If the reader will recall, President Obama came under fire in March 2012 when, during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, he told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to inform his successor (Vladimir Putin) that he would have “more flexibility” after the November election to address the contentious issue of European missile defense to Russia’s liking. The statement was picked up by a microphone neither leader knew was on at the time. Those who took exception to Obama’s comments were concerned with the president both telegraphing political weakness to the Russian government as well as his duplicity in deferring the issue until such time as he no longer had to answer to American voters.
With regard to the tenuous standoff currently taking place – the European Union, Ukraine and the U.S. versus Russia – forget for the moment Russian president Vladimir Putin’s alleged desires to restore the Soviet Union to its former dubious glory, or to become “Supreme czar of all the Russias.” Forget Russia’s arguably valid concerns over an ultra-nationalist, Nazi-influenced ascendant regime in Ukraine and the arguably strategically sound measures Putin has taken in light of the uprisings there. Finally, let us set aside the plausible argument that Putin, Obama and EU leaders are, as some have suggested, acting out scenes in a play whose final act will solidify the power of global elites for all time.
For the moment, let us examine President Obama’s hand in the Ukraine crisis and the failures both strategic and diplomatic that, in my view, ought to relegate all of the subsequent bluster to fodder for stand-up comedy.
Apart from military entanglements, the chief ostensible concern among U.S. and EU leaders is the result of Europe having allowed itself to become reliant on natural gas they receive from Russia by way of Crimea, the long-disputed territory and strategic seaport recently annexed by Russia. With Russia in direct control of the flow of natural gas, obviously any political tension between Europe and the Russian Federation could dramatically affect both the comfort and the economy of Europeans.