In addition, we have had President Obama on the phone several times with Putin attempting to put added pressure on the Russian leader to reverse course. But apparently, Mr. Obama was not at his persuasive best because Putin just kept on keepin' on. Not only that, but he (Putin) seems less than overwhelmed by the pontifical remarks of Secretary of State John Kerry about the"illegality" of both the Russian action and the upcoming Crimean referendum proposing that Crimea the join the Russian Federation.
My big question is this. WHY ARE WE, THE UNITED STATES, INSERTING OURSELVES INTO THIS ISSUE?
Strangely, after all the talk of "costs" and "consequences", while listening to the radio the other day, I heard a sound bite from the President, on the occasion of a visit from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, wherein Mr. Obama said words to the effect that what happens in the Ukraine is the business of the Ukrainian people and not that of the United States or Russia. To that, I say "Hear! Hear!" Especially from a US perspective. But, one can also see where the Russians are legitimately interested in Ukrainian (and particularly Crimean) outcomes since--1) there are a large number of Russians there, and 2)Savastapol is not only the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but it is also the only large warm water port to which Russia has historically had access. The problems of giving it up without some clear rules on future use would not be dissimilar from the situation we (the US) were in relative to the prospect of giving up the Panama Canal a few years ago.
Since we're on the subject of US and Russian similarities, I wonder if, in their phone conversations, the Russian president ever asked Mr. Obama to explain what he sees as the difference between what Russia has done in the Crimea and what the US did by invading Iraq. Now, I know "the other Mr. O"(by that I mean O'Reilly not Obama) waxes eloquent about how the two situations are NOT moral equivalents, because Saddam was a bad guy and needed to be removed. But, 1) regime change was NOT the stated purpose of the Iraq invasion--it was the cherry picked intelligence indicating that Hussain had stockpiled WMD when, in fact, the weapons were fictitious, and 2) when the weapons were found to be non-existent, we changed the mission to bringing democracy to the Iraqi people (so let's not be too critical of Russian motives), and 3) everybody knows O'Reilly is full of two things---himself and sheep dip. Protecting ethnic Russians in a country where their language had just been outlawed is, at least, as legitimate as looking for non-existent nuclear and chemical weapons and then deciding to spread democracy by force of arms.
The other point that, if I were Putin, I might have raised with President Obama in the phone calls would have been to say something like. "Mr. President, you've been making a lot of political hay in your domestic press painting me as an arch villain. Is this the thanks I get for pulling your bacon out of the fire over the Syrian chemical weapons issue? You had set yourself up to look very foolish over that '...red line that will not be crossed without dire consequences...." position you took. And, by the way---you're welcome."
Additionally and as an aside, when I was reviewing my comments here and I re-read the remark about Yanukovych being a "Russian Puppet", I was reminded that that is exactly how Hamid Karzai was described by his detractors when WE installed him as the President of Afghanistan. Small world.
Anyway, Dear Reader, that's how I see it from my foxhole. We, the US, need to stop trying to insert ourselves into conflicts and areas of the world about which we have precious little knowledge (see Bob Gates' new book on that one) and that do not involve US vital national interests. Such excursions, especially in the recent past, have produced little except unintended consequences and I, for one, have had enough. If you disagree or have other comments, please come up on the net.