COMMENTARY | Now that Vladimir Putin has occupied the Crimea, tearing up treaties, and humiliating the Obama administration, the question arises, what to do now? The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone has some helpful suggestions.
“(1) Announce it will not only not attend the G-8 conference scheduled for Sochi but will move to expel Russia from the G-8. Russia doesn’t belong in the G-8 anyway; the other members, the original G-7, have much larger economies with electoral democracies, free markets and the rule of law. Russia is deficient on each count.
“(2) Move U.S. and other NATO military forces into Poland and other Eastern European NATO countries, particularly the Baltic republics. These nations have been extremely cooperative with the United States and have received the back of our hand in return.
“(3) Move to set up the anti-ballistic missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic which Obama scuttled in 2009–on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, when it was an ally of Nazi Germany, in 1939.
“(4) Cut off Russian banks’ access to U.S., European Union and Japanese banking facilities. Such moves squeezed Iran hard enough to get it to the bargaining table.
“(5) Extend the list of Russians barred from the United States under the Magnitsky Act.
“(6) Improve relations with Kazakstan, which has plenty of oil and long boundaries with both Russia and China. Don’t worry overmuch about losing transit rights in other Central Asia republics and Russia, which are currently the sites for removal of military equipment from Afghanistan (because Pakistan is not making itself available). We can just leave it there for the time being.
“(7) Investigate possible environmental damage caused by the Russian port of Kaliningrad, in that geographically disconnected part of Russia that was once the northern part of East Prussia. This sounds like a good task for the European Union.”
Measures to strengthen the Ukraine economically and militarily would also be quite useful. Currently the Ukraine is dependent on Russia for natural gas. With the fracking bomb in the United States, this country is in the position to start exporting surplus production. The Obama administration could also open up federal lands to exploitation as well, to increase the amount of product available to export. America could also help the Ukraine to exploit its own reserves.
Direct military intervention is considered unlikely. However the United States and the European Union should consider providing indirect support for the Ukrainian government, including arms shipments and intelligence sharing.
It is probably too late to expel Putin from the Crimea any time soon. Obama administration fecklessness has embolden him too much. But if the White House chooses to reverse course, it can make Putin smart for his imperialist territorial grab and dissuade him from going further.