Marion Smith: NATO Members Must Take Hard Line With Putin

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 01:04 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The Russian Federation’s position that any expansion of NATO forces near its borders will be considered a demonstration of hostility is a glaring example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the United States and its allies, said Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

"It's just another example that Vladimir Putin views the United States and its allies as enemies, and this goes back in some measure, in great measure perhaps, to his interpretation of the Cold War and how that ended," Smith said on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV. "What we see that's going on in Ukraine right now is Vladimir Putin's attempts to roll back some of the consequences of the Cold War when Ukraine became a free and independent country with all of its territory as part of Ukraine, including Crimea."

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Just as in George Kennan’s 1946 long telegram to the State Department, today’s Russia, under Putin’s leadership, is committed to maintaining the nation’s "sphere of influence," according to Smith.

Referencing Kennan’s words, Smith said it remains true that Russian leadership is "impervious to the logic of reason, but highly sensitive to the logic of force."

"The same is true in the case of Vladimir Putin and what he's doing in Ukraine. The United States and NATO has to make it very clear that although Ukraine is not a member of NATO and … enactments can't be triggered," he said.

The United States is obligated, by treaty, to defend the security of the Baltic allies, many of which have significant Russian-speaking populations.

Smith said NATO-allied countries in central and Eastern Europe understand that a hard line must be taken against Putin and Russia.

"These are countries that are indicating that they understand that their security and their future security and also their recent history indicate that a strong line must be taken toward Vladimir Putin to let him know that it's not acceptable, that the consequences of the end of the Cold War and as it ended would be rolled back now 25 years later," Smith said.

Preserving nations freed after the end of the Cold War is important, he said, and Putin’s simmering resentment over the Soviet Union’s dissolution need to be carefully monitored.

"The post-Cold War order has meant an awful lot of growth and prosperity for most European countries," Smith said. "No system is perfect, but wars have consequences, and the Soviet Union lost the Cold War, and we can go back to almost any country's history and find the time when they were more or less greater than they are now, but that doesn't necessarily justify any claim of action at the moment."

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