Bolton: Obama 'Clueless and Indecisive' on Ukraine

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 01:36 PM

By Lisa Barron

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John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has slammed President Barack Obama for his stance on Ukraine, calling him "weak, clueless and indecisive" in a commentary published in the New York Daily News.

"Rarely have the consequences of President Obama's disinterest in American national security been so evident as in Ukraine's ongoing crisis," the diplomat, who has served in several Republican administrations, said in Thursday's piece.

"After essentially ignoring Ukraine for five years, Obama now faces armed hostilities in a large Central European country, with important U.S. interests at stake and no idea what to do. In fact, it may be too late for us to prevent tragedy."

Noting that Obama's response has been to urge both the regime of President Victor Yanukovich and the anti-government protesters to show restraint, Bolton wrote, "Candidate Obama indulged in a similar flight of fancy in August 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, another former Soviet Republic. Obama then also urged both sides to exercise restraint — a weak, feckless response doubtless carefully noted in the Kremlin."

Bolton argued that Obama was wrong when he said Wednesday that the deadly conflict in Ukraine is not a competition between the United States and Russia, and this is not "some Cold War chessboard."

"By contrast, Russia's foreign ministry takes a hard line, comparing Ukraine's protesters to the 1930s 'brown revolution' that brought Nazis to power in Germany," he said.

"The West made a major mistake in 2008 when Europeans rejected Washington's proposal to put both Georgia and Ukraine on a clear path to NATO memberships, settling instead for vague, aspirational statements. Four months later, Russian troops entered Georgia, and Russia increased its efforts to subvert Ukraine's struggling young democracy."

Today, Bolton wrote, Russia's strategy may be succeeding.

"America should assert unambiguously that it will urgently press for full NATO membership for a democratic Ukraine," he concluded. "This is precious little, but it is the only way to give hope to Ukrainians who want to prevent being pulled back into Moscow's orbit."

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