Pondering the Putin threat

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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By the time the world starts to actually take the threat Vladimir Putin poses seriously, will it already be too late?

Some world leaders are calling Russia’s latest moves an invasion, others are calling it something else, but for some reason, much of the global community seems to be treating Putin and his Russian aggressors with kid gloves.

In fact, the country taking the hardest line against Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine is Canada. The True North strong and free is a proud and respected country, but hardly much of a threat to the military might of the great Russian bear.

Canada’s diplomatic representatives haven’t shied away from calling what is happening an invasion, and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been referring to the aggressive actions being taken by Putin and his government.

Thursday, multiple sources had two columns of Russian tanks and troops crossing into Ukraine to bolster rebels in the eastern regions of the country, which follows weeks of accusations of Russia providing both troops and supplies to the rebels.

It is unclear what Putin’s end game is, whether he is sending a message to Ukraine, or whether his intention is a full-scale invasion and conquering of the former Soviet republic.

Meanwhile, Russia claims that any Russians who are participating in the conflict are volunteers, and retired military personnel and they deny they are making incursions into Ukraine, except when their troops have “accidentally” crossed into Ukrainian territory on more than one occasion. That spawned some cheeky diplomatic talk from Canada’s NATO contingent on Twitter - with a map of Russia and Ukraine, with the message “Geography can be tough. Here’s a guide for Russian soldiers who keep getting lost & ‘accidentally’ entering #Ukraine”

The response of the western world is complicated by the fact that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so the alliance is under no obligation to protect Ukraine. It is unclear whether moving NATO troops into Ukraine could occur at some point, which could lead to a dangerous military confrontation between Russia and much of the rest of the world -- something that nobody wants to see.

However, it isn’t clear what else will stop these Russian incursions into Ukraine. The targeted economic sanctions thus far seem to have been toothless and it appears that the only diplomacy Putin knows is military.

And, Putin’s power and influence in the region only grows as winter nears. Maybe this IS Putin playing nice, and he’ll really start playing hard ball in a few months when Russian natural gas is depended on by European nations. Over 30% of natural gas consumed in Europe is from Russia, and 16% of the natural gas used in Europe travels through pipelines in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko warned earlier this week that is exactly what Putin’s plan is, although that remains to be seen.

It is good to see Canada speaking very plainly on the matter and laying blame where it lies - at Putin’s feet. Many are starting to see Putin as perhaps the most dangerous leader in the world right now.

At what point does the global community start taking the actions of Russia in Ukraine seriously?

Organizations: NATO

Geographic location: Ukraine, Russia, Canada Europe

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