Two Cheers for Obama's Ukraine Policy

January 9, 2015 9:46 AM

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While 2014 will certainly not be remembered as a particularly great year for U.S. foreign policy or American domestic politics, one important challenge where the Obama administration has made some real progress is in managing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The United States embraced a measured and prudent policy in response to the so-called Maidan revolution in Kiev, Russia's subsequent annexation of Crimea, and the intervention of Russian forces in support of anti-Western rebels in Ukraine's east. Rather than engage in hyperbolic or overly assertive language, President Obama firmly reiterated the commitment of the United States to its NATO partners, worked with those partners to impose an increasingly harsh program of economic sanctions on key Russian elites and institutions, and called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. While many hawkish observers in Washington demanded a more overt and energetic response from the Obama administration, the past six months can only be seen as vindication of President Obama's diplomacy toward Russia and proof of the abject failure of the shortsighted and domestically driven foreign policy of Vladimir Putin.

The Russian intervention in Ukraine was met with a largely collaborative and minimally escalatory policy from Washington. Whereas more hawkish leaders may have leapt at the opportunity to forcefully respond (in language if not in deed) to Vladimir Putin's aggressive actions in his "near abroad" afte...

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