Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ukraine: US, Allied Pressure Yet to Sway Vladimir Putin

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ukraine: US, Allied Pressure Yet to Sway Vladimir Putin

Article excerpt

As Russia tightens its grip on Crimea - bloodlessly, so far - the US is angling for influence in Ukraine as experts and political figures offer advice and comment.

This coming week, Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will fly to the United States to discuss the crisis.

The purpose of the visit Wednesday, the White House announced Sunday, will be to "discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia's ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity." From the point of view of Washington and its European allies trying to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from his military push into the critical Crimean region - leaving Ukrainian military outposts there essentially surrounded - the picture is not improving. So far, threats of diplomatic and economic isolation are not having the desired effect.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said "I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russia's hands."

"You think Crimea's gone?" Fox host Chris Wallace asked. "I do," Mr. Gates replied.

Still, said Gates, who began his government service in GOP administrations before continuing as defense secretary under President Obama, harsh Republican criticisms of the White House are out of line.

"Some of the criticism of the president ought to be toned down while he's handling this crisis," Gates said. "After all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or being unwilling to use military force."

"I think that even if we had launched attacks in Syria, even if we weren't cutting our defense budget, I think Putin saw an opportunity here in Crimea and he has seized it," he said. "There really aren't any direct military options."

But there are indirect military options available to the US and NATO, former defense secretary and former vice president Dick Cheney said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"There are military options that don't involve putting troops on the ground in Crimea," Mr. Cheney said. "We could go back and reinstate the ballistic-missile defense program that was taken out, that was originally going to go in Poland and the Czech Republic and Obama took it out to appease Putin. …

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