3 Insights on Putin's Russia From America's Wisest Cold Warrior


In 1947, a talented Foreign Service Officer named George Kennan wrote "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" for the journal Foreign Affairs. The ideas expressed in that highly influential essay became the foundation of future Cold War strategy for the United States. I believe much of Kennan's thinking remains relevant today.

Vladimir Putin's Russia is not quite the same as the Soviet Union, of course. The Soviet leadership in 1947 believed in a deterministic Marxist-Leninist ideology that held that communism would inevitably triumph over capitalism. Stalin felt he could afford to be patient.

Like Stalin, however, Putin appears to be embarking on a policy of strategic expansion along Russia's borderlands. Just the other day during a speech in the Kremlin, Putin spoke of the breakup of the old Soviet Union:

Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.

This statement provides a not so subtle clue that further expansion by Putin's Russia is a very real possibility. Here are three insights gleaned from George Kennan, as the United States develops its response to the annexation of Crimea and the possibility of future Russian attempts to revise its borders.

1. Trying to appear "tough" will not be successful. Kennan, who first formulated the American policy of containment, favored a long-term, patient response to Soviet expansion, and was highly critical of "threats or blustering or superfluous gestures of outward 'toughness.' " Having devoted his life to studying Russian history and diplomacy, he believed that it was unwise to put a Russian government in a position where it could not "afford to yield."

Indeed, Kennan believed that losing our self-control would be seen as a sign of weakness that Russian leaders would try to exploit. The wise approach, according to Kennan, would be to firmly challenge Russian policy in a way that would leave the way open for "a compliance not too detrimental to Russian prestige."

2. A long-term strategy is essential. In response to Soviet expansion, Kennan envisioned a 10- to 15-year strategy that would allow the United States to leverage its considerable economic advantages. From an economic perspective, the Soviet Union was "by far the weaker party" and a long-term policy might expose deficiencies in its economy and society.

Similarly, the Russian economy today may struggle in the face of long-term sanctions and the withdrawal of Western investment. America and the West do not appear to have much leverage in the near term for preventing, say, Russian moves into eastern Ukraine. Over a longer period, however, the calculus might be different.

3. Putin's power might not be as secure as it seems. In the Kremlin speech, Putin made a compelling case for the popularity of his expansionary policy. He noted that 95% of Russians supported protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea. And 92% supported Crimea's reunification with Russia.

Kennan wisely advises that we should be somewhat skeptical of the support for authoritarian regimes, believing -- in the case of the Soviet Union -- that it contained "within it the seeds of its own decay." Today, it may appear that Putin's recent moves are quite popular, though it's hard to know what all of the people really think. Recent history suggests that undemocratic leaders are often not as popular as they appear.

What does this mean for investors?
Kennan's ideas appear to offer a compelling way for the United States to counter Putin's increasingly aggressive foreign policy. We may not be headed for another Cold War, but it is highly likely that relations between the U.S. and Russia will be strained for some time.

Recently, White House spokesman Jay Carney underlined that point by saying, "I wouldn't, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now unless you were going short." And earlier this week, Reuters revealed that the SEC reached out to investment companies with investments in Russia to make sure they were "properly managing their risks and disclosing their holdings to investors." Finally, Bloomberg has reported that General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) and Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) are growing increasingly concerned about events in Russia. Both companies have considerable investments there, and are worried that Russian retribution in response to U.S. sanctions could hurt their businesses.

It would be wise for investors to understand their exposure to Russia -- whether it's via mutual funds or in the equities of large multinationals. The near-term risks appear quite high, and are unlikely to ease anytime soon, in my opinion.

Should President Obama reconsider?
President Obama recently told an interviewer "I don't really even need George Kennan right now." I think that belief is unwise. No one understood Russia better than Kennan. Even though he is no longer alive, we still have his thoughtful writings on Russia and his diplomatic efforts to guide us.

In conclusion to his essay in Foreign Affairs -- in grand language that evokes another era in our history -- he provided an inspirational call to action. Kennan wrote that we shouldn't complain about the challenge posed by the Kremlin. Instead, he believed the thoughtful observer should:

...experience a certain gratitude to a Providence which by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.

Obviously, those words were written in a different time under different circumstances. But I think we can benefit from the spirit of those remarks. George Kennan still has much to teach us. 

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  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 11:36 AM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Nice article, John!

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 12:08 PM, TMFBane wrote:

    Thanks, Eric!

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:07 PM, SyDVooh wrote:

    The Obama administration won't listen to appeals for reasonable behavior, nor intelligent thought on their part, regardless of what is occurring at home or abroad. They intend to play their game of political "let's pretend," no matter what happens, to our country or the world.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:26 PM, luhen wrote:

    A bit of honesty is essential..Russia was not involved in the recent,the past few years, destabilisation of several countries...

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:30 PM, Jec3 wrote:

    So, the way I understand the president's strategy vis a vis Russia's latest move into Crimea is that American investors will be collateral damage, and that's ok with Washington?

    Figures.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:30 PM, gventner wrote:

    Sadly the inexperience guy from chicago and his ilk have no comprehension of what they are doing. They rescued wall street and the very richest at the expense of the people they claimed to be for. The claimed hope and change and gave us more of the worse. They have failed at every single foreign policy endeavour. It is sad to see such a pathetic world presence. Pretty much anyone that was in favor of Obama before his presidency from outside the USA has learned their lesson on supporting such an unknown from Illinois...pretty much the lesson on unethical politics and self serving government.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:31 PM, gventner wrote:

    Good insights by the author, BTW

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 5:35 PM, Chopkoski wrote:

    Yea, another time, another world...and Reagan's "tear down this wall" is left out. Basically, what good diplomacy is, is feints and jabs. Big knockout punches come rarely. One has to rely on innuendo and the setting of positions. For example, Obama gave up on anti-missile sites in Poland and Slovakia. Sure, there would probably be no missiles...but neither where there any in the last cold war when all kinds of stuff was built, one thing countering the other. It is called strutting your stuff and Obama prefers to be the little classroom teacher and expound but take no action of that sort. Too bad for him as it puts him in league with Harding for the worst president.

    And note that China is backing Russia in this (the abstention in the UN vote). Does Obama or anyone else believe China has our best interests in mind? I have in-laws in mainland China. And I get to know Chinese people, who...oh, like invest their half-million dollars and get their green card. So, in talking to one of these people the other day he asked if the US would side with China if there was gunfire over the Senkaku Islands. Oops, I told him about our defense treaty with Japan and he did not like that. It is that Obama appears so wishy-washy that they are lining up to step on his neck. QED

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 6:00 PM, Chessmaker wrote:

    I find it unfortunate that what could/should be a discussion about what to do about Russia turns into Obama bashing. Come on guys, contribute to the article's issues, not your political parties....

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 6:03 PM, SMFT wrote:

    What, exactly, was the option here? All of you who have nothing constructive to say, but only shower President Obama with criticism - what, exactly SHOULD have been done? We're going to sail the Atlantic fleet into the Black Sea? We're going to threaten a military action that everyone in the world knows we don't want, over land that, frankly, 90% of the people here in America probably never heard of? The gist of this article is that Kennan's strategic perspective is that you don't make threats you can't back-up, and you play the long waiting game. I feel for Ukraine. I really do. But not enough to send our boys into danger. Economic sanctions will have their effect, if left long enough to do their work. Russia is an energy powerhouse, but what happens when the oligarchs who control the natural resources aren't able to expatriate their money? Putin will be gone, that's what.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 6:21 PM, Chessmaker wrote:

    Historically, this is not the first time we've seen Russia do this. Another great US diplomat, and a Republican, was John Hay. He was our Sec of State for 8 years and dealt intimately with China and Russia. China had no defenses to speak of and the world powers (Russia, Germany, France, England, Japan, and the US) were lining up to take commercial advantage where they could. Russia went much further and was annexing Manchuria through military means, as a foothold from which to further their expansionist policy. Hay worked to keep Chine intact while keeping the US out of military conflict with Russia. As it turned out, Japan was most concerned that Russia would cut them off from their commerce in Korea. and it was Japan that stepped up to the plate, took on Russia militarily and won every battle, by huge margins, in the Russo-Japanese war... culminating in Russia retreating from Manchuria. Hay had let Japan know that the US was willing to mediate a truce. When Japan had Russia on it's way to being on it's knees, the Japanese took Hay up on the offer. Unfortunately, Hay died from heart failure (in his 60's) before the negotiations started and left it to Pres Teddy Roosevelt... who put Hay's recommendations into practice and negotiated the peace treaty. By that time there wasn't much Russia could do or say, so it was accomplished quickly and China remained intact. By the way, it was John Hay who initiated and put into place what they called the "Open Door" policy in China..,

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 6:27 PM, cmalek wrote:

    Had we listened to Patton and Churchill in 1944-45, and MacArthur in 1951 to fight Communism right then and there, Cold War would not have happened, China would not be the world power it is now and we would not be in the situation we are in right now. Obama is irrelevant. It was vaccilation by Truman that brought us to where we are now.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 6:49 PM, Zombie111 wrote:

    Good to see an article that puts current events into a

    long-term historical perspective. And investing in a country that is still basically a dictatorship that makes up its own rules will always carry risk.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 7:15 PM, TMFBane wrote:

    @chessmaker,

    That's interesting about John Hay. He was also one of President LIncoln's personal secretaries. There's a new book about him that I've been meaning to read:

    Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicholay, and the War for Lincoln's Image

    http://www.amazon.com/Lincolns-Boys-John-Nicolay-Image/dp/06...

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone!

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 8:13 PM, mbtaylormt wrote:

    If everyone has learned their lesson about how awful Obama is how do you explain the fact that he was just re-elected. You can't blame it on a minority because they "are" a minority. It would seem there are those who were and are willing to vote for anyone who will make them feel like there will be no day of reckoning for the economic mess we are working ourselves into deeper every day. The majority will vote for anyone who says there is a free lunch available on the backs of the evil rich. We all secretly believe the rich do not deserve their riches, that they were gotten illegitimately so taxing it away from them to let the rest of us have whatever the politicians are promising today is worth our vote. What difference does it make what stance we take against Putin and Russia? So GE and Boeing stock take a hit. Only a small percentage of those who vote own any stock and couldn't read a Balance Sheet to save their soles. Take the long term approach and Putin will have had time to grab whatever he wants before the long term gets here. Help Europe find natural gas with fracking and stop buying from Russia today. We may not be able to cut off the head of the snake, so we should do all we can to stop feeding it, it will have the same effect.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 8:53 PM, v1tek wrote:

    This Kennan's thinking is much irrelevant today. Russia in much more homogenous than the former USSR, and the whole point about increasingly aggressive foreign policy is outright wrong. To understand Russia instead of labeling it in an irrational and hateful way (like comparing Russia to the snake"), the author need to focus on creeping NATO expansion, and on a double talk from the West. That is the real reason for such nervousness of Putin's Russia, and it is understandable. This article does not bode well with the spirit of the MF community, IMHO.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 9:02 PM, Jarmbru wrote:

    I see the Obama basher Tea Baggers are out today. Duh.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 9:27 PM, farmfool1 wrote:

    we must not be so quick to ship our natural energy sources out of the country, these resources belong to the American people and should be for our use. sending our oil and gas away will of course raise the price of them to the American people, so instead of keeping the prices low and aiding both the citizens and business and giving a boost to the economy and creating jobs, a few oil companies will get richer and the economy will suffer. and then when the oil and gas is all pumped out of the ground, what will we do then? do you think the Russians will give us theirs? and if the fracking is outlawed, we will be back relying on the arabs. or maybe worse. they are getting low on oil too.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 9:32 PM, richak28 wrote:

    It pains me to have to say this, but we are headed straight into the mouth of the worst of times since man was put here on earth, regardless of what Putin says or does !!!

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 9:58 PM, jvgfool wrote:

    I think Obama has done a good job in a tough situation. Keep in mind we have been weakened by two unfunded wars. On the good side, Ukraine has joined the EU. Pretty cool.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 11:21 PM, john795806 wrote:

    I do have to chime in--yes--exactly what would you have Obama do, all of those who are complaining? Indeed he may not need Keenan because he is already doing exactly what Keenan would do--a limited step, a long-term approach, that does not undermine Russia's dignity but hits them where it hurts. We live in different times--Russia now has strong economic ties with the EU, China with the USA (and the rest of the world). I don't think Russia can afford expansionism. Everyone knows that a second cold war is in no one's interest. Europe can survive without Russia's energy, and US energy markets would thrive if they cut off Russia. Russia on the other hand would suffer immensely.

    Keenan was also adept at seeing things through the eyes of our adversaries. Well, how does Russia see things? The EU's stepping up ties with Ukraine was viewed as quite an affront. The USA has been undermining Russia's traditional ally Syria, and is now giving loan guarantees to stabilize Ukraine. Putin understands that further land grabs will have much more serious economic consequences. If you look at the last election in Ukraine on Wikipedia, it was considered free and fair, and their former president was deposed in a manner that barely bordered on legal, while an election was imminent--it might have been wiser to await that, as the former president's approval rating had sunk to 15%. Russia felt threatened, and Russia responded. I don't know what all of the panic is about--no one wants war, it sets everyone back--the EU, Russia, and the USA. Again the world has changed; we are much more interdependent, thank goodness, and no amount of nationalism can overcome our mutual economic interests.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 11:38 PM, alexalex wrote:

    "No one understood Russia better than Kennan".What does that mean? You want to understand Russia better - ask Mr. Putin. He plays games way in advance.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 11:40 PM, Libor8erBlake700 wrote:

    0) Obama, Kameron, Blair &c are hypokrites. For dekades their ilk ignored atrosity like Suharto, Milosevic, Xiaoping, Mugabe, with excuse "it's an internal affair, I'm alright Jakk".

    1) Politisians DID mess in Mesopotamia, Afghanistan &c not because of Chemical Ali's torture & murder but because events were threatening politikal pokkets.

    2) Now Rasputin's done something extra-terri-torial, Kameron thinks he's Konan the Barbarian, able to save Kimmeria (modern Krimea) & Obama is spitting imaje of Nosferatu but lakks any military experiense to save Trans-Dniester or whichever domino's next.

    3) Putative Putin akts with imPunity, meanwhile. He's ex-KGB & unafraid of Nosferatu's Faux-Saber-Rattling (if not faux, we're all Kameron-Fodder for World War 3).

    4) V1Tek is wrong, Kennan IS relevant. And Kennedy defuzed Kuban Missile Krisis by

    (a) Studying History &

    (b) Several attempts to Pow-Wow with Key Kremlinites.

    5) Enjineering & Texnolojy are important but if wee (sic) westerners want to promote world Harmony, as well as not bunking off Histry we'd do well with Kameron's advise to learn Chineze, plus Arabik, Russian &c so we may SHOW RESPEKT for Foreign kultures & Talk in their Tongue. Putin knows English, Swedish & fluent Jerman.

    6) If we not empathize with foreign folk, how we expekt them to understand our standards? My faktory is vizited all day everyday by international lorry-drivers. Some speak no English & we get by with sign languaje or mutual titbits of French, Italian, Jerman. But some say "Forgeev my eemperfekt Eenglish", to which i reply truthfully "Believe me, your English is very, very good!"!

    7) It's not your inVestment you should worry over during the Ukrainian, Krimean Krisis, but your Vest & skin if things eskalate. Georgia, Chechnya, Krimea....

    ....& Dniester by Easter.

    Blake 700

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 9:35 AM, valushka58 wrote:

    Before and now the USA foreign policy was and remains more aggressive than Putin's foreign policy now! Kennan's ideas are outdated because Russia is quite the other country at the present time.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 5:05 PM, CelticSon wrote:

    Right on gventner! Also, it would seem Washington cut so much out of our CIA that they are unaware the Russians have SQUAT for a military. I'm sure that if one of our 'battle groups' took position in the Black Sea Mr Putin would have a lot to consider.

    Anyway that won't happen as this guy wants us to be another Bolivia.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 5:28 PM, Marbuch wrote:

    As long term investors we do well to invest in companies that keep the long term in mind. We avoid companies that only want to pump up their share price in the short term. It strikes me that the U.S. (whether it be Democrat or Republican in the White House) is constantly making short term decisions because we are always on the brink of an election. Kennan wanted a patient, long term approach to the Russian problem. But, our political system discourages such thinking.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 6:32 PM, mtracy9 wrote:

    There is scant evidence that the Soviet Union was expansionist after taking control of Eastern Europe from an expansionist Germany at the end of WW2 in 1945. While communism expanded to China and parts of Southeast Asia, this reality was hardly a manifestation of the Soviet Union expanding its boundaries. China, Vietnam and Laos became independent countries.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 9:10 PM, ellaerdos wrote:

    Good article John!

    Kennan is history, a background for current events.

    Putin may be a popular Stalin-like figure who appeals to revisionist Russian masses, but he is a poor CFO. The Crimea is another economic burden that will drag on the poorly performing business that is Russia. Eventually, fuel exports or no, Russian currency will become like Iranian and North Korea currencies, worthless for foreign exchange. Russia failed under the Czars and then the Communists and will fail again under Putin and the revisionists.

    We (the U.S) just have to be patient and stay out of the way.

    .7/

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 3:32 AM, InJoy777 wrote:

    History is relevant, but we have to look forward. The important thing is to draw the right lessons. It is not a question of whether Obama needs Kennan or not, but is he pursuing a strategy that shows he has taken into account the broad spectrum of history, including Korea, Vietnam, and our recent escapades in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The long-term view is obviously wiser than pursuing a saber-rattling we are tough strategy that cannot be sustained, We've had enough of that. I wonder if those who seem to be advocating these get tough strategies and Obama is weak approach want to fight a war in Eastern Europe? Are they ready to personally volunteer to fight in the war in Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, etc. or maybe we should bring back the draft? Russia definitely have concerns with NATO's expansion into its border regions. We should consider such concerns. Will we allow Russia to built a military alliance along our borders, of course not (the Cuban Missile Crisis). This is a case of strategic analysis and it does not matter who starts World War III, but what matters is that wiser heads will not stumble into such a war. Don't make Obama the issue make constructive suggestions, resorting to abusing Obama does not contribute to the discussion. It is self-defeating. It is a sign of lack of deep thinking.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:51 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Reagan killed the old Soviet Union by causing them to overspend on defense. The next president (sorry lefties it won't be Obama) will have to kill the new Russia by causing them to overspend on energy. Money it doesn't have. North America has a huge opportunity to expand the energy industry. Let's not waste it.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:33 AM, neuRx1 wrote:

    Not that I think we should go to war with Russia but Kennan's rule #1 is absurd. Part of the reason this has occurred in the first place is the lack of projection of power on the US part in recent foreign affairs. The bumbling of the "reset" button got it all started. A lack of any significant response in Georgia followed by unilaterally withdrawing missile deployment in Poland for nothing in exchange and then failure to respond in Iran and bumbling of Syria made it obvious to Putin that he could retake Crimea without so much as a BB gun fired. Kennedy took us to the brink of nuclear war and Krushchev blinked. This changed the nature of the relationship that ended with a pronounced military buildup and threat of "star wars" by Reagan. Sometimes the projection of power is useful when dealing with thugs.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:44 AM, volcan357 wrote:

    The real problem with the present situation with Russia is that it is diverting our attention away from radical Islam and the threat to presents to the West. Europe is gradually becoming more Islamic and this is not a good thing. Islam has anti-Western values that are the opposite of our own. It is a clash of cultures and fundamental values. At least Putin supports the Russian Orthodox Church. I seriously doubt that the Russians would have attacked us like the Muslims did on 9/11. Neither would the Russians have executed a 16 year old girl for sexual misconduct like they did in Iran a few years ago. We need to put things in perspective.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 2:18 PM, mbtaylormt wrote:

    So let's say Putin decides the next target to be included in the growing Russian nation happens to be a portion of a country that is part of NATO. Do we commit militarily to defend our NATO partner? WW1 anyone? For those who say the US has been more aggressive than Russia in the last ten years and two wars, I ask what new state has joined our union? If we base whether we annex a new state based on how many people speak English then 50% of the current countries would be fair game. Russia has taken Crimea, it's a fact. We have to stop Putin's annexation tactics or we have to realize it can be done without penalties and annex Mexico. We'd fave to call it Newer Mexico is guess.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 6:27 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "No one understood Russia better than Kennan"

    No one understood socialism or fascism better than Ludwig von Mises who in the early 1920's predicted the economic fall of all central planning regimes in his; "Economic Calculation in Socialist Economies."

    Mr. Obama has no clue that his central planning is only different in degrees, not in kind to that of the Soviets, or Nazis, EU and China.

    You can't understand what is happening in Ukraine until you understand Economics. Politics is the means to exact economic control over others. So to understand the motivations of these tyrant you must know Austrian Economics.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 6:37 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    " The Soviet leadership in 1947 believed in a deterministic Marxist-Leninist ideology that held that communism..."

    That is called Messianic Communism. You have to go back to Joaquim del Fiore and then Winstanley to understand the religious ideas that drive socialism. All debunked by one way or another by the Catholic Church during the middle ages and later by Austrian Economics.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:34 PM, WHOVPLLC wrote:

    Have no desire or need to invest in TMF's One product. Investments for the next decade will be concentrated in early stage and start-up companies in software, and biotechnology industries.

    WHOVPLLC

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 4:50 AM, Libor8erBlake700 wrote:

    Not only von Mises, but also authoress Ayn Rand in her prophetik (1957) novel ATLAS SHRUGGED predikted the auto-destruktive ramifikations of Fabianizm, Nazionalized Sozializm &c.

    Hayek too, followed Mises.

    And Friedman interviewed on the nazionalized BBC in 1980 pointed out there's NO ETHIKAL DIFFERENSE, only a question of degree, between Amerikan govern-mental over-regulation & authoritarian rejimes in Russia, Europe, China etc.

    Blake 700

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 9:40 AM, floodjo wrote:

    john795806 has it spot on in my book. Why didn't Kiev just wait for the next round of elections and ditch Yanukovych then. The overthrow was perfect ammunition for Russia. Like Egypt, Ukraine is now a mess, bringing the two opposing sides out onto the streets instead of letting them express their differences at the ballot box.

    Not that I would condone Putin, though I'd grudgingly admire his oppertunitism. Now let's see him let Chechnya have its say! I was watching Sochi's closing cermony, Putin almost in tears and thinking: finally, good positive images from Russia. The future looks bright. Maybe Putin is softening, maturing.

    That was a short-lived bout of optimism, almost as short as Kiev's overthrow celebrations.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 5:31 PM, Gorm wrote:

    Irrespective of Obama's bantering the REALITY is sanctions are weak and Putin prevailed. That is lesson one!!

    Putin has an agenda. He is NOT going to jeopardize relations with multi-nationals, and Russia desperately needs investment, growth.

    Clearly, Putin invested $51B in the Olympics because he sought to elevate Russia.

    Obama has a reputation of living in a fantasy world, falsely believing the world will jump on his threatening rhetoric, ignore his past actions. The world and our allies have seen and learned this guy is all talk.

    I fully expect Putin, based on the strong allegiance of eastern Ukraine residents to prompt Putin to engage, and take the eastern half of Ukraine - and I see the WEST doing nothing meaningful about it.

    We are all conditioned by experiences and clearly EVERYONE believes Obama is ALL TALK and Europe is NOT going to jeopardize its energy source - even though supplying same is critical to Russia. The UN is pretty gutless, as well.

    In this case, the bully persists and wins because HE CAN!!

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 7:00 PM, XTMFCaptain wrote:

    Kenan's containment was the backbone of the Korean and Vietnam war.

    The best policy is economic. Put pressure on the wallet and all else works out.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 12:53 PM, observerbob2013 wrote:

    The problem here is that Putin is acting after a vote of people who seem to have wished to right a USSR wrong.

    Crimea was, and remains, Russian by ethinicity the fact is that it was given to the Ukraine in the 1950's without a vote by the USSR which had a Ukrainian leader at the time.

  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2014, at 3:45 PM, slpmn wrote:

    Such a sticky situation...

    1) See observerbob2013 above. Crimea is Russian and everyone knows that. It's like taking Texas from Mexico.

    2) But it's the principle of the thing. You can't just roll across the border and claim your turf like in the old days.

    3) Particularly when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine was guaranteed by the US, Russia, and Britain in exchange for giving up its nukes in the 1990's.

    4) And we're working really hard to get another nation (Iran) to give up its nukes, in party by assuring them that they won't need them for protection. I wonder if they're paying attention?

    It's all about diplomacy and treaties and international law and even US national security. Which means this is only going to get uglier and uglier because we are not going to walk away and Putin is not going to take his ball and go home. Economic sanctions on puny countries is one thing. We have yet to see what happens when real sanctions are placed on a former super power, but I think we are about to.

    .

  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2014, at 3:56 PM, TMFBane wrote:

    @observerbob2013,

    I think you are correct about the historical relationship between Crimea and Russia. When Krushchev handed Crimea over to Ukraine in 1954, Crimea had much closer links to Russia than Ukraine. There's a good piece here on why Krushchev made that decision:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/02/27/283481587/crim...

    Krushchev was ethnically Russian, but according to his daughter, he had strong connections to Ukraine.

    As for the recent vote, the UK government has a different perspective here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/in-response-to-president-...

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2014, at 7:22 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    " Crimea is Russian..."

    Maybe Russia is Crimean...

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