Vladimir Putin is overextending his hand. Like all autocrats, he cannot accept a losing hand. He wants a conflict over the status of Ukraine and Crimea. Having a weak U.S. executive and a compliant E.U helps Putin. This will get ugly in a way that only hard power can resolve.
Forcing the Russian Flag atop the legislature in Simferopol has all the hallmarks of Soviet special forces. Politically, the Crimea’s elected parliament will hold a referendum on the status of the region in May. Here Putin is certain to win and encircle Kiev.
Propaganda is working in favor of Putin. Having the exiled leader of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych emerge from hiding to declare himself a lawful political agent of Ukraine asking for Russian regional obligations on state run television is only the beginning.
The facts are hard for Yanukovych. He fled Kiev when his political allies and former loyal security forces abandoned him. Ukrainian Parliament has voted him out office and is seeking prosecution for the murder, by Soviet sniper, of several protesters.
What does Putin fear?
As a land based autocratic regime, Putin is seeking to repress Belarus and Central Asia by destabilizing Crimea and Ukraine.
All of this comes after Kiev voted in a transition cabinet.
Crimea has long been a flashpoint between Russian Slavs and Ottoman Turks. Now its Crimean Tatar minorities being agitated to encircle indigenous liberty emerging in Kiev.
The immediate challenge for Kiev in Ukraine is economic. Its central bank is completely out of foreign reserves and near bankruptcy. Default is imminent if the U.S. fails to engage.
The Kremlin is testing western resolve. It’s not really testing the E.U. Putin knows that team Obama places more value on rhetoric than action. We did nothing when Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, ditto for the entire Near East. We’re dithering with Iran.
The Russian dollar is vulnerable to collapse, it has hit new lows recently, we can damage the Russian economy easily.
The future of liberty and peace throughout the Near East, Ukraine will depend on American engagement.
Its time for any adult in the White House to take charge.