Staunton, November 26 – Moscow has violated not only international law but its own treaties with Ukraine by forcibly seizing Ukrainian vessels in international waters and wounding several Ukrainian sailors in the process. If any other country had engaged in such actions, the reaction of the international community would have been swift and overwhelming.
But Russia may yet escape anything beyond another slap of the wrist for three reasons: First, it has nuclear weapons which seems to mean it never has to say it is sorry; second, its propaganda efforts by agents at home and abroad will muddy the waters; and third, Western leaders today, to use Churchill’s turn of phrase, seem “resolved to be irresolute.”
That makes the judgments of Russian commentators on the Internet especially important. The Kasparov portal this morning has assembled 12 of their comments overnight. They capture both the criminal nature of Vladimir Putin’s latest act of aggression and the horror that has inspired among people of good will (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BFBAEC84519F).
· Idor Eidman says that the Putin regime has delivered “a new portion of war” because “war is the Viagra for the aging Putin regime.” Its ratings are falling and the share of Russians who blame it for the problems of Russia is growing. To distract attention, “today the Kremlin organized a dangerous provocation against the Ukrainian navy in the Kerch straits … a new military adventure against Ukrainians.”
· Viktor Shenderovich recalls that in February 2014 on the day of the opening of the Sochi Olympics, he recalled Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland following the success of the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It is truly frightening, he continues, to think what year from Hitler’s time, the Putin regime has now brought Russia and the world to.
· Olga Kortunova suggests that Putin may have engaged in this act of aggression to make himself look tough in advance of his meeting with US President Donald Trump in Argentina. The Kremlin leader “likes the role of universal outcast,” because then the way in which others respond to him shows that such a role works to his advantage.
· Sergey Agores says that Russian charges of a Ukrainian provocation in the Sea of Azov are equivalent to suggestions that a lonely traveler “provokes” a robber or a beautiful girl “provokes a sexual maniac” or that “a peaceful man by his very life provokes a bandit.”
· The Bell Daily telegram channel asks what has Putin achieved? The answer is Ukraine’s decision to go to a full military posture and the international community’s decision to convene a session on the crisis at the UN Security Council.
· Aleksey Chelmakin says that Putin’s aggression in the Kerch Straits can generate nothing except shame because once again the Kremlin leader has shown that he sees himself fighting the US.
· The telegram channel Protests in the World says that the FSB and Moscow generally have offered no evidence that there was any “’provocation’” by Ukraine.
· Aleksey Shiropayev suggests that Putin is simply following the logic of all regimes like is: “when the popularity of the leader falls and the people are impoverished, it is necessary to decisively flex your steel muscles on the foreign policy front … In principle there is nothing new. But there is one qualitatively new moment noted by many: for the first time, Russian forces have openly under their own flag acted against Ukraine.”
· Yury Khristenzen simply quotes the 2003 agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the Sea of Azov that Moscow has now violated.
· Karina Kokrell-Fere says that by this action Putin is showing that “he understands that the road now for him (and for others) leads only to Paradise.”
· Roman Popkov says that Moscow’s disinformation campaign has gone into high gear in a transparent attempt to shift responsibility from Moscow onto Kyiv.
· Svetlana Gavrilina says there is no good news coming from the Sea of Azov. She could easily add, in the view of the author of these lines, that there hasn’t been the kind of news from elsewhere that could give much hope that Putin will finally be punished as the international criminal he is.