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Editorial: Assert military presence in Ukraine

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JANUARY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Eastern Europe teeters on the brink of war.  Fighting in Eastern Ukraine has cost nearly 5,000 lives since April, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced Russia on Wednesday, accusing Russia of sending 9,000 soldiers into eastern Ukraine.

Once again, Russia denies any involvement.

A change to Russian policy in the region is unlikely, despite requests from NATO. The embargoes placed by NATO on Russia have been ineffective. It appears nothing the world has to say reaches ears in the upper echelons of the Kremlin.

NATO has only succeeded in damaging its reputation with the Russian people, because Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the embargoes to his advantage. Economic hardships experienced by the average Russian can be blamed on NATO. Putin can use this as ammunition, fueling propaganda and subsequent support.

Meanwhile, what problems Russia experiences financially are insignificant when compared with the struggling Ukrainian government. The International Monetary Fund is expected to increase aid to the nearly bankrupt country. It seems Russia’s aggression has aligned the financial and political powers of the West through a common enemy.

Indeed, Russia has been an adversary of the U.S. government for decades. The actions of Putin and his administration are alarming. His consistent disregard for peace treaties, ceasefires, and diplomacy suggest that he may be seeking war in the long run, or, at the very least, a show of power and authority over the West.

In a particularly hypocritical move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Obama’s characterization of Russia in the State of the Union address and said the United States should think about its own foreign policy and adopt a philosophy of “cooperation.” This blatant hypocrisy from the Russian government between its statements and its actions signals its true attitude toward cooperation.

We must decide where we will meet Putin and where we must cross lines he has left behind. 

An ineffective strategy and victimized populace are the last things NATO needs. A step toward revision is necessary. There is warranted hesitancy when discussing military placement and strategy in the area. Not too long ago, mankind stood at the edge of extinction because of missile placements in Turkey and Cuba.

History is also full of militant dictators who abused the passive policies of their neighbors to terrible effect.

Appeasement will not satisfy Putin. When an individual takes something that isn’t his through aggressive and illegitimate practices, that individual is stopped, and future transgressions are prevented by increased security measures. So, too, the Russian government has to be made responsible. 

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes NATO needs to assert itself with a military presence in Ukraine. A restructuring of embargo measures may prove helpful, but a show of solidarity with the legitimate government of Ukraine is needed the most. Positioning troops in Ukraine would demonstrate NATO’s commitment to the Ukrainian people. It would make it clear to Putin that the West is not willing to roll over or be bullied into compliance. Diplomacy is essential, but only possible when both parties are willing to communicate.


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