Foreign Policy

Obama Takes Credit: Sanctions 'Only Reason' for Ukraine Ceasefire



President Barack Obama was quick to take credit for the ceasefire agreement made today between Ukraine and the Russian-backed "people's republics" in the nation's east.

"I want to point out, the only reason that we're seeing the ceasefire at this moment is because of both the sanctions that have already been applied and the threat of further sanctions," Obama said from Wales where a NATO summit is taking place.

First of all, it seems early for anyone to pat themselves on the back, since things were still blowing up after the deal was signed. The ceasefire in July failed, and since the separatist leaders still intend to separate, it's hard to imagine long-term peace breaking out soon.

Second, the U.S. plays a relatively small role in this conflict. American trade with Russia was miniscule before sanctions. Total imports and exports between the two nations amounted to about 0.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. Obama's regular threats of an economic spanking have had limited effect on Russia's actions – as evidenced by the fact that Russia has continued to escalate the war regardless of what America says and does. Not until the E.U., which is Russia's largest trading partner, initiated its first broad sanctions – against Russia's energy, finance, and defense sectors – at the end of July did the threat of become credible.

Third, the only reason? The U.S. wasn't even present at the ceasefire talk, which took place in Belarus. The president overlooks Ukraine's own efforts to fight back against the flood of Russian military personnel and equipment coming across the border. And, he fails to give credit to Russia for making itself economically weak and vulnerable with its own idiotic policies. You'd think Vladmir Putin is waging a war on his own currency, since its value has dropped dramatically in recent months. Russia's own sanctions are shooting itself in the foot. Although the country is on the brink of recession, military spending is skyrocketing and the Kremlin is leaving its poor citizens on the hook for billions in other boondoggles. Crimea is proving to be a 10,000-square-mile money pit. Imperialism isn't cheap and Russia's teaching itself that lesson the hard way.

Yesterday, before this armistice was hammered out, the U.S. and the E.U. announced plans for additional sanctions. Today Obama said he plans on following through and will only consider lifting them if Russia abides the ceasefire.

Also at the summit, NATO approved plans for a "command headquarters would be set up in Eastern Europe with supplies and equipment stockpiled there, enabling the 'spearhead' force to mobilize and deploy quickly."

Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here

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  1. Good lord, what an egotist.

    1. This guy is as delusional as it gets.

    2. Malignant narcissist.

      1. The Malignant Narcissists would be a good name for a band.

        1. It’s a good Rush song anyway.

        2. But what would be the lyrics?

          1. “Barack Hussein Obama, mm, mm, mm”

            Over and over and over again.

    3. He’s found something that isn’t Bush’s fault.

    4. Guys. I was talking about PUTIN.


    5. The sanctions produced a cease-fire in the same way that an empty life can produce a Nobel Peace Prize.

  2. Obama is just an afterthought to Putin.

    1. I think Obama is more comic relief for Putin, like a court jester.

  3. Marge: Oh, Homer, don’t start stalking people again. It’s so illegal. Remember when you were stalking Charles Kuralt because you thought he dug up your garden?

    Homer: Well, something did!

  4. “Look! A parade! Must run to the front! Run to the front!”


    The ceasefire is Poroshenko’s unilateral surrender to Putin’s demands.

    It is a direct response to, during the past week, Obama’s stated intention not to get involved in Ukraine and to draw the line at NATO countries.

    Poroshenko got the message that America will respect Ukraine as Russia’s sphere of influence and will not intervene. So he gave Putin what he wanted.

    The entire 7-point ceasefire plan was PROPOSED BY PUTIN.
    This is Poroshenko basically accepting that it is better to accede to the Kremlin’s demands, because there is nothing the west is going bto do about Russia’s direct military intervention. He’s a sensible man, and he saw that further resistance was not going to benefit the Ukraine.

    1. What do the Ukrainian people want? I can’t imagine any paper signed in Washington stopping Americans from fighting a foreign invader.

      1. “Florida Man|9.5.14 @ 2:34PM|#

        What do the Ukrainian people want? “

        See which way the refugees run.

      2. Apparently one of the conditions of the ceasefire is that Ukraine not seek NATO membership.

        I wouldn’t be surprised is not being allowed to seek EU membership was on the list too.

        Thou shalt not align thyself with mine enemies, vassal.

        1. It is a little late to join NATO after an invasion. I guess my question is do Ukrainians have a strong national identity or do they see themselves as just taking a break from the former USSR and rejoining the fold?

          1. You’re joking right?

            You realize that Ukrainian is a separate language from Russian, right?

        2. I wouldn’t be surprised is not being allowed to seek EU membership was on the list too.

          Is that a demand or a favor? The EU?? Sheesh, that union is bound to wind up the same as the Soviet Union. The Uke’s really want to be in the EU?

          1. Now that you say that, I think you may have found the solution here. We just offer Russia membership in the EU. They would have to accept it and the Greeks and Italians would have them bankrupted and leave the country in chaos and ruins within a year. Letting them join the EU would be worse than nuking them.

          2. I was just about to say. NATO and the EU are junk. Is there a rule that Ukraine can’t become powerful without them? It would be cool if Ukraine became a sort of independent regional power that challenged both Russia and the EU thanks, oddly, to Putin.

            1. Ukraine should just let Russia take it over, that’s the only peaceful solution.

              1. LOL.

                How about Russia just stops trying to throw it’s weight around and behave like a normal country.

                1. I don’t think Russia will do that anytime soon. I’m as shocked as Obama is about how Putin can’t be reasoned with. Who could have predicted that?

                2. What, like the US?

      3. The Ukrainian people seem rather divided on the issue. Isn’t that the whole problem here?

        1. Zeb,
          I don’t really understand the situation. I’m not well versed on Eastern European politics.

          1. There is a sizable Russian minority in the Ukraine. I think they would like to join back with mother Russia. Generally the Ukrainians have always hated the Russians. How you tell one for the other, I have no idea. But they can and they do not like each other going back centuries. And don’t forget Stalin and the Russian communists starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the 1930s.

            1. Are the two sides split geographically or is it an ethnic/cultural divide?

              1. Its geographic and ethnic. Think Northern Ireland. They split Russia and Ukraine but the new country of Ukraine included a Russian minority. That minority of course would like to unite with Russia so they can be in the majority again just like the Ulster Catholics want to join back with the Republic of Ireland.

            2. It was Soviet communists, Stalin was a Georgian, lots of non-Russians were involved as well.

              1. While technically true DLF, the Ukrainians in my experience don’t look at it that way. They look at the famine as a Russian imposed tragedy.

            3. It’s an unhelpful simplification to claim that there’s a Russian minority and a Ukrainian majority in Ukraine. The communities are not so well defined. It’s rather a gradient with more people who consider themselves ethnically Russian in the east and much fewer in the west of the country. There are millions of people in Ukraine who would identify themselves Ukrainian but speak only Russian at home. Many, if not most, have a mixed Ukrainian-Russian background. The only solid Ukrainian part of the country is the Western Ukraine that never belonged to the Russian Empire (and even there Transcarpathia has substantial Hungarian connections).

              It is simply not true that a solid majority of the Ukrainian population with mixed Ukrainian-Russian roots hate Russians. It could have changed since Crimea was annexed and the war began but that was not the case before.

              1. Grizzly,

                Perhaps I have only ever met people from the West. But the Ukrainians I have met always had nothing but disdain for the Russians. As I said, how you tell a Ukrainian from a Russian is beyond me.

                More importantly, regardless of what their ethnicity, the majority Ukrainians generally are happy not being a part of Russia and some kind of a minority would like to join Russia.

                I don’t think Putin is trying to exploit a non existent conflict. I think there is at least some section of the Ukrainian population that would like to join Russia.

                1. Well, a large part of the reasons for the sizeable Russian minority is the policy of colonization that was started under the Tsar’s and continued under the USSR.

                  Obviously under Soviet domination, Russian was the dominant language, so even many Ukrainians learned to speak Russian (as did many Poles and Germans).

                  The analogy to N. Ireland is very apt. The presence of large numbers of Russian speakers isn’t a product of a benign peaceful history, it’s a product of a century or two of Russian domination and colonization.

                2. Seems like a very complicated situation. Thanks to everyone for responding.

                3. I think there is at least some section of the Ukrainian population that would like to join Russia.

                  What’s stopping them from emigrating?

                  Unless you mean they want Russia to rule their neighbors as well their own personal selves.

                4. Most of the Ukrainian immigrants who arrived in the first wave of immigration (late 19th – early 20th century) came from the territory controlled by Austria-Hungary. They and their descendants have no Russian connections and I would not be surprised if they were very anti-Russian.

                  Also, it’s likely that immigrants are not representative of the people still living in the home country. Just think of Cuban-Americans. And I guarantee you there are some areas I’m not representative of the Russians living in Russia. (That was an understatement.)

    2. You might want to add to that = its also a longer term signal to Putin that any further attempts he makes towards unilateral forceful re-integration of former soviet states will be met with similar ‘tough words’ and light-wrist-slapping by the US.

      1. That is right. If Putin doesn’t stop this, Obama is going to make a really indignant speech about it.

  6. It seems “Speak softly and carry a big stick” has been reinterpreted as “Beat ones chest and strut around, then insist on having a pillow-fight”

    1. …then play a round of golf and attend a fundraiser.

    2. Are we talking pretty young women in lingerie pillow fight?

  7. So, when Putin is done re-supplying his mercenaries and they break the ceasefire, Obama will go on TV and take the blame. Right?

    1. No, that will be someone else’s fault. Likely BOOOSH!!!1!!!!

  8. “command headquarters would be set up in Eastern Europe with supplies and equipment stockpiled there, enabling the ‘spearhead’ force to mobilize and deploy quickly.”

    POMCUS sites, arise! REFORGER, reassemble!

    1. All this nostalgia. I think I’ll dust off Red Storm Rising and Team Yankee this weekend.

      1. Good stuff.

        A full-blown Russia vs. NATO war wouldn’t be nearly as close a thing as it would have 30 years ago.

        1. A full blown US Russia war wouldn’t be close. Sadly our NATO allies literally disarmed themselves in the 1990s. Maybe the Poles have an army. I honestly don’t know. I would think they of all people would be smart enough to have one. But the rest of NATO doesn’t.

          What we need is for the Germans to be a bit German again. The Russians would definitely be on the ass end of any US German alliance. But that is only if the Germans actually have an army.

          1. What are the fucking Turks, chopped liver?

            1. Pretty much. Sadly. The Islamist vampire has been sucking them dry for about ten years now. That paper hanging asshole they have for a President has just about destroyed the Turkish military by purging all of the competent officers.

              1. Erdogan is just a kleptocrat who uses overtly religious symbolism, I don’t he is really serious about Islam.

                1. Jerry,

                  I don’t know about Islam, but he is very serious about oppressing and generally fucking up Turkey.

            2. I think the idea that the Turks would send any of their divisions to fight the Russians in the Bloodlands is delusional, myself.

          2. I think the Russians pretty well disarmed themselves too. I just looked up the Russian Army on Wikipedia – only 285,000 personnel including 80k conscripts? That’s one big, broke, third-world country. And almost half of them are in the east along the Chinese border.

            Just the Germans and Poles could match up in numbers and far outclass them in quality.

            1. Really? I thought the Russian Army was much bigger than that.

              1. Me too. I thought they were big and shitty. Turns out they are small and shitty.

                1. Given the large number of their citizens working in Russia I’m sure the Chinese are nodding and smiling in agreement with you right now, licking their lips over all dat land.

                  1. The bad news for China is that those 10,000 or whatever nuclear warheads count for a lot. I don’t think China will be annexing much any time soon.

  9. Looks like Obama has kept one campaign promise, at least: to “have more flexibility ” for Putin.

  10. There is the Grand Prix of Sochi early October, so I guess this cease fire will at least run for 1-2 months.

  11. Every time I read something he says I think, “You know I am an excellent driver”.

    1. Oh please! Raymond was a good guy who knew his limitations. Nothing like the narcissist in chief!

      1. He is Raymond’s lost evil twin that a communist family in Hawaii adopted.

        1. That sounds like the … worst… sequel… ever!

          1. And he grows up to be President. The call is coming from the HOUSE!!

        2. Can this new twin beat

          Ok, it’s time for a change of pace. Let’s travel back from outer space down to somewhere in Americana. Imagine an open field on a warm, sunny summer day. A table is set up in the field with the two contestants sitting at it ready to begin at the judge’s starting gun. When the gun is fired, our two contestants must complete a 10×10 multipication table, and then do a 100 yard dash to the other end of the field. The first one across the finish line wins. Judging the event is the esteemed Vic Tayback. His decisions are final. Who will win?

          Forrest Gump vs. Rain Man


  12. You’d think Vladmir Putin is waging a war on his own currency, since its value has dropped dramatically in recent months.

    Obama’s jealous.

    I mean, the US 10-year treasury bond trades at a higher yield than Spain fer crissakes. Spain is a safer haven than us!!!

    1. I guarantee you Obama is jealous as hell of Putin. Putin really can and does lock his opposition up in prison and make himself President for life. No matter what he says about Putin, at heart Obama can’t help but like the cut of his jib.

      1. Obama came into office expecting to be the good Putin. He sees himself as a benevolent dictator.

  13. On the topic of ‘Sanctions’ – unquestioningly a form of “intervention”, yet one which fails to raise the hackles of the nonterventionary-minded, so much…

    many have pointed out that their main purpose is simply Domestic Politics:

    they do not effective dissuade or coerce an adversary to changing their behavior

    yet they do create a lasting and punitive effect on a nation such that they engender hostile relations for decades.

    They serve mostly to allow leaders to go through the pantomime of ‘doing something’ – hence this victory lap by Generalissimo Obama.

    You don’t need to go far to read long, detailed tracts explaining why sanctions are probably the ‘worst of all foreign policy tools’. Or shorter ones.

    Skipping all of that… a simple question: is Russia ‘an enemy’? if so, are these sanctions part of any longer term strategy? If not = why the hell are we bothering?

    If anything, they appear to be simply a tool that both the US and the EU have used to paper-over their own willingness to throw peripheral nations under the bus rather than risk an unpopular standoff. What the EU wants is Gas. What the US wants is for Russia to let the US pretend they’re ‘doing something’

    1. Another word for “sanctions” is restraint on trade. Yes, the entire idea of sanctions is to punish the population of a country in order to make it so miserable that they force their government to change their ways.

      Rather than do sanctions, we would be better off going after specific people. Don’t fuck the entire Russian economy and give the entire population a reason to hate us. Instead go after their elites. Russia is run by a small mafia of billionaires. Freeze their assets. Go after them personally and make their lives miserable. The average Russian isn’t going to give a shit about that. But Putin and the cronies in charge, since it is happening to them, sure as hell will.

      1. The terms ‘targeted’ and ‘sanctions’ have tended to strongly coincide with European scumbags profiting handsomely off of the newly created black markets.

        There’s no version of ‘sanctions’ aside from the equivilent of ‘universal blockade’ (and taking away the ability of Russian banks to trade on international markets or trade in US$) that really does anything worth the effort. Policing these sanction regimes often costs more than the impact they have on the targets.

        The truth is, anything that REALLY hurts would be an ‘act of war’. We’re never going to do anything that really hurts. So the purpose is not to coerce, but simply to pantomime as though we ‘tried’ and then claim whatever happens was a result.

        1. We could do things that would really hurt that wouldn’t be an act of war. The best way to hurt the Russians is start shipping the Europeans natural gas and get the Saudis to start pumping oil and open up our public lands to production and bring the price down. That would bring Putin to his knees.

          But Obama won’t do that because he believes in the green cult more than he believes in protecting the country’s interests.

  14. I pulled up the liveatc recording of Atlanta Center around the time the plane N900KN stopped responding. The pilot sounds fine for a while, then requests a descent, center give him higher than he asked for, he asks for much lower, then he starts sounding really drowsy and slurred. Then he stops responding. Sounds like a slow depressurization.

      1. 2nd probable hypoxic “ghost flight” of the week, now crashed in Jamaica.

          1. If you want to listen to the ATC recording the last contact with the pilot is located in the 1400Z archive file for Atlanta Center (ZTL) at LiveATC. Go to about 2:32 in that .mp3 file.

            Can be found here.

  15. If Poroshenko actually sincerely accedes to Russia’s demands he is a traitor and should be forced from power. Those Ukrainian volunteer militias should train in guerrilla warfare and make war on Russian soldiers and their goons stationed in ‘Novorussiya’.

  16. my best friend’s sister makes $80 /hour on the laptop . She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her pay was $17924 just working on the laptop for a few hours. view ….


  17. Crimea itself is a money pit but there is oil and gas in the waters around it.

    Interesting to note that the big deal Russia and China struck a while back was a desperation sale by Russia. Possibly at a loss. Can’t wait for interest rates to rise across the world trash like Russia is going to get incinerated.

    1. A lot more than Russia is going to be incinerated. Every great power in the world is either in debt, holding ridiculous amounts of noncollectable debt and or sitting on a credit and property bubble.

      As bad as things will be for Russia, it will be worse for China. At least Russia has natural resources. What does China have beyond hundreds of millions of people to feed and possibly revolt? You think the property bubble in the US was bad, the Chinese one is ten or twenty times worse. And worse still, their entire economy is based on exports. If the world goes into recession, and it will when the interest rates go back up, the whole Chinese economy will fall like a house of cards as export demand dries up. It is going to be a complete mess.

      1. And when their economy is in serious, serious pain, the Chinese are going to go expansionist in a serious way.

        1. No. They are going to go implode war lord phase I a big way. It’s how they roll

  18. Don’t you yet realize that nothing of import in the World can happen without the imprimatur of President Sub-par, that he brings us light, and cool, and will be the savior of all mankind?
    Surely you must realize that?

  19. I don’t know about you, or our feckless president, but everyone else knowns that Russians or rebels, whatever they are, had in the past week stampeded Ukrainian govt forces, forcing their agreement to a ceasefire.

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