Did the U.S. provoke the Russian bear?

Featured image Jack Matlock, Jr., a former ambassador to the Soviet Union and a long-time foreign service officer, blames U.S. policy for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Matlock is a bipartisan blamer. He indicts President Clinton, President (George W.) Bush, and Congress. Only President Obama is spared. What were our sins? They fall largely into two categories. First, we took military action in Serbia and Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval. Second, we »

Team of Nitwits reconvened

Featured image Bloomberg News reports that 60,000 Russian troops are massed across the Ukraine border. What are they doing there? They are apparently awaiting the results of the secession or consolidation vote concluding in Crimea. They are standing by to enforce the will of the people, of course, and perhaps extend it further into Ukraine. It is an impressive and audacious display of force. Readers familiar with Hitler’s prewar playbook know what »

(Almost) live from Lviv

Featured image Reader Dustin Mullenix writes from Lviv, Ukraine: The number to look for in Crimea’s referendum tomorrow: according to this article, it’s 73 percent. The article includes an accompanying photo as evidence that ballots with the “join Russia” option checked are being printed in mass quantities. False ballots represent just half of Putin’s one-two punch to guarantee a 73 percent result. According to the article Russian servicemen will also vote in »

How to get Putin’s attention while doing the right thing

Featured image Charles Krauthammer presents his plan for how to “stop — or slow — Putin.” I agree with all of the items on Krauthammer’s list. However, I’m pretty sure they won’t stop Putin and they may not slow him much. My idea is to punish Putin by doing what we should have done long ago — attacking his Middle East client state, Syria. It’s the only non-outlandish action we can take »

A word from Edmund Levin

Featured image Edmund Levin is the author of A Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia – The Beilis Blood Libel, just published by Schocken Books. The book is about the 1913 trial in Kiev of the Russian Jewish factory worker Mendel Beilis on a charge of ritually murdering a Christian boy and draining his blood to make Passover matzo. Mr. Levin wrote the book as a labor of »

Obama needs to stop believing his own BS

Featured image Leon Wieseltier considers what Obama needs to learn from Putin’s aggression against Crimea. In essence, he concludes that Obama needs to stop believing his own bullshit. Wieseltier is far too elegant a writer to put it this way. Instead, among other things, he writes: [T]he Ukrainian crisis is not a transient event but a lasting circumstance with which we will be wrestling for a long time. We must mentally arm »

“Trust but verify” vs. “Trust and concede”

Featured image Michael Rubin persuasively argues that President Obama’s misreading of Vladimir Putin was not idiosyncratic. Rather, it reflects the broad leftist consensus (fantasy, I would say) of how the world (outside of the domestic realm) works. That view, in essence, is that if we’re nice enough to our adversaries there’s a good chance they will stop being adversarial. Rubin identifies some of the government officials and academics who applauded the Obama-Clinton »

Will the West Be Serious About Confronting Russia?

Featured image Western leaders are talking tough (albeit in very general terms) in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But what they are actually prepared to do is another matter. And here, the biggest obstacle may not be Barack Obama. Over the years, Great Britain–and especially British banks–have developed close ties with Russia’s oligarchs. Russians have largely replaced Arabs as the richest denizens of London. So it wasn’t too surprising when »

Evil as “error”

Featured image David Ignatius, the voice of conventional left-liberal foreign policy wisdom at the Washington Post, believes that Putin has committed a catastrophic error by invading Ukraine. Following the line of David Remnick, he writes: What Putin misunderstands most is that the center of gravity for the former Soviet Union has shifted west. Former Soviet satellites such as Poland and the Czech Republic are prosperous members of the E.U. The nations that »

What Putin said to Obama

Featured image In the course of its excellent editorial on Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula, the Wall Street Journal’s editorialists draw on the readout of Obama’s 90-minute telephone conversation with Barack Obama over the weekend. We posted the White House readout of Obama’s side of the conversation yesterday and linked to the Kremlin readout of its side of the conversation in Russian. The Kremlin readout is posted in English here. This »

How about a Russian reset in which we’re not the patsy?

Featured image The New Yorker’s David Remnick writes: Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and autocrat, had a plan for the winter of 2014: to reassert his country’s power a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He thought that he would achieve this by building an Olympic wonderland on the Black Sea for fifty-one billion dollars and putting on a dazzling television show. It turns out that he will finish the »

What was that Obama-Putin conversation like?

Featured image As John noted below, President Obama spent an hour and a half on the telephone with Vladimir Putin discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What was the conversation like? We can probably get a good sense of it by considering the account of President Bush’s conversations with Putin set forth by Peter Baker in his excellent book about the Bush presidency, Days of Fire. It’s well known that Bush and »

So Far, Russia Is Not Impressed

Featured image The United Nations Security Council has just finished meeting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This summary of the proceedings is from The Interpreter. First, poor Samantha Power set out the U.S. position: Now US Ambassador Samantha Power is speaking. Her demands are that Russia pull back from Ukraine, and international monitors are deployed to Crimea. Power wants to create an international mediation unit to end the crisis in Crimea. The »

“Condemnation is not enough”

Featured image That’s the title of the Washington Post’s editorial on Ukraine. The subtitle is “As Russian troops operate in Crimea, the West responds with phone calls.” This doesn’t match John’s memorable headline — “Russia invades Ukraine, Obama declares happy hour” — but it isn’t bad. The Post’s editors write: Missing from the president’s statement was a necessary first step: a demand that all Russian forces — regular and irregular — be »

The Russian Bear, On the Move

Featured image With the Olympics over, Vladimir Putin has Russia on the march. Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych has surfaced in Russia, where he has been given asylum. In Crimea–a part of Ukraine–armed men have seized the Parliament building and hoisted the Russian flag: The buildings of the Crimean Council of Ministers and the Crimean parliament were seized by an unknown group of 120 armed men at around 4 a.m., according to »

Un-f*** the EU

Featured image State Department official Victoria Nuland famously was caught on tape saying “F*** the EU.” The comment pertained to Ukraine. Apparently, it was prompted by concerns that the EU might not sign on to a deal the Obama administration favored that called for power-sharing between the pro-Russia government and the opposition, along with the exclusion of opposition leader Vitali Klitschko. The final chapters of the current Ukraine saga have not necessarily »

A ring of fire in Kiev

Featured image The New York Times reports that the antigovernment protests in Kiev culminated dramatically last night in a ring of fire around their encampment in Independence Square. Here is the top of the story filed by Andrew Higgins and Andrew Kramer from the scene: With hundreds of riot police officers advancing from all sides after a day of deadly mayhem here in the Ukrainian capital, antigovernment protesters mounted a final desperate »