The conflict in Ukraine continues to worsen as Russian troop movement advances in the Crimean Peninsula. Tensions are mounting in eastern Ukrainian cities such as Kharkiv and Donetsk where pro-Russian demonstrators continue to disrupt daily operations at civil and government buildings.
Ukrainian leaders in Kiev and elsewhere are very concerned about the lack of intervention by the United States and Great Britain with regard to any follow through on promises given to Ukraine in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. Twenty years later, as reported in USA Today, Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, believes that Ukraine made a mistake giving up its formidable nuclear arsenal. According to Rizankenko:
Everyone had this sentiment that for good or bad the United States would be the world police and make sure that international order is maintained. Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama and because of that Russia invaded Crimea. In the future, no matter how the situation is resolved in Crimea, we need a much stronger Ukraine. If you have nuclear weapons people don't invade you.
The Ukrainian Consulate in Washington D.C. is providing daily updates on the situation in Crimea as well as the tensions in eastern Ukraine along the border with Russia. Russian troop activities and aggressions are being reported in all of Crimea now with fears that these troops will shortly advance north of the Crimean Peninsula into the heart of SE Ukraine. Sample of reports of aggression in SE Ukraine include:
- In the village of Chongari (Kherson region), armed members of former police unit “Berkut” assaulted participants of anti-war car rally, leaving at least one person heavily wounded
- In Lugansk, pro-Russian radicals attacked two groups of journalists destroying their equipment and seized local TV broadcasting company “IRTA”
- In Lugansk, a man was badly beaten after installing Ukrainian flag on the building of regional administration
- In Kharkiv, pro-Russian activists attacked Ukrainian politician Vitaliy Klychko throwing eggs and firecrackers
If the United States is to have any significant sway over Putin's Russian aggression, then it will not be through the sanctions which have already been proposed. Limiting the travel plans of certain Russians and tying up their western bank accounts are insignificant flares. These are weak measures at best and present Putin with no significant opposition as there is little risk compared to what he stands to gain in his land grab maneuvering.
Instead of offering Ukraine mere trinkets, The United States must begin by pulling out of the NEW START Treaty it signed on 8 April 2010 and with subsequent ratification went into effect on 5 February 2011. This was not a good bargain from the perspective of the United States, nor was it advantageous for peaceful countries around the world. When evil is present in the world, lawful order can only be maintained by overwhelming force capabilities, otherwise, bad guys do bad things - period. The NEW START Treaty was both naive and negligent on the part of the administration.
In July 2011, Mark Schneider posted "After New Start" on the National Review Online website. As documented by Schneider, this treaty placed almost no significant curtailment on Russian nuclear armaments while simultaneously cutting the hamstring of the United States' modernization.
On 8 March 2014, John Yoo posted "Russia: A Great Power No More" on the National Review Online website. Yoo, as have others, is calling for the United States to pull out of the New START Treaty as one of the most significant actions short of military intervention to persuade Russia to deescalate their military intervention in Ukraine.
The United States can pull aside the curtain on Russia’s great-power pretensions and begin a reform of the international system that would advance American interests and global welfare. First, the White House should pull out of the 2011 New START treaty, which reduced American and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1,550 nuclear warheads each and 700 deployed nuclear-capable ICBMs, submarines, and bombers. New START ignored the United States’ global responsibilities and the importance of our nuclear umbrella in underpinning international security. The treaty’s constraints on launch platforms impede Washington’s ability to use conventional warheads even in conflicts far from any Russian interest or responsibility. Instead of recognizing the United States’ worldwide alliances and concomitant military needs, the Obama administration tied American nuclear-force levels to those of Russia, which was cutting its arsenal anyway to save money.
On Fox News recently, Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters also contended for the United States to withdraw from the New START Treaty. Peters said that it is not Putin who is crazy or delusional in his attempt at annexing the Crimea, but rather Obama and the current administration for believing the world's problems with evil can be simply dealt with through an endless string of negotiations.
Well, look at the START treaty. There's no cost. It doesn't have to increase our defense budget significantly or anything else. But Obama wants that as part of his legacy even though the U.S. gave up valuable dual-use systems. The Russians gave up junk. Stationing forces, offering to station forces in the Baltic and Poland doesn't have to be extremely costly, and the EU could pony up for that. It doesn't have to take a huge Reagan-era military build-up, although, by God, Reagan's build-up certainly worked against the Soviets and brought them to economic collapse. There are innovative solutions and answers, but you have to be brave, you have to have courage, you have to have vision. You can't pretend that negotiations will solve all the problems when your enemy -- and Putin is our enemy -- solves them with military force, establishes facts on the ground you cannot change with blather and visa restrictions. This is shameful.