Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, warns Washington D.C.’s foreign policy establishment against the danger of stoking tensions with Moscow. He explains at The American Conservative that the policy is unwise “on strategic as well as moral grounds.” He writes (abridged):
For all of the loose (frequently hysterical) talk in Congress, the foreign policy community, and the news media about President Donald Trump’s alleged eagerness to appease Vladimir Putin, U.S. policy remains as confrontational as ever toward Russia.
Among other actions, the Trump administration has involved U.S. forces in NATO military exercises (war games) in Poland and other East European countries on Russia’s border, as well as in naval maneuvers in the Black Sea near Russia’s sensitive naval base at Sevastopol. Washington has even sent U.S. troops as participants in joint military exercises with Ukrainian forces—an act that Moscow considers especially provocative, given its tense relations with Kiev.
Although Kiev’s cheerleaders in the Western (especially U.S.) media like to portray Ukraine as a beleaguered democracy that plays the role of David to Russia’s evil Goliath, the reality is far murkier. Putin’s government overstates matters when it alleges that Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution was a U.S.-orchestrated coup that brought outright fascists to power in Kiev.
That version contains more than a little truth. Prominent, powerful U.S. figures, most notably the late Senator John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, openly sided with demonstrators seeking to unseat Ukraine’s elected government. Indeed, Nuland was caught on tape with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt scheming about the desired composition of a new government in Kiev.
It is unfair to portray Ukraine’s current administration led by President Petro Poroshenko as a neo-fascist regime. Post-revolution elections appear to have been reasonably free and fair, and there are major factions that are committed to genuine democratic values.
Both the danger of stoking tensions with Moscow and becoming too close to a regime in Kiev that exhibits disturbing features should caution the Trump administration against boosting military aid to Ukraine. It is an unwise policy on strategic as well as moral grounds.
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