White House needs to rethink strategy on dealing with Russia
Vows by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama to line up a solid international front against Russia over its intervention in Ukraine may have to be rethought. Russian leader Vladimir Putin already has pulled the rug out from under that strategy.
British leaders seem to have sensed that already, in refusing to jump on the U.S. bandwagon concerning diplomatic and economic action against Russia.
Consider Putin’s position and actions during the past week:
Even as he was smiling to crowds during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, not far from Ukraine, Putin was preparing a strategy to deal with protesters who, at that time, threatened to topple their nation’s regime. Because that government was friendly to Moscow, replacing it was a blow to Putin’s goal of making Ukraine what would amount to a Russian dependency.
But when he sent troops into Ukraine, Putin directed them to the Crimean peninsula – an area thick with ethnic Russians who fear the new order in Kiev. Putin can make an excellent case for rescuing a people in danger.
Then, on Monday, Putin canceled major military maneuvers planned by the Russian armed forces near the Ukrainian border. By doing that, he can claim to be the world leader seeking to defuse tensions.
Obama and Kerry may have painted themselves into a corner in terms of rallying international support against Russia. U.S. strategy needs to be reconsidered to guard against a major error.