US prepares tough response for Russia over Ukraine

Comment: Off

People shout slogans and gesture, during a rally in Kiev’s Independence Square, Sunday, March 2, 2014. Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military Sunday in the conflict between the two countries, warning that “we are on the brink of disaster.” The comments from Arseniy Yatsenyuk came as a convoy of Russian troops rolled toward Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

People shout slogans and gesture, during a rally in Kiev’s Independence Square, Sunday, March 2, 2014. Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military Sunday in the conflict between the two countries, warning that “we are on the brink of disaster.” The comments from Arseniy Yatsenyuk came as a convoy of Russian troops rolled toward Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Ukraine’s Ambassador to NATO Ihor Dolhov adjusts the microphones prior to speaking during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Sunday, March 2, 2014. NATO is called emergency talks on Sunday regarding the escalating crisis in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Map shows the Ukrainian Russian region with the latest news developements; 3c x 6 inches; 146 mm x 152 mm;

Buy AP Photo Reprints

WASHINGTON (AP) — Western powers on Sunday prepared a tough response to Russia’s military advance into Ukraine and warned that Moscow could face economic penalties, diplomatic isolation and bolstered allied defenses in Europe unless it retreated.

The crisis may prove to be a game-changer for President Barack Obama’s national security policy, forcing him to give up his foreign policy shift to Asia and to maintain U.S. troop levels in Europe to limit Russia’s reach.

The ill will and mistrust also could spill over on two other global security fronts — Syria and Iran — where Russia has been a necessary partner with the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no indication that would heed the West’s warnings. Hundreds of armed men surrounded a Ukrainian military base in Crimea. In Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk alerted allies that “we are on the brink of disaster.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said he has consulted with other world leaders and “every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion.”

He was considering a stop in Kiev during his trip this coming week to Paris and Rome for discussions on Lebanon and Syria.

In Brussels, NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Russia’s actions have violated a U.N. charter. He said the alliance was re-evaluating its relationship with Russia.

“There are very serious repercussions that can flow out of this,” Kerry said.

Beyond economic sanctions and visa bans, freezing Russian assets, and trade and investment penalties, Kerry said Moscow risks being booted out of the powerful Group of Eight group of world powers as payback for the military incursion.

Several senators also called for bolstered missile defense systems based in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia is “going to be inviting major difficulties for the long term,” said Kerry. “The people of Ukraine will not sit still for this. They know how to fight.”

Still, it was clear that few, if anyone, in the West were immediately prepared to respond to Putin with military force.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis used his traditional Sunday midday appearance in St. Peter’s Square to urge world leaders to promote dialogue as a way of resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discussing the potential of U.S. military strikes against Russian troops in Crimea, said, “I don’t think anyone is advocating for that.”

Rubio said it would be difficult to rein in Moscow. He said Putin has “made a cost-benefit analysis. He has weighed the costs of doing what he’s done, and … clearly he has concluded that the benefits far outweigh the costs. We need to endeavor to change that calculus.”

As a starter, Rubio and fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the Obama administration should return to plans it abandoned in 2009 to place long-range missile interceptors and radar in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia believed the program was aimed at countering its own missiles and undermining its nuclear deterrent. The White House denied that, and has worked instead to place medium-range interceptors in Poland and Romania — aimed at stopping missiles from Iran and North Korea.

Experts said potential U.S. budget cuts to Army units based in Germany also could be slowed, or scrapped completely, to prevent a catastrophic erosion of stability and democracy from creeping across Europe.

The Pentagon is considering new reductions to Army units in Germany that already have been slashed under Obama. Currently, there are two Army brigades — up to 10,000 soldiers — based in Germany, where armored and infantry units have dug in since World War II. At the end of the Cold War, more than 200,000 American forces were stationed across Europe.

Damon Wilson, an Eastern European scholar, former diplomat and executive vice president of the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank, said the U.S. must be ready to pour its efforts into Ukraine, even at the cost of policies and priorities elsewhere.

“We should be no longer deluded by the fact that Europe is a safe spot of stability and security, and not a security risk for the U.S.,” Wilson said Sunday. He said that if Putin goes unchecked, it could result in war — the second one on NATO’s borders.

The 3-year-old civil war in Syria is already a crisis for neighboring Turkey, a NATO member state. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but it borders four nations that are — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

“This is the biggest challenge to Obama’s presidency,” Wilson said. “This is a pretty

Comments

comments

About the Author