At the Heritage Foundation on May 23, Senior Research Fellow Ariel Cohen saw a lot of significance in the fact that Merkel went to St. Petersburg, spoke about strengthening ties with Russia, and didn’t mention Ukraine (although on Saturday Merkel and Hollande did discuss Ukraine with Putin, who promised to accept the election’s outcome). What (if anything) does Merkel’s statement say about the prospect for coordinated sanctions? As a result of integrating Russia into our economic systems, have we unwittingly made ourselves dependent on the Kremlin? According to the Heritage panel, it’s crucial that the world make Ukraine as hard for Russia to digest as possible. At the same time, the United States very much wants to preserve good relations. In short, we’re conflicted about Russia. The Heritage panel was short on proffering solutions, and there weren’t too many people attending. One gets the impression Washington would rather ignore the problem. But having taken the sanctions route, the question about whether the United States and Europe are on the same page becomes pretty important. If sanctions end up being weak, it might only embolden Putin to attempt something like this again elsewhere.



  1. One of the main benefits of stirring up hateful militant nationalists on both sides of the Ukraine conflict is that it creates chaos at the interface of Russia and the EU. The expected result is that this would prevent any future alliance between two rival power centers: The EU and Russia. This actually makes sense in a neo-conservative kind of way. Except…

    … There are side effects.

    (1) The US’s one-time image of positivity and trustworthiness is buried even deeper now. After the Iraq war, Afghanistan, torture, clumsily trying to play both sides in Egypt and Syria and screwing them both, war on our own citizens, spying on our allies, other abuses of the Bush-Obama era, it might have been possible to dig ourselves out after maybe 10 years of not destroying any countries. Not it will probably take 15+.
    (2) The Ukraine fiasco pushes Russia into a nationalist, reactionary mode. I have yet to hear anyone explain how this benefits the US, or anyone else for that matter.
    (3) Massive gift to China. HUGE. They have now, by default, been given the status of being the most trustworthy among the major powers. (all the major powers have a negative score in this department, but China becomes the undisputed least-worst option, as the the neo-cons, under Bush AND continuing under Obama, have completely and utterly self-destructed our reputation by wrecking every place we got involved in the last 20 years). Way to go, Team Washington!

    So what is there to do now? not much. Pour some strong drinks and enjoy the summer. Obama and Bush could perhaps write a book about it together: “How to lose friends and alienate people”.

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