With Russian forces ominously massing at the Ukranian border, CNN notes that John Kerry has made an 11th hour plea to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “to agree to ‘something short of a full annexation’ of Crimea”.
He suggested a diplomatic effort could continue even if the referendum was approved and if the Russians did not annex Crimea….
But Russia is showing no sign of backing down.
Pro-Russian forces are tightening their grip in Crimea. Well armed men have effectively isolated the Crimean peninsula, which has an ethnic Russian majority, from the rest of Ukraine.
And Moscow’s defense minister announced Thursday the start of massive artillery drills near Russia’s southern border with Ukraine involving 8,500 troops and a large amount of hardware.
The BBC reported that Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that Moscow “does not want war” with Ukraine. Russia is unlikely to get it from any member of the Security Council, for as Senator Ted Cruz noted in his speech, the administration’s policy is to yield at all costs; not only to yield, but to avoid any provocative semblance of resistance.
To use the CNN’s metaphor, the 11th hour has come. It’s too late now, even in Kerry’s 12 hour day for a fig leaf. There’ll be nothing Kerry can hide behind, no talking point to spin. If Russia comes across, Obama’s nakedness will be plain for all to see.
Given the ax is about to fall, the questions that remain unanswered are whether the Russian advance will precipitate a civil war in Ukraine and how far Russia will go before it stops of its own accord. Kerry evidently hopes Russia will restrain itself, since there is nothing else that will stop it. The administration is in the position of hoping the bank robber, in this case Putin, will leave content after only taking fifty bucks from the till. By why should he? From the robber’s point of view, the risks come in packets. Once you’ve begun the hold-up, you might as well clean out the vault as leave with $50. It’s the same crime.
And then there’s the Ukranians. They may fight or otherwise upset the Kremlin’s plans. It’s a truism that “no plan survives contact with reality” and Putin’s gambit necessarily puts into motion factors that neither he nor Obama — nor anyone — can control.
It might well be true that “it’s too late” to deter Russia from taking part of Ukraine; and it may be too dangerous for America to actively repel it. But that does not mean the danger is past. Once Putin crosses his Rubicon, the wheels of fate start to turn and where they go nobody knows.
So it’s not too late to start planning and preparing for the unintended consequences which no one has foreseen. Tomorrow will come and the question will be whether the Administration will be as unprepared for tomorrow as it was for to-day.
As Ted Cruz points out President Obama has made the dangerous mistake of subordinating national interest to partisan politics. He’s made the conscious strategic choice of fighting the Near Enemy in the hope that the Far Enemy will hold off. He’s weakened the military, hamstrung the energy sector, limited missile defense, and overtaxed the entitlements system at the expense of national security. He’s done it to buy votes, obtain a permanent majority and remain in power. That is what Cruz essentially accuses the president of doing in the video above. Obama like Putin, is taking the chance that he can walk the tightrope without falling off.
Obama might well succeed at “fundamentally transforming America” without incident. And Putin might stop at the Crimea. It has been confidently asserted by knowledgeable people that “nothing will happen” or that “people will back off”; that things will be fixed; that the wise men will draw back from the edge. But no one really knows for sure, do they?
If Syria has taught us anything it should have instructed the world that things sometimes take on a life of their own; that when a vortex starts spinning its creators can be sucked down into it .
It’s not too late to foresee the possibility of a growing crisis. It’s not too late to prepare for possibilities. But of course with this administration, perhaps it is. Perhaps it was always too late.
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