The Ukraine government announced Friday that it had signed a trade agreement with the European Union. This occurred some seven months after the country’s previous President, Victor Yanukovych, rejected the pact and set off nationwide protests that forced him to vacate his position. The ex-president rejected the deal at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not want to see another former Soviet Republic associate with the West, lessening Russia’s influence. The protests and Yanukovych’s flight from Ukraine led to the tensions that allowed Russia to snatch Crimea from Ukraine and claim it for itself.
However, in the end, while Russia may have flexed some temporary might by taken over a small region in Ukraine, they ended up being the big losers in all of this. Ukraine has elected a new President, Petro Poroshenko, who is not in the pocket of the Russians. Putin’s actions have led to Russia’s economy dipping into a recession. And Ukraine got what it wanted in the first place — a trade pact with the EU and the reduction of Russia’s influence on its economy. Meanwhile, Putin is left to sit and stew in the mess he created for his own country, as individuals and businesses in the country have been hit with sanctions and his own wrongheaded aggression has led to his country’s influence in the international community being greatly weakened.
With this news, will we see any conservatives come forward and state that President Obama was correct all along with his strategy to deal with Putin? Remember, back when Putin was meddling in Crimea and sending troops to the Ukraine border, conservative pundits and politicians were falling all over themselves calling Obama “weak and timid” while praising Putin’s leadership skills. Now, Putin has done real damage to his country, while Ukraine, despite losing the Crimean peninsula, has been able to pull itself away from Russia’s influence and join itself to the Western economy.
Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog said it perfectly in his piece Friday:
Putin’s quite the grand master chess player. It takes a rare talent to push potential allies away, while tarnishing your country’s reputation on the global stage and pushing your economy into a recession.
In the end, this is why President Obama does not need to listen to the likes of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), two-time loser Mitt Romney and Mr. 9/11 Rudy Giuliani. By sticking with sanctions and a generally hands off approach, Obama allowed Putin to hang himself. In just a matter of months, Putin has done long-term damage to his country and his own reputation. He has shown himself to be the one who is truly “weak and timid.” By irrationally acting out with bluster, Putin has already shown his cards and revealed to the international community he is holding nothing.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).