This week saw an escalation of tensions in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine standoff, when Vladimir Putin got permission from his parliament to use military force to protect Russian nationals living in Ukraine. Ukraine’s new, pro-Western Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk stated that this was tantamount to a “declaration of war” for his country, and urged the West to take action against Russia. The breach of Ukrainian territorial sovereignty, however, is already underway. Russian forces have already occupied Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula which houses a Russian naval base. Interestingly, there were no shots fired in the takeover, with some Ukrainians even greeting their invaders with cheers.
These latest developments in Ukraine have highlighted the divided loyalties of Ukrainians themselves, and of the G8 countries who have attempted to address the situation from the outside. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has recalled the Canadian ambassador in Moscow, and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has said that preparations for the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi ought to be suspended until Russia de-escalates the conflict. The American response, unsurprisingly, has garnered the most international attention. However, it has been much less strident than the situation demands. While President Obama has officially condemned Russia’s military intervention, there have not been more specific threats of hard or soft power issued from the White House.
Obama, during a 90-minute telephone call with Putin, simply asked Russia to pull its forces back to the military base and to refrain from infringing upon Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. Obama’s relatively taciturn statements have garnered criticism, from both American and international SizeGenetics observers, but they are hardly a break from his administration’s approach to foreign policy. The Ukrainian case seems to be part and parcel of Obama’s strategy of inaction, which made itself apparent following similar standoffs in Syria and Egypt in 2013. As the situation unfolds and the conflict continues to escalate, perhaps we will see a more proactive plan from Washington. For now, however, tensions continue to mount in Eurasia.
For those who want to learn more about American or Russian domestic politics, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at “Traditional Values and the War on Rights: Abortion in Russia” by former Editor in Chief Meagan Potier, or “Obamacare: Where Policy Succeeds, Publicity Fails” by staff writer Harry McAlevey.
Sick of hearing about things that don’t involve Canada? Check out “NAFTA, CETA, and Canada’s Growing Neglect of Mexican Trade Relations” by Mike Custer. There’s also Janna Bryson on the newly passed Fair Elections Act, which poses a significant threat to the democratic rights of Canadian citizens. Her “Investigations, Irregularities, and Identification: The Fair Elections Act” is seriously worth a read. Et finalement, pour nos lecteurs françaises, nous avons un article entitulé “Vietnam Review,” un revue de la liberté de presse des journalistes vietnamiens.
That’s all for now folks! Be sure to check back with us this week for more political coverage and commentary. In the meantime, get your PB fix by following us on Instagram (thepoliticalbouillon) and Twitter (@ThePoliBouillon).
-Katherine McNamara, co-Editor in Chief