Sometimes history develops such a velocity that the news provokes people to prophesy and curses, one sort of escape or another from the story. Many of the top opinion makers in American culture speak and write as if they believe history is over with, decided (in favor of US), and that the only movement that matters now is the ceaseless development of technology, with science in the rumble seat.
But stubborn old history continues in places like the Ukraine.
The Ukraine is the center of a great deal of the present conflict between Russia and the US. Here are a few articles culled from the internet that might help some find a broader perspective about threatening events in a region that has been dangerous since it was the home of the Scythians. -- blj
Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine
Correction: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly reported that the Trump administration had approved the first-ever commercial sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It stated that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had publicly supported arms sales to Ukraine; Mattis did not explicitly do so. This post has been updated.
The Trump administration has approved the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014. The move was heavily supported by top Trump national security Cabinet officials and Congress but may complicate President Trump’s stated ambition to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces. There has been no approval to export the heavier weapons the Ukrainian government is asking for, such as Javelin antitank missiles.
Congress authorized such sales in 2014 in the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, but the Obama administration never authorized large commercial or government sales, a move widely seen as a de facto decision not to provide lethal weapons to the Ukraine military. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who co-sponsored the law, praised the Trump administration’s move.
“I’m pleased the administration approved the sale of defensive lethal arms to Ukraine,” Corker told me. “This decision was supported by Congress in legislation that became law three years ago and reflects our country’s longstanding commitment to Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.”
A State Department spokesperson, speaking on background, said that although the United States has now licensed the commercial export of lethal weapons to Ukraine, the U.S. government has not sold or given weapons directly to Ukraine. There’s never been any official policy on such sales one way or another, the spokesperson said, adding that this license was granted on a case-by-case basis. There were licenses granted for small commercial sales of small arms to Ukraine before this year
Another senior Trump administration official said that Trump personally approved the decision to allow the issuing of the license after being presented a decision memo by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. While there was never a formal ban on such weapons transfers, the decision was discussed internally as a lifting of the de facto Obama administration restrictions, the official said.
As I reported in October, the decision over whether to allow lethal arms sales to Ukraine had been sitting on Trump’s desk for months. The National Security Council’s Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet members, met months ago and provided several options to the president.
Experts and officials said Trump’s chosen option was measured; he didn’t approve everything the Ukrainians asked for but nonetheless crossed the line of approving lethal sales, a significant shift in his administration’s approach and U.S. policy overall.
“We have crossed the Rubicon, this is lethal weapons and I predict more will be coming,” said one senior congressional official. It’s likely no mere coincidence that Canada also approved lethal defense sales to Ukraine this week, which would happen only if the Canadian government knew the United States was on board, the official said.
The Trump administration notified leading congressional committees of the sale on Dec. 13 but didn’t make any public announcements, which some say reflects the sensitivity of the decision and concern about how it will be received by Trump supporters who long opposed the move, as well as by Putin.
“The way it was not rolled out tells you something, that they are concerned about the perception of this. They are not trumpeting this as a major policy shift or signature policy priority,” said Samuel Charap, senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation.
The administration’s strategy of approving very limited arms sales is akin to a “Goldilocks” approach, he said, because it attempts to satisfy advocates while not sparking negative reaction by those who fear such a move could risk escalating the crisis.
One senior administration official who previously warned of this very risk is Fiona Hill, now the senior National Security Council director for Russia. She argued in a 2015 Post op-ed that if the United States arms Ukraine, “the Ukrainians won’t be the only ones caught in an escalating military conflict with Russia.”
It’s unclear whether Hill still holds that view, but other top Trump officials have been clear they support sending lethal arms to Ukraine. Mattis said in Kiev in August that “defensive weapons are not provocative unless you are an aggressor, and clearly Ukraine is not an aggressor.” Tillerson declared his support in his Senate confirmation hearing.
Tillerson’s part-time special envoy on the Ukraine crisis, former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, told me last month he also supports providing lethal weapons to Ukraine. Volker is working with Moscow to revive a peace plan known as Minsk2, but progress is scarce.
According to Volker, Russia has not fulfilled any of its obligations, which include removing its unacknowledged troops and heavy weapons from Ukrainian territory. His argument is that the costs of Russia’s intervention should increase, making Putin choose whether to bear that burden or strike a deal.
Others, including Mattis, see the sales as a principled signal that the United States will support its allies. They say Ukraine is simply defending its own territory and therefore lethal weapons shouldn’t be seen as a provocation.
Meanwhile, the fighting in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine is heating up. According to a BBC report this week, Moscow is pulling all of its personnel from a Russian-Ukrainian joint center that is meant to monitor a frequently violated truce.
Trump himself has consistently stated his desire to work with Putin to resolve the Ukraine crisis, dating back to his presidential campaign.
During the 2016 GOP convention, the Trump campaign beat back efforts to have the Republican platform endorse lethal assistance to Ukraine. Trump campaign officials pushed to soften a proposed amendment to remove the language “lethal defensive weapons” and replace it with “appropriate assistance.”
Trump has now decided that lethal defensive weapons constitute “appropriate assistance.” His decision to approve small amounts of weapons sales likely won’t fundamentally change Putin’s calculus or the trajectory of the war in Ukraine. But it’s one sure sign that Trump’s foreign policy views are evolving — or at least being influenced — as his presidency progresses.
Munich did nothing to appease Cold War 1.0 fears
The Munich Security Conference is supposed to be an annual lofty gathering of global politicians, and military and intelligence experts. Theoretically, they discuss serious security matters under a cool professional eye in an informed setting.
Yet, in these times of doom and gloom, what the 54th conference yielded was another Russophobia show -- a direct connection to the "Russiagate" soap opera in Washington.
In fact, the 2018 Munich Security Report was entitled, To The Brink -- And Back? In it, the Conference Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger did not mince his words. "The world has gotten closer -- much too close! -- to the brink of a significant conflict," he said.
That was not a particularly subtle code for Cold War 2.0, which could fast develop into a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. The report also singled out the doctrine of the United States President Donald Trump as the work of a "hostile revisionist power," attacking the "building blocks of [the] international order."
But then, when the talks began, ingrained perceptions took over with Russia as a lethal threat to NATO, and vice-versa.
A graphic illustration was supplied by Nicholas Burns, the former US Ambassador to NATO. "Will NATO strengthen itself to contain Russian power in Eastern Europe given what Russian has done illegally in Crimea, in the Donbass, and in Georgia?" he asked.
"I think the answer is positive. The NATO defense ministers have determined that they increase their findings. We have troops in Poland and three Baltic countries. I think NATO is unified. We have to continue the sanctions against Russia," he added.
Naturally, there was a reaction to this sort of rhetoric. Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Senate, put forward his country's case.
"The only approach that Russia thinks is right is that security is indivisible," Kosachev said. "It must be shared by everyone. Cooperation in the field of security should not be divided into blocks."
"NATO's continued existence provokes new threats, rather than overcoming them. This conference has always been anti-Russian. Unfortunately, they try to blame Russia for all the problems facing the West," Kosachev added.
There was certainly a long list of Russia-bashing statements, featuring the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and the US National Security Adviser General HR McMaster. Even the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, accused Russia and China of trying to "undermine" the European Union.
All that was left for the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to do was to stress that recent indictments, alleging that the Kremlin interfered in US politics, were evidence-free "blather." Indeed, Russiagate has been debunked, among others, by the distinguished investigative journalist Robert Parry on Consortiumnews.com.
NATO, of course, does nothing without Washington's approval. The much-hyped Russia-NATO showdown is quite an uneven affair. The 2017 Russian defense budget was around $70 billion, which is one-tenth of the US budget.
This year, NATO's Aegis Ashore System, which is capable of firing Tomahawk surface-to-surface intermediate-range cruise missiles, will be deployed in Poland. The EU country will also host Anaconda, the largest NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold War, featuring at least 100,000 troops.
Munich did nothing to appease Cold War 2.0 fears. In fact, it brought back distant memories of those long forgotten days of "Soviet Commies eating children for breakfast."
The appalling mediocrity of those intervening speaks for itself.
Munich also happened just as the International Institute for Strategic Studies released its Military Balance report, where once again Western security agencies show their disbelief regarding Russia and China's military advances.
And yet Munich did absolutely nothing to center the discussion on the frightening prospect of the latest Israel versus Iran crescendo degenerating almost by inertia into a Hot War. So, in the end, we had nothing remotely similar to "moving back from the brink."
Voltaire, the 18th-century French philosopher and writer, liked to quip that those who make you believe absurdities make you commit atrocities.
The collective failure of these security "experts" comes as the Eurasian century is increasingly taking shape -- deeper than transatlantic or transpacific moves. The numbers don't lie. While "experts" talk and demonize, the New Silk Roads are taking shape.
So, let Cold War 2.0 dissolve into what it should always have been -- an empty shell.
The Story Behind Putin's Mistrust of the West
A collection of declassified documents regarding a broken NATO promise explains a cornerstone of Putin's worldview.
In many ways, Russia's current defiant geopolitical stance can be traced to a decisive moment in recent history: the belief that the West broke its promises not to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization eastwards. But experts argue over what exactly was promised, NATO itself calls the story of the broken promise a "myth," and the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, who is critical of NATO expansion, has said the West kept all its binding commitments following from the reunification of Germany.
Now, George Washington University has taken a major step toward clarifying what exactly was promised and how, collecting a wealth of documents, all declassified in recent years, from the time Germany's reunification was negotiated. The many redactions -- the U.S. has way too many secrets, as National Security Archive head Tom Blanton pointed out in a recent interview with my Bloomberg View colleague James Gibney -- may hide important bits of the story. But even with them, the collection shows that top officials from the U.S., Germany and the U.K. all offered assurances to Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze that NATO would not expand toward the Russian borders. The documents make clear that the Western politicians meant no expansion to Eastern European countries, not just the East German territory.
The assurances were never put on paper. But anyone looking for insights into President Vladimir Putin's worldview should take an interest in the GWU documents. They back up, to a certain extent, conclusions he appears to have reached on the basis of the Soviet records of these discussions.
It was West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher who was charged with getting Soviet consent for his country's reunification. He understood a guarantee of NATO non-expansion was a key precondition of success, and said so both to the German public and to allies such as British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd. The U.S., keen to keep unified Germany in NATO rather than grant it a neutral status, went along with Genscher's view. On Feb. 9, Secretary of State James Baker told Shevardnadze:
A neutral Germany would undoubtedly acquire its own independent nuclear capability. However, a Germany that is firmly anchored in a changed NATO, by that I mean a NATO that is far less of a military organization, much more of a political one, would have no need for independent capability. There would, of course, have to be ironclad guarantees that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward. And this would have to be done in a manner that would satisfy Germany’s neighbors to the east.
On the same day, he repeated to Gorbachev, "If we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east." That, he made clear, was the concession the Western bloc was offering in exchange for keeping Germany in NATO. Gorbachev replied that, in any case, "a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable." "We agree with that," Baker responded.
In simultaneous talks, Central Intelligence Agency Director Robert Gates put the same proposal to KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov.
As the discussions wore on, the Soviets pushed for a common security structure in Europe, based on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, formed almost two decades before as forum for cooperation between the Soviet and U.S.-led blocs. Western negotiators agreed but said they wanted to keep NATO, making it more benign and open to cooperation with the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies. As late as March, 1991, six months after Germany became one country, British Prime Minister John Major was still assuring Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov -- who would soon take part in a conservative coup against Gorbachev that would end up destroying the Soviet Union -- that NATO was not going eastward, and that he "did not himself foresee circumstances now or in the future where East European countries would become members of NATO." For his part, then-NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner assured a Russian delegation, which reported back to President Boris Yeltsin, that 13 out of 16 NATO members were against expansion as well as Woerner himself.
None of the reassuring talk turned into specific agreements because the Soviet Union was practically bankrupt, in need of the aid that Germany offered in exchange for acquiescence to its unification, and generally dependent on Western loans. It was in no state to demand anything from the West; even the insistence on a common security system was a bluff. That's why Gorbachev, who doesn't like to admit he was desperate and unable to push back, has said that the West kept its promises -- or at least one promise: That no non-German NATO troops would be stationed in the former East Germany.
The U.S., unlike cautious Germany, was talking to the Soviets as a winner speaks to a loser, not particularly careful about non-binding offers and assurances to Gorbachev and Shevardnadze. The Soviet leadership's power was eroding so fast that it was pointless to make carved-in-stone promises. So later, when the Soviet Union crumbled and East European countries wanted the Cold War victors' protection, there was also no point to keep them out of NATO.
That brings us back to Putin's style and worldview. He has clearly pored over Soviet documents from 1990 and 1991 -- he quoted Woerner on non-expansion in his famous, belligerent 2007 speech to the Munich Security Conference. And he appears to want to negotiate with the West the way he feels Westerners negotiated with the Soviets back then. That means, to him, feinting, dissembling, offering meaningless assurances of non-aggression, denying Russia's military actions in Ukraine, offering concessions in Syria that he never intended to make. Irritated Western interlocutors find that it's impossible to negotiate with him because he doesn't mean what he says and doesn't say what he wants. He sees it differently -- as talking like a winner.
Putin the ex-KGB officer appeared for a while to be a convert to Western ideas -- at least when he worked for St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. But studying the Soviet collapse, which he has described as a tragedy, was almost certainly one of the factors that led him to revert to type. He became convinced the West will only respond to force. As he projects it, whatever he tells Western leaders is only cover -- just the game that, he appears to believe, Baker and President George H.W. Bush were playing with Shevardnadze and Gorbachev. Putin's worldview is one of all-embracing cynicism and mistrust. The broken promise story is his excuse -- not an entirely groundless one, judging by the GWU documents -- to refuse to play fair.
That's why the West is getting nowhere, and will get nowhere, with Putin. Moreover, it's highly unlikely that any successor to Putin will simply cast aside the broken promise story, which is by now embedded in the Russian government's post-Soviet DNA. For years, perhaps decades, maintaining a confrontation with Russia will be easier than rebuilding trust.
The Ukraine, As We Know It, Is Gone Forever
The Saker is an ex-military analyst who was born in Europe to a family of Russian refugees. He now lives in Florida where he writes the Vineyard of the Saker blog and is a regular contributor to Russia Insider. The international community of Saker Blogs includes, besides the original Saker blog, French, German, Russian, Oceania and Serbian members and will soon include a Latin American member. – Mike Whitney
Mike Whitney: Is the United States responsible for the troubles in Ukraine?
The SAKER: Yes, absolutely, there’s no doubt about it. While it’s true that the Ukrainian people were unhappy with the corrupt Yanukovich regime, the coup itself was definitely CIA orchestrated. The EU was also involved, especially Germany, but they didn’t play nearly as big a role as the U.S. The taped phone messages of (US Undersecretary of State) Victoria Nuland show who was really calling the shots behind the scenes.
Mike Whitney: What role did the Obama administration play in Kiev’s decision to launch a war on its own people in the east of Ukraine?
The Saker: A central role. You have to understand that there is no “Ukrainian” power in Kiev. Poroshenko is 100% US-run as are the people around him. The head of the notorious Ukrainian secret police (the SBU), Valentin Nalivaichenko, is a known CIA agent. It’s also true that the US refers to Poroshenko “our Ukraine insider”. All of his so called “decisions” are actually made by U.S. officials in Kiev. As for Poroshenko’s speech to Congress a few weeks ago, that was obviously written by an American.
Mike Whitney: The separatists in the East have been very successful in repelling the Ukrainian army and their Neo Nazi counterparts in the security services. What role has Russia played in assisting the Novorussia militias?
The Saker: Russia’s role was critical. While Russian troops were not deployed across the border, Moscow did allow volunteers and weapons to flow in. And while the assistance was not provided directly by the FSB (Russia’s Federal Security Service) or the military, it was provided by various private groups. Clearly, the Kremlin has the power to help-out when it choses to do so. In one instance, there appears to have been direct artillery support from across the Russian border (in the so-called “southern cauldron”), but most of the aid has been covert. Besides the covert assistance, Russia has also provided intelligence, logistical and political support for the Novorussians. Without Russia’s support, the Novorussians never would have been able to turn the tide in the war.
Mike Whitney: Did Putin send Russian troops to Crimea and illegally seize the area or is that a fiction that’s been propagated in the western media?
The Saker: It’s actually a technicality. Yes, Putin did send Russian troops to Crimea, but no, they never exceeded the limits allowed under current agreements between Russia and the Ukraine. Remember that the Black Sea Fleet was already headquartered in Sevastopol, so there were plenty of troops available locally. Also, there was a large group of local volunteers who perform essential operations. Some of these volunteers were so convincing that they were mistaken for Russian Special Forces. But, yes, at the critical moment, Putin did send additional special forces to Crimea.
Was the operation legal? Well, technically it didn’t violate treaty agreements in terms of numbers, but did it violate Ukraine’s sovereignty. The reason Moscow did this was because there was solid evidence that Kiev was planning to move against Crimea. (possibly involving Turkey and Crimean Tatars) If Putin had not taken the initiative, the bloodbath in Crimea could have been worse than it’s been in Novorussia. Also, by the time Putin made the decision to protect Crimea, the democratically-elected President (Yanukovich) had already been removed from office, which created a legal vacuum in Kiev. So the question is: Should Putin have abided by the laws of a country that had been taken over by a gang of armed thugs or should he have tried to keep the peace by doing what he did?
What Putin chose to do was allow the people of Crimea to decide their own future by voting freely in a referendum. Yes, the AngloZionist propaganda says that they were forced to “vote at the barrel of a gun”, but that’s nonsense. Nobody disputes the fact that an overwhelming majority of Crimeans (95%) wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. All the “polite armed men in green” did was make it possible for the people to exercise their right of self-determination, something that the junta in Kiev never would have permitted.
Mike Whitney: What influence does Obama have on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision-making? Is Washington actually running the show?
The Saker: Yes, totally. Obama gives the orders and Poroshenko obeys.
Just as they do everywhere, the US uses local oligarchs to colonize a country. Take for example Russia between 1991 and 1999. It was run by oligarchs behind a drunken figurehead. (Boris Yeltsin) Everyone knew that Russia had become a American colony and that the US could do whatever it wanted. It’s the same today.
Yanukovich was no more pro-Russian than any other Ukrainian President. He’s just an oligarch who’s been replaced by another oligarch, Poroshenko. The latter is a very intelligent man who knows that his survival depends on his complete obedience to Uncle Sam.
I wouldn’t put it past the US to dump Poroshenko and install someone else if it suits their purposes. (Especially if the Right Sector takes power in Kiev.) For now, Poroshenko is Washington’s man, but that could change in the blink of an eye.
Mike Whitney: How close is the Obama administration to achieving its goal of establishing NATO bases (and, perhaps, missile sites) in Ukraine? What danger does this pose for Moscow?
The Saker: The only place where NATO bases really make sense is in Crimea, and that option is no longer available. But there’s more to this issue than meets the eye, that is, if the US continues to pursue this provocative policy of establishing NATO bases on the Russian border, then Russia will withdraw from the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) and deploy advanced versions of the SS-20 (Soviet Nuclear Ballistic Missile) closer to Europe. The point is, US meddling could lead to a confrontation between nuclear-armed adversaries.
Mike Whitney: The European Commission has created a number of obstacles to prevent Russia from building the Southstream pipeline which will diversify export routes for natural gas from Russia to central and southern Europe. Critics have said that the Obama administration is behind the move, and that powerful US energy giants want to either block or control the flow of energy from Russia to Europe. Is this the broader context of the troubles in Ukraine, that is, are we really seeing an energy war unfold in real time?
The Saker: This is an important part of the equation, but not the central one. The central one is the mistaken belief (put forward by Zbigniew Brzezinski) that without the Ukraine Russia cannot be a superpower, and the equally mistaken belief (put forward by Hillary Clinton) that Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union. For the AngloZionists, the Ukraine is a zero-sum game in which the US must either control the Ukraine or destroy it, but not allow Russia to have it. The problem with this theory is that Russia doesn’t really want or need the Ukraine. What Russia wants is a stable, dependable and neutral partner with which it can do business. Even now, while the Novorussians are demanding full independence, Russia has been pushing a different plan altogether. Moscow wants a unitary Ukraine in which each region would have de-facto autonomy but still be part of the same state.
Powerbrokers in the West are so maniacally obsessed with controlling the Ukraine, they can’t imagine that Russia doesn’t want the same thing. But Russia doesn’t want the Ukraine. It has no need for a broken, dysfunctional, failed state with massive social problems, that will require billions upon billions of dollars to rebuild.
Sure, there are cultural, historical, religious and even family ties between Russia and the Ukraine, but that does not mean they want to run the place. Russia already got what it wanted, Crimea. As for the rest, Moscow’s attitude is, “You broke it, you own it.”
Mike Whitney: What’s the endgame here? Will Poroshnko succeed in keeping Ukraine together and further isolate Russia from Europe or will Ukraine splinter along political lines? Or is there another scenario that you see as more likely?
The Saker: Crimea is gone forever. So is Novorussia. But in the case of the latter, there might be a transitional phase in which Kiev retains some degree of sovereignty over areas in the east.
In the near term, there could be more fighting, but eventually there will be a deal in which Novorussia will be given something close to independence. One thing is certain, that before reaching an agreement on final status, two issues will have to be settled:
1– There must be regime change in Kiev followed by de-Nazification.
Neither Russia nor Novorussia will ever be safe as long as the Nazis are in power in Kiev. That means that these russophobic, nationalist freaks will have to be removed before final status issues can be resolved. The Russians and the Novorussians are somewhat divided on this issue. While the Novorussians want their independence and say “To hell with the Nazis in Kiev”, the Kremlin wants regime change and sees it crucial for their national security. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the future.
2– There will have to be a conference of donors.
The Ukraine is basically dead, it’s been reduced to rubble. It will take years to rebuild, and immense sums of money. The US, EU and Russia will all have to contribute. If the AngloZionists persist in their maximalist position and continue to support the Nazi junta in Kiev, the Russians will not pay a single kopeck. Russian aid will go exclusively to Novorussia.
Sooner or later the US and EU will realize that they need Russia’s help. And when they finally figure that out, they’ll work together to reach a comprehensive political agreement. Right now, they’re more preoccupied with punishing Putin (through economic sanctions and political isolation) to prove that no one can defy the Empire. But that kind of bullying behavior won’t change the reality on the ground. The West needs Russia’s cooperation, but Russia isn’t going to cooperate without strings attached. The US will have to meet certain conditions before Moscow agrees to a deal.
UKRAINE: “Gone forever”
Though it’s too early to tell, I think the Ukraine as we know it, is gone forever. Crimea will remain part of Russia, while Novorussia will become independent and probably end up in some kind of association status with Russia. As for the rest of the Ukraine, there’s bound to be a confrontation between the various oligarchs and Nazis, after which the pragmatists will appear and lead the way to a settlement. Eventually, there will be some kind of accommodation and a new state will emerge, but I can’t imagine how long it will take for that to happen.
If you want a more systematic analysis of the points above, please see my analysis (here: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-russian-response-to-double.html)