Putin defies West, moves on Ukraine

Photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

Josh Champlin, Staff writer

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again embarrassed the United States, this time by sending troops into the Crimean Peninsula despite warnings from President Barack Obama. Putin has ignored the exhortations of the president and the international community, and flaunted it in front of the world.

A popular revolution in Ukraine culminated with President Viktor Yanukovych being ousted by what Putin called an “unconstitutional coup.” Putin claims that he sent Russian forces into parts of Ukraine at the request of the “legitimate” Ukrainian government in order to protect “ethnic” Russians in the region. No matter what reason Putin gives, however, this move is an attempt to restore a part of the former Soviet Union to Russia.

Obama does not have many viable options at this point. The United States does not possess the moral high ground that it once did. Most countries around the world do not fear or respect America the way they once did. Going to war under questionable circumstances will do that to your credibility.

Remember Syria and the “red line” that was crossed when the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the rebels? There was no line. It was an empty threat made to quell fears of chemical weapons being used. Well, chemical weapons were used against civilians in Syria, and when they were used, Obama claimed that he never set any red line; he claimed that the world had set the line. He then threatened military action, but only with Congressional approval that he could not get.

Ironically enough, Putin was the one that rescued Obama from his empty promise on Syria by convincing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to voluntarily give up his chemical weapons.

Now, Obama has set another “line in the sand” over Ukraine. Putin, however, sees past this ploy. He has played his hand to perfection. He knows all too well that the U.S. is over-extended as it is. America simply does not have the money or capability to do anything about the situation in Ukraine. The American public is war-weary and skeptical of any military action whatsoever. All the U.S. can do at this point is threaten economic sanctions, which may or may not have any effect.

Other countries around the world have also noticed that America cannot commit to any meaningful action right now. North Korea is test launching ICBMs. Iran is undeterred in its pursuit of a nuclear program. China is flexing its economic and military muscle everywhere in Asia. The rest of the world is laughing at the United States and with good reason. By establishing “red lines” that he has no intention of enforcing, Obama makes the United States look weak and our allies question our commitments.

Both the U.S. and Russia should stay out of the affairs of Ukraine. The people there should determine their own destiny. That being said, the president of the United States should not make vague threats that he has no intention of enforcing. It damages America’s credibility, and that is in short enough supply as it is. The rest of the world will eventually run out of patience for empty American promises of aid.

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