After violent protests last week in the Ukraine, the elected President was removed from office with a vote by the transitional government, causing Yankovich to to flee to Russia. Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin received full support of the Russian parliament to deploy Russian troops in the Ukraine, which was followed by an invasion of the Crimean Peninsula on Saturday.
This caused a flury of diplomatic activity on Saturday, including a meeting of the UN Security Council, NATO and a 90 minute phone call between President Obama and Vladimir Putin.
In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper held a cabinet meeting, while in the US the National Security Council met. Apparently Vice President Joe Biden attended the meeting via video, while President Obama was briefed afterwards by National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
As a result of consultations on Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on the situation in the Ukraine. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement on Saturday as well.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Statement
The United States condemns the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory, and its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in full contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. This action is a threat to the peace and security of Ukraine, and the wider region.
I spoke with President Turchynov this morning to assure him he had the strong support of the United States and commend the new government for showing the utmost restraint in the face of the clear and present danger to the integrity of their state, and the assaults on their sovereignty. We also urge that the Government of Ukraine continue to make clear, as it has from throughout this crisis, its commitment to protect the rights of all Ukrainians and uphold its international obligations. Read More
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Statement
“We join our allies in condemning in the strongest terms President Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine. These actions are a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are also in violation of Russia’s obligations under international law.
Canada recognizes the legitimacy of the Government of Ukraine. Ukraine’s sovereign territory must be respected and the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future. We call on President Putin to immediately withdraw his forces to their bases and refrain from further provocative and dangerous actions. Read More
Canada has taken action by suspending its engagement in preparations for the G8 Summit, currently planned for Sochi, and the Canadian ambassador in Moscow is being recalled for consultations.
NATO has condemned Putin’s actions, yet the Russian president has been defiant and continues to mobilize his forces. While information is sketchy, there are reports that Russian troops are digging trenches along the border of the Crimean Peninsula with the mainland of the Ukraine. Russian Forces are deployed along the eastern border of the Ukraine and there are protests of pro-Russia supporters and opponents in cities all over the Ukraine. Ukraine’s government has mobilized its Armed Forces, which are no match for those of the Russian Federation.
While there is deep concern that this situation could escalate quickly if there is a clash between Russian and Ukrainian troops, most analysts believe that Vladimir Putin is not interested in a bloody conflict. For the time being Russian and Ukrainian troops are talking with each other.
What can the US and NATO accomplish?
There is an old saying: “Talk is cheap and whiskey costs money.” For the time being the rhetoric and condemnations have been expressed in the UN, European capitals, Canada and the US. In the final analysis the actions that can be undertaken by the US and its allies are limited.
European leaders can’t act on their own and are currently reliant on fossil fuels moving from Russia through the Ukraine to Europe. Russia has had no problems shutting down the flow of natural gas before.
President Obama has no credibility and has drawn red lines before, which were crossed with ease. The Crimean Peninsula may, in fact, not be the flashpoint of this crisis. The current question is how far beyond the Crimean Peninsula is Putin prepared to push.
Russia’s response has been defiant and provocative stating that all of the Ukraine is fair game. Putin has a mandate from the Russian parliament to deploy troops as he sees fit and in the numbers he sees fit to protect Russian interests. The Kremlin said that President Putin told President Obama that Russia reserves the right to protect Russian interests.
While NATO has stated its full support to an independent, free, Ukraine it is limited in what it can do without military force.
Hillary’s reset button was a pipe dream.
A selection of background articles by Politisite Aggregate
Ukraine: total mobilization, combat alert amid Crimea tensions – The Voice of Russia
Ukrainian PM calls Russian action a declaration of war – WaPo