Wednesday, April 16, 2014
On the continued events in Ukraine.
They say that weakness invites aggression. If you'd like a recent example, please observe the recent situation taking place in Ukraine. I posted about this once before, shortly after the start of the invasion. I firmly believe that the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine is a result of the weakness that has been shown by the Obama Administration since 2008.
The Obama Administration stated years ago that their goal was to "reset" relations with Russia. As a sign of goodwill, the US shutdown the strategic missile defense sites positioned throughout Eastern Europe. The purpose of those sites was to deter the use of strategic missiles by Russia. The act of goodwill by the Americans went completely unreturned.
Vladimir Putin had been fighting against the deployment of the missile defense sites for years. I believe he saw this first act as a sign of things to come. Since then, there have been repeated signs of weakness out of the White House.
Obama first went head to head with the Russians over Syria. Obama made his now infamous "red line" statement against the Syrian regime that was supported by the Russians. Obama stated that Assad must turn over his chemical weapons, end the civil war and step down. After he failed to follow through on that statement, the door was left open for Putin to step in and "save the day". He "convinced" Syrian president Assad to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile. To anyone who knows anything about Russia, this basically guaranteed that Assad would keep most of his stockpile, the war in Syria would continue and Assad would remain firmly in power.
The Olympic Games in Sochi were a major victory for Russia and Vladimir Putin on the world's stage. Despite discrimination against gays, mass signal intelligence collection against anyone near the Olympic's location, footage of whip wielding Cossacks beating "troublemakers" and myriad problems with the hotels and other accommodations, the games went off without any majorly visible problems to the rest of the world. Putin's image was greatly enhance by this.
All of this now brings us to where we are. Putin has effectively used intelligence agents in Ukraine to sow instability, giving him the opportunity to swoop in and protect Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens. After using paramilitary units in unmarked uniforms (a violation of the Geneva Conventions) to invade Crimea, Putin's security services continued to operate in the area, leading to a 97% vote in Crimea to secede and join the Russian Federation. While many, if not most, Crimeans wished to join Russia, the armed Russian soldiers and more whip wielding Cossacks standing at every street corner and polling station likely had an effect on those numbers.
The only reaction from the Obama Administraition has been lukewarm rhetoric citing the violation of "international norms" and displays of "19th century" behavior on the part of Russia. Sanctions against certain Russian officials have been put in place, but it's believed that as few as a dozen individuals are actually being affected.
Russia has since expanded the operations of intelligence officers and paramilitary units in Eastern Ukraine. Over 40,000 Russian troops are stationed along the Russia-Ukraine border and stand prepared to invade in order to "protect" more Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens. Intelligence agents have continued to encourage a rising insurgency and Russian paramilitary units have steadily been seizing, by force, Ukrainian government buildings. The events are playing out the same as they did in Crimea.
NATO and the US have done little besides make statements condemning Russian actions, but Vladimir Putin has been unaffected by them. Europe must tread lightly or risk losing their source of the natural gas they are now so dependent on Russia for.
Weak actions and words from the Obama Administration have Putin the green light he has been waiting years for. The events we see unfolding are what happens when a Chicago community organizer goes head-to-head with a former Cold War KGB agent. The only thing that Putin respects is the threat of brute force. One of the first things Obama did in regards to the Russian actions in Ukraine was to take US military action off the table. That is all Putin needed to hear.
Anyone who believes this situation is none of our business possesses a dangerous lack of understanding and foresight. Vladimir Putin's behavior is similar to Adolf Hitler's and Obama's weakness is similar to that of Neville Chamberlain. Pray that these events do not continue to mimic the past.