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Washington - Analysis: Limited US, European Options In Ukraine

Published on: March 1, 2014 11:57 PM
By: AP
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President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014.<br />
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Washington - Despite blunt warnings about costs and consequences, President Barack Obama and European leaders have limited options for retaliating against Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the former Soviet republic now at the center of an emerging conflict between East and West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far dismissed the few specific threats from the United States, which include scrapping plans for Obama to attend an international summit in Russia this summer and cutting off trade talks sought by Moscow. Because Ukraine does not have full-member status in NATO, the U.S. and Europe have no obligation to come to its defense. And broader international action through the United Nations seems all but impossible, given Russia’s veto power as a member of the Security Council.

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“There have been strong words from the U.S. and other counties and NATO,” said Keir Giles, a Russian military analyst at the Chatham House think tank in London. “But these are empty threats. There is really not a great deal that can be done to influence the situation.”

As if to underscore that point, Putin on Saturday requested and was granted permission to use Russia’s military not just in the pro-Russian region of Crimea, but also throughout Ukraine. Putin’s request came one day after Obama warned that any violation of Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing.”

Saturday’s developments follow three months of political upheaval in Ukraine following President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of historical ties with Moscow. Yanukovych fled Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, last week and now is in Russia.

Putin’s moves are sure to deepen tensions in his already troubled relationship with Obama, who has struggled to find a formula for getting the Russian leader to change his calculus on a myriad of issues.

American efforts to punish Russia on Ukraine and other matters have been complicated by the White House’s need for Russian cooperation on stopping Syria’s civil war, negotiating a nuclear accord with Iran, and transporting American troops and equipment out of Afghanistan through Russian supply routes.

“We face a difficult choice of punishing Russia by effectively punishing ourselves,” said Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Obama has tried to use his travel plans to Russia as a bargaining chip before, in the hopes that Putin might bend under the threat of a diplomatic embarrassment. Last summer, the White House dangled the prospect of canceling a bilateral summit between Obama and Putin as it pressed Russia to return National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to the United States.

When Russia instead granted Snowden temporary asylum, Obama canceled his one-on-one meeting with Putin. Obama did attend an international meeting in St. Petersburg.

U.S. officials say they are in discussions now with European officials about Obama and other leaders possibly skipping the Group of Eight economic summit scheduled for June in Sochi, the site of the just-concluded Winter Olympics. Obama’s top advisers gathered at the White House Saturday to discuss other options.

The White House appears to be giving no serious consideration to American military involvement in Ukraine. In his carefully worded statement Friday, Obama avoided saying that a destabilized Ukraine would be a national security concern for the U.S. Instead, he said only that it was “not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia or Europe.”

In Europe, officials expressed concern about the Russian military escalation, but offered few specific options for stopping or punishing Putin. The European Union, dealing with its own internal problems, has appeared reluctant to fully embrace troubled Ukraine or risk the economic consequences of confronting Russia, one of its largest trading partners.

“The world is on the verge of a conflict the outcome of which cannot be perceived yet,” said Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk, whose country shares a border with Ukraine. Tusk appealed for Europe to send a “very clear signal” that it will not tolerate acts of aggression, but he did not outline specific steps.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said Russia’s attempts to “escalate the situation in Ukraine” reminded him of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, which crushed liberal reforms and ended an era known as the Prague Spring.

“We don’t solve and can’t solve disagreements in Europe by force,” Zaoralek said.

The U.N. Security Council was holding a closed-door meeting on Ukraine Saturday, its second in two days. But there’s virtually no chance of getting even a resolution condemning Russian intervention given Russian veto power at the U.N.



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 02, 2014 at 12:29 AM mossad Says:

The joke of all this, is that the turmoil in Ukraine us a national security risk for the Russian, and they assume responsibility to avoid any such risks.

Let the Russians handle it!

2

 Mar 02, 2014 at 12:44 AM Anonymous Says:

Obama is a one big joke in foreign affairs. America has lost all respect under this man. Putin is rolling him over. It's actually sad to watch.

3

 Mar 02, 2014 at 01:26 AM chevron Says:

Russie knows what a weakling obama is.. nebech on the world

4

 Mar 02, 2014 at 02:12 AM Realistic Says:

Reply to #3  
chevron Says:

Russie knows what a weakling obama is.. nebech on the world

You basically suggest the US go to war with Russia about some internal politics in Ukraine? Why should Ukraine even be on the US map, what he'd we lost there?

5

 Mar 02, 2014 at 06:58 AM Anonymous Says:

The only ones Obama can pressure and kick around are the jews, everyone else doesn't give a rats you know what about him, and laugh off his warnings and empty threats

6

 Mar 02, 2014 at 07:25 AM pushkin Says:

Didn't Obama say he will be more flexible after he wins second term?

7

 Mar 02, 2014 at 08:11 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
chevron Says:

Russie knows what a weakling obama is.. nebech on the world

Only Rebbe Berl Lazar supports Putin. Sunktions will work. See whats happening with Iran?!

8

 Mar 02, 2014 at 03:17 AM RebKlemson Says:

the security council is a bigger joke. they created permanent members and one of them is russia that wont pass a darn thing. so automaticaly international action or legal action is off the table in any situation. a world filled with potential and mass resources is actually worthless garbage

9

 Mar 02, 2014 at 08:32 AM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Reply to #1  
mossad Says:

The joke of all this, is that the turmoil in Ukraine us a national security risk for the Russian, and they assume responsibility to avoid any such risks.

Let the Russians handle it!

And what do you suggest, O fake Mossad wannabee?
Declare war on Russia and end the world?
The EU stops buying Russian gas and grinds to a halt?

There is no way in the world Russia will give up Crimea. It has their only warm water naval base. There isn't much the West can do here, and everyone knows it.

10

 Mar 02, 2014 at 09:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
RebKlemson Says:

the security council is a bigger joke. they created permanent members and one of them is russia that wont pass a darn thing. so automaticaly international action or legal action is off the table in any situation. a world filled with potential and mass resources is actually worthless garbage

Habad should recall Berl Lazar from russia,

11

 Mar 02, 2014 at 09:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

And what do you suggest, O fake Mossad wannabee?
Declare war on Russia and end the world?
The EU stops buying Russian gas and grinds to a halt?

There is no way in the world Russia will give up Crimea. It has their only warm water naval base. There isn't much the West can do here, and everyone knows it.

EU and USA can do a lot. Impose Iranian style sunctions on Russia. Frize their bank accounts. REfuse gas supply from Russia.Winter is over. Europe should refuse gas from Russia. Russia will start to burn the gas as there is no alternative pipeline and they can neither use it all or store it.
Everybody is against russia.
Berl Lazar, putin friend, becomes an embarrasement and putin shows him as his friend, remember sochi when he was watching olympics with putin.
Very bad for jews. Habad should recall him ASAP.

12

 Mar 02, 2014 at 09:57 AM GOP2016 Says:

Reply to #4  
Realistic Says:

You basically suggest the US go to war with Russia about some internal politics in Ukraine? Why should Ukraine even be on the US map, what he'd we lost there?

Shame on you!!! Back in 1940 what did the US had to do with a couple of nasty Germans invading Poland!

13

 Mar 02, 2014 at 10:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
mossad Says:

The joke of all this, is that the turmoil in Ukraine us a national security risk for the Russian, and they assume responsibility to avoid any such risks.

Let the Russians handle it!

Sounds like back to 1939. Lets Hitler handle Poland, Chehoslovakia, and....jews.

14

 Mar 02, 2014 at 10:40 AM Realistic Says:

Reply to #12  
GOP2016 Says:

Shame on you!!! Back in 1940 what did the US had to do with a couple of nasty Germans invading Poland!

I always hear everyone invoking the second world war.

Not everyone is a Hitler, and Russia is not as a thread as you think.

You have to realize that regardless who is right, there are many ethnic Russians in Ukraine. The revolutionists are sort of a racist nationalist group, and the 15% of the country that are ethnic Russians, and the many more who speak Russian have concerns.

Honestly I believe the only solution for Ukraine is to split East and West.

15

 Mar 02, 2014 at 01:13 PM GOP2016 Says:

Reply to #14  
Realistic Says:

I always hear everyone invoking the second world war.

Not everyone is a Hitler, and Russia is not as a thread as you think.

You have to realize that regardless who is right, there are many ethnic Russians in Ukraine. The revolutionists are sort of a racist nationalist group, and the 15% of the country that are ethnic Russians, and the many more who speak Russian have concerns.

Honestly I believe the only solution for Ukraine is to split East and West.

Please go study some history!!!

Hitler took over Austria first then the Sudetenland from the Chechen only then he invaded Poland.

In history all aggressors ONLY need a very small land and then they turned out to be mass murderers!

And this is my point Hitler yelled all the German people under one rule, and before we knew it he invaded France and all the others!

Now you are saying the Putin has a right for part of Ukraine ?

16

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