By Debbie Gregory.
The turmoil continues to unfold in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that annexed Crimea as part of Russia. The Ukrainian government, as well as the governments of the United States and other European countries still claim that Russia’s seizure and annexation of the region is illegal. Many of these same countries, including the U.S., have imposed sanctions against individual Russians leaders and businessmen and their personal business holdings, but not against the country itself or any state-led businesses that the Russian leaders are involved with.
In response to sanctions, Moscow imposed its own sanctions against nine Americans. A number of these Americans have considered it an honor. Included in the sanctions were Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Deputy National Security Advisors Benjamin J. Rhodes and Caroline Atkinson, Presidential Advisor Dan Pfeifer, Sen. Robert Menendez, Sen. Dan Coats and Sen. John McCain. McCain replied to sanctions with a humorous, yet fervent, retort via Twitter:
“I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen. Nonetheless, I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the freedom, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.”
But in an immediate response to the annexation decree, U.S. President Barrack Obama issued a stern warning to Russia that the U.S. would impose more severe sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy. These measures would only be taken if Russia carries out further acts of aggression on its neighbors, namely Ukraine. This is a growing concern, as Russian forces are amassing near the southern and eastern borders of Ukraine.
The threat of further, more severe, sanctions coincides with President Obama’s earlier vow to not involve the U.S. military in Ukraine. On Wednesday, Mr. Obama directly stated to NBC news correspondents that the U.S. will not engage Russia militarily.
“What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message,” President Obama said to NBC.
There are many Americans, including plenty on Capitol Hill, who are calling for military action for what Russia has already done. There are valid points for and against. But, for now, the fact remains that the U.S. is not preparing for imminent war with Russia.
Members of the U.S. armed forces will continue to be positioned and trained for a multitude of possible outcomes. And our men and women in uniform will be ready, if the time comes, to engage. It appears that, for now, our military will sit this one out. Let us hope that the leaders of the world can resolve this conflict diplomatically.