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Monday, March 3, 2014

What to do about Putin's invasion of Ukraine? -- By Michael Barone, The Washington Examiner

It is obvious that Russia is conducting an invasion of Ukraine. This violates the 1994 Budapest Memorandum between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Britain, in which each party agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia's claim that it is acting to protect the rights of Russian citizens in Ukraine is redolent of Hitler's claims that he was taking over Czechoslovakia and the free city of Danzig and attacking Poland to protect ethnic Germans. Russia has treaty rights in its naval base in Crimea, but it has gone much farther by taking over the whole peninsula; it is as if the United States, possessed of treaty rights in its base in Guantanamo, should send in military forces or auxiliaries into Cuba.

What is the United States prepared to do about this?

Not much, to judge from the brief remarks President Obama made in the White House press room Friday afternoon before hurrying over to speak, with evident relief, in the more welcoming venue of a Democratic fundraiser three blocks away at the Capital Hilton. “We are now deeply concerned by military movements taken by the Russian Federation within Ukraine,” Obama said at the White House. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Pretty bland stuff. “Deeply concerned” rather than “gravely concerned”--a much stronger phrase in diplomatic argot. “The United States will stand,” not act or lead, “with the international community”--no mention of NATO or the European Union or fellow Budapest Memorandum signatory Britain--“in affirming that there will be costs,” affirming not assuring or promising, “for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Why add “any” if there is no doubt that there is intervention--excuse me, “military movements.”

Here are some suggestions of what the United States can do.

(1) Announce it will not only not attend the G-8 conference scheduled for Sochi but will move to expel Russia from the G-8. Russia doesn't belong in the G-8 anyway; the other members, the original G-7, have much larger economies with electoral democracies, free markets and the rule of law. Russia is deficient on each count.

(2) Move U.S. and other NATO military forces into Poland and other Eastern European NATO countries, particularly the Baltic republics. These nations have been extremely cooperative with the United States and have received the back of our hand in return.

(3) Move to set up the anti-ballistic missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic which Obama scuttled in 2009--on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, when it was an ally of Nazi Germany, in 1939.

(4) Cut off Russian banks' access to U.S., European Union and Japanese banking facilities. Such moves squeezed Iran">Iran hard enough to get it to the bargaining table.

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