Vladimir Putin is reaching out to the US in what is a positive sign for a possible resolution. As the conservative base rallies around the actions of the Russian President, the world has nothing but praise for President Barack Obama’s calm and concise response to Russia’s extreme actions. When Putin sent military troops in to claim Crimea, the political right labeled President Obama as weak and indecisive. But as divisive as the political balance in the US is, the rest of the world has championed the US’s decision to not use its brute force to get its way. The reward for his patience and common-sense approach to the international aggression by Putin are hopeful signs that a peaceful resolution to an already tense situation could occur.
The American public has backed Obama’s decision to refuse all calls for any type of military action. The US stood strong, utilizing balanced sanctions and cooperation with the international community to rein in Putin’s aggressive actions. Putin’s call to Obama signals that the sanctions may be working. Even though the White House is far from declaring this a win for the Western world, it does show signs that there may be a peaceful resolution. President Obama has made it clear that he expects a concrete statement in writing. Secretary of State John Kerry looks forward to meeting with his Russian counterpart in the upcoming weeks. With Ukraine continuing to keep any actions by Putin at arm’s length, the move to open the lines of communication are met with speculation.
Vladimir Putin has risked his nation’s economic stability and put Russia’s status in the world community at risk. This week, the world’s strongest economic countries voted to drop Russia from the joint G8 community. They have also banded together, refusing to attend this year’s annual meeting of the world’s greatest powers in Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. This would have been Russia’s first opportunity to host the international super powers since joining the G8. Obama has continued to promote a democratic resolution for Crimea and the Ukraine, which is facing a complete governmental upheaval. Obama continues to express his demands that Putin pull his troops out of the region before any real deals can be made. Vladimir Putin may show signs of a possible resolution in words but without actions, leaders of the free world continue to hold strong on sanctions.
Some critics believe that Putin’s real goal is the re-formation of the Soviet empire. Putin, former Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB, has never kept secret that he believes the division of the USSR was the result of weakness created by previous Russian administrations. Some in the Obama administration wonder how serious Putin really is in his efforts to appease the Western world, or if he is simply trying to push back the scoreboard so he can show his supporters that it is the US who is really playing games. Putin is notorious for his propaganda and has been actively manipulating the information sources in Crimea for years, which some suspect is the reason for their quick decision to join the Russian state. Neither side shows any signs of Russia’s possible release of Crimea. In fact, the Kremlin made no statements at all concerning Crimea, leading US officials to believe that the small Russian-speaking peninsula is in no way on the table for discussion. Though the debate continues, the fact that Vladimir Putin has made the initial steps to open the lines of communication is a hopeful sign for a peaceful resolution.
Commentary by Kimberly Beller