Things Are Very Bad in Ukraine and the Crimea

Let us just run down how bad:

  • This story informs us that “Russian troops took over Crimea as the parliament in Moscow gave President Vladimir Putin a green light Saturday to use the military to protect Russian interests in Ukraine.” And if that weren’t bad enough, we are also told that “[t]he newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react to the action by Russian troops based in the strategic region and more flown in, aided by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups.”
  • Peter Baker points out that “the United States has few palatable options” when it comes to trying to prevent Russia from moving troops into Ukraine. I certainly agree, and I am left to wonder why it is that President Obama wasted time and credibility in issuing a completely ineffectual statement on the developing situation in Ukraine. Walter Russell Mead writes that “President Putin appears to have stolen yet another march on the sputtering West,” and it is difficult to argue with his assessment. Certainly, nothing that the Obama administration has said or done in recent days will or should give Putin any reason whatsoever to rethink his recent activities.
  • Seeking to resist the notion that there is nothing to be done, retired admiral and former SACEUR James Stavridis contends that “the United States should be working in lock step” with our friends and allies, especially the ones in NATO, that “NATO should call an immediate emergency session and weigh its options,” and that “Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), led by U.S. General Phil Breedlove” should “conduct prudent planning and present options in response to the situation.” This includes increasing intelligence gathering and sharing intelligence with the new government in Kiev, counseling Ukrainian forces “in the event of further conflict,” and developing contingency plans, among other things. All of this is fine and good, but the admiral doesn’t discuss when/if NATO should actually enter into a shooting war with the Russians over Ukraine and/or the Crimea. That’s probably because he knows that NATO won’t enter in a shooting war with the Russians over Ukraine and/or the Crimea, which further solidifies one’s belief that Vladimir Putin is operating with a relatively free hand, and knows it.