Here Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow lays out the underpinnings of today’s Ukraine/Russia standoff and looks at potential options. None includes U.S. military intervention as a sensible option.
Ukrainians won an important political battle by ousting the corrupt Viktor Yanukovich as president. But replacing Yanukovich with another dubious politico, such as opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, just released from prison, would change little.
Washington also triumphed. Without doing much—no troops, no money, few words—Americans watched protesters rebuff police attacks, force Yanukovich to flee, and frustrate Russia’s Vladimir Putin. A trifecta at virtually no expense. Contrast that with U.S. debacles in Iraq, Egypt, and more.
But now Russia is attempting to win as well, intervening in Crimea to an unknown end. Whether intending to simply reinforce Moscow’s influence or completely sever the region from Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has created a tinderbox that could burst into flames with one errant shot from a Russian or Ukrainian soldier, or even angry protester.
The only certainty is that the U.S. should avoid being drawn into a war with Russia over Ukraine’s future. Kiev called for a UN Security Council meeting and pointed to general territorial guarantees included in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum signed by Washington governing divestment of nuclear weapons left in Ukraine. Moscow’s conduct is intolerable. Conflict with Russia would be many times worse.
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