The Ukrainian Interim Defense Minister, Ihor Tenyukh, has resigned and the Ukrainian parliament has accepted his resignation. He has been criticized for for being indecisive during Russia’s invasion of Crimea.
Ukraine’s leader of the ultra nationalist Right Sector organization, Oleksandr Muzychko, was killed by police. The leader, who was also known as Sashko Bilow, was prominent in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Some witnesses say that he was alive during the arrest, while others claim he got killed in a firefight. This highlights how difficult it is to get the true picture on events in the Ukraine.
At President Obama’s opening remarks in The Hague, he highlighted the economic sanctions in place against Putin’s Russia. While they may have a negative effect on the EU and the United States, Obama emphasized that they are more punishing on Russia.
On the question of the 30,000 Russian troops deployed along the borders of Eastern Ukraine, Obama stated that they are currently deployed on Russian soil, which is Russia’s right. Obama also stressed that it was in the best interest of Ukraine to have close ties with both Europe and Russia. In the case of former Warsaw Pact nations, now NATO members, Obama gave his assurance that NATO would uphold its obligation to member countries. Border states currently not members of NATO would receive full support of NATO, short of military action. Military action, he said, remains the purview of NATO members.
On the question of whether or not Mitt Romney was correct in the assertion that Russia was America’s number one geopolitical threat. Obama said that America continues to face many challenges and that Russia, although it causes problems, is not America’s number one threat.
The Dutch prime minister reiterated that there is no geopolitical threat that can be solved without America and that he welcomes Obama’s engagement and leadership in every theater around the globe, including Iran Syria, Israel, etc.
While the summit is to concentrate on nuclear issues, it is clear that the press was interested to get a feel on NATO’s position on the Ukrainian crisis. The situation continues to evolve and events in the days, weeks, months ahead, will dictate any further action by both NATO Allies and Putin’s Russia.