In case you’ve missed it, the foreign policy reset button that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton hit with Russia is now stuck on restoring the old Soviet Union. I suppose this is indeed what Obama meant when he told then-Russian President Medvedev he would have more “flexibility” after winning reelection.
According to a Bloomberg.com news report,
Vladimir Putin’s dream of recreating the Soviet empire is being tested on the streets of Kiev. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators facing off against riot police in the Ukrainian capital are protesting civil rights infringements and a government decision to back off signing free-trade accord with the European Union. The battle is really about whether Russian President Putin can extend his economic influence over its ex-Soviet neighbor, said Tim Ash, chief economist for emerging markets at Standard Bank (SBK) Group.
Just recently demonstrators in Kiev tore down the statue of Vladimir Lenin to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with returning back to centralized control of Putin and the Kremlin. It’s both perplexing and telling that Obama has been completely silent on these matters. I suppose that trip to South Africa to honor someone who also had socialist leanings is more important – but I digress.
Putin, who described the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, is using his country’s energy wealth to anchor Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in a Russian-led bloc after two decades of advances by the West. Ukraine, the route for half of OAO Gazprom (GAZP)’s gas shipments to Europe, faces a choice: cheaper gas and continued access to its traditional customers, or stronger ties with the EU’s $18 trillion market.
This just goes to show how a nation’s economy, and particularly energy security policy, is becoming a preeminent aspect of international relations — hence why America needs energy independence. Indeed energy appears to be the political weapon of choice for Putin whether it’s through dangling the promise of price cuts or veiled threats of cutting off supplies during a midwinter freeze.
Why has the US not made any official comment to Ukraine and offered to support their trade venture with the European Union (EU)? Don’t forget Russia went to war in 2008 with another former satellite, Georgia, as it was strengthening its ties with NATO.
Of course, President Obama cancelled the missile defense system pact with the former Soviet states (including Ukraine), something that would have served to show strength. How interesting that Ronald Reagan commanded Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” while Barack Obama is acquiescing to Vladimir Putin as he rebuilds it. (And a Hillary Clinton presidency would be just as weak and ineffective).