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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Even if it accomplishes nothing else, calling Vladimir Putin nasty names makes us feel a little better. Thug, megalomaniac, liar, war criminal, mass murderer — those are just the printable ones.

If only the Russian president cared what the rest of the world says (or thinks) about him. He doesn’t, and why should he?

Among global leaders, only President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have expressed anything that resembles outrage over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

Even in the Netherlands, which lost more than 150 citizens on that plane, the government continues referring to the missile strike as an aviation “disaster” instead of the reckless massacre it was.

All across Europe, the politicians in power have stated their obligatory shock and dismay, but there’s scant enthusiasm for enacting the sort of economic sanctions against Moscow that the United States initiated months ago.

Foreign ministers who gathered last week in Brussels composed a wish list of prominent Russian individuals and companies for possible trade and banking restrictions, yet no action was taken.

At this point it’s clear that the missile system used against the Malaysian aircraft was supplied by Russia, and that those who fired it were — if not Russians themselves — trained and coached by experts from that country.

Intercepted communications from the self-proclaimed separatists suggest that the shoot-down was a horrible screw-up, that the yahoos who had control of the missile launcher believed they were shooting at a Ukrainian military aircraft.

That doesn’t mean Putin’s hands are blood-free. But instead of apologizing to the families for Russia’s role in the tragedy, he continues to blame the Ukraine military and refuses to concede that the antiaircraft missile was one of his.

Lies and disinformation are exactly what you’d expect from an ex-KGB guy. What’s surprising is the limp response on the European continent, where it’s all about money and oil. Putin literally has much of the Western leadership over a barrel.

Russian investors now own such a large chunk of London that Great Britain is, despite Cameron’s condemnation of the missile attack, unlikely to make any serious moves against the Putin government.

Meanwhile, across the English Channel, France is moving briskly on schedule to complete construction of two helicopter-bearing ships for the Russian military, and says the downing of Flight 17 will not delay (or make it reconsider) the delivery.

“The Russians have paid (for the ships),” said President Francois Hollande, which was basically a shrug. Halting arms sales to the Kremlin would result in the loss of jobs at French weapons factories and damage the national economy, officials there said.

Other countries fear that Russia would respond to sanctions by cutting their supplies of gas and oil, as is happening in Ukraine.

The mood of morose resignation is most stark in Amsterdam, even as the bodies of the Flight 17 victims are finally being sent home. In recent years the Dutch have watched their trade with Russia grow rapidly, and both countries have billions of dollars at play in the other.

Shell, the international energy giant, headquarters in the Netherlands and, according to the New York Times, is one of the biggest foreign stakeholders in the natural gas fields of Siberia.

Penalties for trading with Russia could hurt not only Shell but many Dutch citizens whose pensions are heavy with the company’s stock. Because of its enormous influence upon the Dutch government, no official denunciation of Russia is expected there.

Back in the United States, polls in the aftermath of the airline tragedy show most Americans strongly disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign crises. Yet an even larger majority opposes increased U.S. involvement in Ukraine, Iraq or anywhere else.

What people in this country seem to want most from the president is more emotion and tougher talk. While everybody’s rightly infuriated that 298 souls were lost because Putin gave missiles to a bunch of goons, nobody sane believes war is the answer.

Twisting the economic screws would definitely grab the Kremlin’s attention if our major allies agreed to sanctions, but right now the United States stands essentially alone. Obama could crack down more, but just wait until the blowback hits U.S. firms heavily invested in Russia.

So, in the absence of an easy answer, we fulminate: Putin is a thug. Putin is a coward. Putin is whatever.

And, after all is said, he’s still there.

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.

AFP Photo/Maxim Shipenkov

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  • Daniel Jones

    Barack Obama is a softly spoken man.
    He has convictions–he acts on them. He just doesn’t bluster very much.

    • Putin and our Emperor are equitable in their arrogance. The Emperors only convictions are those to destroy our country and to further his agenda. My hopes are that America will wake up and remove this traitor from our White House before he can do more damage.

      • highpckts

        Oh get off the emperor name calling! Tiring!! You have no idea what it is like to truly live under an “emporer”!! All your name calling is pure bluster! It shows your true ignorance and lack of knowledge of the situation! Obviously you have never been to war! Easy to arm chair when you don’t have to participate!

        • Exactly when did you ever serve this country? USAF vet during Viet Nam.

          • highpckts

            Typical! Turn this around and try to make it sound like you didn’t say something stupid! You know exactly what I mean! You made the remark so stand by it! My Dad served in WW II and I know all his experiences by heart so don’t go there! You are the one calling the President an emporer so why don’t you leave off with the name calling unless you aren’t smart enough to think on your own and not quote the T baggers!!

          • Try serving then talk. I started using the term Emperor all by myself. He certainly doesn’t deserve the respect of a President, and certainly doesn’t act like one. His attitude is more like a king, but I preferred Emperor to reflect his thinking he is above everyone else. In case you are new to this country, the government is supposed to work FOR the American people, not rule over them.

          • highpckts

            No, you are not original with the emporer tag!! He is certainly more Presidential than Bush ever was! I have never noticed him acting like he was above everyone else unless because he is President and deserves the respect of that office! In an ideal governmentn it is supposed to work “for” the people but in this case when you have half of the government refusing to work with a black man then he must go around by whatever legal means he has at his disposal! The arrogant GOP have no agenda except to make sure this President gets nothing done so people like you can say what you do!!

          • There you go again. It’s always because the Emperor is black. It seems no one cares about his race except for the liberals.

          • highpckts

            ROFL!! IT IS BECAUSE HE’S BLACK! i HEAR THE RIGHT SAY RACISM IS DEAD IN THIS COUNTRY! And I got a beachfront property to sell ya in Arizona! Seriously?? Either you are so arrogant that you think no one is racist or you are and don’t have the guts to admit it!!

          • Independent1

            When are you going to grow a pair and own up to your comments. Let’s see you list all those things Obama has done to earn the title “Emperor”. Come on I’m interested to see you list something that Bush and every other president hasn’t done!!

            Come on chicken!!

            No president acted more like an emperor that Bush 2. For the 1st six years in office, the White House dictated virtually every piece of legislation that was passed by Congress – and the robot GOP Congresses said to virtually everything Bush wanted – Yes Master, how high is it you want us to jump??

            Better look back – because I’m right!!!

          • Mikey7a

            Kenndeb’s reply to Indy: crickets, crickets, crickets!
            Thanks to you, and Highpcts for putting this traitor in his/her place!

          • ralphkr

            But, highpckts,GW did not need to be presidential since the true president, Cheney, took care of all the heavy lifting while GW did what he does best, wander around looking lost and waiting for someone to tell him what to do.

          • Well said. The racism is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Mr. Obama is our president. How dare that uppity black fellow act like he is the President.

          • RobertCHastings

            What does the term “emperor” imply, or have you considered finding that out? A true emperor would have long ago dissolved the Republican House and installed those amenable to his dictates. A true emperor would have done about what George W Bush did to eviscerate the middle class. A true emperor would have NO problem with continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and getting us into N. Korea, Iran, and many other international hotspots and doing away with the sham of a “volunteer” military. Use you brain for something other than to plug up the space between your ears.

          • commserver


            I get the same thoughts about the members of Congress who are opposing Obama, except in some very rare cases.

          • RobertCHastings

            Then you should know better.

      • charleo1

        Do you personally think that kind of talk, which emanates out
        of Right Wing political circles on a daily basis, helps or hurts the President in his negotiations with other Countries? “A,” you don’t care. “B,” you’ve never thought people outside the U.S. can hear you? Or, “C,” you know it doesn’t help your Country, but might cause this President to fail, or come away with a less than desirable conclusion, and that, at the end of the day, is the only thing that matters? I have my opinions.
        What’s yours? A, B, or C?

  • Grannysmovin

    Be careful what you tolerate and make excuses for Europe.

    • highpckts

      They tolerate it because they are too close, area wise, to do anything! They know Putin would invade in a heartbeat if they cross him!

      • dtgraham

        I can’t see it highpckts. Putin may be aggressive towards former Soviet republics that aren’t part of NATO or the EU, but aggression towards Poland or Hungary for example would be a line that can’t really be crossed and he surely knows that. One must also remember that the large EU member countries like Britain, France and Germany have just enough of a powerful and technologically sophisticated military capability that, altogether, it’s a scenario that’s hard to imagine. In my view this is strictly an economic and energy thing, with energy security and sales being paramount.

        Rich Russian individuals, the entire Russian economy including the financial and banking sectors are now completely interconnected with the global economy in a way that they never were during the days of communism. They’re far more vulnerable now. Parts of eastern Europe are just being given up and thrown under the bus…true, but it’s hard to see it going any further.

        • One minor point – Britain is not part of the EU.

      • A_Real_Einstein

        The Russian military is a shell of what it was. Putin acts out of weakness. He is all talk and we know it. They cant even win in Eastern Ukraine which why he is amassing his troops again on the border.Just like in the last century they have lousy technology and no wealth to upgrade. They have a lot troops and outdated technology. Obama is correct in labeling them a regional power as opposed to a world power.

        • RobertCHastings

          If we stop looking at WWII as a joint US/European victory, we come to the realization that it was, in all actuality, a Russian victory. Without an Eastern front, the allies would have gone down in defeat. Thanks to Russia, we are NOT celebrating any Third Reich anniversaries.

      • RobertCHastings

        Europe is too close, ECONOMICALLY to Russia. Best trading partners, exchanging goods and services in both directions AND increasingly energy dependent upon Russia, Europe has much more to lose than the US does by stringent sanctions. If the US can assure that losses will be covered by the US, perhaps Europe will join us. Sanctions against Russia will have no meaning if they have no teeth.

  • Dominick Vila

    The sad truth is that we cannot count on our European allies to do anything meaningful to stop Putin’s expansionist ambitions. The military parade Putin attended in the Crimea last week, including several nuclear subs, sent a not too subtle message to Western Europe. With the ravages of WWI and WWII still fresh in the minds of most Europeans, their dependence on Russian natural gas, and a desire to preserve one of the highest standards of living in the world, the last thing they want is a confrontation with Russia.
    While most deplore what Putin is doing in the Ukraine, most are as opposed to a military option as we are…and Putin knows it.

    • highpckts

      Well said! The European countries risk a lot more than we do if they truly stand up to this meglomaniac! They are a stone’s throw away from tanks and troops!!

      • Dominick Vila

        We use to have a Bichon Frise. Wonderful pet. We now have a Pug. Nice little guy, but extremely lazy.

        • highpckts

          Our Bichon is a rescue! He was 9 when we got him and we lover him to death!!

    • Mikey7a

      We might not have a choice. I hear Russia sent up a Cruise Missile yesterday? If I’m not mistaken, that breaks the Treaty signed in 1997-8? This whole chain of events, is damn scary if you ask me.

      • Dominick Vila

        The last thing we – and our allies – need is a military confrontation with Russia, over Ukraine or anything else.
        I don’t think Russia is interested in war either. Their standard of living has improved tremendously since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, they are making a lot of money exporting oil and natural gas, and judging by what the Ukrainian rebels are doing, people are now trying to join Mother Russia rather than jump fences to escape their brutality.

        • Mikey7a

          But these rebels are being backed by Russian Soldiers, sent by Putin. These rebels shot down a civilian airliner, and now, refuse to let anyone near the wreckage to investigate. I also am against any conventional war, where we send our young to die, while rich old white bastards, watch from afar.

          The rebels are NOT trying to leave The Ukraine as you say Dominick. They are trying to usurp the democratic govt established there. Quite a difference, don’t you agree?

          • Dominick Vila

            I didn’t say the rebels are trying to leave the Ukraine. I believe what I said was “join”. What they are trying to do is secede, and transfer the parts of the Ukraine were they live, mostly Eastern Ukraine, to Russia. They already accomplished that in the Crimean Peninsula. Needless to say, that fits Putin’s expansionist goals like a glove.

          • RobertCHastings

            But, like Hitler in the early 1930s, if this is allowed, appeasement will lead to the eventual fall of all of Europe to a Russian hegemony. Offer amnesty to the separatists and give them the option of leaving Ukraine with their valuables and compensate for homes, etc. Make it a short-term, one-time offer, then lower the boom. They started it, let them decide how it ends.

          • Dominick Vila

            As you know, the pro-Russian rebels are not interested in amnesty. What they want is to secede, and make the places where they live, in Eastern Ukraine, part of Russia. Needless to say, Putin is delighted to oblige.

        • RobertCHastings

          Perhaps the only really wise thing Reagan accomplished was the bankrupting of the USSR through an arms race. While the others are economically gaining on us, our military budget is STILL equal to that of the rest of the world, combined. An upward tick of 10% would scare the shit out of Putin, and, perhaps, get China to back down, too.

          • Dominick Vila

            Bankrupting the USSR was accomplished by the policies of every American President since the end of WWII. Reagan actually looked bewildered when the USSR collapsed. He looked like a kid whose favorite toy had been taken away from him.

    • jointerjohn

      Sounds a lot like the way we allow our trading partners to get away with murder sometimes.

  • Dee

    tHE truth is most Americans are not so stupid anymore we see what the facts are! The media is owned lock stalk and barrow by the powers that be however the alternative news is alive and well.

    • Mikey7a

      Dee, it’s lock, stock, and barrel. The whole of a rifle, in other words, but I know what you meant. 🙂

    • A_Real_Einstein

      90% of Americans stand with Israel over Hamas. Americans are smart enough to see that these terorists are using their own civilians as human shields. This is not new. Hamas miscalculated and thought the world would turn against Israel with optics of Palestinian children being killed and blaming the Israelis. They were wrong. We are not so stupid.The blood of these children and civilians are on the hands of Hamas and Iran.
      “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

      Golda Meir

  • Dee

    This article states that Americans don’t want America to be involved anywhere in the world is not true as it stands the worlds people have been begging the US To help those in Gaza and they do nothing .We cant accuse one Country of being cold and malicious when we are self’s are allowing the death and destruction of the Palestinians.US runs to help those who are being hurt yet when it comes to Palestinians we do nothing maybe the Govt should pay more of a mind to what it is the American people are saying.What they are truly asking this Govt for.

    • A_Real_Einstein

      The Palestinians are killing themselves. Rid themselves of Hamas, stop firing rockets at Israeli cities, come to the table, recognize Israel’s right to exist and enjoy your own state. America will not turn against its greatest ally in the region- a free enterprise democracy that fights against jihad. Not happening for Palestine do not hold your breath. America hates terrorists.

  • ps0rjl

    Unless the Europeans join in sanctions, Putin will just laugh at what we say. Putin is ex-KGB and as such could care less what anybody says. He knows we wont put any troops anywhere.

  • ram1020

    We need to be very careful about how we present our opposition to Russia’s role in the Ukraine. Even if it was a Russian made rocket that downed Flight 17, are we willing to take the same responsibility that we are putting on Russia for the innocent people killed in Gaza or Syria from American weapons? The Europeans are a bit mindful of what they sell and where.
    Furthermore, we need to be mindful of the economic moves being made by Putin. The recent creation of the BRIC bank for commercial development is a means to settle international accounts without using the American dollar. This could be dangerous if one looks at what happened to the British Pound when it was no longer used as the clearing currency for international accounts.
    While we want the US to be successful in international diplomacy, we shouldn’t close our eyes to what is really happening. We were happy when Obama and Putin met for 5 minutes during Obama’s recent WWII memorial visit, but at that same event, Putin had extended negotiation sessions with Angela Merkel from Germany. It seems that Europe is filling the void created by our weakness.

    • highpckts

      Weakness?? Now diplomacy is weakness?? Nothing is settled by bombs and missiles!! Please!!

      • ram1020

        Please read the post. Our weakness is in the effectiveness of our diplomacy, not in the idea of diplomacy itself. It appear that Germany is filling the void left by the US, which is good in the overall, but I would prefer that the US could be effective in protecting our values and interests.

        • charleo1

          You would prefer the U.S. could be effective in protecting our values, and interests. Great! All Americans could hope for different behavior from Mr.
          Putin. But the question becomes, just what values exactly, would that be we might be protecting? Well, first, let’s talk first about our interests. What exactly, are those U.S. interests in the Ukraine? The answer to that would be, we very few interests. While Germany, Europe, and the Netherlands have a great many interdependencies with the Russian Federation. And Putin has many geo- political, and strategic interests in Crimea, and the Ukraine. We on the other hand have NATO. We have Poland, and Belarus, and Turkey, and strong economic ties with China. And from Putin’s perspective, perhaps also a goal to surround his Country with NATO members, and place nuclear tipped missiles, 10 minutes from downtown Moscow. Now, in light of those realities for Mr. Putin, what then would you purpose we do to be more effective in convincing Putin his best interests are to stand down? Anything on the diplomatic front that comes to mind, Obama has not heretofore already done? That Europe is suggesting we do together, that Obama has refused to entertain? Or, just bluff, and
          bluster, stamp our feet? How about calling our President, “feckless,” over and over? Does that make Putin more, or less emboldened, do you think?

          • ram1020

            First of all, “feckless” is just a political term, and I won’t use it. It makes it personal and distracts from the issue. You made two points. First was questioning what values and interests we are protecting. We claim that democracy is a value. Maybe we should have Russia honor elections. We also look for free trade, and this all came to a boil when the Ukraine was leaning to joining the EU, giving Europe more economic influence over the country than Russia. As far as our interests are concerned, are we supporting our allies?

            Second, you mention the strength of NATO.The talk of disarmament has Poland saying that it is not safe to rely on the US. It has not been in Obama’s playbook to increase the number of missals pointed anywhere. (Not that this is a bad thing).

            Putin knows that we won’t be using any military option. To date, we have just offered increasingly strong lip service, some of it ridiculous as I pointed out earlier; and sanctions that were pretty much window dressing. As typical in American politics, we went more after particular people rather than something more general and meaningful. The European sanctions today have more substance, even at a cost to Europe. As far as our economic ties to China, these “close economic ties” have not prevented China from forcing American companies to manufacture in China avoid tariffs that would make them non-competitive. The Chinese are going after Microsoft, and are stopping royalties to QUALCOMM. With the latest tariffs that the US put on Chinese steel, and the Chinese complaint to the WTO, those economic ties are getting pretty cool. China relies on substantial amounts of Russian oil. With the formation of the BRIC development bank, Putin and China are cutting out dependence on the US dollar for clearing oil transactions, so I would think Putin has the advantage in that relationship.

          • Independent1

            So it’s your sense that our diplomacy is weak. Not sure the Iranians think so. Have you been aware of the gains Obama’s diplomacy has made with Iran?

            Major success in Obama’s Iran Policy; No one notices

            The BBC reports:

            Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms, the UN nuclear agency says.

            The conversion of its stock of 20%-enriched uranium was part of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme.

            The US said last week it would unblock $2.8bn in frozen Iranian funds in return for Iran’s compliance.

            A four-month extension to talks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions was agreed on Friday between Iran and world powers.This is a big deal. A major foreign policy success. Iran is ending its nuclear program. All without a shot being fired.

            And that is the problem. And why you won’t read about this.

            Because if we aren’t dropping bombs on someone it just isn’t possible for a policy to succeed to the “smart” people in Washington.

          • ram1020


            It appears from the article that Russia is deeply involved in the quality and quantity of enriched uranium in Iran.

            On the oil front, China is involved in the development of the use of Iranian oil.


            So it looks like American sanctions and $3B of frozen assets are really not the driver of what is happening in Iran.

          • Independent1

            You’re in absolutely no position to be making a judgement about what did or did not influence Iran to reformat its uranium based on some news articles you happened to read. Fact is, Iran modified its uranium for peaceful purposes making it clear that Obama was right to not get too heavy handed with the sanctions as many members of Congress have wanted to.

          • ram1020

            Well, I guess I have been told. Those articles are representative of many FACT based, not political based, articles. You can base your illusions on whatever information you like, as can I. I choose to base them on articles about what is really happening. It frees me from the need to either bash or worship any one person.

          • Independent1

            A lot of things come into play when a nation chooses to give up a national objective they’ve held for years. I’m not suggesting that what Russia and China were wanting Iran to do didn’t have a big influence on Iran’s decision to give up some of their objectives and reconstruct their uranium stockpiles;, but Iran could well have gone along with the changes because they were beginning to trust the U.S. more due to the softened Obama diplomacy – trusting maybe that the U.S. would work to prevent Israel from taking military action against them.

          • Independent1

            And with respect to China making inroads into garnering more American manufacturing, we all can thank Republicans for the gains China is making. See this:

            Are Republicans backed by China? House Republicans block critical ‘Make It In America’ billLast week one more example of Republican obstruction occurred – blockage of an important “Make It In America” bill – and one more time not a single corporate media outlet reported it.

            The House Republican leadership last Tuesday blocked a bill to secure for American companies critical minerals used in the production of energy-efficient products, renewable energy systems, electronics and other technologies. The result is companies – and the Defense Department – continue to be forced to turn to China to make or obtain critical electronics components.

            The China Problem

            Put simply, China undermined most of the world’s other sources of these strategic minerals by such practices as underpricing, putting them out of business. Once an industry leaves a country it becomes enormously difficult to start it up again. The supply chain is gone. The expertise is gone. The educators are gone – and so on. And, of course, with the industry goes the jobs and the ability for a country to make a living in the world. A huge investment is required to rebuild all of this.

            Now China is the main source (90 percent) for many critical minerals used in electronics manufacturing. China is using that 90 percent advantage to force other industries to come to China. China has been using export controls and other restrictions to drive up the price of manufacturing outside of China. If you simply cannot make or obtain certain critical electronics products anywhere else you either get them from China or go out of business. And yes, that includes our military.

            For more on the bill the GOP is blocking, here’s the link:


          • ram1020

            The Daily Kos is supporting government subsidies for miners? The other side of the equation is the refining of these materials. There is a proposed REE refinery in Australia, and the environmental impact (lots of radioactive by-products) is holding it back.
            Nixon was the one that opened trade with
            China, so of course if you want to play the blame game, you don’t need to go any further.

          • Independent1

            No! The Daily Kos is supporting whatever it takes to keep China from taking control over the manufacturing of virtually everything on the planet!!!!!

          • charleo1

            More to the point, I took exception to your assertion
            that our diplomacy is weak. When the truth is, it isn’t our diplomacy, so much as we don’t have much in the way of economic interests to sway Putin, or any of the actors there, to do anything. Whereas, he [Putin,] has all the interests in making sure Russia has the strong hand, and most of the influence in Ukraine. You’re aware of course, Ukraine is an economic basket case? Then, you’re also aware the deals the IMF, and Germany are offering Ukraine come with a lot of demands for severe austerity Austerity that most observers feel will likely bring down the current gov. anyway. Which speaking of elections, the formerly elected gov. of Ukraine was ousted by an uprising, and not an election. So, there’s one kind of democracy we value, and another that favors Russia, not so much. But, the facts remain, like the ol’boy said, we just don’t have a dog in the hunt, in The Ukraine. And as a side note, how is it, do you figure China is able to dictate to American business, and force these lopsided deal trade deals? Read Indy’s post, and see if you don’t smell something very rotten. Probably produced by the dark money, er’ “free speech,” our illusterious Supreme Court decided was good enough for our American democracy! Sure China buys energy from Russia. They also buy from most everyone. Iraq, the Saudis, Venezuela, Nigeria. That’s what the XL pipeline is all about. Diesel fuel for China. My feeling is, if this Country would tend to it’s own business. And it’s got plenty to attend to. It wouldn’t have the time right, now for lost causes, and basket cases, in the Ukraine. And let the EU fight it’s own fights. And negotiate it’s own deals.

  • howa4x

    Once again corporate interests trumps effective response by Europe. This is nothing new. The Russian gas industry signed a deal with Exxon for drilling in the gulf of Mexico. Obama could easily revoke the permit but Exxon will make 500 million on it so we can’t go that far and actually ask an American company to show some patriotism. After that is only for the little people. Never the investor class.

  • James Bowen

    Whatever Putin’s faults, one cannot blame him for trying to put his country back together. With the exception of the last 23 years and several months during the Russian Revolution, Ukraine has always been part of Russia. In fact, Ukraine is where Russian civilization emerged in the 800’s AD. The economies and cultures of Russia and Ukraine are so intertwined as to be inseparable. Two decades of nominal independence is not going to undo 1200 years of history.

    As far as the downing of this Malaysian airliner, it was a horrible tragedy and mistake. I think it would be best if Putin, or at least the rebels in eastern Ukraine, made an apology and if Putin moved to make whatever amends can be made. However, it should be noted that their behavior so far does not differ to much from our own government’s after the U.S. Navy accidentally shot down that Iranian Airbus in 1988.

    • highpckts

      Put his country back together?? Russia has always been one of the super powers! Putin knows this and he has his people firmly under his thumb! Don’t offer excuses for this power hungry, arrogant bully!!

      • James Bowen

        Ukraine and Russia are economically and culturally inseparable. Russia needs Ukraine in order to be a superpower. Between the two states, Ukraine has roughly a quarter of the manpower and industrial plant, not to mention much of the fertile agricultural lands on the steps of Russia. Neither state can afford to go separate ways from each other, and Putin has no intention of allowing that to happen. So in that context, who can really blame him for his overall course of action? Considering that eastern Ukraine is his for the taking if he so desires, he has actually shown quite a bit of restraint.

        • highpckts

          Restraint? Is that what you call it??

          • James Bowen

            Overrunning eastern Ukraine, or all of Ukraine for that matter, would not have been difficult with that army he massed on the Ukrainian border after their legitimately-elected president was driven out by that mob in February. He did not do it. He clearly wants Ukraine to willingly align with Russia, but he also clearly does not want them to align with anyone else.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    Actually, I’ve heard that some European leaders are on board with further sanctions on Putin and Russia. They’re even willing to help.
    Now, here’s something you need to remember: the reason they’ve been hesitant to sanction him and his country is the fact that they depend on Russia for up to 40% of their energy. But, anyone who has seen the Internet memes about Germany using solar power and taking old-school power plants offline knows that Europe’s dependence on foreign oil is lessening.

    • charleo1

      Any lessening of Europe’s dependence on foreign oil, is a very good
      thing. However, I think we need to realize, the situation is far from
      where we, and the Europeans would like it to be. And, Russia will hold her ground in the Ukraine, and Putin will continue to foment
      rebellion against the weak, and financially destitute Ukrainian Gov.
      And truth be told, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot, we can say, or do,
      to change the reality on the ground. One element they don’t dwell on
      much in the American Press, is Putin’s popularity, and the broad
      support his Gov, is getting from the Russian populous on this matter.
      So, while the Right Wingers here, mock our President, call him feckless, outmatched, over his head, and weak. Putin is enjoying a surge of adulation from his Countrymen!

  • dtgraham

    Does Canada not even exist? Who has expressed more outrage over this than Canadian PM Stephen Harper, and the whole Canadian parliament for that matter. They’ve brought in a broad range of sanctions against individuals, corporations, and entire sectors of the Russian economy. Harper was using very strong language to call Putin out publicly and also visited Ukraine more than once, both long before this incident.

    While Canada has historically punched above it’s weight militarily, it is still hardly a military power and can’t do much there by itself. It is a G7 nation though and can make a considerable contribution on economic reprisals. The world understandably looks to the United States at times like this, but this really has to be a world effort with regards to sanctions.

    • Yes, we treat our Canadian friends as if they are part of the US. That very large country to our north is a great friend, but their leaders speak with their own indiviual voice.

  • Mikey7a

    The President was on tv this afternoon. He was saying that the EU was joining in the import/export, and banking sanctions against Russia. Maybe Europe is finally realizing, that a reformed USSR, would NOT be in their best interests what so ever.