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In Ukraine: Game, set and match for Putin

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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IN UKRAINE: GAME, SET AND MATCH FOR PUTIN
President Obama
’s declaration,"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,”put a pitiful punctuation mark on the weakness of the president’s attempts to get Russia to abandon its aggressive moves in the Crimean peninsula. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have served up an ace for Mother Russia, leaving Obama standing at the baseline watching the ball go by. While both sides expressed a wish to avoid a direct confrontation and there has been no support for U.S. troops on the ground in the region among Democrats and Republicans, the president’s response to San Diego station KSND reporter’s question Wednesday made it clear how limited his options are. AP reports, “The question facing the White House now is whether actions that have done little to stop Russia from claiming Crimea are tough enough to stop further escalations by Moscow. And if they continue to prove insufficient, what else is Obama willing to do to change Vladimir Putin's calculus?... thus far, sanctions levied by both the U.S. and the European Union have done little to deter…Putin.” So, with NATO allies worried that Putin might engage in a new match in Eastern Ukraine, or elsewhere in Europe, what’s the Russian leader likely to serve up next? As has seemed to be the case in the confrontation thus far and 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton put succinctly Tuesday night. “That’s primarily up to Putin.”  

[WSJ’s Daniel Henninger: “This moment is not about Barack Obama. By now we know about him. This is about Vladimir Putin and the self-delusions of Western nations and their famous ‘fatigue.’ Vladimir Putin is teaching the West and especially the United States that fatigue is not an option… Because no modern Democrat can be credible on this, some Republican presidential candidate will have to explain the high price of America’s fatigue. Fatigue will allow global disorder to displace 60 years of democratic order. If the U.S. doesn’t lead, the strongmen win because for them it’s easier. They don’t lead people; they coerce them. Ask the millions free for now in the old countries of the Iron Curtain.]

RUSSIAN RETALIATION COULD NIX IRAN NUKE DEAL
Fox News: “Russia reportedly is prepared to change its stand on Iran nuclear talks in a high-stakes gamble to counter expanded sanctions by the United States and the European Union over Crimea… Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted Wednesday by the Interfax news agency as saying the country may have to alter its position on the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.  The statement is the most serious threat of retaliation by Moscow since the disputed Crimea region voted to join Russia over the weekend, and Vladimir Putin's government moved to annex the peninsula.”

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Chris Stirewalt

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