When he was Illinois’ junior senator, Barack Obama went to Donetsk, Ukraine. There he saw something that is quite relevant today.
DONETSK, Ukraine – U.S. Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama (D-IL) called for the immediate destruction of 15,000 tons of ammunition, 400,000 small arms and light weapons, and 1,000 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) or shoulder missile launchers that are often sought by terrorists.
Lugar and Obama toured the Donetsk State Chemical Production Plant, a conventional weapons destruction facility where the U.S. has taken the lead in a three-year NATO program to destroy the weapons. Another 117,000 tons of ammunition and 1.1 million small arms and light weapons are slated for destruction within 12 years.
So far, the U.S. has contributed $2.1 million to the project, and Austria, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have contributed $1.2 million.
Ukraine has been calling for US, UK and NATO assistance since Russian troops swept into and captured Crimea over the weekend. Its small military is no match for Russia’s much larger military. Poland, whose missile defense system Obama canceled after Russian objections, called for a NATO Article 4 meeting which takes place today.
During the 2012 presidential election, Obama mocked Republican rival Mitt Romney when the latter said that Russia is America’s main geopolitical adversary. Putin’s moves have proven Romney right.
Markets around the world rose today, after plunging since the weekend invasion, on the news that Putin ended the Russian military exercise on Ukraine’s border and indicated that the Russian troops in Crimea would not open fire. But at the same time, Putin is warning the West against using economic sanctions against Russia. The question now is whether Putin is merely consolidating Russia’s gains in Crimea before moving on to “protect Russians” in eastern Ukraine.
h/t Jim Geraghty