Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama's Ignored Again Putin Pays No Attention to the President's Warnings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama's Ignored Again Putin Pays No Attention to the President's Warnings

Article excerpt

The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," President Barack Obama said in a brief statement from the White House after Russia invaded Crimea Feb. 28.

Then he left for the Washington Hilton to declare the bar open at a function for the Democratic National Committee. When intelligence officials came to the White House the next day for a briefing, the president didn't attend.

If Mr. Obama had been serious about stopping Russian aggression, he wouldn't have put "consequences" off to some time in the future, wrote columnist Charles Krauthammer. "What he's saying is we're not really going to do anything."

Russian President Vladimir Putin must have read the president's remarks the same way.

"Rarely has a threat from a U.S. president been dismissed as quickly ? and comprehensively ? as Obama's warning Friday night," noted Washington Post reporter Scott Wilson.

Russia is on the wrong side of history, Mr. Obama told reporters Monday.

The seizure of the Crimea "is really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century," said Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mr. Putin, alas, "has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior," said The Washington Post editorial board.

When the president and his aides lecture Mr. Putin, they come across as "patronizing or out of touch," according to Johns Hopkins University Prof. James Mann.

"We are issuing pathetic declarations which nobody is taking seriously," Russian expert Dmitri Simes told The New Republic.

"If you are effectively taking the stick option off the table, then what are you left with?" Andrew C. Kuchins, who heads the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. "I don't think that Obama and his people really understand how others in the world are viewing his policies."

What the world sees is a pattern of bluster and retreat by a president reluctant to exercise leadership or protect American interests.

Because Mr. Obama "blinked" after drawing a "red line" in Syria last fall, Mr. Putin doesn't believe anything he says, Russian chess master and human rights advocate Garry Kasparov told CNN's Jake Tapper. …

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