Tag Archives: Ukraine

Hey, didn’t Russia invade Georgia … in 2008?

The criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis of 2014 ignores the Russia-Georgia crisis of 2008.

Six years ago, Russian dictator/president Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia, another one of those former Soviet satellite states. The U.S. president at the time, George W. Bush, let it happen. What could President Bush to stop Putin? Nothing. What should he have done? Go to war? That’s a tough call, given that the United States was already involved in two shooting wars at the time, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m left to wonder: Where was the criticism from the right back then? It was silent.

Move forward to the present day. Russian troops are sitting in Crimea, a region of Ukraine. There might be more military involvement from Russia, which is nervous over the ouster of pro-Russia president by insurgents in Ukraine.

What’s President Obama supposed to do? What can he do? Does he go to war with Russia? Well, of course not.

Yet the criticism is pouring in from the right, from the likes of Sen. John McCain, former defense boss Donald Rumsfeld, former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, every right-wing talking head this side of Sean Hannity. They’re all bemoaning the “invasion” of Russian troops of a sovereign country, Ukraine.

Oh, but wait. Didn’t this country invade a sovereign country, Iraq, in March 2003 because — we were told — the late dictator Saddam Hussein had this big cache of chemical weapons?

President Bush told us once that he peered into Putin’s “soul” and saw a man of commitment and integrity. Well, that soul also belongs to a former head of the KGB, the former Soviet spy agency.

I’m thinking another key Republican, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has it right. He’s telling his fellow GOPers to tone down the criticism while the president tries — along with our allies — to manage a dangerous crisis.

Ukraine is our concern … because?

A good night’s sleep has a way of making one’s perspective change a bit the next day.

It happened to me overnight. I went to sleep wondering why Russian officials are talking about yanking their ambassador to the United States because of our demands that Russia stay out of Ukraine’s internal affairs.

I awoke this morning wondering: Why are we involved in this dispute?

This is a classic United Nations matter that needs to be resolved around the Security Council table of nations — and that certainly includes the United States.

Of all the permanent Security Council members, I’m going to presume that all of them — except Russia, of course — believe fervently in Ukraine’s sovereignty. Therefore, one can presume that the Security Council should be drafting resolutions calling for Russia to back off, get out and leave this Ukrainian matter up to the Ukrainians.

One big problem, of course, with that Russia is one of those nations that can veto anything the Security Council proposes. That makes the matter virtually moot, given the U.N. governing structure.

Still, the United States’s involvement — the demands from the White House and the declarations of “costs” that Russia could pay if it doesn’t butt out — is creating an equally untenable position for this country.

What, precisely, can we do to Russia? We aren’t going to hit them militarily. We aren’t going to sever diplomatic relations; heck, we even had an embassy in Moscow during the depths of the Cold War.

The most we can do is as President Obama has declared: “Stand with the international community” in backing Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Geopolitics remains a highly complicated matter.

Russians might pull their envoy to the U.S.?

So, let me see if I have this correct.

Ukrainian insurgents have driven that country’s president out; he’s holed up in Moscow; Russia is threatening to intervene in another sovereign country’s affairs; Russia is mobilizing its armed forces; President Obama has warned Russia that any outside interference in Ukrainian affairs will have “costs.”

And the Russians are threatening to pull their ambassador to the United States?


Shouldn’t the United States pull its ambassador to Moscow?

Secretary of State John Kerry has said U.S.-Russia relations are at stake. It’s not entirely clear what precisely he means by the stakes involved.

There cannot be a severing of diplomatic relations between the nations. This gamesmanship over who pulls their ambassador first, though, cannot continue.

The best solution from the U.S. and European standpoint would be for the Russians to butt out, to let Ukraine decide who will govern the country without outside interference.

If the Russians are intent on honoring international law, then they’ll back off and let their neighbors in Ukraine settle this dispute on their own.

Ukraine crisis takes ominous turn

President Obama said today there will be “costs” if Russia intervenes militarily in Ukraine’s civil unrest.

OK, at least the president didn’t draw a bright line.


His comments today came as word arrived that Russian troops have been spotted inside Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s president — a friend of Russia — is holed up on Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin is rattling swords. It’s turning now into another East-West confrontation that reminds some folks of, yep, another Cold War.

The United States, Europe, indeed the rest of the world will not dare to intervene militarily on behalf of Ukraine if Russia refuses to back off. So that leaves the question: How do you define “costs,” Mr. President?

Economic sanctions? Trade embargo? Blockade? Freezing of assets abroad?

This crisis underscores the frustration and the danger of trying to stare down a nation with substantial military muscle.

It almost goes without saying that the president is correct to assert that Ukraine must be allowed to decide its political future peacefully — and by itself. Its sovereignty must not be violated. Yes, Russia has a long-standing historical tie with Ukraine, given that Ukraine once was a satellite state of the former Soviet Union.

But that’s in the past. The present requires Russia to honor Ukraine’s internal wishes and it must not dictate its future the way the Soviet Union dictated civil unrest outcomes in Hungary (in 1956) and Czechoslovakia (in 1968) by use of brute force. The Soviet empire has been tossed into the trash heap.

The world is watching and waiting.

‘This isn’t Rocky IV’

The last time Secretary of State John Kerry used a “Rocky IV” reference in public was at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Then, he was poking fun at Republican presidential nominee’s assertion that Russia was this nation’s most dangerous “geopolitical foe.” Kerry, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, declared that Romney’s view of Russia was more like the “Rocky IV” film that became a silly metaphor for the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

It drew huge applause and laughter at the DNC’s final night in September 2012.

It’s not a laugh line in today’s context.


Kerry has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about rekindling the Cold War by threatening Ukraine, a neighboring country — and former Soviet state — with military exercises.

Ukraine has just ousted its Russia-friendly president amid terrible street violence in cities throughout that country. Putin’s decision to activate the military has forced Kerry to issue some stern warnings on behalf of the United States.

He told NBC News: “I think Russia needs to be very careful in the judgments that it makes going forward here. We are not looking for confrontation. But we are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity here, the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia has said it would do that and we think it’s important that Russia keeps its word.”

According to NBC.com, Kerry also said that “Russian President Vladimir Putin should ‘listen carefully to Ukrainians who have voiced their desire for change,’ repeating that the United States does not view its relationship with Russia as a ‘sort of continuation of the Cold War.’”

Are we going to war with Russia if the Russians intervene militarily? Of course not. However, memories of the long-simmering rivalry between the nations ought to be as long in Russia as they are in this country.

We won the Cold War. Putin ought to think carefully about how it turned out for his side if he intends to start a new one.

You must define ‘outrage,’ Mr. President

President Obama said today he is “outraged” over the violence in Ukraine.

He vows “consequences” will occur if the Ukrainian government refuses to stop killing its people who are mounting what were supposed to be peaceful protests.


Let’s understand, of course, that the president was “outraged” over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. He threatened a military strike, he sought permission from Congress — which it had demanded — to act and then, presto!, the Russians stepped in with a deal to rid the Syrian military of the chemicals it used on its citizens.

The Ukraine matter is different, to be sure.

The United States cannot launch a military strike against the former Soviet republic that sits right next to Russia. It can, and must, be firm in enacting economic sanctions — perhaps even imposing a trade embargo if the government doesn’t stop slaughtering its citizens.

Bear in mind that this is a big deal with huge implications around the world. Ukraine possesses a lot of the nuclear material used to build the Soviet arsenal during the Cold War. The Cold War ended a little more than two decades ago, but the material remains.

The Ukrainian government had announced a truce with those who were protesting, only to see the truce shattered overnight, prompting the rhetorical response from the White House.

And per normal these days, the usual suspects here at home are criticizing the White House and the president for perceived fecklessness in handling this crisis.

Let’s understand, the Russians aren’t about to let anyone — even the United States — get too involved singularly in this dispute.

There must be a concerted international effort involving the European Union, and the United States and Russia to bring huge pressure to bear on the Ukrainian government thugs.

Can our government play a role? Sure, but we need to make sure this remains a team game.

President Obama’s outrage must be tempered with reason and even a tad bit of patience.