Vladimir Putin, Crimea, and Our Lady of Kazan

Interesting from Asharq Al-Awsat:

Opinion: The Black Madonna and the Russian Problem
by Amir Taheri

Last month, when Vladimir Putin ordered that the Black Madonna of Kazan, the holiest icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, be flown over the Black Sea, many believed he wished to secure blessings for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It was the first time the icon, or rather a copy of it, since the original was stolen and possibly destroyed in 1904, was deployed to bless a peaceful enterprise. [If it was for Sochi.] Over the centuries, the “Black Virgin” has been taken to battlefields to bless Russian armies fighting Swedish, Polish, Turkish, Persian, French and German invaders. Stalin sent it to Stalingrad in 1943 to ensure victory over the German invaders under Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus.

With Putin’s troops in control of Crimea and threatening to move further into Ukraine, we now know that the icon was brought in to bless a military operation this time as well.

Putin appears strong because US President Barack Obama, accidentally cast as the leader of Western democracies, is weak. Putin is over-using the power Russia really doesn’t have because Obama under-uses the power the US does have. As long as Obama prevents the US from playing the leadership role it has had since the end of World War II, Putin will see no reason why he should not pursue his dream of reviving the Soviet Empire wherever possible. In doing so he is acting within a tradition established since the 18th century, when Russia emerged as a power with a pathological fear of encirclement. That fear has always made Russia aggressive.

[…]

Read the rest there.  Interesting.

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57 Responses to Vladimir Putin, Crimea, and Our Lady of Kazan

  1. Magpie says:

    Russia is not to be sniffed at, militarily speaking. A country that stands for nothing is not a strong country, no matter how many nukes they have *cough*ahem*America*. Putin seems to be trying to improve things with his support of Christianity.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Once a KGB officer, always a KGB officer. However, is it going too far to think that America is simply posturing against this man? Our weak president is no match for this man, so why not a collaborator?

  3. mburn16 says:

    It truly is pathetic and embarrassing how toothless the response to the Crimean crisis has been. But don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him…….unfortunately, since this is Orthodox, not even the Pope could intervene.

  4. acardnal says:

    And the Russian Dep. Prime Minister mocks the feckless Obama via Twitter saying:

    “Comrade Obama, what should those who have neither accounts nor property abroad do? Have you not thought about it?” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in a message on Twitter. He is one of the seven Russian officials directly targeted by the president in an executive order signed Monday morning. “I think the decree of the President of the United States was written by some joker.”

    Great photo gag of “Comrade Obama” here which I am sure Fr. Z would appreciate:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/17/crimean-pm-mocks-obama-in-faked-russian-uniform-on/

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/17/white-house-targets-russian-officials-others-new-s/#ixzz2wMI14oMj

    Perhaps Obama should seek advice from some sober Soviet scholars such as Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    The real problem is the Russian spirit, or better said essential elements of the Russian psyche.

    They have a profound fear of invasion (‘encirclement’ doesn’t really do it justice), and granted, they have suffered much under the Mongols, Napoleon and the Third Reich (they might include WWI themselves, though one could argue that was a self-inflicted wound, as they could have sat that one out if they had let the Serbians to their own devices).

    Secondly, Russia has never, not even for a brief time, experienced something remotely like intellectual or economic freedom. Russia has always been ruled by autocrats, often wielding discretionary power of life and death, and as often as not delegated it to petty mid-level officials to increase the terror. It cannot imagine a society that is not focussed on power. “Pursuit of happiness” is an alien term.

    Combine these two, and you get a country that simply cannot comprehend that western, free countries will not have Russia in their cross-hairs. It will always assume a threat, and it will always choose blunt force as the primary way to stall that threat. It will seek extensive ‘buffers’ outside its own borders, and care not one bit about the people that have to live, directly or indirectly, under the Russian yoke.

    And then we get a confrontation once more. Not necessarily because the West cares very much about the immediate neighbours of Russia, but because the principle, namely that Russia decides where Russia stops, is unacceptable, because sooner or later, freedom-loving people we do care about will fall under the axe – strategic paranoia knows no natural boundaries, only those of possibility. It’s the same principle that has brought Europe – and the wider world – so much misery.

    Now the problem is, we can limit the damage by not shying away from the confrontation, if the US would be so kind to elect another Reagan one day we might even win it, but the underlying problem remains: the Russian spirit.

    How to correct that, if it is indeed correctable, is perhaps the deepest geopolitical question there is. One could say that after WWII, the attempt to transform the German (or perhaps better said, the prussian) spirit was quite succesful. Japan produced mixed results. Everywhere else the attempt wasn’t even made, or took well over a century (e.g. the old Confederacy), in which case one can wonder if it wasn’t simply an effect of changing morals in general.

    In sum, I do not expect to see Russia join the civilizated world in my lifetime – and I hope to have many decades to go, Deo volente.

  6. Well if Putin dares to ‘use’ the Black Virgin, perhaps she will seal his defeat. She is on the side of right afterall.

  7. Jack Hughes says:

    Phil in NL got it partially right;

    The Russians have never experienced democracy in any meaningful sense, they do take seriously the threat of foreign aggression and YES very do possess a spirit that makes the ‘American Spirit’ pall in comparison; even at its zenith.

    Peter Hichens writing in the Daily Mail (yes he is the late Christopher’s brother and if one might say so he is the British Patrick Buchanan) has detailed this at length in his recent and not so recent columns. He also points out that Russia possess an intellectual history that rivals Western Europe, that too many in the West judge Russia by the standards of the defunct USSR.

    STM has said “Once a KGB officer, always a KGB officer”, maybe but this is a man who for whatever reason has not only introduced laws that give the pro life/ pro family movement in Russia the political firepower that its American counterparts could only dream of, but is the only leader of a major state to publicly call on the ‘civilized world’ to do something about the persecution of Christians in the world. The other stuff I could be argued into dismissing as ‘playing to the gallery’, but even George Bush Jr never went so far when he was President of the United States and that is saying something.

    Now this is not to say that I am in complete admiration of President Putin, but at the very least our interests are in alignment; the enemy of my enemies may not be my friends, but they could prove useful in the meantime.

    The very least each reader could do would to put in an word to St Vladimir for the President’s conversion to the One True Faith.

  8. jacobi says:

    Bringing Crimea, a part of Russia, arbitrarily removed without consultation with the people, back into Russian, at the request of the overwhelming majority of the people, is hardly “reviving the Soviet empire”

    Let’s stick, Father, to reviving the near moribund Western Catholic Church, and leave the Russians to their own business!

  9. J_Cathelineau says:

    Im not sure about this particular issue…but i know that with Obama, Hollande, the EU et al., the antichristian left is now on this side of the iron curtain.

  10. Phil_NL says:

    Jacobi,

    It is exactly “reviving the soviet empire”, only this time without the communist sauce. That leaves an empire, and that is dangerous enough in itself.

    Just to give an example, the Russians wouldn’t appreciate it one bit if the Germans would apply the same arguments to what was formerly east prussia – and now the Russian province of Kaliningrad. That was likewise “arbitrarily” removed from Germany.

    It’s not about whether the Russians are right. Heck, they probably would have gotten a majority to join Russia without doctoring the referendum (the 97% at a 83% turnout was clearly a falsification, but 80% at 65% turnout would match the ethnic boundaries and likely turnout pretty well, and thst dtill combines to over 50%). It’s about the principle that we don’t change borders by preying on weaker neighbours, even if historical accidents produced borders we don’t particularly like.

    Once that principle is abandoned, all of Europe will eventually go up in flames, be reduced to servitude or both. Preventing Ukraine suffering such a fate is perhaps not worth much toil and treasure in itself, but it won’t stop there – as there’s no reason to stop there.

  11. jacobi says:

    PHIL-NL

    The U S of A, through NATO, have long been pursuing Ukraine, a part of the world which until recently I for one assumed, (in my ignorance, apparently) was part of Russia.

    Well you see where it has led. “The best laid plans of mice and men etc”

    Now let’s get back to the dear old Catholic Church which, as I have previously remarked, is rapidly going down the post-Vatican II plug-hole.

  12. Quanah says:

    @ Magpie,

    “Putin seems to be trying to improve things with his support of Christianity.”

    For hundreds of years the Russian state has only looked at the Church as its puppet. Do not be fooled by Putin. To him the Moscow Patriarchate is nothing, but a tool to be used in support of Russia and in opposition to the West. Putin is a Russian through and through; he is no different than any Tsar, Premier, or any other Russian head of state before him.

  13. JacobWall says:

    I was speaking to my (Polish) priest about this and he offered some insight that I think the North American/Anglophone public tends to overlook. Typically, our media depicts the conflict in Ukraine as one between the U.S. and Russia (or there respective supporters within Ukraine.) He pointed out that one country that has very cleverly stayed under the radar is Germany.

    I think that most people know that within the E.U. it’s Germany that calls the shots – very quietly, under the guise of a “European Government” but even if indirectly or by implication, Brussels (and hence the rest of the EU) takes its the orders from Berlin. He said that recently a law was passed in the EU government stating that German troops could/would be deployed in any EU country if there were anti-government protests.

    They also have a good deal of economic clout. Apparently, in Poland something like 90% of the media is owned by German corporations. Of course, they don’t go boldly and stupidly parading pro-German proganda but you can guess that the news/ads, etc offer nicely couched pro-EU messages. It seems that in the west of Ukraine, German media campaigns (and perhaps even ownership) had already started this process, hence garnishing a good deal of support for getting closer to the EU.

    In very practical terms, Germany has much more to lose from Ukraine favouring Russia over the EU – far more than the U.S., I would guess.

    Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that Germany is playing any part in this. If this is true, then it is very smart on their part.

    While the U.S. would do well to consider which “dog to feed”, I don’t think that Obama’s inaction/wimpiness have anything to do with this. I think it has much more to do with the fact that he’s been too busy trying to bully some nuns into buying contraception, and then being surprised that these muscle tactics demonstrated on some of the least aggressive of his own citizens don’t intimidate Putin.

  14. Vecchio di Londra says:

    JacobW – Just to correct one one point that might cause alarm: there is no law passed in the EU (or even in the Bundestag) that would command or even allow German troops to intervene in any other EU country. It has not even been raised. Nor could it conceivably be discussed.
    It would cause consternation in Germany (where the constitutional role of the German military is tightly restricted by law) and it would certainly meet resistance in eg London, Athens, and Madrid, and most definitely in Paris, where civil unrest is considered more of a traditional right and a recreational pastime.

  15. JacobWall says:

    @Vecchio

    Thanks for the correction. I am repeating all of this from what I heard, introducing a strong possibility that I did not understand or remember correctly. However, if that is the only point that is not correct, then it is still surprising and very interesting that the rest is true. Few people if any (in North America) seem to be aware in any way that German has anything to do with this, or that the country has so much sway in Europe.

  16. Andrew D says:

    We need to pray that God’s will be done. I don’t have all the answers but here are my observations. Vladimir Putin has been cracking down on the militant homosexual movement in Russia. Barack Hussein Obama on the other hand has been pandering to it. Sodomy is one of the sins that cries out for vengance by the way. The European Union “constitution” makes no mention of God whatsoever or even implies Him as the giver of rights. The Ukraine government wants to get closer to the EU, a secularist entity. Putin supports Bashir al Assad in Syria, definitely not a nice guy but, he is not slaughtering Christians like the Islamofascist “freedom fighters” in that country are. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  17. sw85 says:

    What is happening right now in Crimea is the playing-out of an existential crisis. Putin is trying, with some success, to reverse Russia’s demographic death-spiral. He loves his nation and desires that it not follow the Western course of hedonism and sterility in the service of a Satanic “freedom.” Problematically there are just not enough Russians in Russia to turn things around. Therefore the survival of his nation depends on his reintegrating the descendants of Russian settlers seeded throughout the satellite states by the Soviet Union and then stranded there after its collapse.

    There are a few implications here:

    (1) Russia was always going to get Crimea. Crimea has been Russian since the early 18th century. It wants to be Russian and Russia wants it to be Russian. We could’ve expected Putin to pay for it and come out ahead but instead our leaders acted like fools still in thrall to Cold War-era Russophobia, so they lost Crimea to him anyway and now they look like idiots and effete cowards (which they are).

    (2) All of our blustering about “freedom” and “democracy” is just that, blustering. For Russia this is life or death. They simply cannot afford to allow the West to lure any more ethnic Russian enclaves into EU/IMF debt slavery and social degeneracy, and they will fight a lot harder to live then we are willing to fight to anesthetize them to death.

    (3) Crimea isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Keep an eye on Georgia and Belarus too.

    And since when do Catholics shill for “freedom,” anyway?

  18. Giuseppe says:

    With all of the problems in the US, why are we even thinking about Crimea or the Ukraine? So the Ukranians overthrow their government with anti-Putin people. How does this affect the US? So Crimea, which is Russian in all but name, separates itself from Ukraine and joins Russia. (We supported Kosovo separating itself from Bosnia ~20 years ago).

    If one American soldier sheds blood for this, it is too many. We have destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of young American men and women with Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’ve left those countries in such spectacular shape. I pray to God nightly that we don’t wind up in Syria, Iran, or Russia. Iran is the worst. Can you imagine a war with Iran? (We will get it with President Rubio, I have no doubt.)

  19. Giuseppe says:

    Whoops — Kosovo from Serbia not Bosnia.
    And an independent Bosnia/Herzogovina.

  20. Gratias says:

    I find one of Putin’s strengths is that he seeks the blessing of the Orthodox Church. Russia is deeply religious, as reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky will illustrate. Our own Church expanded immensely through an arrangement with Emperor Constantine, so mixing religion and politics should not be new to us. Too much Russian blood was spent defeating France and England in the Crimea to hand it off to NATO for free. I hope the Black Madonna will protect her believers. That could teach other nations respect religion. Perhaps Putin might even dedicate Russia to the Immaculate heart of Mary and surprise us again.

  21. Art says:

    For those who ask why they should care, two articles by a Ukrainian Catholic priest and historian:

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2889/they_preach_christs_gospel_of_peace_and_justice.aspx

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/clergy-call-for-peace-amid-violent-unrest-in-ukraine

    For a more hands-on approach, visit the nearest Ukrainian Greek-Catholic parish and talk to the parishioners to get their take on Russia’s recent actions.

    Those who see Putin as an ally just because he passes laws against homosexualists while invoking Christian values will do well to remember the saying: “The enemy of my enemy may still be my enemy.”

  22. Bob B. says:

    What failed to be reported in the press was the fact that there was/is a deal between Russia and the Ukraine that states that 25k Russian soldiers, two airfields and some naval vessels are allowed in the Crimea. The history of the area dates back to the late-1700s and was part of Russia until Khruschev gave it to the Ukraine in 1954.
    This whole business only serves to show how much the U.S. has failed in foreign affairs: homosexual rights is the stated first priority of the State Department (followed by birth control); Benghazi; and who can forget the classic, …”reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering” of NASA chief Bolton’s description of his mission.
    The people “leading” our foreign policy don’t have any background in foreign affairs or history (not that they need it for Common Core, either). Kerry is but the latest joke, as he travels here and there desperate for even a small foreign policy win.
    The “hand slap” of sanctions against a few Russians is laughable and the world knows it. Look for more countries to ignore us because of this now.
    Even if it is just for appearance sake, Russia using Christianity in its dealings with others vs. Europe and North American forsaking Christianity and forcing homosexuality, abortion, assisted suicide, etc, is an apparent role reversal and one that will doom a civilization, as it did in ancient Rome.

  23. Mariana2 says:

    “In doing so he is acting within a tradition established since the 18th century, when Russia emerged as a power with a pathological fear of encirclement. That fear has always made Russia aggressive.”

    Since the 18th century? Since the Middle Ages, as we, who through the centuries have been the object of this aggressiveness, know only too well!

  24. Mariana2 says:

    Phil_NL says:

    “In sum, I do not expect to see Russia join the civilizated world in my lifetime”…

    Very true. After all, medieval conditions reigned until about 1900, and then Communism destroyed everything during the 20th century; they have a long way to go….

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  26. Pray for the conversion of Russia, as Our Lady of Fatima told us to, lest its errors spread and we suffer much.

    –Don’t be fooled by Putin’s acting, who is old-school KGB.
    –Solzhenitsyn warned us of the Russian methods of pretending not to be a threat, and the activities Russians create to distract us from military build up, massacres, and other nefarious plots. One Commie-playbook method is to make themselves look like the better choice, the ‘saviors’ of your land.
    –In regard to the role of Germany, the Order of the Illuminati of Bavaria is at the top of all the Masonic Lodges of the world. [Read Father Luigi Villa’s works, commissioned by Pope Pius XII to expose the Masonic hierarchy and Masonic influences in the Church.]
    –In regard to defying Putin, Europe is held hostage to Russian gas and oil which is delivered from Siberia through Ukrainian pipelines.

    Russia was the first to commit regicide in modern times, starting the downfall of all monarchies. They are gripped by the Orthodox, The Great Schism being the first gash to the Church, and today its Russian prelates are state-appointed. Russia continues to persecute the Catholic Church. The cold war policies and cronies of the Russian government still are firmly in place.

    The U.S. government continues to weaken our military and local forces, our manufacturing and independence, our energy independence while promoting Marxist ideals in education, government policy, healthcare, our media, — well, you name it, godless Marxist influence is everywhere we look. Are we being set up for Russian occupation?

    Pray the Rosary daily as Our Lady, our mother, tells us to – it is the weapon we all have. Consecrate everything we can – our day, our lives, our possessions, our families, parishes, etc. to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”.

  27. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The Soviets operated many fifth columns during the Cold War. Mr. Obama is an enthusiast for all of them (the anti-family feminists, the Luddite environmentalists, the multiculturalists, the transnationalists, the ardent secularists and, worst of all, the Mattachines). That’s what makes him so very popular with his constituencies.

    Even if Mr. Obama had high degrees of intelligence and character (which I strongly doubt), Mr. Putin, given his KGB pedigree, is sure to know how to manipulate him. Sadly there are many others like Mr. Obama waiting in the wings. Fortunately there aren’t nearly so many of the puppet-masters.

  28. Andrew says:

    The ideology that fueled the spread of communism was cooked up in the West! In 1999 Karl Marx was voted the greatest thinker of the millennium by the BBC News Online readers. And the 1st gay president, the unflinching supporter of abortion “rights” won his second term of presidency easily: aided by a popular vote including large segments of catholics. (70 percent of hispanics, most of whom are catholic). And he was celebrated and praised at a prestigious catholic university. So who has the moral high ground?

  29. Priam1184 says:

    I am rather fascinated that an article on the icon of the Virgin of Kazan appeared in al-Sharq al-Awsat of all places since it is owned and operated by the Saudis of all people. Second, if this God forbid does develop into a conflict, should we who have made mothers complicit in the murders of tens of millions of their own children in their own womb and have instituted the wonders of sodomite marriage across the Western world, should we really expect God to march with our armies?

  30. Sonshine135 says:

    It is a sad day when you realize that a former KGB operative cares more about securing a blessing than a President of the United States. At the same time, the Air Force Academy just forced a Cadet to remove a bible verse from his white board. Just which country needs to be consecrated now?

  31. schmenz says:

    It is very sad for me to read some of the comments thus far that would indicate that so many people – even sensible Catholics – are swallowing whole the propaganda coming from the US government over this business. Looking back at the crimes that were committed and are still being committed by our government against every Catholic notion we have, indeed against simple basic decency, I am really surprised that anyone would believe the utter nonsense coming from Washington. It is here where our uberpatriotism leads us far astray.

    I cannot write here about all the ins and outs of this business. It would take too much space. But we have to start looking at the whole picture. One might wish to Google such informed writers as Daniel McAdams, Patrick Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts, et al, to get the other side of the story, the side our government and our media (or do I repeat myself) refuses to tell. And we must stop listening to deranged war-mongers like John McCain and his miserable ilk.

    I will not canonize Putin, but I will not demonize him either. I will offer, however, a few reasons why our government/media/corporate elite hate his guts: 1) He deftly and cleverly stopped the US/Israel alliance from decimating the Christians of Syria, an act that they will never forgive him for (we cannot exclude the intervention of the Pope’s day of fasting and prayer for that intention); 2) He went after the oligarchs who were bleeding Russia dry during the Yelstsin era. Most of these oligarchs escaped to Israel but those who didn’t were tried for their crimes and are/were serving jail sentences (interestingly, some of these oligarchs are now back – as the new “leaders” of Ukraine) International Finance will never forgive him for that; 3) He is encouraging his people to have bigger families, offering cash incentives to help them with added expenses. I leave it to your imagination how our government views that; 4) He is slowing down the homosexual juggernaut in his country. I wish he would do more, but he is at least cramping their style. Again, I leave it to your imagination how our pervert-friendly government views that development; 5) He has spoken out against the persecutions of Christians around the world and has spoken about the oppression of the Palestinians (Muslim AND Christian). In certain circles that is a big No-No.

    Now if folks want to close their eyes to all this and feel it is all a sham, that he is really a Soviet Hitler waiting to conquer the world, there is nothing I can do about that other than to encourage people to start looking a little deeper into all this and laying aside our old Cold War views.

    And let us pray for Ukraine and Russia. Thus far, Crimea has joined Russia in a legal, internationally-observed election. And let us further pray that the US-financed Blackwater snipers, who fired on both police and protestors in order to jump start their coup last month will be stymied in their further attempts to incite violence.

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear Vecchio di Londra,

    thanks for that correction so I don’t need to do it.

    Otherwise as for Germany and the European Union, I do not perceive JacobWall’s presentation to lead to an entire correct image… in general (1). I do perceive, though, that Germany is at the center of two European affairs of recent importance, viz. the economy-and-currency crisis (2) and the relationship with the Ukraine (3).

    (1) It is by no means true to say that Brussels would – as a general principle – “take orders from Berlin”. I think we can trust to France that she would not suffer to take orders from a hidden German agency – as also, for that matter, to the other European countries that they will uphold their sovereignty. (Though as for matters where France and Germany pull together, it might be said with more right that Brussels will follow.)

    (2) Economically, there can at least be no doubt that Italy, Greece and probably Spain perceive themselves under German dictatorship (yes they do put it in as harsh words). Here (what we Germans like to cover up when abroad) Mrs Merkel obviously acts with broad backing of the electorate. The basical reason is the common currency: Germans don’t want to pay (even more) for the rest, and others, ’tis said, fare still better with Euro than without (’tis said). Quite problematic.

    (3) I do not like to draw this sort of historic paralells but Germany has historically splendid relationships to the Ukraine; I’d almost say that the Ukraine is to Germany what Croatia is to Austria. Even in the years 1941 onwards of unhappy memory, German troops were hailed as liberators (so that the future FRG displaced persons minister, Oberländer, then a Nazi and an official, would note “Ukrainians for us, Polish against us”) – at first, until they massacred the country.

    Until a couple of years ago, watching boxing-fights in the German television would leave you with the impression that the Klitschko brothers are, at least somewhat, German boxers.

    Some years ago, a highly acclaimed tv series, “Facing Crime” (Im Angesicht des Verbrechens) featured, in a scence, a German policeman being wounded in the Ukraine and nursed back to health by the grandmother of the Ukrainian girl he rescued from enforced prostitution by the Russian mafia. The grandmother said that she was used to that sort of thing, she had been doing it to a couple of German soldiers in her own youth. (Coming to think of it, I’m glad I’m no conspiracy theorist, given that topic is of somewhat freaky directness… There was no Ukrainian, or Russian, protest, unlike the Polish protest we received for “Generation War”).

    – However, Germany seems to favor an appeasement strategy. And rightly so! The sound of the word “appeasement” is not too good, however, appeasement is what you do with nuclear powers. There’s no denying it. So…

    say what you will about Social Democrats, but I’m glad that Frank-Walter Steinmeier has replaced Guido Westerwelle in the AA again…

    and please, dear United States, don’t provoke anything dangerous from safe distance.

  33. Robbie says:

    I visited Sevastopol and Yalta last October on a Black Sea cruise. The few people there who could speak any English longed for the days of the old Soviet Union. I also visited Odessa and the same was true there. Regardless, it’s not surprising Putin made a land grab and it’s not surprising the people of Crimea are accepting of it. Especially in Sevastopol, the people there are tied to the Russians because the Black Sea fleet is stationed there. Having said that, I doubt 97% were in favor of it!

    I didn’t visit the western portions of Ukraine that are supposedly more Western, but Crimea is pure Eastern. By that I mean, it is not part of the Western world as Europe and the US are. I visited St. Petersburg, Russia in 1999 and the first thing I thought when I stepped foot on Crimea was how similar, both in style and persona, it was to Russia. There was ZERO Western influence in the area.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama is as weak as a wet noodle, but I’m not sure anything could have been done to stop Putin. I doubt Reagan or either Bush would have done anything that could have stopped this short of a military confrontation. And even Bush II wasn’t willing to repel Russia militarily from Georgia. The people there, especially in the sea port of Sevastopol, have deep ties to Russia. This would be a different matter were the people Ukrainian, but they consider themselves Russians.

    Putin just showed what we already knew. American influence ain’t what it once was.

  34. robtbrown says:

    I agree with much of what was written above by JWall and SW85.

    1. Americans tend to be unaware of the importance of the prospect of a united Europe in the fall of the Soviet Union–Western Russia (from the Border to the Volga) is part of is Europe. By pulling certain Western nations (e.g., Poland) into the Eastern Bloc, the SU cut itself off from Europe. When Nixon established relations with China, the SU had no choice but to look West.

    2. The EU is about Germany, which is its economic and geographic fulcrum. For all intents and purposes the Euro is the Deutschmark, and so it is no accident that the European Central Bank is in Frankfurt.

    3. The joke was that Tuscany is going to have a vote in the German Bundestag (lots of Germans own villas in Tuscany). And Germany is now doing economically what it tried and failed to do twice militarily–take over Europe.

    4. Germans and Russians don’t like each other. One reason is their soldier’s behavior toward the end of WWII.

    5. NATO is about the US. Continental Western European nations are more than willing to let the US military be their unpaid mercenaries.

    6. Putin thinks the West and the US is soft and self indulgent, a notion augmented by the adoption of homosexual “marriage”.

  35. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Everybody is focused on Ukraine, yet little has been said of the crimes committed in Venezuela.

    Reports of Churches being vandalized, priest have been attacked, and I even heard that a tabernacle was destroyed by the hands of government officials. Where is the same outrage that has been shown about Crimea? Why is there so much focus on what is happening there, and not what is going on in Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, etc.?

    It is clear that the media is truly manipulating the people of the US to keep the focus off other events.

  36. Imrahil says:

    Dear robtbrown as to no. 2/3,

    whatever the effect, it is not true in intention that the Germans want to take over Europe. The second part, that the Euro is the D-Mark, is rather more true (in senses which could be substantiated by facts), and what Germans actually do intend is to prevent it from becoming anything else – at pretty much any cost, for they tend to see “otherwise just leave the currency union and resort to your own currency again” as a valid option.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil,

    Trying to take over militarily is not the same as trying to take over economically. The former is done with massive troop movements and usually against the will of the populace. On the other hand, the latter can be done gradually and with local consent.

  38. Johnno says:

    Many people are drinking the cool aid of Western media propaganda with regards to global affairs and the situation in the Ukraine.

    – The gravest threat and instigator here is AMERICA, not Russia.

    – America wishes to break up the BRIC nations by isolating Russia and preventing them from using currencies other than the US petro-dollar for trade, because they are tired of America’s stock market manipulations and endless printing of FRN notes. America wishes to control them by leveraging its military threat.

    – America has broken treaties with Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, where all these states seceded from Russia in the first place by promising it would not try to co-opt them into NATO, hence assuring the Russians that they ahd nothing to fear and there would be peace. Then America has been continuing to do just the opposite by bringing surround nations into NATO and setting up its missile ‘defense’ system, which in reality is an offensive system pointed at Russia. Russia and Putin are not dumb! The Ukraine was always next on the chart which would also cut Russia off from the Black Sea. America didn’t like it when Russia put misslies in Cuba, but now Russia is supposed to sit back and just let America do the same?

    – America has been involved in secretly destroying the gold entrusted to it by other nations. It refused to return Germany’s gold, and when finally being forced to do so is trying to delay it and sending back few chuinks of melted bars missing the seals originally placed upon them. The first thing AMerica did in the Ukraine was to loot the gold and fly it back to the US, where it will remain in their unaudited vaults. America has been robbing and looting nations and installing central banking systems in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries it begins destroying to protect the dollar hegemony and loot the gold.

    – America and Canada and the EU are not giving ‘aid’ to the Ukraine, these are LOANS, that shall indebt the Ukranians to them into perpetuity. They are forcing upon it the IMF upon them which is cutting pensions in half and will continue to bring economic troubles to the Ukranians int he same method that has been destroying the EU for years.

    – AMERICA has illegally invaded other nations on false pretexts over and over and over again, beginning unjustified wars, usually as a result of its own CIA driven destabalization. The tactic involves, using Washington funding from men like Soros to infiltrate and set up NGOs that will direct citizens to push the Washington line internally under cover of legitimate political concerns. Russia is not dumb and that is why they got directly involved when America began interfering with Ukranian politics. AMerica, long used to using democratic subterfuge to its advantage and aghinst its own people is likewise applying the same tactics abroad.

    – America uses the SAME TACTICS AGAINST THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! Fake ‘katholic’ organizations using marxist tactics and victim mentalities to create inner turmoil and shape policies and control the bishops!

    – America screwed up with it’s manufactured revolution when an extremist neo-nazi group seized power in the Ukraine right under their nose. The reason was very simple – they HAD GUNS, the American puppet protestors did not! A good thing to keep in mind whenever the US government and UN keep telling you you have no right to bear arms.

    – The extremist group now holding power in the Ukraine is unelected, they simply staged a coup, and even had snipers shooting at both protestors and police, something they have been exposed for and refuse to investiage. They are a bunch of crazies who are violent, beat and threated Ukranian parliament members at gunpoint and subscribe to conspiracies seeing Russo-Jewish powers who created communism and thus the first thing they did was to forbid the Russian language and attack synagogues. For these reasons Crimeans and Ukranians equally fear for their lives and country’s welfare, but this illegitimate government is what America is recognizing and giving money to!

    – So America recognizes a Nazi government who took power via coup as legitimate and sends them ‘aid’, while rejecting the democratic decisions of the Crimean people to run away and go back to Russia, where Putin will let everyone keep their own language and have nothing to fear from the civil war that is no doubt brewing in the Ukraine which America will blame on Russia.

    – There has been NO invasion of the Ukraine or Crimea by Russia! The media is lying and distorting the truth. Russia always had troops at their base in Crimea of over 16,000 and are allowed to have upwards of 25,000 troops there legally. God forbid Putin send troops to secure the base and place around the borders of this own country when there is a legitimate fear of instablity right at his doorstep! ANd given grandstanding threats from the insane Ukranian dictators in power, that they will got o war with Russia and seek to become a nuclear power, I wouldn’t blame Russia for invading them if things got out of hand.

    – Whatever Putin and Russia’s ulterior motives may be, undeniably they are the lesser of two evils here. The bad guy here is America, it’s additional American State known as Canada, and the EU who will do as Washington says because they want the quantitative easing of endlessly printed US dollars to keep their economies from falling apart.

  39. Imrahil says:

    Dear robtbrown,

    certainly; however, in my vocabulary “taking over” implies an explicit intent to rule another country, preferably with their consent of course but with them being in an inferior position and with a possible disagreement not mattering in the long run.

    Otherwise, I just don’t see anything that can be aptly described as taking over a country.

    My point was that Germany does not intend to do that.

  40. Andkaras says:

    Solzhenitsyns cellmate Susi said “Cruelty is invariably accompanied by sentimentality. It is the law of complimentarities. For in the case of the Germans , the combination is a national trait” His cellmate Fastenko said “To stand up for the truth is nothing! For the truth you have to sit in jail.”- From the Gulag Archipelago.

  41. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Crimea was not “always going to be Russian,” anymore than Ukraine was “always going to be Russian.” The Crimea was the last holdout of the Tatars, for goodness’ sake, and before that, it belonged to pretty much every nomad group that swept down the steppe. Pretty much every Russian living there was the result of brutal slaughter and “resettlement” by Stalin… actually, very similar to most Russians living in Ukraine until recently.

    Ukraine has more right to rule Russia than Russia ever had a right to rule Ukraine, which is why Moscow/Russia has historically had a thing for wishing Ukraine to disappear or for everyone there to get killed.

    Ukraine gave Russia all sorts of concessions and let them have their warmwater port. But that wasn’t good enough, nooooo. Because nothing will ever be good enough for a Russian ruler who doesn’t see anybody stopping him. Putin is out for whatever he can get — including your house and mine, if he sees a decent chance at getting them.

    So yeah, if you’d like to believe that “The Erie tribe was always going to get destroyed by the Iroquois Confederacy, and the Shawnee, Lenape, and Wyandot never should have made a run for it to escape the same fate,” sure Crimea was always going to be Russian.

  42. Suburbanbanshee says:

    And Putin is only “pro-life” because he wants more soldiers. The USSR and Stalin had its moments of paying mothers to have more kids, too, but they never managed to stop the abortion juggernaut that previous generations in the USSR started.

  43. Priam1184 says:

    @Tina in Ashburn: Please tell me who is in the right on this. I do not see it as clearly as some of the other commenters here who seem to be living in nostalgic Cold War fantasies. I may point out to those wannabe Cold warriors that the current president of the United States is much more a communist than the current president of Russia. The world is not what it once was, and neither is the United States.

  44. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Dear Phil_NL,

    You commented: “It’s about the principle that we don’t change borders by preying on weaker neighbours, even if historical acci’dents produced borders we don’t particularly like.

    Once that principle is abandoned, all of Europe will eventually go up in flames, be reduced to servitude or both. Preventing Ukraine suffering such a fate is perhaps not worth much toil and treasure in itself, but it won’t stop there – as there’s no reason to stop there.”

    Interesting how you qualified your statement by adding ‘we don’t change borders by preying on weaker neighbours’…indeed, there’s an important principle that borders of a state shouldn’t be changed.

    However, after what NATO did to Serbia by taking away its territory of Kosovo through warfare and then organising a referendum to officialise the land grab, I can only be very cynical when I hear US officials nowadays preach about the importance of keeping the territorial integrity of a state. Sheer hypocrisy and the gall they have to come up with this explanation…

  45. Ambrose Jnr says:

    small correction: ‘Sheer hypocrisy and the nerve they have…’

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear Andkaras,

    what are you alluding to? I don’t get it. (I don’t mean that figuratively but literally.)

  47. Mandy P. says:

    The problem, as I see it, is that there is no clear cut “good guy” and “bad guy” here. During the Cold War, while we were certainly not perfect, it’s very apparent that Western civilization was greatly preferable to Communism in regards to the dignity of the human person. But we are not who we were then, and Russia and her ambitions today aren’t just a matter of spreading Communistic rule (and the murder and misery it necessitates) by force.

    Regardless of his (I would guess very, politically convenient) embrace of Russian Orthodoxy, Putin is not a good guy. I think it likely that he is a very bad man who is using some part of good and truth towards his own ends. But we aren’t the good guys anymore. Western civilization has descended into decadence, solipsism, and hedonism, and our governments move closer to fascism by the day.

    As an American who is generally proud of my homeland, it’s a hard pill to swallow that we may not have a just cause anymore. But I think that’s where we are, and our loss of the moral high ground makes for a much more dangerous world.

  48. @Priam1184 LOL. Let me check my Magic 8 Ball.

    We are being led to believe that the Cold War is over. Well, in a way it is, but the war by the godless is much more intense. The secret societies have always been the root of the ‘errors of Russia’. The symptoms have morphed from statues of Stalin and the Berlin Wall into something worse, more widespread, more deeply invasive.

    Obama and Putin are cut from the same cloth. Don’t be fooled by Putin’s acting. Everything Putin does is for effect – one week he venerates an icon to impress the Christians, the next week he panders to the UN to impress the international stage, next he makes Obama look like a buffoon to impress Obama-haters. At the same time Putin moves tremendous military might to surround the Ukraine. That he dares to ‘use’ the Black Virgin in such a way, to ‘bless’ his unholy war, is not devotion but superstition. Putin rails against homosexuality to build Russian population, while all the rest of the world decimates itself with sterile unions and contraception. [Most developed countries are past zero population growth, with more dying than being born. The dearth is hidden by immigration.] Putin is not moral – his reality is utterly centered on expanding Russian might. Putin is very, very, very, very evil. When China and the Muslim world have served their purpose, when Obama’s fruitless staged admonishments are no longer entertaining, Putin plans to squash them like bugs.

    Start with a premise that is true. The premise is that Mary warned us of the spread of the “errors of Russia”. From that, surmise that the evils we are seeing sprout from that, in spite of all the distractions of China, Muslims, misbehaving Catholic hierarchy, or even bad U.S. policy. Like a math problem, we sometimes can figure out the details when we already know the answer.

    Pray and cling to the unchanging Truths of the real, the old, Catholic Church. Taking down the visible Catholic Church is really what this is all about, and what it has always been about. The poison of demonic secret societies is the root of all of this. [Mary of Agreda said that at the Crucifixion, immediately the demons congregated in Hell planning the overthrow of the Church.]

    Most of us are simple sheep without the spiritual or intellectual heft to understand the nuances of this chaos in which we find ourselves. Mary’s gift of the Rosary is for these times. Can’t figure it out? Don’t know who to believe? Don’t know what to do? Give it to Mary. Pray the Rosary.

  49. Nan says:

    Prayers to St. Vladimir? I’d start with his grandma, St. Olga, who first converted to Christianity, also to SS Boris and Gleb. Because Crimea has belonged to Russia for a mere couple hundred years, it should remain with them forever? Look at the land that belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire, Slovenia alone was theirs for 500 years. That doesn’t mean it must remain with them forever! I would also caution that both Belarus and Poland are nervous about the annexation of Crimea.

    @Crimson Catholic, you’re talking about the country’s rulers being anti-Catholic or anti-religion. Crimea is a matter of one country annexing part of another and is a different sort of issue. I’m concerned that Russian authorities took a Catholic priest for interrogation, who has since left Crimea for his safety.

  50. Johnno says:

    Both Russia and America look after their own interests, naturally!

    America and Obama do bad things for the sake of bringing endless revolution and change to the world. Obama and his ilk or whoever is running America these days is ruled by relativism and intends to rule through chaos.

    Russia and Putin on the other hand seek to rule by leveraging stability. Putin will do whatever it takes to strengthen the Russian federation and secure its future as a world power no different than America. But unlike Obama who wants change and endless marxist revolution, Putin wants control via a stable nation, stable people and stable morality and thus the Russian Orthodox Church is a necessary and practical vehicle. And Putin will suceed because his goals are more closely aligned to practical reality and morality.

    The Catholic Church is surrounded by 3 anti-Catholic powers:
    – Morally relative, bankrupt and pseudo-democratic communist America. It is the most unstable of these forces.
    – Communist atheist China.
    – The schismatic Orthodox Russia.

    God has chosen one of these to deliver the world. And He said it would be Russia following its public consecration to teh Immaculate Heart in reparation for its sins and errors by the Pope in union with the world’s bishops for the total conversion of the nation and its people to, obviously, the Catholic Faith.

    When Pope Francis implored us to join him to pray for a peaceful resolution to Syria, God answered with Putin and Russia. But the gulls and hawks still circle the doves…

    The wheels are turning here folks and time is of the essense. Russia can either be a key to aiding the Church, or a chastisement upon the world. When Israel had grown corrupt, God used Babylonia as His servant to punish and scatter Israel. It doesn’t matter to God who He wishes to use and whether they are of His household, He has stated who He wants and we are best served by complying with His will. The prophecies of Fatima have all been coming true, even Pope Benedict XVI warned us that future things continue to unravel themselves and that the mission of Fatima is not finished! The only winner here is the Lord; and His Church and Vicar have been given the opportunity to act in accordance with it, or suffer the consequences.

  51. RJHighland says:

    I could not tell you whether Putin’s pro Chrisitian positions are political or some kind of charaide but at least he is putting Christian laws onto the books in Russia. I know our President and his kind are putting into place laws that go against Christian doctrine/belief. I don’t believe Putin is a saint but compared to what the US is promoting around the world it is nice to see one world leader, for what ever reason, going against the secular tide. If praying Rosaries for the consecration of Russia has this kind affect on Putin and a rather aethistic nation I think we need to refocus those Rosaries on the United States and hopefully it will have the same effect. Sadly I don’t trust the Catholic Hierarchy in Eastern Europe/Russia any more than I trust the German or Austrian Hierarchy. You know when a man that serviced in the US military in the 8o’s finds it more palitable to give a Christian leaning Russian President the benefit of the doubt over an American President with very questionable religious positions we have huge problems. I can’t think of anyway anyone can still believe Obama has an ounce of Christianity flowing throw his vains. Obama uses Holy Scripture as artfully as Lucifer.

  52. lsclerkin says:

    Wow, Father. You’re getting linked from Drudge right now. Prepare for incoming.

  53. lsclerkin says:

    I’ sorry, Father and readers. you are not being linked from Drudge. you’re being linked from Pewsitter. My big mistake. I looked to quickly and it is early. Mea culpa.

  54. Andkaras says:

    Imrahil- I was quoting from the book. But don’t we see that same sentimentality spilling over into every part of the world towards everything from religion (Russian Orthodox) ,to nationalism( nobody does freedom like america) to Ideologies (live and let live ) to agendas (my body ,my choice)People all getting so whipped up in their own whatever , that they get swept up so thoroughly in the sentimentality of it all (also read feelings) devoid of restraints of a lived and practiced faith. It inevitably explodes in an effusion of violence. Seeming justified at the time to those who succumb to it, and leaving others ,more clear headed ,unable to stop it. I suppose he thought that the Germans at the time thought they were defending home country and family , rather they were following that madman.

  55. JacobWall says:

    @Imrihil & Robtbrown,

    I’m glad to hear the “other side” of the issue. I think it’s clear that Germany’s influence (whether intended or not, whether amicable or not) is important in Ukraine. There are a couple of points that are worth noting.

    If I understand correctly, Germany’s growing economic influence in Europe is not *entirely* self-willed. Germans are very hard working, organized and efficient people. Their economy reflects this fact. Their population is relatively large as well.

    Germany has money. More money than the more “romantic” European countries could dream to have, who are plagued by everything from socialism to a live-by-the-day economic ethic. I’m guessing (speculation on my part) that many European countries look to Germany’s money and do more than their fair share of pleading to get a bit of it. We saw that with Greece recently. Often, Germany was criticized as the bad guy, yet if I understand correctly, it was Greece asking for Germany’s money.

    So, a significant part of this could be that countries want Germany to share the wealth and so are willing to give them more say than they otherwise would. I think this is what you meant in point #2 in your initial comment.

    As for the German owned media, if that is true, I don’t think it is necessarily a conspiracy or some elaborate plan. Again, if your country has investors with money, it only follows that they will invest in growing markets and profitable enterprises – and I suppose the growing EU allows them more opportunities to do so?

    In any case, I don’t get the feeling that the Polish view of Germany is a very favorable one. I have heard similar sentiments about Germany and the EU from Czechs. I have also heard in other places that Western Ukraine has a long-standing inclination towards Europe and even Germany. (Sadly, I don’t think WWII helped that, as you mentioned, but it seems that perhaps it didn’t quench it all together.)

    In any case, I still do not doubt Germany’s primacy over the EU; sure, France stands on its own somewhat, but when it comes right down to it, who has the money? Again, this is probably not an entirely willful plan on the part of the German people or government, but nevertheless reality.

    I also do not doubt Germany’s interests in the current situation in Ukraine; again, I don’t think that Germany is planning a “take over” (quite contrary to Russia’s more than obvious plans) but it is still a strong interest.

    Germany is taking a strategy of appeasement. Sure. Germany has no nukes. That makes sense. The U.S. is taking a strategy of appeasement. The U.S. has nukes. That makes no sense. History tells us that when two nuclear powers go head to head, they don’t use nukes. My opinion is that if the U.S. had a president with any diplomatic ability at all, he would be able to put the pressure on and resolve this without endangering Ukraine or Europe.

    Again, Obama is very proud that he can force nuns to buy contraception (or thinks he can, anyway.) Some people seem to think that that makes him a diplomatic genious. Or that he negotiated with Iran to give them a chance to keep developing nuclear power with his approval. That’s genious if I’ve ever heard it. Or that he was going to invade Syria but obeyed when Putin told him “no.” (In that case, I’m glad he rolled over on his back. I didn’t want the U.S. to go into Syria.)

    Again, if there were a diplomat of any worth in the White House, I think this could be put to a stop without military confrontation – in fact, such a theoretical president could probably be proactive to prevent bloodshed in Ukraine. As things are, Putin knows who he’s dealing with and knows he can do whatever he wants. The Obama approach sounds something like Chamberlaine to me. I don’t think this is what Germany should want. But I’m not German or American so, in reality, it’s not much of my business. (My ancestors lived in Ukraine, so I have some distant interest there.)

    Come to think of it, knowing Obama’s diplomatic finesse, I would agree with you Imrahil – appeasement as a stratagy from the U.S. is probably the safest thing for Europe, and especially Ukraine, to hope for for now. If Obama actually tried to put his foot down, he would probably fumble it up and start a war, which would certainly not be good.

  56. Justin_Kolodziej says:

    It is really tough. Ukraine is between the stereotypical rock and hard place, it appears. I can’t see either the largely Godless EU or neo-Soviet Russia being good for them in general or the Church there in particular. I hear Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion are also KGB, but it may be just a rumor with no basis in fact. Let us ask for the intercession of the Theotokos, Sts. Andrew, Cyril, Methodius, Boris, Gleb, Volodomyr, Olha, Stanislaus, and Bl. Basil Hopko in this matter.

    As a long aside, I tried the Orthodox thing for a couple weeks. The details of why are very convoluted, including the village my family came from (if they were even there in the old days) starting out at the very border of Kievan Rus and passing to Red Ruthenia, Galicia, Poland, Austria, and back to Poland, but it only took one divine liturgy (and a couple well-chosen questions by my wife) to put and end to that. Although the Vatican considers the Orthodox Churches true churches, having valid sacraments, I know because of what I experienced there, which I truly believe is a lack of the Holy Spirit, that due to their obstinate schism they are deprived of the measure of grace that is present at Mass in the local Catholic parishes.

    I know, I know, some of you are going to say the spirit at the average local parish isn’t the Holy Spirit so that’s why you only attend Extraordinary Form Masses. All I know is whatever Spirit blows there at the ones near me is the same Spirit also at the Ukrainian Catholic and Byzantine Catholic Churches I have attended, which cannot be accused of liturgical silliness in any respect, and noticeably missing from the Orthodox church (OCA) I visited. The people were nice though, though I only talked to disgruntled former Catholics there. Nevertheless I am happily re-gruntled :-)