Some people were surprised at Vladimir Putin’s move into Ukraine, and I am greatly amused that they were shocked! Let’s be honest – since the day that the Soviet Union disappeared, Putin has not been a very happy person. He claims that was a terrible day – the worst day of his life. He, after all, was (and really still is) a KGB officer. Many Russians were very proud of being a superpower and felt the USSR was equal to America. Now, that glory is gone in their minds. Americans are the type that most of us thought that once the USSR was gone, we could all live in blissful harmony. Oops! Sorry, but the world doesn’t work like that – at least not yet. When America doesn’t play the role of superpower in its day-to-day activities (I don’t mean war but in leadership, standing for our principles, and using economic and diplomatic tools to strengthen our allies and countries that are trying to inch toward our vision of human rights and democracy), problems occur such as Ukraine, China Sea incursions, chaos in the Middle East, etc.
Putin has stepped over the line before and there were no consequences – Georgia and Syria to name the most obvious. There is no reason to believe his thought process is going to change anytime soon. After all, he definitely is into “size matters” and showing off his prowess. (Side thought: I wonder if Russia were led by a woman if we’d have the same problem?) So what will he do next? His neighbors such as Moldova are probably a little nervous this month.
He has reserved the right to go further into Ukraine or anywhere that might pose a threat to “Russian peoples.” So he has left the door open for any future expansion. Their own internal domestic issues stymie the U.S. and Europe. Both Bush and Obama were out maneuvered, and, so far, it doesn’t seem as if this Administration has figured out how to react. We all have heard of the multiple long phone calls between Obama and Putin that seem to have had no results. Crimea on the March 16 is voting on whether they will join the Russian Federation, and since the minority population of Tatars is refusing to participate in the vote, it looks fairly certain that Crimea will vote to join Russia. Since Europe cannot come up with a unified sanction plan so far due to the division within the EU between the nations, such as Poland and the Baltic states wanting sanctions, and Germany leading a group that financially are dependent on their trade with Russia, not wanting to impose serious sanctions, it looks as if Putin’s play most likely will win.
Some of the talking heads on television have stated that there was nothing the U.S. could have done to prevent Putin’s actions. Their argument is that the U.S. is weary of war. That is true, but war is not the only option for America’s leaders. As Chairman Mike Rogers of the House Intelligence Committee, pointed out, “Putin has been playing chess and we have been playing marbles.” Hopefully, as we move forward (probably with a smaller Ukrainian state and a larger Russian one), we will start playing chess since I can guarantee that Putin will not suddenly be playing marbles.