Russia, Ukraine, West in critical spot

Let me start by letting you know that I ama Democrat who supports most of Obama’s policies. But his approach to Russia, and that of the E.U., leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s been clear for some time that the referendum in Crimea would pass today. It’s been clear that this would result in further posturing by both Putin and the West, and that nothing good could come of the referendum results.

So, why is the West, led by Obama, not negotiating furiously to try and solve the crisis ahead of the referendum? What is going on?

When the referendum passes, here’s the scenario I see:

-          West does not acknowledge the results; Russia does

-          West implements deeper economic sanctions

-           Russia retaliates with higher gas prices to Ukraine and EU

-          Stock markets around the world slump and another recession ensues

I admit, it’s quite negative and very simplistic. But, more or less, accurate.  Thus far, all I’ve seen from the West is demonization of Putin that will further embolden his actions. Yes, he is at fault, absolutely. But, the West must look at him for who he is: A product of the Soviet Union with mentors such as Brezchnev and other hard-liners, he is trying to restore relevancy for his country.

Recognizing this, the West needs to respond accordingly. Use diplomatic means to negotiate a settlement, partner with him to allay his security concerns in Ukraine and beyond, and bring him into the world conversation on how to solve broader issues.

Isolating will do nothing good. The West knows this already and is why they have been so slow to  adopt real sanctions. Soon, it will be too late.

David Kalis is author of Vodka Shot, Pickle Chaser: A True Story of Risk, Corruption, and Self-Discovery Amid the Collapse of the Soviet Union

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