Obama to Putin: Pull back from Ukraine border

posted at 8:41 am on March 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Somewhat belatedly, President Obama has called on Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops from the Russian-Ukraine border, where 80,000 have massed for several weeks in apparent preparation to enter eastern Ukraine. Also somewhat belatedly, Obama has begun taking Putin at his word on the loss of the Soviet Union:

President Obama, in an interview in Rome with “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley, said Russia must take steps now to reduce tensions over Ukraine.

Asked what he’s seeing on the Ukrainian border that worries him, Mr. Obama replied, “It’s well known and well acknowledged that you’ve seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises. But these are not what Russia would normally be doing. And, you know, it may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be that they’ve got additional plans.”

To resolve and de-escalate the situation right now, Mr. Obama said Russia needs “to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community.”

Obama also tacitly admitted that reset buttons don’t change the nature of national leaders and their ambitions in the world:

Turning to Vladimir Putin and what he wants, Mr. Obama said the Russian president has been “willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union.”

“You would have thought that after a couple of decades that there’d be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that, you know, were so prevalent during the Cold War but, in fact, to move forward with further integration with the world economy and to be a responsible international citizen.”

Yes — and you’d think that Obama would already know this, since Putin has been publicly airing that “deeply held grievance” for almost a decade. The Bush administration belatedly came to the conclusion that Putin was an imperialist after he started talking about the Soviet collapse as history’s greatest tragedy in 2005 and began recalculating the US relationship with Russia, especially in the area of missile defense in regard to Iran, whom Russia insisted on protecting (along with China). Obama insisted that the problems with Russia were just George W. Bush being a cowboy, which is how we ended up with the “reset button” and the retreat on missile defense, along with Obama’s promise to Dmitri Medvedev for more “flexibility” after the election.

By the way, remember when the cognoscenti said that the giant hammer and sickle floats at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony were just a nod to “one of history’s pivotal experiments“? Welcome to another.

Even after all that, Obama insisted that Putin is misreading the West:

“What I have repeatedly said is that he may be entirely misreading the West,” Mr. Obama continued. “He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy. We have no interest in encircling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting the Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives.”

Putin seems to be reading the West just fine at the moment. Obama, on the other hand, still doesn’t appear to grasp Putin. The seizure of Crimea wasn’t to parry the West, nor will be the seizure of eastern Ukraine when it happens. It will be to reabsorb as many Russian enclaves back into a “Greater Russia” as Putin thinks he can without prompting a military response from the West.

When might a military operation cross the border into eastern Ukraine? It may not happen today, but look for a Friday night/Saturday morning move that takes Western leaders off guard. That was the strategy in Crimea.


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Comment pages: 1 2

MissLamar

Schadenfreude on March 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM

ppy Nomad on March 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Well, Gwyneth Paltrow I can see, because it’s hard for the most beautiful woman in the world.

Fenris on March 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

She’s a scarecrow. I’d nominate Natalie Portman for that distinction over her any day.

ConstantineXI on March 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM

H/t non-nonpartisan

Schadenfreude on March 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Segal now stands with Putin.

Schadenfreude on March 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

She’s a scarecrow. I’d nominate Natalie Portman for that distinction over her any day.

ConstantineXI on March 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM

I was being sarcastic! Some magazine declared her the most beautiful last year. Actually, I’d go for Cheryl Teigs or somebody like that (showing my age).

Fenris on March 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Did he say pretty please?

DinaRehn on March 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Plan B: Stomp his feet in a fit of rage and accuse Putin of being a Racist….

DinaRehn on March 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Lolz! ; )

Bmore on March 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Obama is the best thing that’s ever happened to Putin. Obama’s reelection bought him four more years to do whatever he wants without fear of repercussions.

Wendya on March 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Russia is a regional power, and I can see it from my house.

KMC1 on March 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Obama should invite Putin to invade America via the southern border and demand citizenship. According to Joe Biden, that will improve foreign relations AND the economy.

xblade on March 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM

My first thought when I read that headline was a contemptuous “Or what?”

blackgriffin on March 28, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Laugh of the Day

Schadenfreude on March 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

When I hear Obama warn Putin to pull back from Ukraine border, it reminds of Larry, from the Three Stooges….”I’m warning you…”

olesparkie on March 28, 2014 at 1:15 PM

This may be an ideal time, Vlad, to invade America. The door is wide open, metro Barry isn’t going to stop you. BTW, do you provide universal health care?!

steveracer on March 28, 2014 at 1:31 PM

The West will do nothing about Putin except talk and bluster.

Historically, the world has depended upon America sending its young men and women into harm’s way to save the world. That happened when America had integrity and leadership; now, there is just cowardice and blatant criminality in the White House.

With America neutered, Putin knows there is no one in the world willing to take the effort to stop him. He has free rein to do what he wants without ANY repercussions (aside from a lot of wagging tongues and whimpering fools).

xmanvietnam on March 28, 2014 at 1:32 PM

We have an arrogant fool for a President.

albill on March 28, 2014 at 1:49 PM

This may be an ideal time, Vlad, to invade America. The door is wide open, metro Barry isn’t going to stop you. BTW, do you provide universal health care?!

steveracer on March 28, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Vlad: Why, yes we do provide free health care! Check out our hospital website here…and Dr. Makarov and his nurses will take care of you right away!

* Please note: The following is sarcasm, as we all know that Socialized medicine won’t treat you as humanly as Dr. Makarov will.

BlaxPac on March 28, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Obama to Putin, pull back or I’ll draw a red line!

xdwall on March 28, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I’m sure Vlad’s response is “yo Barry, Blow me”

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 28, 2014 at 9:47 PM

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