The Corner

National Security & Defense

You May Not Have Noticed It, But Obama Kind of Threw Ukraine under the Bus at the G7

President Obama’s major slip at the G7 summit in the Alps yesterday was his admission that he still doesn’t have a “complete strategy” for confronting ISIS in Iraq, but that gaffe shouldn’t overshadow another unfortunate comment the president made, about the situation in Ukraine.

When a reporter asked what the next steps should be taken if Russia persists with its flagrant violations of the February “Minsk” ceasefire, the president pointed to a “strong consensus that we need to keep pushing Russia to abide by the terms of the Minsk agreement, [that] we need to continue to support and encourage Ukraine to meet its obligations under Minsk – that until that’s completed, sanctions remain in place.”

#related#Leave aside, for the moment, the peculiar moral equivalence of admonishing Ukraine to be cognizant of its obligations when, for a victim of wholesale aggression, it has been remarkably well-behaved. The more problematic suggestion is that sanctions on Russia can be lifted if and when it complies with Minsk.

Three weeks ago, John Kerry said the same thing in Sochi. As I noted then here on the Corner, Kerry’s statement was a direct contradiction of U.S. policy, which calls for a complete restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty including the return of Crimea. (The invasion and annexation of Crimea was the original provocation for the entire U.S.-E.U. sanctions regime.)

I wondered after Kerry’s comments whether they revealed more concessions to Russia are on the way — and it seems that Obama has now answered that question in the affirmative.

This sort of fecklessness should hardly be surprising, but since Obama continues to talk tough about Putin, it’s worth noting the contrast between his words and his actions.

Obama reported at the G7 that “the Russian economy has seriously weakened” and ”Russia’s actions in Ukraine are hurting Russia and hurting the Russian people.” One problem here: He attributes this to the middling sanctions regime he’s organized, ignoring the dramatic drop in oil prices.

The deeper problem is that Obama is intent on getting Putin to abide by a deeply flawed agreement for which the Russian strongman has nothing but contempt. As Obama himself noted, Russian troops continue to operate on Ukrainian soil while Putin refuses to admit any such thing.

By pretending that Minsk is a reasonable agreement and that there is hope of Russian compliance, Obama only encourages complacency, both here and in Europe. It’s uncertain whether Putin will launch a major offensive this summer, but Obama should be laying the foundation for a strong response by every member of NATO. Instead, we seem to be watching a rerun of an old routine: Obama professes shock at Russian misbehavior, pledges solidarity with Ukraine, then says that if Russia misbehaves again, he’ll consider some really serious measures.

The old show does pull in good ratings, however: The Europeans find it soothing and Putin always has a good laugh.

 

Most Popular

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More
Economics

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More
Economics

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More