It should make us all a little uneasy that there is no move for peace in the Ukraine. U.S. and EU attempts, at pressuring Russia into controlling pro-Russian rebels, have failed to have its desired effects. The only suffering in Russia is among its citizenry. The war is starting to ramp up again, and more lives are lost, as a new rebel offensive has begun.
These developments have prompted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to send a letter of personal appeal to Vladimir Putin. AFP reports:
Poroshenko’s personal letter and US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s warning came one day after European Union leaders unanimously backed pursuing more economic restrictions against Russia for its alleged meddling in Ukraine.
Lew’s sent a warning of further and stiffer economic sanctions on Russia if they do not uphold the treaty they signed in September. AFP further reports:
Poroshenko’s office said his letter to Putin demanded that Moscow immediately rein in the offensive and fulfil the terms of a long-ignored peace plan it signed with Kiev and two top separatist leaders in Belarus in September.
“On Monday, I sent a letter to President Putin whose main elements included not only the demand to cease fire and implement the Minsk Agreements but also to release Nadezhda (Nadia) Savchenko and all the hostages,” the presidency quoted Poroshenko as saying.
Savchenko is a fighter pilot kidnapped by Separatists and transported to Moscow. She awaits trial there. AFP reports
She is charged with involvement in an attack that killed two Russian reporters in June. Savchenko’s lawyers said she went on a hunger strike in protest at her detention on December 13.
There then are two hard questions, we as Americans have to ask.
First, are the sanctions working and to what end? We must understand that there is no doubt that Russia is supporting the Separatist Rebels. Nor that this Russian support has as its ends two motives. The first motive is the wedging between Ukraine and Western powers. The second is the rebuilding of Russia to her former Soviet glory.
AFP points to the fact that the sanctions should be working as they have had their desired effect. They report:
Western sanctions and a coinciding slide in oil prices have plunged Russia into recession and seen Standard and Poor’s slap a “junk” rating on Moscow’s foreign currency debt. The downgrade threatens to further alienate Western investors as the grade is Russia’s worst since the start of Putin’s 15-year rule.
The second question is why did we not see this coming? In 1995, in an effort to support and promote a democratic and market-based Russia, America spent nearly 9 Billion in direct aid or credit. Not to mention food donations and agricultural technology give aways. All this to win over its former enemy. Even though, there was a nationalistic movement gaining momentum inside Russia.
This “Marshall Plan” style efforts probably staved off a more anti-American dictatorial style Russia. But, now we have a Market-based, oil and agricultural rich anti-American Russia. Its leader has the heart of his people and is politically and internationally savvy. Putin has taken the lessons of the Cold War and has prepared. He was ready for the way in which we would resist his goals. Now, he may be prepared to wait us out and absorb sections of Ukraine, one at a time.
Is this what Obama meant when he told the Russian ambassador to be patient? Do we have a strategy to deal with a newly aggressive Russia? What would a Russian backed Middle-East look like now? How would we deal with such contingencies?
It seems that our foreign policy is either through inability or blatant neglect to be making the world a more dangerous place for America. And to think, Romney was ridiculed for saying this was coming.
Hey, it is beginning to look more and more like the 1980’s!