Tag: Ukraine

What Ukraine Should Do Now

 

Vladimir_Putin_12024In a new piece I have up at Forbes, I lay out exactly what’s at stake for the West with Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine. In short, Putin wants nothing less than to unravel NATO. The U.S. has been decidedly unhelpful in assisting Ukraine, even though our allies there are much more reliable than the ones we’ve been arming in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. So what should Ukraine do now? My suggestion:

If I were Ukraine, I might concede Donbass and Crimea on a de facto but not de jure basis. Russia will not let them go under present circumstances. Let the Donbass (or that part that it presently holds) be a problem for Russia and the separatists to contend with; don’t let its self-appointed leaders dictate Ukrainian policy. When the time is right, the Donbass can come back into the fold. I would maintain a formidable standing army to defend the remaining Ukrainian provinces that have come to hate Putin’s Russia with a vengeance. I imagine that Odessa, Kiev, Zaporozhe and Lviv will make short change of self-appointed Muscovites when they arrive to proclaim new people’s republics. Who knows? If active hostilities ended, maybe even Barack Obama would supply defensive weapons. He’s good at shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

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(Washington D.C.) – National Security Advisor, Susan Rice took to the microphones the other day to attempt to allay fears from members of the media about some of the more disturbing events around the world. The following is the text of her remarks: More

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From the front page of the Sept. 1, 1939, New York Times: Charging that Germany had been attacked, Chancellor Hitler at 5:11 o’clock this morning issued a proclamation to the army declaring that from now on force will be met with force and calling on the armed forces “to fulfill their duty to the end.” […]

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Putin’s Russia: A Cornered Bear

 

High energy prices have been a boon to Russia for years. Shrewdly, Vladimir Putin spent this mountain of cash solidifying his grip on power. He eliminated rivals, silenced critics, and propagated a cult of personality to create a millions-strong volunteer army of often violent devotees. In the minds of many Russians, l’etat c’est Vlad.

But with a massive oil glut from North America and OPEC, Russia’s economy is crashing. The ruble has been dropping for a week. To prop up the currency, the Russian central bank suddenly and surprisingly jacked up interest rates to no avail.

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Putin Sends a Message… and Bombers

 

President Obama has spent most of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing trying to avoid Vladimir Putin. For his part, the Russian leader seemed amused at the cold shoulder, gamely trying to force photo ops with his American counterpart. The result was a collected, smirking Putin and an exhausted, peevish Obama. The body language of the photo above tells the story almost as well as Russia’s latest troop movements.

As Obama bumbled at APEC, Putin moved his army into Ukraine:

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Yeah, those guys. Forgot about them for a bit, didn’t we? Scotland was fun to chat about, but they aren’t the ones with the planes and the ships and the nukes. So, a few hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Canada’s Parliament, this happened: More

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An Appeal to the West from a Ukrainian Patriot

 

With Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko scheduled to address Congress tomorrow, we must understand that he faces both the external problem that we follow closely and an internal problem about which we hear little. The external problem is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which has led to over 3,000 deaths. The internal problem is Ukraine’s political crisis which Irina Gokieli addresses below.

The Maidan revolution was a popular uprising against Russian domination, against a corrupt political class, and against a society that lacked a rule of law. In her essay, Irina describes Ukraine’s hard road in fighting both an external and an internal conflict with a parliamentary election looming in the near future. As Mikhail Gorbachev before him in Russia, Poroshenko faces a parliament that reflects the corruption and abuse of the ruling elite that has held sway over Ukraine since independence. She issues an urgent appeal to the West to pressure Ukraine to deal with its internal problems, without which Ukraine has little hope of prevailing over Russian aggression.

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A Teachable Moment for Rand Paul?

 

We now have on our hands Barack Obama’s War, for our latest Middle Eastern war belongs entirely to him. And someone — let it be me! — should alert Sen. Rand Paul to this teachable moment, for Obama’s War (which Rand Paul supports) was brought on by the very policy of non-intervention that he, his father, and the Cato Institute all championed. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has testified in word and deed, there is essentially no difference on foreign affairs between left-wing Democratics and arch-libertarians who sometimes vote Republican.

This war might have been avoided. Had Obama taken the trouble to arrange for a few thousand American soldiers to remain in Iraq — as he easily could have — the Iraqi’s coalition government between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd would have held, despite Maliki’s perfidy. That, in turn, would have prevented al-Qaeda’s reemergence in the Sunni-dominated provinces of Iraq. Moreover, ISIS would not be in control of great swathes of Syria had the president followed the advice of his advisors and allies and backed the secular-minded opposition to Bashar al-Assad from the start.

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Charles Krauthammer reinforces my doubts about NATO under current leadership. Is NATO still a serious alliance? Does Putin fear it? Would the alliance be called into action to defend some members but not others?  More

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Sorry, Putin, there is another Napoleon in town. In a post on Ricochet last March, I noted that tyrants were always short guys and I advanced the idea that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was just the man to stop Putin: More

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Some time ago, March 17th to be precise, Jane’s 360 produced an interesting article on the, then potential, conflict brewing between Russia and the Ukraine. Of the many observations a couple were rather striking: • If Russia were to intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine it would seek to do so rapidly, so as to prevent […]

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Putin Punishes the West by Punishing the Russian People

 

BuXShb7IQAEhEguVladimir Putin, the self-proclaimed savior and protector of the Russian people, wherever they may be, has decided to punish the West by banning imports of food from Europe, Australia, and North America. Russian propaganda is busy convincing the Russian people that foregoing German yogurt, Italian strawberries, and even Big Macs is a small price to pay for Russian pride and the protection of ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, Moldova, and anywhere else they may be from rabid and homicidal Nazi thugs.

Putin may know his politics and may carry the Russian people along with his trade war, but his grasp of economics is deficient, to say the least.

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If I were Putin, I would send 50,000 troops into Eastern Ukraine and “liberate” it from the vile Ukrainian rebels who shot down MH17. Sure, the rebels are Putin’s own thugs. But Putin’s been pretending they aren’t his thugs all along. By invading Eastern Ukraine, Putin would be demonstrating his power on the world stage, […]

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The Latest on the Downed Jetliner in Ukraine

 

malaysian airlines crash july 2014_1405612997366_6875150_ver1.0_320_240Over at Commentary, Max Boot puts together the pieces of the puzzle that have so far emerged. His conclusion? Pro-Russian separatists are probably responsible — and that the United States must speak out soon and forcefully.

An excerpt:

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Russian Terrorist “Demon” Executes Two Hostages on YouTube

 

BezlerThe separatist military commander of the east Ukraine town of Gorlivka is shown, on a new video of his own making, executing two civilian hostages. Russian citizen Igor Bezler — nomme de guerre “Bes” or “Demon” — is shown on the video threatening that he will shoot eight captured military hostages unless the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, frees a captured Russian agent.

Before giving the order to fire, “Demon” complains that he has waited three days for the hostage exchange and cannot wait any longer. Therefore, Citizens Budnik and Vasiushenko will be executed, he declares. “Demon” then gives the order to fire as he walks away casually. The video records the shots being fired and shows the victims falling to the floor. [Note: the link points to a story about the video that includes an embed of the video itself. It’s no longer viewable, however, as it’s been removed from YouTube.] [Update: the video is viewable via the linked article, where someone has posted a new YouTube address in the comments section. While it is not nearly as graphic as the standard violence you’d see in a Hollywood film, viewer discretion is still advised].

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Saving Ukraine … with Night Vision Goggles

 

shutterstock_31342912President Obama’s National Security Council has announced the allocation of $5 million for Ukraine amid the ongoing armed conflict in the southeastern part of the country, money that’s going to go to the purchase of things like night vision and body armor. This gesture is similar to the announcement after Crimea’s annexation that several hundred U.S. troops would take part in maneuvers in Poland and the Baltic States.

If Ukraine uses the entire $5 million to buy top- of-the-line night vision goggles, its hard-pressed army could get exactly 556 pairs … to fight a Russian mercenary army that numbers in the thousands.

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The Truth About Ukraine

 

shutterstock_167810666Yesterday, President Obama gave a commencement address to the cadets at West Point. Here’s what he said about Ukraine:

This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next president. We don’t know how the situation will play out, and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order, working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future — without us firing a shot.

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What Putin Wants

 

In this final excerpt from my conversation with Michael McFaul — America’s ambassador in Moscow up until as recently as the Sochi Olympics — I put to him the question we’ve all been nursing these past few months: just what, exactly, is Vladimir Putin up to? And when will his appetite be sated? His answer below:

 

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Uncommon Knowledge: Michael McFaul’s Advice for Vladimir Putin

 

In our recent conversation for Uncommon Knowledge, I asked the Hoover Institution’s Michael McFaul — only a few months removed from his tenure as the US Ambassador to Russia — what advice he would give Vladimir Putin if he were guaranteed the Russian president would listen. Here’s how he answered:

 

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