Politics Magazine

Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward

Posted on the 17 March 2014 by Jobsanger
Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward
Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward (The top picture is from paralympic.org, and the bottom one is from The Independent.)
Yesterday Russia put its best foot forward as it closed the Paralympic Winter Games with an original and creative ceremony. As with the Winter Olympic Games last month, Russia did a superb job of hosting the Paralympics. The face Russia showed the world was one of competence, peacefulness, integrity, and friendliness. In short, both the Olympics and Paralympics showed Russia in a very good light, and served as excellent public relations for that country.
Unfortunately, while they were putting their best foot forward they were also putting their worst foot forward. At the same time they were hosting the Paralympics, they were also invading and occupying the Ukranian province of Crimea. And yesterday, they oversaw a referendum (which they encouraged) in the Crimea -- a referendum over whether Crimea should leave Ukraine and become a part of Russia.
With about 75% of the votes counted, it is claimed that 96% of voters want to become a part of Russia.  This vote was already very suspect since the streets of Crimea are controlled by Russian troops and tunic-Russian paramilitary thugs, and the nearly unanimous vote makes it pretty obvious this was not a fair and free election. After all, only slightly more than half of Crimean people are ethnic Russians.
This is obviously just a reemergence of the old aggressive and expansionist tendencies of Russia (formerly the Soviet Union). While they mouth the right of the former Soviet States to be independent and go their own way, it is becoming clear that those are just words, and Russia has no intention of letting those countries leave their orbit and influence. It is already evident that Russia has taken the Crimea -- and that they may well be planning to take other parts (or all) of Ukraine. I think I'd be very nervous if I was a former Soviet State.
It is clear that something must be done to show Russia the rest of the world will not let them once again become an expansionist bully. The most reasonable reaction at this point is economic sanctions -- but these sanctions need to be more than just window dressing. They need to hurt, and make Russia think twice before pulling this kind of stunt again.
And a new CNN / ORC Poll (taken between March 7th and 9th of 801 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 3.5 points) shows the U.S. public may well be ready for action to be taken against Russia. About 81% say Russia's action against Ukraine was a violation of international law, and 72% say there was no justification for it. In addition, 69% of Americans now view Russia as a threat (from a low of 31%).
Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward
Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward
Russia Puts Its Best - And Worst - Foot Forward
NOTE -- I do think the U.S. should take part in economic sanctions against Russia. But in light of the U.S. history of aggression against many other smaller countries (both economically and militarily), I believe the sanctions should be designed by the European nations (and just joined in by the U.S.). I'm just not sure the U.S. has the moral high ground here.

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