Friday, March 7, 2014

Crimea, Russia and the US since we last checked-in

World War III has not started and Russia seems content with holding their troops in position.  While all seems quite on the Crimean front, back home thinks have started to become quarrelsome to say the least.

Item:  House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) summed the Ukraine crisis by saying “Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles.” --Fox News

Item: Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee made the following statement upon receipt of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for 2014, "Unfortunately, the product the process produced this time has more to do with politics than policy and is of little value to decision makers. For that reason, I will require the Department to re-write and re-submit a compliant report. In defiance of the law, this QDR provides no insight into what a moderate-to-low risk strategy would be, is clearly budget driven, and is shortsighted. It allows the President to duck the consequences of the deep defense cuts he has advocated and leaves us all wondering what the true future costs of those cuts will be."--Armed Services Committee

Item:  On Thursday President Obama orders sanctions in response to Russia's actions.  European allies are uncertain how far they are willing to support Mr. Obama (something to do with wanting to keep the flow of Russian oil, maybe?).  Immediately Mr. Obama follows this stern action with a phone call to Mr. Putin saying there was still a way to resolve this diplomatically (even though all other options are off the table anyway).  Further, the President thinks this stance is strong enough that he is still demands that Russia recognize the legitimacy of Ukraine (not bloody likely!).--Daily Mail

Item:  In the "I'm desperate enough to try anything" category, a Pentagon research team is studying the body language of Vladmir Putin.  "U.S. policymakers are seeking any advantage they can find as they try to anticipate Putin, who in the past week has ordered Russian troops into neighboring Ukraine and laid claim to the Crimea Peninsula. "--USA Today  I must be missing something here.  Putin has told everyone his goals (protect Russian interests) and has moved his troops into position to insure that goal is achieved.  This is not a poker game, we know what he wants and how he intends to do it.  I wonder if Mr. Putin has a research team studying our President's body language?

Meanwhile, things abroad have become more interesting.

Item:  Ukrainian President Yanukovych is in a Moscow hospital after a heat attack, listed in grave condition (no worries of testimony from that person!).--Daily Mail

Item:  The USS Truxtun, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, passed through the Çanakkale Strait en route to the Black Sea on Friday for what the US Navy described as a "routine" deployment that was scheduled well before the crisis in Ukraine (no coincidence here or why not cancel the maneuvers?).--Today's Zaman

Item:  Leaders of both houses of Russia’s Parliament said on Friday that they would support a vote by Crimea to break away from Ukraine and become a new region of the Russian Federation, the first public signal that the Kremlin was backing the secessionist move that Ukraine, the United States and other countries have denounced as a violation of international law.--NY Times

Putin is in charge of this game.  Mr. Obama's only hope is if he has the guts to get Russia kicked off the G8.  Short of that, and given his stance against any military action, the sanctions aren't going to have any short term effect on Russia.

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