For John McCain, the Cold War with Russia never ended. He has never met a war he didn't like, having called for 50 more years in Iraq and having called for the bombing of Iran. Now, on CBS Face the Nation, he called for the arming of Ukraine.
McCain said the rising unrest is the result of U.S. failure to "enact anything really meaningful and important as a result of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's incursion and annexation under Crimea, which was predictable. And what he's doing now is predictable."
The Arizona senator, who been in close contact with members of the provisional Ukrainian government, said they feel abandoned by the U.S. - and rightfully so.
"We ought to at least, for God's sake, give them some light weapons with which to defend themselves. So far, this administration's not only not done that, but they won't even share some intelligence with the Ukrainian government," McCain said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.
The problem is that if the soldiers won't fight, then we can't fight the war for them. In today's disastrous incursion, soldiers were refusing to fight.
One soldier guarding one of the vehicles said he was a member of Ukraine's 25th paratrooper division, the unit sent by Kiev to recapture Slaviansk and Kramatorsk.
"All the soldiers and the officers are here. We are all boys who won't shoot our own people," he said, adding that his men had had no food for four days until local residents fed them.
Back in Kramatorsk, 15 vehicles from the Ukrainian military convoy sent to recapture the town were stuck near a railroad, blockaded by unarmed local residents. A Ukrainian officer said his men were not prepared to fire on fellow Ukrainians.Some defected to the other side while others were disarmed and sent home. So the problem with John McCain's solution is that since a substantial number of the Ukrainian soldiers refuse to fight, then all our aid would simply go down the drain, or, if worst comes to worst, would fall into the hands of the Russians.
"I am a Ukrainian officer, that's the first thing. The other is that I will not shoot at my own people no matter what," said the officer who said he could not give his name as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"I want things to be normal, people to go back home, not sit in some fields with weapons. I want children to see weapons only on TV ... I want us to live together as we were. And I want to be back home to my wife and child."
But John McCain carries on. On Russia:
"Severe penalties of sanctions can have an effect on their economy," McCain said. "It's a gas station masquerading as a country."
"Right now he's [Putin] going full speed ahead down the freeway. And there's no tangible evidence of him having to pay a significant penalty," McCain said. "Where is the president of the United States? Shouldn't the president of the United States be speaking forcefully and strongly? And didn't the president say if they carried out further actions, there would be further sanctions? So far, we haven't heard anything."Actually, that is not true; the President is in the process of considering further sanctions.
But the problem is that there is not much the US can do about it. The blowback from the NSA spying scandal is now starting to be felt; it has seriously damaged our relations with our European allies. As noted in the October 21st New York Times, the French were outraged over the NSA scandal.
The French government castigated the United States on Monday for carrying out extensive electronic eavesdropping within France, the latest diplomatic backlash against the National Security Agency’s wide surveillance net and another example of how disclosures about the program have strained relations — at least temporarily — with even the closest of Washington’s allies.Apparently, it was more than temporary. Sergei Naryshkin, who was on the list of Russian officials targeted with sanctions and a travel ban by the EU, was able to travel to France with impunity.
France's interior minister, Manuel Valls, described new spying allegations leaked by Edward J. Snowden as "shocking", in an interview with Europe 1 Radio, on Monday.
The Foreign Ministry summoned the American ambassador, Charles H. Rivkin, who met with ministry officials after an article on Monday in Le Monde, the authoritative French newspaper, said that the N.S.A. had scooped up 70 million digital communications inside France in a single month, from Dec. 10, 2012, to Jan. 8, 2013.
French officials called the spying “totally unacceptable” and demanded that it cease.
Two days ago, the discussion on social networks was about how people on the EU sanctions list could nevertheless travel to France and even give press conferences in Paris. The 4th most powerful official in Russia, the Speaker of the Russian State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin, did just that. He found himself on the EU sanctions list after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.France's excuse -- because it was a UN function, they had diplomatic immunity. We note that the US had no compunction about diplomatic immunity when it denied a visa to the new Iranian UN ambassador, who happened to have been involved in the hostage crisis back in 1979.
Indeed, Naryshkin quietly entered the EU, and indeed he was not only in Paris, but also in Meaux, another French city. How is it possible ? Very simple. Those who think that his status as a deputy gives Naryshkin immunity from sanctions are mistaken. No, it does not.
Very few people paid attention to who invited Naryshkin to Paris. The Speaker of the Duma was in Paris on the invitation of UNESCO to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Russia’s membership in the Organization.
A French diplomat who requested anonymity told me that “the invitation from such organizations is the perfect way for those on the list to avoid sanctions and nothing can be done about it.”
Remember Ahmadinejad, at the UN session in New York? He spoke there despite of the sanctions against Iran. Naryshkin is not the only one to have managed to enter the EU after the sanctions had been implemented.
Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in early April, also came to Strasbourg, France.
Reuters noted a significant increase in Russian military activity at the border with Ukraine. Invading and occupying Ukraine would be a catastrophic mistake of historic proportions for Russia similar to their occupation of Afghanistan or our occupation of Iraq. If Russia wants to take the East and the people there welcome them with open arms, there is nothing that we can do. But if they go to the West, then they will find themselves in a long, protracted guerrilla war. If Putin wants to commit political and national suicide and plunge his country into protracted financial ruin, we should not stand in his way.