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Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

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Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Mazy on Fri Mar 07 2014, 02:07

Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law
by  JULIE PACE and LARA JAKES
Posted: 03/06/2014 1

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared on Thursday that a referendum in 10 days on the future of a Ukraine's Crimea peninsula would violate international law. The United States also moved to impose visa restrictions and financial sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians for the moves Moscow already has made into Crimea.

Speaking from the White House, Obama said any decisions on the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of Ukraine, must include the country's new government.

"The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the constitution and violate international law," Obama said. "We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders."

Obama spoke hours after a March 16 date was set for a referendum on whether the region should become part of Russia.
Russian forces began moving into Crimea about a week ago, despite Obama's warnings that there would be costs for such actions. Seeking to follow through on that threat, Obama moved Thursday to enact new visa restrictions on an unspecified and unidentified number of people and entities that the U.S. accused of threatening Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial borders. The restrictions were unlikely to directly target Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama also signed an executive order that will allow the U.S. to levy financial sanctions. In a statement, the White House said the penalties would target "those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate."

In Brussels, meanwhile, the European Union announced it was suspending talks with Russia on an economic pact and on a visa deal in response to the Russian intervention in Crimea. EU leaders, like Obama, threatened further sanctions if Russia pushes ahead.

"I am confident that we are moving forward together, united in our determination to oppose actions that violate international law and to support the government and people of Ukraine," Obama said.

Senior Obama administration officials said penalties will deepen significantly if Russia presses into areas of eastern Ukraine, though they said there is currently no indication Moscow has taken that step. The officials also indicated that the penalties could be ratcheted down if Russia pulls back its troops in Crimea and recognizes Ukraine's new government.

"We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the government of Ukraine," the White House statement read.

Ukraine's unrest peaked in February, after months of pro-Western protests seeking the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in anger over economic woes and corruption. Yanukovych, who is pro-Russian, fled for protection to a location just outside of Moscow, and Putin sent troops into Crimea in a show of force against the upstart government in Kiev.

Crimea is a peninsula that hosts a major Russian navy base and is historically and culturally a Russian stronghold.

The visa bans will be imposed immediately and come in addition to an earlier State Department decision to deny U.S. entry to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine. Officials would not say whether Yanukovych was a target of the visa ban or the sanctions.
The sanctions plan, outlined in an executive order, lays the legal groundwork for the Treasury Department to impose financial penalties on offenders. The aim is clearly to punish the separatist movement in Crimea as well as Russia for its decision to send military forces there.

Specifically, the sanctions would target people who undermine Ukraine's democracy and new government; threaten the country's peace, security, stability and sovereignty; are linked to misappropriations of government assets; and try to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without the consent of Kiev. They would also prohibit U.S. persons from doing business with those who have been sanctioned.
Congress has been rushing to impose hard-hitting sanctions on Russia in response to its takeover of Crimea, hoping Europe will follow the lead of the United States in upping the pressure on Putin's government.

The U.S. sanctions push represents a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress. But they all are also united in their concern that American economic penalties will mean little without the participation of European countries with far deeper commercial relations with Russia.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, welcomed the sanctions and said the Ohio Republican is "committed to working with the administration to give President Obama as many tools as needed to put President Putin in check as well as prevent Russia from infringing on the sovereignty of any of its other neighbors."

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, called the new penalties "a positive first step" that needs to be coupled with similar sanctions from Europe to underscore the costs — diplomatic and economic — of rejecting Ukraine's sovereignty.

"I hope that Russia can be dissuaded from further aggression and can be walked back from its perilous course," Schiff said. "But if not, the U.S. and its allies must be prepared to use all of the diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to deter such reckless conduct."
___
Jakes reported from Rome. Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.
___
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Mazy
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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Lighterside on Fri Mar 07 2014, 16:24

Obama's Leverage Over Putin

This president has more nonmilitary options than his predecessors had for responding to Moscow's aggression.

National Journal

President Obama is not the first American president to be confronted by provocations and military actions from Moscow. All 12 presidents since World War II have faced such challenges. But Obama is one of the first to have a broad range of potentially biting nonmilitary responses to employ—a measure of how much Russia has been integrated into the world's financial system since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

It is why American policymakers are so convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has miscalculated by dispatching troops to Crimea. And why you hear over and over again from the White House and State Department that Putin does not seem to understand the interconnectedness of the 21st-century world.

"What we see here are distinctly 19th- and 20th-century decisions made by President Putin to address problems, deploying military forces rather than negotiating," says a senior administration official, speaking on background. "But what he needs to understand is that in terms of his economy, he lives in the 21st-century world, an interdependent world."

The official added pointedly: "You may have noticed his economy is not in the greatest of shape. The ruble has taken a significant hit.... He depends on good trade relations with all of us, notably with Europe. And it is going to be very difficult for him to maintain those good relations with the outside world while he is using his military forces to threaten and intimidate a neighbor." Another senior administration official, noting that the ruble has fallen 8.3 percent so far this year, calls the Russian economy "really quite vulnerable" because of its integration in global markets.

That vulnerability is a relatively new state of affairs for Moscow. "The Soviet Union was economically isolated. It did not participate in global trade to any significant degree," says Jeffrey Mankoff, a former adviser to the State Department on Russia and now deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It had an unconvertible currency. And certainly the level of trade and investment flows between the Soviet Union and the West was extremely limited. Today, that is obviously different."

Indeed, it was a matter of great frustration to many Cold War presidents that their nonmilitary options for addressing Soviet aggression were so few. When the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956, Dwight Eisenhower did little more than complain to the United Nations. When Soviet troops crushed the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968, Lyndon Johnson, similarly, went to the U.N. Neither was willing to risk a broader war to halt the Soviet invasions. John Kennedy made the same calculation when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961. As did Ronald Reagan in September 1983, when the Soviets shot down an unarmed South Korean civilian plane that had veered into their airspace. Reagan proclaimed it a "crime against humanity" and an "act of barbarism." But his actions were weak when contrasted with his words. All Reagan did was cancel an agreement on cooperation on transportation and reaffirm an existing ban on any landings in the United States by the Soviet airline Aeroflot.

The dynamic began to change when the Cold War ended and Russia could no longer keep its trading within the former Comintern countries of the Eastern Bloc. Starting in 1989, Moscow desperately wanted to turn the G-7 into the G-8, and the message from the West was that the price of admission included shifts toward genuine democracy and economic integration. Reforms began. And by 1991, the annual allied summits were being called "G-7 Plus One." At the Denver summit in 1997, Russia was rewarded for joining the Paris Club of creditor nations with full membership in what then became the G-8.

That gave George W. Bush new options in 2008, when Russia invaded parts of Georgia. He chose not to use any that would hurt Moscow, instead sending humanitarian aid to Georgia and suspending NATO military contacts with Russia and a pending civilian nuclear agreement. But even with this restrained response, the Russian economy shrank by 8 percent between 2008 and 2009, taking a hit far worse than the rest of the world suffered that year. "A lot of Russian officials and members of the elite were caught off guard by just how vulnerable to global financial pressures they actually were," Mankoff told National Journal.

Six years later, Obama has even more options. Because most of the Russian elite and the oligarchs shelter their money in European banks, sanctions could target them, including freezing their assets and blocking their travel. Indeed, the first sanctions announced Thursday affected visas. Trade, energy, and military cooperation also could be curtailed. And, after all their struggles to join the G-8, the Russians may be pretty lonely at this year's summit in June if Obama and other Western allies boycott the meetings in Sochi.

But U.S. policymakers may find that some things haven't changed since the 19th century. Although Moscow may be more conscious of its economic vulnerability than it once was, it is still driven primarily by what it views as Russia's national interests. Historically, Russians have seen Ukraine as far more important than Georgia—and they were willing to take the economic hit for their incursion there. Additionally, they can usually count on European leaders being reluctant to follow Washington's lead on sanctions, because European countries are more vulnerable than the United States to Russian sanctions against them.

So, for now, American officials are advising patience, insisting that time is not on Russia's side. "With time, they will find themselves further isolated from the international institutions, [and] there will be a further impact on their economy," says one senior administration official. But, he adds, "that is going to take a little while for them to see."

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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Mazy on Sat Mar 08 2014, 01:18

Thanks Lighterside for this article it is very informative.

Mazy
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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Lighterside on Sat Mar 08 2014, 11:51

I read both progressive and conservative news blogs (to get both sides) searching for news that you don't get on network media.  There's only so much they can cover in those time slots and you either don't get a clear picture of the situation because of time restraints or they're (network/journo) not really doing in-depth coverage, so the viewer/reader can get a clearer understanding of the situation on the ground.  

I hate to know only half the story! LOL  Inquiring minds... Concentrating

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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Mazy on Sun Mar 09 2014, 03:57

Lighterside wrote:I read both progressive and conservative news blogs (to get both sides) searching for news that you don't get on network media.  There's only so much they can cover in those time slots and you either don't get a clear picture of the situation because of time restraints or they're (network/journo) not really doing in-depth coverage, so the viewer/reader can get a clearer understanding of the situation on the ground.  

I hate to know only half the story! LOL  Inquiring minds... Concentrating

Sounds like a good idea maybe you can give me some links. My problem is that I get so much in my email alerts, that it takes me forever to read them all and my eyes are not that good. II might read 8 or 9 before I pick one to post, it's time consuming.

Now there is so much going on all over the world, it's difficult to keep up.

Mazy
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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Sevens on Sun Mar 09 2014, 04:06

Yes so much going on. First terrorists attacked and killed innocent people at train station. Then we got an airplane full of passengers missing in Vietnam.

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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Lighterside on Sun Mar 09 2014, 12:46

Mazy wrote:
Lighterside wrote:I read both progressive and conservative news blogs (to get both sides) searching for news that you don't get on network media.  There's only so much they can cover in those time slots and you either don't get a clear picture of the situation because of time restraints or they're (network/journo) not really doing in-depth coverage, so the viewer/reader can get a clearer understanding of the situation on the ground.  

I hate to know only half the story! LOL  Inquiring minds... Concentrating

Sounds like a good idea maybe you can give me some links. My problem is that I get so much in my email alerts, that it takes me forever to read them all and my eyes are not that good. II might read 8 or 9 before I pick one to post, it's time consuming.

Now there is so much going on all over the world, it's difficult to keep up.

If I don't check my email every couple of hours and clear it out, I would not be able to get through what I get in one day!  There are times when I wake and overnight I got 50 emails of a political nature.  The problem is they tend to "share" your email when you sign a petition and it gets a little overwhelming; no matter how important their issues are, I'm still only one person! LOL

Think Progress is a good place for understanding what policies are being put forth:  http://thinkprogress.org/#
Real Clear Politics has the highlights of what articles are being written on a variety of subjects as well and you get both conservative and progressive articles there: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

There are hundreds more out there of course such as Politico and Daily Beast, etc. so you definitely have choice and it's good to get perspective from both sides, so you can sort out the truth from the partisan bs and make your own decisions about policy.

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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Post by Lighterside on Mon Mar 10 2014, 14:05

Putin’s Pique
The New Yorker
by David Remnick   March 17, 2014  

In 1990, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn emerged from his isolation in Cavendish, Vermont, and issued a vatic manifesto entitled “How to Revitalize Russia.” Published at great length in Komsomolskaya Pravda, it was a document out of time, written in a prophetic nineteenth-century voice, with archaic diction and priestly cadences. Solzhenitsyn, a heroic dissident, was always at the nationalist end of the spectrum, but he was not calling for some sort of tsarist revival and imperial maintenance. Rather, he endorsed a hyper-local, Swiss-style democratic politics, a transition to private property, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. “We do not have the energy to run an Empire!” he wrote. “Let us shrug it off. It is crushing us, it is draining us, and it is accelerating our demise.” Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, along with the Caucasian republics, were to make their own way. But on the question of Ukraine he had a different view. Russia must be at the center of a “Russian union,” he declared, and Ukraine was integral to it.

At the time, Ukrainian nationalists, particularly in the western part of the republic, were joining the Baltic states in their bold drive for independence, and had formed a “people’s movement” called Rukh. Leonid Kravchuk, a dreary Communist Party hack who had previously shown nothing but indifference to Ukrainian nationalism, won the Presidency, in 1991, by deciding to stand with Rukh. This was a trend that Solzhenitsyn, in the woods of New England, and so many Russians throughout the Soviet Union, could not easily abide. It defied their sense of history. To them, Ukraine was no more a real nation than Glubbdubdrib or Freedonia. Vladimir Putin, a former officer of the K.G.B., was the first post-Soviet leader to deliver a state prize to Solzhenitsyn, who had spent a lifetime in a death struggle with the K.G.B.; a large part of their common ground was a rough notion of what Russia encompassed. As Putin told the second President Bush, “You have to understand, George. Ukraine is not even a country.”

Solzhenitsyn, one of the great truth-tellers of the twentieth century, harbored an exceedingly benign view of one of the more ominous figures of the twenty-first. Putin is an unabashed authoritarian. He masks the Pharaonic enrichment of his political circle by projecting an austere image of shrewd bluster and manly bravado. He is also the sum of his resentments. His outrage over the uprising in Kiev, like his subsequent decision to invade Crimea, is stoked by a powerful suspicion of Western motives and hypocrisies. Putin absorbed the eastward expansion of NATO; attacks on his abysmal record on human rights and civil society; and the “color” revolutions in Tbilisi and Kiev—even the revolts in Tehran, Tunis, Cairo, Manama, and Damascus—as intimations of his own political mortality. He sees everything from the National Endowment for Democracy to the American Embassy in Moscow as an outpost of a plot against him. And the U.S. clearly does want to curb his influence; we can’t pretend that he’s entirely crazy to think so. The Olympics was his multi-billion-ruble reassertion of Russian power on the level of pop culture; the invasion of Crimea is a reassertion of Russian power in the harsher currency of arms and intimidation.


The invasion demands condemnation: Ukraine is a sovereign state; it has been for a generation. Its cultural, linguistic, and historical affinities with Russia do not make it a Russian vassal. Putin’s pretext—that frightened masses of Russian-speakers in Crimea and eastern Ukraine were under physical threat from “fascists,” and were crying out for “fraternal assistance” from Russia—is a fiction generated by his intelligence services and propagated by Russian state television. (Pro-Russian Cossacks in Crimea are no less anti-Semitic than the racists among the Ukrainian nationalists—something you are not likely to learn on Channel One, in Moscow.)

Putin’s aggression took Western leaders—especially Barack Obama and Angela Merkel—too much by surprise, but they have acted since with clarity and prudence. The decision to forgo martial threats and to concentrate on strong economic sanctions and diplomatic exertions is, in a world of radically limited options, wise. But not all those most directly involved in this crisis evince an understanding of the complicated politics of Ukraine. It is worth remembering that, in the back-and-forth of Ukrainian governments since 1991, both the pro-Russian leaders, like Viktor Yanukovych, and the pro-Europeans, like Yulia Tymoshenko, have been brazen thieves, enriching themselves at fantastical rates. Both sides have played one half of the country against the other. And the fact that the protests in Kiev were not, as Moscow claims, dominated by fascists and ultra-nationalists does not mean that such elements are absent from the scene. Ukraine has yet to develop the politicians that its fragile condition and its dire economy demand. In December, when John McCain spoke to demonstrators in Kiev’s Independence Square, he stood side by side with Oleh Tyahnybok, who was once expelled from his parliamentary faction after demanding battle with “the Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” Perhaps this was bad advance work from team McCain—much like the advance work on the Sarah Palin nomination—but it did manage to fuel Moscow’s bonfire of suspicion.

McCain’s allies in the Senate have shared his propensity for incautious grandstanding. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who is facing a Republican primary challenge from his right, says that the invasion of Crimea “started with Benghazi.” He tweeted, “When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression.” And McCain, who alternates with Graham as the voice of the G.O.P. in foreign affairs, told AIPAC that the invasion was “the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.” Soon Hillary Clinton, who should know better, pitched in with an unhelpful analogy to Hitler.

Right now, Putin retains his familiar strut and disdain. His opposition at home is on tenterhooks, fearing a comprehensive crackdown, and the West, which dreams of his coöperation in Syria and Iran, is reluctant to press him too hard. But it may be that his adventure in Crimea—and not the American Embassy in Moscow—will undo him. Last month, a Kremlin-sponsored poll showed that seventy-three per cent of Russians opposed interfering in the political confrontations in Kiev. The Kremlin has proved since that it has the means, and the media, to gin up support for Putin’s folly—but that won’t last indefinitely.

In other words, Putin risks alienating himself not only from the West and Ukraine, to say nothing of the global economy he dearly wants to join, but from Russia itself. His dreams of staying in office until 2024, of being the most formidable state-builder in Russian history since Peter the Great, may yet founder on the peninsula of Crimea. ♦

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Re: Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

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