kremlin’s bayonets have struck mush and flesh in the centuries before.

            I oppose any attempt to give them another opening, whether Leftist, Rightist, or Centrist.

          • WisconsinUSA

            i will be on the ramparts with you brother ! amen.

      • slavko

        August 2008 Russia invaded Georgia and annexed territory. It was George Bush’s watch. Remember how he had looked into Putin’s eyes and seen his soul? Bush must be the dumbest motha of a president ever! Along with his fake proof of WMD in Iraq. Obama had nothing to do with those fiascoes!

        • WisconsinUSA

          exactly sir.exactly.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Not only Obama. Don’t forget the despicable role played by Merkel and her sidekick Sarkozy. Merkel is still playing her role, this time with Hollande as her henchman.

      • Turtler

        Indeed.

        That said, I honestly think Merkel, Sarkozy, and Obama all get drowned out compared to *Schroeder.*

        Maybe not in terms of power and overall effect, but in sheer, paste headed degree of sickening collaboration.

        • WisconsinUSA

          how about berlasconi ?

          • Turtler

            Bung-Bunga is a buffoon, and not someone I like. Though I do think he is a significantly better person than many give him credit for (absolute sleaze? Yes. Slimy? Definitely. Deserving of his prison sentences? Yes. Evil though? Not so much). I do figure he is significantly better than-say- Grillo.

            Unfortunately, Italian politics as a whole is significantly more Russophile than most of Europe. Whether Left, Right, or Center. In part because Italy does a fair bit of business with it. Euromaidan Press has dealt with it.

            http://euromaidanpress.com/2016/07/20/italy-continues-supplying-russia-with-arms/

            Naturally, I will oppose ties with Russia, but I don’t expect a single election will turn it around in there. Especially since Italian politics is rather corrupt and Putin’s government is very good at corrupting.

  • Mephisto

    I am sorry, Ukraine, but Putin will never return Crimea. Until his fascist euroasian regime falls, there is no chance.

    • Hoping for Peace

      Why does Russia need Crimea to have access to the Black Sea? Russia has lots of coastline on the Black Sea. I’m sure one of the towns could be built up and a naval base established at one or more of them. – Just because they have had access to Sevastopol for many years, it meant they had no need to establish a naval base elsewhere, not that they had nowhere to have one.

      • Ratzshite Crustyguy

        if this is about the black sea you’d think Russia would rather have Turkey than Crimea

        • zorbatheturk

          There are about 140 million Turkic peoples stretched from Bulgaria to Kazakhstan to China. Maybe 120 million ethnic Russians in the RF. Turkey also has the largest armed forces in NATO except for the US. Putin needs Turkey. Turkey doesn’t really need RuSSia. Putin better not make any more enemies in the region.

    • Quartermaster

      Russia was building a new Naval Base on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Russia has no need for Crimea in that respect.

    • veth

      They have already 2 big ports on the Black Sea, without Crimea.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Novorossiisk is certainly a big port, but Tuapse isn’t. Which other port are you referring to?

    • Turtler

      “I am sorry, Ukraine, but Putin will never return Crimea.”

      He doesn’t need to.

      “I suspect “Realpolitik” will come and the US as well as
      the EU will concede to Russia.”

      Even in that worst case scenario, it can be undone. Heck, it wasn’t until midway through WWII that the British and French denounced Munich, but when they did it ensured the Sudetenland would be Czech.

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      Russia already has Novorossiesjk and the Eastern shores of the Black Sea. Russia did not, does not and will never need the Crimea military speaking. Because military speaking indefensible if Russia does not own Ukraine. One successful (cruise) missile and no more Kerch Strait bridge and the Crimea would starve to death in a few monts. It is about something totally different…

  • Czech Mate

    If pushed to such a “deal” Ukraine leadership should not blink and “promise” everything to Trumpovich knowing he too puts his country first. Quite simply don’t be too queazy to strike “deals” with scumbags whether they’re ruSSki or American.

    Ukrainians have sacrificed too much to be too stupid now.

    • Turtler

      Agreed absolutely.

      I sided with the way I did because I am ultimately an American patriot first. As much as I utterly despise Clinton and believe people were mistaken, I cannot fault Ukrainian patriots for not trusting him.

      And I also will not fault Ukrainians for being skeptical until he renounces a sellout with Putin. We both have our nations to look for.

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin is smoking the same stuff that Hitler did.

  • anonymous

    All this deal on … talk about Putin is absurd speculation. No leader is talking with Putin about some deal and Putin is not talking with leaders about such a deal. This talk is journalism talk, not politicians talking. Such speculation is absurd until some politician talks such a deal and there is no such politician. Why we have this constant flow of Putin deal talk from journalists, I cannot understand.