News / Middle East

Roundup: Opinions on Ukraine in US, Foreign Media, March 18

A Ukrainian soldier stands atop an armored vehicle at a military camp near the village of Michurino, Ukraine, March 17, 2014.
A Ukrainian soldier stands atop an armored vehicle at a military camp near the village of Michurino, Ukraine, March 17, 2014.
The crisis in Ukraine has captured global attention and is generating a wide spectrum of opinion on its causes and solutions. Newspapers, blogs and other media are publishing a variety of commentaries and editorials on what’s to be done and who’s to blame.

Each day, VOA will curate a selection of these editorial opinions, highlight selections, and offer them for our readers’ consideration.

The opinions expressed below are, of course, those of the authors, not the Voice of America.

"From Chess Player to Barroom Brawler" Commentary by Mark Galeotti, professor of global affairs, New York University, published in Foreign Policy magazine.

"What is playing out in Crimea and, potentially, in eastern Ukraine, is thus not just proof of Russian hegemonic ambition in post-Soviet Eurasia. It is also an expression of a genuine and serious change that is taking place at the core of Russian politics.

"Until now, Putin was a bare-knuckled and often confrontational geopolitical player, but -- even invading Georgia -- he retained a clear sense of just how far he could go. Indeed, this was his genius, to know when to play the game and when to break the rules.

"But Putin today is increasingly a caricature of Putin in his first two terms. He is listening to fewer dissenting voices, allowing less informed discussion of policy options, deliberately narrowing his circle of counselors.

"Perhaps feeling the chill touch of political, if not physical mortality, he appears not just unwilling but unable to seem to be backing down from a fight, more concerned with short-term bravado than long-term implications.

"Is this a passing phase? Probably not. Put aside the old clichés about Putin the chessplayer: We may have to get used to dealing with Putin the barroom brawler."

"Western Sanctions Delivery Only a Slap on the Wrist to Mr. Putin" Editorial published by the Washington Post.

'The relative good news is that an executive order signed by Mr. Obama gives his administration authority to act more expansively. Russian arms companies are subject to sanctions, as are “individuals and entities” that provide “material or other support to any senior Russian government official.”

"These authorities could be used to target key figures excluded from Monday’s designation; Putin’s defense minister and intelligence chief and the chairmen of the state gas, oil and railway companies ought to be on the sanctions list

"Officials also have the power to hit any bank or other company that invests in Crimea or is found to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.

"Mr. Obama has been holding back on tougher measures while offering Mr. Putin face-saving ways to de-escalate. While that is not an unreasonable policy, it can’t succeed if Mr. Putin is determined, as he seems to be, to crush Ukraine while ignoring Western reaction.

"It’s not too late to force Mr. Putin to reconsider his course, but that will require the West to get ahead of him in adopting measures that inflict real pain, rather than waiting to react to his next act of aggression.

"Mr. Obama said Monday he will “calibrate our response based on whether Russia chooses to escalate or de-escalate.” Since a de-escalation looks at this point like wishful thinking, we’ll know that the president’s calibrations are adequate when they cause Russia’s markets to plunge rather than rally.'

"A Vote for Putin!" Editorial published in the New York Daily News.

"Even in the best circumstances, a U.S. president’s options in Crimea would be limited. But President Obama’s tendency to speak boldly and send in John Kerry has made his circumstances worse, by underscoring that no one need fear defying him.

"The president does have options, but the costs of restoring American credibility against determined aggressors such as Putin have gone up because of his fecklessness.

"Cutting off Russia from Western finance; restoring missile defense to Eastern European allies; making clear that a ground invasion will mean US military aid for Ukraine — these are just some of the choices Obama has before him.

"The truth is President Obama’s weakness and irresolution encourages aggressors. The point of tough measures is not to go to war with Putin. The point of tough measures is to check the Russian leader’s aggression before war becomes unavoidable."

"Lukahena is Threat from North to Ukranie" Commentary by Natalia Radzina, editor in chief of Chater 97 newspaper, published in Charter 97, news from Belarus.

"If Kuchma is an emissary of new Ukrainian authorities, then this is beyond moral. You fought Kuchma in 2004 during the Orange revolution and today, after defeating another dictator Yanukovych you send the former as a negotiator?

"It is obvious that in the conditions of a war emotions are sometimes above logic, but not to such an extent.

"Yanukovych’s partner was Putin, who captured the Crimea today. Lukashenka’s partners are the same Yanukovych and Putin. Why would anyone thing that the Belarusian dictator will become an ally of the new Ukraine?

"Of course, it is possible that Kuchma in this case is an envoy of the Ukrainian oligarchs, who are afraid to lose their businesses with Lukashenka. Then the new democratic authorities of Ukraine should dissociate themselves from this initiative.

"No one is urging you to fully cease the relations with the neighboring country, but you should realize that if you keep hoping on the Belarusian dictator as your savior – you will endanger your country’s security.

"You get a feeling that politicians keep triggering the same backlashes. Ukrainians are recollecting 1938 today, Hitler and the Sudeten, while Belarusians remember the friendship of Yushchenko and Lukashenka that save the regime in Belarus and helped Yanukovych come to power.

"We hope for the moral strength and strategic thinking of Maidan’s leaders. Only national democratic forces in Belarus can be a reliable partner both for Ukraine and the European Union.

"Who was an ally to Ukrainians yesterday during the revolution and remains one today during a war?

"Belarusian independent media, Belarusian volunteers, who were nip and tuck with you in the Maidan, Belarusian youth, who are thrown to prisons for solidarity with Ukraine.

"Be consistent. Remember, that Lukashenka will definitely betray you. Do not count on the dictator with blood on his hands

"To Ukraine the Lukashenka regime will always be a threat from the North."

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