What Game Will We Play With Russia over Crimean Crisis?

What Game Will We Play With Russia over Crimean Crisis?

“We live in an interconnected world” like Paul says. So any political game — whether it be “chess”, “marbles” or whack-a-mole — that we play with Russia over the Crimean Crisis won’t be straightforward. Don’t forget that the U.S. isn’t playing just one international game here.

Sure, there are folks (like Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio) who want to hit Russia hard for the Crimean Crisis, but there will be repercussions in other areas. Remember how the U.S. is trying to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war? Remember Russia’s role as an ally in these matters?

According to the New York Times, the West’s standoff with Russia over its seizure of Crimea, analysts and former administration officials said, could complicate American efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program, resolve Syria’s civil war and, even in the short run, broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

That doesn’t mean Russia’s play for the Ukraine gets the greenlight. According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama has “suspended trade and military ties with Moscow” with sanctions against Russia to follow suit if Putin doesn’t back down. Diplomacy not military strength right now is the key here because our relationship with Russia is too complicated.

Even veteran Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a proponent of exerting U.S. influence abroad, conceded that the fight must involve diplomacy, not the military. (CNN)

Last week, Sen. Paul was saying that we shouldn’t antagonize Russia by fast-tracking Ukraine’s path to NATO membership but he agrees that Russia should stay out of the Ukraine. He suggests “economic incentives” against Russian military involvement backing up his stance for a diplomatic approach regarding international affairs.

Not everyone agrees with Obama’s approach to the Crimean Crisis so far. Is America showing weakness by not going after Russia harder? Contrary to what most in the media have been saying, Peter Beinart of The Atlantic disagrees.

 “…from where Putin sits, American power hardly seems in retreat. From his perspective, in fact, the reverse is likely much closer to the truth.

To understand why, it’s worth casting one’s gaze back a couple of decades. …In February 1990, as East Germany began wobbling, Secretary of State James Baker journeyed to Moscow to discuss German unification. According to James Goldgeier, author of Not Whether But When, the definitive history of NATO expansion, Baker promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that if the Soviets allowed Germany to reunify, NATO—the U.S.-led Western military alliance that took form after World War IIwould not expand “one inch” further east, not even into the former East Germany itself. But as the year progressed, the White House developed different ideas, and by the fall it was clear that a unified Germany would enter NATO, no matter what the Russians thought.

…In 2004, NATO admitted another seven former Soviet bloc countries, three of which—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—had been part of the USSR. In 2009, Croatia and Albania joined the club. Six former Soviet republics—Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—now link their militaries to NATO’s via the “Partnership for Peace” program. All five former Soviet republics in Central Asia—Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan—provide NATO countries with some basing, transit, refueling, or overflight rights for use in the Afghan war.

From Putin’s perspective, in other words, the United States hardly looks in retreat.”

It’s easy to say that the whole Ukrainian crisis is about a conflict between West and East. Especially since the Ukrainian interim government in place right now is pushing away from Russia for stronger ties with the European Union.

Putin’s move on the Ukraine is by no means kosher but I can see where Paul was coming from when he said we shouldn’t antagonize Russia by pushing for Ukraine’s membership into NATO. We don’t need to be starting any “wars”.

From your perspective, is Obama playing a game of marbles to Putin’s game of chess like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich) says? What do YOU think the U.S. should do regarding the Crimean Crisis? Leave a comment below or on Facebook!


(Photo courtesy of cogdogblog, via Flickr Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)



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