President Barack Obama has reassured Europe and Ukraine in an interview with the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant. (An aside: the “interview” actually was a submittal of eight written questions, of which Obama chose to answer five. There was nothing interactive here.)
The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War. The Ukrainian people do not have to choose between East and West. On the contrary, it’s important that Ukraine have good relations with the United States, Russia, and Europe. As I’ve said, the future of Ukraine ought to be decided by the people of Ukraine.
The trouble is, this statement is hard to take seriously. If Obama were truly serious, he’d be moving to get the Russians out of Ukraine so the people of Ukraine can live the decision they’ve already made: in their 1991 vote for independence from Russia. Instead, Obama went on to say this:
Therefore, the US and many other countries around the world condemn the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. That is absolutely unacceptable. It is important that Russia understands that the international community does not acquiesce in the violation of the sovereignty and international integrity of Ukraine. Moreover, if Russia continues on this path, penalties and pressure on the Russian economy, and Russia’s diplomatic isolation will only increase. For that is now Russia’s fundamental choice.
It isn’t an intervention, it’s an invasion and partition. More importantly than that term of reference failure, though, is his failure of policy and of action. Obama is doing nothing to roll back this latest Russian invasion of a Western ally; he’s engaging only in idle chit chat, his only overt response is to tell some Russian and Russian-allied Ukrainian oligarchs they can’t play with some of their toys in the West.
He has, in fact, acquiesced in the violation of the sovereignty and international integrity of Ukraine.