Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ukraine and the Tombstone of the Reset

What's happening in Ukraine represents the tombstone for President Obama's reset. As I've argued before, (here and here) the Russian Government has successfully manipulated US foreign policy over the past five years. Cognizant of the President's international trepidation (an issue I've also written on here), Putin has advanced Russian strategic interests at the cost of both American prestige and influence. As I see it, the Russian surge into Crimea has two specific purposes - to deter western intervention and support for the new Ukrainian Government and to ensure that Russia's access to its Black Sea naval bases is sustained.

Still, this is about more than power politics. In part understandably (considering the ethnic make up of Crimea), Russia is deeply concerned by the prospect of appearing to abandon its key supporters. Russia wants to ensure that their opinion is represented by the new government.

Again, it's absolutely crucial to note that Russian foreign policy is always focused on local domination in service to the central authority of the Kremlin.

But of course, this is also about Putin's willingness to use military force in order to achieve his political objectives (see the video below from 13.58). Putin wagers that the US and the EU lack the constitution to restrain his intimidation. He may be right. In the days ahead, it is critical that President Obama show Putin that there are limits to Russia's power. In essence, the American President must restore Russia's faith in American power.

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