A White House “official” emailed reporters saying the president’s National Security team met today to discuss Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. Obama ducked the meeting, as he often does, because, you know, he can do what he wants, he’s the president. Susan Rice briefed him, so it’s all good, but Obama was in the game today anyway. He made a 90-minute courtesy call to Putin to caution him that if he bullied his way into Ukraine it would hurt his standing in the international community. Yes, he did. And by the way, if Putin doesn’t behave, Obama let him know that he wouldn’t be arriving for the G8 Economy summit in Sochi. Meanwhile, Russia is seeking to add 8 bases for refueling and provisions — or something. Use your imagination.
Will Obama get Brussels, Berlin, Paris, and London to begin to isolate the Putin regime diplomatically, politically, and economically? Will Obama lead our allies to move the G-8 meeting from Russia, disinvite Putin, refuse visas to Putin’s cronies to travel abroad, and expose and tie up bank accounts he and his buddies have in the West? Will Obama expedite the admission of Georgia to NATO, and begin to move toward a security relationship with Ukraine? Will Obama canvass his administration to discover the many other things that could be done to begin to undermine Putin at home and abroad? Will Obama act so that the Russian people and Russian elites see that Putin’s actions have costs—real costs, not the affirmation of the possibility of costs? Source: The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol
Oh yeah, that’s exactly what he’ll do. Don’t ya think?
The Kremlin’s version of the call was slightly different. Putin allegedly let Obama know that the “lives and health” of Russian nationals in Ukraine were in danger, and that he would not dismiss the “provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultranationalists….” and furthermore, Russia “retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”
Not only do the Russians have a warship docked in Cuba for easy access to quell the Venezuelan uprising, they are also negotiating with 8 governments around the world for access to their military facilities, so Russia can extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities with refueling ports. Those 8 countries include: Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles and Singapore. Three of those — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — are right in our back yard. Remember, Iran has a major base in Caracas and China has their financial hooks set solidly into virtually every country. An ocean no longer separates and protects America from her enemies.
These aren’t technically Russian bases being established. But they might as well be and they are militarily strategic:
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday the military was engaged in talks with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
“We need bases for refueling near the equator, and in other places,” ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.
Russia is not looking to establish bases in those locations, but to reach agreement to use facilities there when required.
The countries are all strategically located – in three leftist-ruled countries close to the U.S.; towards either end of the Mediterranean; in the Indian Ocean south of the Gulf of Aden; and near some of the world’s most important shipping lanes in the Malacca Strait and South China Sea.
Access to the new locations would extend the Russian military’s potential reach well beyond its existing extraterritorial bases, at the Syrian port of Tartus and in former Soviet states – Ukraine’s Sevastopol, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Shoigu said Russia was also beefing up its existing military presence in the post-Soviet region, doubling its troop numbers in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and deploying a regiment of troops to Belarus where it already has fighter aircraft stationed.
“Russia has started reviving its navy and strategic aviation since mid-2000s, seeing them as a tool to project the Russian image abroad and to protect its national interests around the globe,” the RIA Novosti state news agency commented.
“Now, Moscow needs to place such military assets in strategically important regions of the world to make them work effectively toward the goal of expanding Russia’s global influence.”
Charles Krauthammer gets inside Putin’s head, while “the EU dithers and Barack Obama slumbers,” (actually, Obama slept during Benghazi and had happy hour beers while Russia took the Crimean Peninsula):
Putin’s mission is restoration. First, restore traditional Russian
despotism by dismantling its nascent democracy. And then, having created iron-fisted “stability,” march.
After near- total silence during the first three months of Ukraine’s struggle for freedom, Obama said on camera last week that in his view Ukraine is no “Cold War chessboard.”
Unfortunately, this is exactly what it is for Putin. He wants Ukraine back.
Obama wants stability, the New York Times reports, quoting internal sources. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to alter the increasingly autocratic trajectory of the region, allow Ukrainians to join their destiny to the West and block Russian neo-imperialism….
But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.
Through Ukraine’s pipelines, Russia controls one-quarter of the EU’s natural gas, and the majority of the energy for Ukrainians, which they cannot and have not paid for in years.
This is a message to Kiev: We can shut down your agricultural exports today, your natural gas supplies tomorrow. We can make you broke and we can make you freeze. ~ Charles Krauthammer
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