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Don't Let Ukraine Drag America into War

December 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

kraine’s behavior in the Kerch Strait is another example of a
U.S. ally (or security dependent) trying to gain American military
backing for its own parochial agenda. Georgia sought to do that in
2008 regarding its territorial dispute with Russia over two
secessionist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A European
Union-sponsored report subsequently concluded that Georgia started the fighting that broke out in
August of that year. And there is little doubt that Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili expected to get much stronger support from the United States and NATO
than he ultimately received.

There are other examples of such self-serving behavior. Saudi
Arabia routinely attempts to entangle the United States in Riyadh’s regional power struggle with Tehran.
Washington’s
shameful support
for the Saudi-led military intervention in
Yemen suggests that the effort has not been in vain.

Americans must not let
the Ukrainian tail wag the American dog, or the result could be
tragic for all concerned.

U.S. leaders need to be far more alert to such maneuvers and
take steps to make certain that the American republic does not
become entangled in conflicts that have little or no connection to
important American interests. Too often, members of this
country’s political, policy, and media elites act as though
the interests and ambitions of an ally or “friend” are
congruent with the best interests of the American people. That
notion is not only erroneous but dangerous.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s conduct before, during,
and after the November Kerch Strait incident, should trouble all
thoughtful Americans. Three Ukrainian naval vessels sought to
transit the strait—a narrow waterway between Russia’s Taman
Peninsula and Crimea—that connects the Black Sea and the Sea
of Azov. Kiev considers the strait international waters and points
to a 2003 bilateral navigation treaty with Russia to vindicate its
position. However, after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and
annexed that territory in 2014, Moscow now treats the strait as
Russian territorial waters. It insists on forty-eight hours notice
and explicit Russian approval before Ukrainian ships can use the
strait.

Ukraine had complied with that requirement a few months earlier,
but in late November declined to do so and attempted to carry out
an unapproved crossing. Russian security forces rammed a Ukrainian
tug, fired on the two other ships (wounding several sailors) and
then seized all three vessels.

The motive for Kiev’s challenge was murky and the timing extremely suspicious. Poroshenko
faces a tough reelection campaign in Ukraine’s presidential
election at the end of March. Polls showed him languishing in a
crowded field, lagging far behind the leading candidate, former
Prime Minister …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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