US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Paris next week to talk about a negotiated settlement in the Ukraine, even as some 60,000 Russian troops mass on the eastern Ukrainian border.
An optimal negotiated settlement, in my view, would be approximately as follows:
- Voting in May determines a federal structure for the country;
- West and Russia let portions that want to join EU join; NATO membership not an option;
- Russia is assured it can keep its navel bases in the Crimea (they already had them); while a second plebescite if necessary validates the Crimea returning to Russia; all such voting needs to be internationally monitored and squeaky clean;
- Russia provides as close to an apology as possible to the Ukraine for its invasion of the Crimea, accompanied by a large chunk of the IMF money that has flowed to it in aid to the federated Ukraine.
Should Putin invade eastern Ukraine before May as many expect, NATO will surely arm the Ukrainian forces, which can be described as rag-tag (Vice News has great video reporting from the Ukraine). This war would be pathetic in the extreme. NATO could send in drones, no boots on the ground. The Ukraine would be torn up for a generation. There would be further losses to Western banks, who have just coughed up a bundle to keep the gas flowing, and who, through London, have a huge interest in seeing the Russian and Ukrainian plutocrats stay whole. So I can only imagine that the banks are doing their best to sweet talk both sides into playing nice.
When the bankers don't want war, it's not likely to happen. When it does, the bankers generally try to line up on the side that will win. If the hawks in the West push for war and get it, Russia might collapse, and another Russian revolution might easily be the result--the Western banks can't count on a stooge like Boris Yeltsin this time to let them come in and loot. Anyway, the Russian plutocrats already have their positions, are being serviced by the London banks, and would probably be happy to run the country as regional war lords. If the West can turn the Russian plutocrats against Putin by telling them what a sweet deal they could have if Russia fell to the West, then Putin might find himself odd man out. I wonder if the Russian plutocrats still in the country can leave if they want to.
Would the plutocrats trust the Western banks and the CIA? Well, they did pretty well working with them 23 years ago.... But can Russians ever make democracy work, or do they need an authoritarian Father figure? The neo-cons might not care, so long as they weaken Russia for another generation.
Who or what would come after Putin? That is the question.