Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia has declared all-out cold war on the United States, and is threatening a hot conflagration in Ukraine as well. In response, Barack H. Obama is dithering, poking his head ever deeper into the sands of cowardice, and leading America down the same dead-end street followed by James E. Carter.
On April 10th, the Putin regime shut down the Voice of America radio broadcasts in Russia, calling them “mere spam in our frequencies,” and it evicted the American Councils, which is responsible for organizing student exchanges between the USA and Russia. The same day, it was revealed that the Kremlin had willfully withheld critical information about the Boston Marathon bombers from U.S. security forces, in other words playing an important role in helping the bombings to go forward. We learned that Russia had been ritualistically violating its nuclear arms treaty obligations, and Russia announced as well that it intended to flout U.S. sanctions against the terrorist rogue regime in Iran.
Meanwhile, NATO revealed that tens of thousands of Russian troops were massing on the Russian border with Ukraine, not engaging in any training exercises but clearly preparing to invade Russia’s smaller neighbor, which borders not one but three NATO members. For years, Vladimir Putin had condemned unilateral U.S. military action and insisted that Russia was a different kind of country, one which pursued its interests through diplomacy and negotiation (Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia notwithstanding, of course).
Putin is also imposing Soviet-style approach to domestic policy. Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch has written: “I do not recall a more dramatic silencing of the media in post-SovietRussia.” All of the last remaining web portals inside Russia that could be counted on to fairly report the news and publish criticism of the Putin regime have come under virulent attack, and many have simply been blocked from the Internet entirely. All significant TV news reports already come from the Kremlin, leaving Russians almost completely blind, just as they were in Soviet times.
The economic and political consequences for Russia of this reckless aggression have already been devastating.
Russia has seen more capital flight in the first quarter of this year than in all of last year, and at the end of last year economists warned that these losses were already at a devastating level. The Kremlin itself admits that Russian economic growth will all but cease this year, the value of the Russian ruble is at a historic low, meaning runaway inflation on the foreign goods that Russia needs to survive.