When it comes to real sanctions in defense of Ukraine, President Obama has

proven far more consistent than any of his Western partners, writes Gazeta

Wyborcza columnist Mariusz Zawadzki.

 

 

Obama's Sanctions on Russia are the 'Only Real Sanctions' (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)

 

"It is significant that the only country doing anything to directly defend Ukraine is the United States, which has no interests there whatsoever. Frankly speaking, Americans didn't care much about Ukraine ... until it became a victim of Russian aggression. ... Many say that new American sanctions are still too weak, but one must recall that they're the only real sanctions we have, and they create jangled nerves among Moscow politicians, while the Russian stock exchange and ruble have tumbled sharply. Therefore, they are working."

 

By Mariusz Zawadzki

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Translated By Halszka Czarnocka

 

July 20, 2014

 

Poland - Gazeta Wyborcza - Original Article (Polish)

How numerous were the complaints when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and Barack Obama announced the first raft of sanctions against Russia! It was said that the U.S. president was again proving to be a wimp, since he decided merely to sanction several people from Putin's inner circle.

 

Obama explained then: "Russian leaders must see that their actions in Ukraine have consequences, including a weakening of the Russian economy and increasing diplomatic isolation. If they donít change their behavior, we will move forward with additional, more severe sanctions."

 

People said these were empty threats, about which Putin simply laughed.

 

Yet it turned out that Obama was the only Western leader to apply any meaningful sanctions at all. The countries of Western Europe, Germany and France in particular, are more concerned about shielding their business interests in Russia from harm.

 

On Wednesday evening, as Obama was announcing a new set of sanctions, this time against Russian state companies Rosneft and Gazprom, he repeated exactly the same words.

 

It is significant that the only country doing anything to directly defend Ukraine is the United States, which has no interests there whatsoever. Frankly speaking, Americans didn't care much about Ukraine, an inefficient country somewhere at the far end of Europe, until it became a victim of Russian aggression. Then Obama went into action. In his own way, of course: cautiously - some would say too cautiously, but as we saw yesterday, consistently.

 

He stepped in not because he wants to draw Ukraine into an "American sphere of influence." He has repeated several times that he isn't playing a geopolitical chess match with Russia and the Cold War has long since ended. Obama decided to act for two important reasons.

 

First: because every nation, including Ukraine, has the right to self determination. And second: because Russia's aggression threatens the order that has prevailed in Europe since the end of World War II.

 

Many say that new American sanctions are still too weak, but one must recall that they're the only real sanctions we have, and they create jangled nerves among Moscow politicians, while the Russian stock exchange and ruble have tumbled sharply. Therefore, they are working.

 

Moreover, Obama still has strong cards to play. Although a U.S. embargo on Russia would have little impact because its trade with Russia is microscopic, let's recall what happened to the portal WikiLeaks, which revealed classified communications of the U.S. military, intelligence, and diplomacy. In retaliation, Washington forced credit card operators Visa and MasterCard to stop accepting deposits for WikiLeaks' accounts. Imagine what would happen if Russia faced similar unpleasantness!

 

So why isn't Obama using a big stick when he has it? If he did, the Russians would likely dig even more into their nationalistic, anti-Western positions, and the U.S. president would lose all capacity to influence them. On the other hand, a gradual, unhurried tightening of sanctions, without hysteria or dramatic gestures, has the advantage of keeping Putin aware at all times that over his head hangs the American stick.

 

One hopes that has a sobering effect on him.

Posted By Worldmeets.US

 

Of course, the chances of containing the conflict in Ukraine would be greater if there were two sticks hanging over Putin's head - American and European. It might be worth revisiting this again, in Paris, Berlin, or Warsaw. Particularly now, when we have to add 295 air passengers from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur to the list of the conflict's victims.

 

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:

de Volkskrant, The Netherlands: MH17: Death Knell of Ukraine's Pro-Russian Separatists

Izvestia, Russia: Abandoning Pro-Russia Separatists Would Be 'Unforgivable'

Izvestia, Russia: For Russia, Iraq Crisis is a 'Lucky Break'

Newsweek Polska, Poland: Has Putin Orchestrated Poland's Eavesdropping Scandal?

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Poland and Germany Show Kremlin No Wiggle Room

News, Switzerland: All's Disquiet on the Western Front

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: U.S. 'Unprepared' for Opposition to TTIP Free Trade Deal

News, Switzerland: Barack Macbeth's 'Murder' of Net Neutrality

Die Welt, Germany: NATO Badly Divided on Deploying Troops in East Europe; Facing Moscow

Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukraine: In Defeating the 'Russian Disease,' Will Ukraine Lose its Soul?

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Obama's Chance to Make Up for Missteps Toward Poles

Direct Matin, France: Mr. Obama's D-Day Option: Indifference or Interference?

Economist, U.K.: Poland - Obama's First Stop in Europe

Latvijas Avize, Latvia: In Latvia and Europe, Naive Hopes that Russia Will Change Live On

Izvestia, Russia: 'Envy of the Gods': Obama 'Unfit to Lead' a Great Power

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Why Should Poland Thank Putin? Let Us Count the Ways

Le Figaro, France: For Putin's Russia, Conchita Wurst is a Tool Like No Other

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: New Space Race Will Benefit U.S. and Russian Programs

Vedemosti, Russia: Russia Unmoved By NASA's 'Cancellation' of Space Cooperation

Huanqiu, China: China Requires Capacity to Shoot Down American Satellites

Epoca, Brazil: China on the Moon: Move Over America and Russia

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea: American Space Crime Must be Stopped!

Novaya Gazeta, Russia: NATO 'Never Promised' Not to Expand Eastward

KPRU, RUSSIA: Ukraine Crisis: Russia Cannot Dispense with the Dollar

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Thank Putin for NATO's 'Second Wind'

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: Weakening Russian Influence Requires European Energy Union

Gazeta, Russia: Ukraine: Setting the Table for a Newer World Order

Izvestia, Russia: Dimitry Kiselyov: Russia Takes West's Place as Beacon of Free Expression

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany: To Beat Putin, West Needs Armor, Not Empathy

Libero Quotidiano, Italy: Obama 'Turns the Nuclear Cheek' To Vladimir Putin

Gazeta, Russia: Russians Bid Farewell to the West

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Lech Walesa: Europe 'Cannot Count on the United States'

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Obama's Lesson: Poland Can't Count on the United States

Huanqiu, China: New Russia: Becoming the 'Empire the World Needs'

Al Wehda, Syria: Hagel Must Be Told: China is Not Russia

Semana, Colombia: America and Russia: Two Empires Now 'Nakedly Imperial'

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia: Ukraine and Syria: May Allah Make Russia's Pain Severe!

Trouw, Netherlands: Clinton's Hitler-Putin Comment Highlights Weakness of E.U.

Vedomosti, Russia: From Hitler to Putin: Crimea is 'Not the First Time'

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: 'Annexing' Crimea and 'Uniting' Jerusalem

Gazeta, Russia: Annexing Crimea 'Too Costly for Russia to Bear'

Vedomosti, Russia: From Hitler to Putin: Crimea is 'Not the First Time'

Izvestia, Russia: Global Call to Arms Against 'American Exceptionalism'

Moskovskij Komsomolets, Russia: A Grateful Nation Cheers President Putin's Triumph

Izvestia, Russia: Crimea: 'We Will Never Give Up What We've Won'

Handelsblad, Germany: 'Fissures' in Europe: Putin, Propaganda, and Patriotism

Der Spiegel, Germany: Finance Minister Schauble Says Putin Plan Reminiscent of Hitler

Der Spiegel, Germany: The Sympathy Problem - Is Germany a Country of Russia Apologists?

Der Spiegel, Germany: NATO's Putin Conundrum: Berlin Considers Its NATO Options

La Stampa, Italy: Ukraine: Putin Capitalizes on Western Identity Crisis

La Stampa, Italy: Ukraine: Putin Capitalizes on Western Identity Crisis

de Volkskrant, Netherlands: Putin's Letter to Americans a Guilty Pleasure for the World

Huanqiu, China: Letter By Vladimir Putin Exposes 'Exceptional' American Inequality

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: A 'Puppet in Putin's Hands,' Snowden Paved Way to Ukraine Crisis

Diario De Noticias, Portugal: Russia and America: United in Flouting International Law

Carta Maior, Brazil: Venezuela and Ukraine: Upending Washington's Best Laid Plans

Le Quotidien d'Oran, Algeria: Crimea: The Latest Front for French Rambos

Reforma, Mexico: Crimea and Texas: Russia's Version of Manifest Destiny

Al Wehda, Syria: America's 'Destiny' of Invasion and Expansionism

FAZ, Germany: America and Germany: The 'Axis of Pragmatism'

BelTA, Belarus: Lukashenko Warns: Crimea Sets 'Dangerous Precedent'

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia: Ukraine and Syria: May Allah Make Russia's Pain Severe!

tp24 Rubriche, Italy: America 'Too Young to Understand' Crisis in Crimea

Die Zeit, Germany: The Paler the West, the More Luminous Vladimir Putin

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Between Russia and the West: Ukraine's Insurmountable Task

Huanqiu, China: Crisis Over Ukraine Could Spell 'Disaster' for China

Asia Times, Hong Kong: Beijing to Kiev to Taipei: Why China Worries About Ukraine

Neatkariga Rita Avize, Latvia: Putin Clears Western Minds of Intelligence, Media 'Delusions'

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: Germans Must Now Back Sanctions - Even if they Hurt Us

Diena, Latvia: President Tells Lithuanians: Show Russia No Fear and be 'Ready to Shoot'

de Volkskrant, The Netherlands: Recognize Russia's Legitimate Interests or Ukraine is Doomed

de Volkskrant, The Netherlands: Most Crimeans Don't want Ukraine Split

Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: Finding the Win-Win Scenario With Vladimir Putin

Sol, Portugal: Ukraine May Awaken 'Ghosts of the Great War'

de Morgan, Belgium: Putin Knows: No One in West is Willing to Die for Sebastopol

Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia: Crimea: the Next Puerto Rico?

Russia Today, Russia: VIDEOS: Roundup of Russian Reaction from Russia Today

European Press Agencies: European Reaction to Developments in Ukraine

Moskovskii Komsomolets, Russia: Report: U.S. to Help 'Oust' Black Sea Fleet from Crimea

Novosti, Russia: Looking Toward the West, Ukraine 'Lies' to the East

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: Ossified Kremlin Misreads Biden Visit to Georgia, Ukraine

Rceczpospolita, Poland: Banish All 'Magical Thinking' Regarding the Russian Bear

Kommersant, Russia: The Kremlin Offers 'an Ultimatum' to America

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: 'Enormous Error' of Bush's 'Georgian Protege'
Cotidianul, Romania:
Georgia Can 'Kiss NATO Goodbye'
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Before Georgia - It is Europe that Needs Mediation
Rue 89, France: East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO
Liberation, France: Russian President 'Dictates His Peace' to Hapless Europe
Le Figaro, France: Between America and Russia, the E.U. is On the Front Line
Le Figaro, France: War in the Caucasus: Georgia 'Doesnít Stand a Chance'
Le Figaro, France: A Way Out of the Georgia Crisis for Russia and the West
Le Figaro, France: A Way Out of the Georgia Crisis for Russia and the West
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: Did Russia 'Win' the Georgia Crisis? Not By a Long Shot

 

CLICK HERE FOR POLISH VERSION

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Posted By Worldmeets.US July 20, 2014, 8:59am