Vladimir Putin continues to kick up his heels in Eastern Europe, and the United States’ reaction continues to be feckless and ineffectual. First of today’s commentaries on that subject comes from the Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto: Russian Republican? Excerpt:
“Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions ‘teed up’–even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine,” the Associated Press reports from Tokyo.
“Teed up”? What was it that somebody said about Putin playing chess while Obama plays golf?
Obama’s comments in Tokyo call to mind a story in Sunday’s New York Times by Peter Baker, which carried the curious headline “In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin”:
Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible.
Only a short generation ago we thought the Cold War was over. Mr. Putin, who we should bear in mind is a former KGB Colonel, seems determined to either re-ignite that Cold War or to establish a new Russian Empire – either that or a new Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, as Mr. Taranto pithily points out, the laughably inexperienced President Obama continues to play golf while Putin is playing chess – and, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor, Putin is playing for all the marbles.
More on that point, this time from Reason.com: Russia Threatens Invasion Unless Ukraine Stops Stopping Separatists. Excerpt:
Russia launched new military exercises along the Ukrainian border as part of yesterday’s threat that Kremlin forces would invade Ukraine if the nation continues its “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russian separatists.
Showing that Russia means business, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu today mobilized artillery, tanks, and fighter jets. Without a hint of irony, he justified the move by condemning the Ukrainian government’s action against the insurgents who are suspected of being Russian-backed. “The forces are clearly unequal. If this military machine is not stopped today, it will lead to a large number of dead and wounded.”
Let’s face it – if Ukraine and Russia come to blows, it won’t end well for Ukraine. The Russian Army is only a pale shadow of the WW2 Red Army colossus, but it’s more than enough to roll up the Ukrainian forces like the cheapest of carpets. And aside from some ineffectual sanctions, what will the U.S. and western Europe do?
That’s right. Nothing.
Interesting times, True Believers. Interesting times.