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Steve Jones

US Foreign Policy

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Back To The Brink In Eastern Ukraine?

Sunday April 13, 2014

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power fears escalating tension in eastern Ukraine will lead to another Russian invasion of the country. So do NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. See their comments here.

Russia denies further plans to annex any part of Ukraine. Are all those top officials worrying for nothing? Stand by.

What Is The Budapest Memorandum?

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Western countries have repeatedly mentioned the Budapest Memorandum as they've protested the Russian annexation of Crimea over the last month.

Other than sounding like a terrific title for a spy novel, what exactly is the Budapest Memorandum, and how does it affect the 2014 Ukraine Crisis? Check it out here.

Russian Navy Backs U.S. In Civil War

Sunday March 30, 2014

The image is a Winslow Homer illustration from Harper's Weekly depicting a lavish ball New Yorkers threw for Russian sailors in November 1863. Russian Czar Alexander II sent his two major fleets to the U.S. to protect them in case of war with England and France. Abraham Lincoln used the Russians' presence as proof the Czar backed Union goals in the Civil War. Check out the full story here.

Since March 2014 has been so tense between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukraine/Crimea Crisis, it's good to note that the two have been effective diplomatic allies in the past, and no doubt will continue to be.

Image courtesy Library of Congress

What Is NATO Article 5?

Thursday March 27, 2014

In his tour of Europe this week, President Barack Obama several times reaffirmed American commitment to Article 5 of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) charter. He mentioned in connection with Russia's takeover and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Article 5 is an integral part of NATO, which, of course, was established in 1949 as a counter to Soviet aggression. But what exactly is Article 5? Find out here.

Putin Praciticing Brinkmanship?

Wednesday March 26, 2014

Back in the 1950s, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles coined a scary phrase -- brinkmanship. It meant going to the very brink of war without actually going to war. And, of course, that carried nuclear implications then.

In the Ukraine Crisis and Crimean Takeover, is Russian President Vladimir Putin practicing old-fashioned brinkmanship?

In short, yes. The "brink" today may not be thermonuclear, but Putin is feeling around the perimeter of Western tolerance. He's seeing just when the West will have had enough and threaten to respond with something other than sanctions. And in case you hadn't noticed, he's been playing at brinkmanship since 2008 in places called South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Read here for more.

Photo: Vladimir Putin at the Sochi Paralympics in March 2014.

Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Russian Troops Worry NATO, U.S.

Sunday March 23, 2014

At the Brussels Forum this week, NATO leaders made it clear that it is no longer business as usual with Russia. Not since the Russian takeover of Crimea, that is, regardless of the referendum that lent the action an air of validity.

And, NATO's top general warned that Russian troops amassed on Ukraine's eastern border are more than strong enough to punch across Ukraine's southern region to Transdniestria in Moldova. Such a move could link that pro-Russian region to South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- which Russia backed in secession from Georgia -- in an arc running through Crimea and potentially chipping more territory away from Ukraine.

Complicated? Yeah; read here for more.

Russia Vetos UN Resolution; Crimean Vote Pending

Saturday March 15, 2014

Russia today vetoed a UN resolution that would have invalidated the upcoming Crimean referendum on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The U.S. and the West expected the veto, but no matter. They also knew the 13-1 vote (with Russian-ally China abstaining) would show mounting diplomatic isolation of Russia.

Meanwhile, the Crimean referendum looms, with citizens of the Black Sea peninsula set to vote tomorrow, March 16. Can the outcome really be in doubt, with Russian troops milling about? (Recall Hitler's plebiscite in 1934?)

And as vote nears, the U.S. and EU continue to maintain that the vote, plus Russia's invasion of Crimea, violate international law. Read more about it here.

Making Political Hay Of The Ukraine Crisis

Thursday March 13, 2014

A friend of mine commented the other day that the Ukraine Crisis is so complicated any conservative sitting in the Oval Office would be doing about what President Obama is doing.

He was right. Short of going in guns blazing -- which no one wants -- immediate U.S. responses are rather limited to economic isolation, sanctions, and old-fashioned negotiations. Other options, such as leveraging natural gas exports, are at best a year off.

That doesn't mean conservatives aren't going to politicize the crisis and use it to position themselves for the 2016 presidential season. Indeed, Rand Paul used it to fire an opening salvo earlier this week. Check it out here.

U.S. Options In Crimean Crisis

Sunday March 9, 2014

The U.S. is pursuing a variety of options to resolve the international crisis in Crimea. They range from sanctions to diplomacy.

The U.S. hopes sanctions and the potential scuttling of June's G8 conference in Sochi, Russia, will isolate Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Sanctions seem to have worked (partly) against Iran regarding its nuclear program, but they have had little effect on the civil war in Syria, now entering its fourth year.

Isolation? Well, Russia's a big place with a lot of economic ties. How do you isolate something like that?

In invading Crimea and sponsoring a referendum to legitimize a "deannexation" of that region from Ukraine, Putin has hoped to present the West with a fait accompli in the Black Sea.

And the West may have to accept it.

Photo: Pro-Ukrainian sympathizers waving Ukrainian flags and chanting 'Russian Soldiers Out Of Crimea,' 'Glory To Ukraine' and 'Crimea Ukraine' gather on March 8, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Overview of the Ukraine/Crimea Crisis

Saturday March 8, 2014

The first week of March 2014 saw the most tension between the West and Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If you've gotten confused in the fluid events of the Ukraine/Crimea crisis, here's a basic overview to get you up to date.

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