Or, more to the point, what’s the value of Russia’s good opinion of us? After all, it’s this perceived need that’s among the barriers to providing meaningful aid to Ukraine in the face of the present Russian invasion of that country.
Max Boot, at Commentary, suggests that one aspect of the pseudo-thinking going on inside President Barack Obama’s head and that of his State Department Secretary is this:
Russia…remains an important power that Washington hesitates to antagonize because of a general feeling that we need Russian help to deal with Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and other important issues….
What help? How has Russia “helped” us in any way there, or anywhere else? In Iran, the Russians are actively helping build nuclear reactors and actively blocking attempts to slow, much less stop, the Iranian drive to acquire nuclear weapons. In Syria, the Russians are actively propping up Bashar al-Assad and sending him both arms to replace combat losses and SAMs with which to oppose the Israeli air force. In Afghanistan, the Russians routinely interfere with (though they’ve not actually blocked, yet) our access to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, from which a major portion of our Afghan-based troop resupply flows.
Those “other important issues?” Russia has replaced us in Egypt. Russian is propping up a failed Venezuelan government that is antagonistic to us. Russian is back to sending naval units, including electronic surveillance assets, to Cuba. And now they’ve invaded Ukraine, with a view of anschluss and partition. And so on.
Since Russia isn’t helping us anyway, what “help” will we lose if we support, materially, the nascent Ukrainian government?
Aside from the morality of the situation (the strong should protect the weak), and the improvement to our credibility, it’s in our national interest to actively support the new Ukrainian government, to facilitate their—and the bulk of their people’s—move to closer ties with Western Europe and the West generally.
It’s in our interest to do this regardless of what the Russians might think of us as a result. Or even because of that.