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President Barack Obama and the Ukraine Crisis: What Should the US Do?

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Barack Obama Defends the Way He Handled the Crisis

Note: this article was first written when Barack Obama was President of the United States. I am hopeful that President Donald J. Trump and his Administration will take steps to ensure that the situation with the Ukraine crisis and Crimea is resolved but the end of the article briefly states why this may not be something that may happen as long as Vladimir Putin is President of Russia.

It was on Tuesday March 25, 2014 that US President Barack Obama speaking at a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands defended the way that he is handling the Ukraine situation. In an article written by Jim Acosta for the online edition of CNN called “Obama Defends Handling of Ukraine Crisis,” Obama has said that the Russians could face further sanctions should it invade other parts of Ukraine. Obama said: “He just has to understand that there is a choice to be made here[1],” referring of course to Russian President Vladimir Putin who annexed Crimea. Obama also took the time to reject the statement made by 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s statement that “Russia is the top geopolitical foe of the US[2]”, adding that he (Obama) is actually more concerned about a possible dirty bomb attack in Manhattan. He also tried to make the argument that the fate of Crimea is not finished, even though Russia controls the situation there. He continued by stating that he felt that sanctions could force Putin to change his objectives. Note: much has changed since this essay was first written. The way in which President Obama handled the Ukraine situation is very much a part of our popular culture. Why do we care about this? Why is it so important? And what should the US do in the future about how to deal with Russia?

[1] From the article Obama Defends Handling of Ukraine Crisis. It can be found at http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/25/obama-defends-handling-of-ukraine-crisis.

[2] From the same article stated above

President Barack H. Obama of the United States


Russia Has Been One of the US's Key Rivals

My view is that in contrary to what Obama said, I really do think that for a long time, Russia has been one of the key political rivals of the US because of US opposition to communism beginning in the 1950's and the Cold War that escalated the tensions. So Mitt Romney is correct in that instance. If current events are any indication, further sanctions will not scare Putin into changing his plans. I also do applaud President Obama for not wanting to intervene militarily in Ukraine. The wisest course of action for both Obama and Putin is to have some meaningful dialogue instead of trading jabs and insults which will push the two countries even further apart. Obama has to show more strength and attempt to establish dialogue just like Secretary of State John Kerry is now doing. The legacy of his Presidency may depend on how good of a leader and communicator that he can be. This story I’ve analyzed is a major part of our popular culture because the US and then USSR (1918-1991) have always been political adversaries and have always fought for control of land and resources. Pay particular attention to the word resources because this is what nations have always been after in order to generate profits and survive. It has been a part of American culture to criticize and demonize Russia.

US and the Crimea Annexation

The Annexation of Crimea and What The US Should Do About It

The annexation of Crimea is something that the United States may have to live with. The US has a history of demonizing world leaders. And as a response to some US sanctions that were slapped on Russia, in March 2014, it was reported that deposits in US banks by Russians decreased all the way from $21.6 billion to $8.4 billion all in the span of just one month! World opinion of US foreign policy has been on the downward slide for many years and it does not look like it will get better anytime soon given the aggressive stance by the Obama Administration. Demonizing Vladimir Putin will not make any friends for the US which is already drowning in massive amounts of debt. Caution should be exercised when dealing with one of the largest countries in the world that also used to be a major world power. However, Putin has shown that he acts like a dictator and he is already unpopular enough around the world. I may have been opposed to sanctioning Russia back in 2014 when I read about this crisis but times have changed and my perspective on the topic has changed.

Mr. Obama you were wise to avoid war but as recent history has shown, sanctions are pretty much an ineffective way to deal with the crisis. Or at least they were for a long time. Our Founding Fathers always advocated a peaceful and humble foreign policy but what the United States has been doing is the opposite of what they suggested. Nevertheless, we may have to use different measures against Russia including imposing sanctions which the Obama Administration had put on Putin.

So some of you may be wondering then what the real solution with Russia is if sanctions do not work. This is one of the toughest choices that any US President must make. We may have to temporarily suspend diplomatic relations with Russia until further notice. The US President now Donald Trump will have to deal with a man that has been known to get rid of his political opponents without a care in the world. If we attack Russia and try to convince Putin to give up control of Crimea, we will have very heavy casualties and out image abroad will sink to a new low just like it did following the Vietnam War. We must think about this before making a reckless move even though Russia has been perhaps the biggest foe of the US in recent memory. Donald Trump has tried to be very cozy with Russia but Russia is one of those countries that we can never really trust.

A Picture of Ukraine Without Crimea


What Should the US Do With Russia in 2017?

Even though it was mentioned earlier that sanctions against Russia would have been an ineffective way to deal with the crisis, in 2017 the United States has no choice but to condemn Russia for their annexation of Crimea until Russia changes its approach to international affairs, something that is a pipe dream in the era of Vladimir Putin.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on September 23, 2016:


Some good points you have raised here. The US needs allies to counter a highly aggressive Russia.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on September 23, 2016:

I have always advocated going back to what the U.S. did in the Cold War and that is work with opposition within enemy or rival nations. Maybe that is going on today and we don't know it. But why not? We can't attack Russia, and sanctions are somewhat superfluous.

So my solution:

1. Strengthen Ukraine as best we can. Take some units of their army and get them trained over here in the States. Train their special forces and air force as well. Let's modernize their equipment. If they can't afford a large military, then they can at least have a very modern, highly skilled one.

2. Baltic States - We acting correctly in the Baltic States by standing by them as allies. That needs to be maintained.

3. Although I am a very big advocate of drilling, we still need to move towards alternative energy. That along with U.S. dominance in oil production will drive down the price of oil. Hence, Putin has enormous economic pressure on him. Look at that ridiculous gas deal he signed with China. The act of desperate man.

Crimea is lost, for now. But Putin can't live forever and Russia is economically unstable.

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