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Russia, Ukraine & China, Taiwan and world dominance

Tensions in Ukraine mount
Tensions in Ukraine mount
Photo by Scott Olson

First, President George W. Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw a good guy. Next President Obama was caught on an open mic saying, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” That comment was made to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who responded with “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Keeping this in mind, is the current Ukraine/Crimea land grab what President Obama was talking about?

The month-long standoff in Ukraine doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for the White House to navigate. While the Russians seamlessly annexed Crimea, eastern Ukraine’s anti-separatist push led to five deaths, as a result, the Kremlin has ordered thousands more soldiers to the border. America responds by sending 600 Airborne soldiers to the region for training exercises.

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KGB veteran and reinvigorated Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, said yesterday in St. Petersburg there “will be consequences for the people who make such decisions, including (violent) relations between our countries. We’ll see how the situation develops and we’ll make conclusions based on the reality on the ground.”

Ukraine's interim president, Oleksander Turchinov, declared that his administration would not ease their offensive to regain government buildings occupied by pro-Russian organizers. World powers, including the U.S., have called for restraint so diplomatic solutions can be reached.

The call came after overt actions by a Russian jet that made several low flyovers on the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook dispatched in to the Black Sea.

In a not so secret a visit to Kiev, CIA Director John Brennan confirmed the weekend visit, but declined to offer any details on the unfolding crisis. However, at a White House press briefing, Jay Carney emphatically denied allegations leveled by ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that the CIA was responsible for the volatile military build up along the borders provoking jittery soldiers.

According to the Daily Beast, "The Obama administration is now considering a new policy to share more real-time intelligence with the interim government in Kiev after pressure from some in the U.S. military, Congress and U.S. allies in Ukraine. Over the weekend, CIA Director John Brennan met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema to discuss the formation of new, more secure channels for sharing U.S. intelligence with the country now fighting pro-Russian secessionists in its eastern cities, according to U.S. and Western officials briefed on the meeting. It's a vitally important issue because the Ukrainians are badly outmatched by the Russian forces massed on their border and infiltrating their cities. If Kiev is going to have a hope of withstanding the pressure from Moscow, their intelligence on the Russian military's activities will have to be exquisite."

Meanwhile, as the West continues to focus on Russian President Putin and continued Middle East volatility, China has quietly stepped up its efforts to control portions of Taiwan and disputed Japanese islands.

In the largest assembly of citizens in the nations' history, hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese nationals marched on government offices in March to protest a pro-China KMT party that has secretly passed a reunification package of its own.

According to the Economist, “The DPP insists the students are acting on their own initiative. But it is supporting their protest, which it believes is tapping a rich vein of discontent with the government, focusing on the services-trade agreement.”

“The sit-in was provoked by what the DPP sees as the KMT’s breaking of its promise to allow a parliamentary committee to review the agreement clause by clause. At a press conference on March 20th, the DPP’s chairman, Su Tseng-chang, portrayed this as a “key moment” for Taiwan’s quarter-century-old democracy, which he said the party would ‘do whatever it takes’ to protect.”

A State Department spokesperson reaffirmed America’s commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act. “Implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) has made a vital contribution to ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and has helped foster the development of strong commercial, trade, cultural and other ties between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan. The TRA provides a solid framework to support Taiwan in maintaining its self-defense capabilities. U.S. commitments and assurances to Taiwan are firm and longstanding. The United States remains fully committed to fulfilling the policy and legal framework codified in the Taiwan Relations Act.”

The Taiwan Act compels Congress to immediately alert allied partners when Taiwan's economic or social systems are threatened, but so far American news outlets have given little attention to growing Asian anxieties.

Nevertheless, Congressmen Ed Royce (R-CA) did read the Taiwan Relations Act into the record in the House, reminding fellow Congressional members of its their obligation to protect Taiwan's sovereignty.

The lack of concern has many Asian foreign policy experts worried that America’s lackluster response will encourage China’s unfettered march toward world dominance.

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