News / Europe

Ukraine Crisis Reminiscent of US Cold War Challenges

Ukraine Crisis Reminiscent of US Cold War Challengesi
X
Kane Farabaugh
April 03, 2014 11:12 PM
When Russian-speaking troops marched through the Crimean peninsula in February, it marked a dramatic change in relations between the United States and its one-time Cold War adversary. Some compare the situation to what President Jimmy Carter faced in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, plunging the already contentious U.S.-Soviet relationship into a deep freeze. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, while the situation in Ukraine is reminiscent of the foreign policy challenges confronting President Carter and other American presidents during the Cold War, experts say there are important differences.
Kane Farabaugh
When Russian-speaking troops marched through the Crimean peninsula in February, it marked a dramatic change in relations between the United States and its one-time Cold War adversary.

Some compare the situation to what President Jimmy Carter faced in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, plunging the already contentious U.S.-Soviet relationship into a deep freeze.

But while the situation in Ukraine is reminiscent of the foreign policy challenges confronting Carter and other American presidents during the Cold War, experts say there are important differences.

During President Barack Obama’s first term, his administration worked to improve relations with Russia by establishing a “reset” policy with Moscow, a relationship strained by Russian military action in neighboring Georgia in 2008.  

University of Chicago political science professor Stanislav Markus says President Obama’s “reset” policy showed initial signs of progress.

“Given that thaw in the background, I think there were hopes in the administration that the relations with Russia could get back on a more positive track,” he said.

But Markus says much of that thaw froze again in 2012, when Russian President Vladimir Putin returned to power.  Any progress to improve relations, he says, evaporated with the Russian annexation of Crimea.

“I think it did catch many people in the administration by surprise given, of course, the reset policy Obama tried to promote,” he said.

As Russia consolidated its hold on Crimea, the Obama administration's “reset” policy was roundly criticized by opposition Republican lawmakers, such as Senator John McCain, who called Obama’s previous approach toward Russia “naïve.”
FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Thomas Watson (R), who was recalled consultation after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, talks with President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (L) at the White House in Washington, Jan. 5, 1980.FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Thomas Watson (R), who was recalled consultation after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, talks with President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (L) at the White House in Washington, Jan. 5, 1980.
x
FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Thomas Watson (R), who was recalled consultation after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, talks with President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (L) at the White House in Washington, Jan. 5, 1980.
FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Thomas Watson (R), who was recalled consultation after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, talks with President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (L) at the White House in Washington, Jan. 5, 1980.
It is criticism familiar to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who was faced with similar challenges when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

“I withdrew my ambassador," he said. "I broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. I declared a grain embargo against them. I supported the Congress and the Olympic Committee in withholding our contestants from the 1980 Olympics.”

But much has changed in the 35 years since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. With the end of the Cold War and increased economic ties between Russia and the rest of the world, Carter concedes the options before President Obama to counter Russian aggression in Crimea today are much more limited.

“Threatening an embargo, even threatening military action, in my opinion, would not have deterred Putin from doing that,” he said.

Markus says, “Crippling the economy by, say, imposing certain embargoes on Russian energy, which obviously a lot of Russian state revenue depends on energy exports, that would have an impact on the Russian people which automatically would be interpreted in Russia as actually confirming what Putin has been saying all along, that a lot of people in the West have not left the past behind, have not left the Cold War behind, they want Russia to be on its knees.”

As Ukraine prepares for a presidential election May 25, Carter says he believes Putin will bolster efforts to influence those living geographically and ideologically close to Russia, but doubts he plans further military action in Ukraine.

“He announced that he would not take military action against eastern Ukraine, and I don't think he will," said Carter. "The United States ought to be very forceful along with our allies in telling Putin, "If you do that, there will be very serious consequences.”

U.S. military commanders in Europe estimate an additional 40,000 Russian troops are massed along the Ukrainian border.  While President Carter threatened to use U.S. military force as a way to contain Soviet ambitions beyond Afghanistan in 1979,  Obama has said there is no military solution to the deepening crisis in Ukraine.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: pat from: FL
April 03, 2014 10:24 PM
The thing is, Ireland has wanted its independence for a very long time and they still do. What has Britain said "NO" by military force. There are other counties in the world wanting there independence also. Are we going to become dictators of the world? Is NATO? Especially at the time NATO was formed these counties were under Russian rule. If Russian starts taking counties other than what it originally had then is the time to worry about it all. We need to stop being the dictators of the world. Russia is open now, these people can leave if they don't like it. It's not worth causing WWIII. There are good people in Russia lets keep the doors open for them and us.

by: Harry Kuheim from: USA
April 03, 2014 9:15 PM
Obama and the Progressive Liberals can't understand that there are other World Leaders who want to make up Constitutional Rules as they go too...Russia has been Redistributing Incomes, providing Health Care, Subsidizing Food and Housing, and destroying Capitalists long before Obama ever heard Rev. Wrights diatribe rants damning Amerika.
In Response

by: Goldingen from: Greece
April 04, 2014 5:01 AM
Other World leaders distributing own wealth and human rights should be the heads of the states in Siriya, North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe ...and Tuvalu

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs