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U.S. Foreign Policy Comes Home to Roost with Russia’s Action in Ukraine
The Washington Post
by David J. Kramer
President of Freedom House
President Obama faces the gravest challenge of his presidency in figuring out how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. How he responds will define his two terms in office, as well as determine the future of Ukraine, Russia and U.S. standing in the world. After all, if the authoritarian tyrant Vladimir Putin is allowed to get away with his unprovoked attack against his neighbor, a blatant violation of that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, then U.S. credibility, already damaged by Obama’s poor handling of Syria, will be down to zero. Allies won’t believe in us, enemies won’t fear us and the world will be a much more dangerous place. The White House statement issued late Saturday afternoon expressing “deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty” was woefully inadequate.
There are things Obama needs to do immediately, some in collaboration with our European and NATO allies, others on our own. They include:
● Imposing sanctions against Russian state-owned banks and financial institutions;
● Widening application of the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act against an array of Kremlin officials, including Putin;
● Terminating all negotiations with Russia on a possible trade agreement or promoting business;
● Calling an emergency NATO meeting to reassure NATO allies that border Ukraine and initiate mobilization of forces to be ready for any developments (Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, invoked by Latvia and Lithuania, calls for consultations about security concerns);
● Sending U.S. military ships to the Black Sea for any contingencies;
● Pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against its neighbor, even though Russia will obviously veto it; and
● Joining other Group of Eight members in expelling Russia and announcing the cancellation of Obama’s plans to visit Sochi, where Putin was to host this year’s G-8 meeting in June.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.