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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs