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Trump’s mockery of Obama over Crimea backfires with Sea of Azov crisis

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trump obama
President
Barack Obama greets President-elect Donald Trump at his
inauguration on January 20, 2017.


REUTERS/Carlos
Barria



  • President Donald Trump mocked former President Barack Obama
    as being weak on Russia and standing by while Moscow illegally
    annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
  • But Russia effectively locked Ukraine out of the Sea of Azov
    last weekend, and despite Ukraine’s calls for NATO help, Trump
    has appeared to do nothing.
  • Trump said Russia took Crimea from Ukraine because it didn’t
    respect Obama, but despite Trump claiming a friendship with
    Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin has done much the same to
    him.

President Donald Trump mocked former President Barack Obama as
being weak on Russia and standing by while Moscow illegally
annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

But Russia’s navy recently locked Ukraine out of the Sea of Azov,
which Kiev relies on to feed its valuable port cities in the
country’s east.

Trump’s response so far looks every bit as weak.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin didn’t respect President
Obama,” Trump said in June. “President
Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn’t respect
President Obama, didn’t respect our country, and didn’t respect
Ukraine.”

In 2014, Russian troops without official uniforms stormed into
Crimea and eastern Ukraine, cut power, interfered with
electronics and communications, spread fake news, and eventually
established control of the strategic peninsula.

The US, under Obama, responded with sanctions, condemnation, and
attempts to usher in diplomacy.

But none of that worked. Ukraine, which has dreamed of joining
the West as a functioning democracy and even a prospective member
of NATO, remains at war to this day with Russian soldiers whose
existence Putin still denies.

Ukraine has now been at war for four years against the Russian
separatist movement, which has cost it 10,000 civilian lives and left 1.6
million people in the country displaced.

Obama refused to provide lethal aide to Ukraine, a decision that
Trump reversed and often touts as a demonstration of his harder
line against Russia.

But on Sunday, Russia escalated the war by using its own, marked
navy ships to fire on Ukraine’s navy and shut down the entire Sea
of Azov to any ship bound for, or coming from, Ukraine.

In doing this, Russia disregarded a 2003 bilateral treaty giving
Ukraine and Russia exclusive rights to sail their ships in and
out at will.

The fighting also saw six Ukrainian soldiers
wounded
, and some detained and made to give bizarre-looking confessions to
Russian television
.


Russia Azov Black Sea Crimea Navy Day missiles
The
Russian large landing ship Azov fires missiles during a rehearsal
for the Navy Day parade in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol,
Crimea on July 27, 2017.

REUTERS/Pavel
Rebrov



Read more:

Russia is moving advanced missiles into Crimea as Ukraine warns
it’s under threat of a ‘full-scale war’

John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, said that Russia
sought to take control of the Sea of Azov to choke and
destabilize Ukraine’s east on a call with reporters organized by
the Atlantic Council.

Ukraine’s president has since called for NATO warships to enter
the Sea of Azov. He’s said that Putin intends to take over all of
Ukraine as a colony.

Now Ukraine fears a full-scale war and invasion from Russia.

Here’s Trump during his presidential
campaign in July 2016
:

“[If I become president, Putin is] not going to go into Ukraine,
all right? You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can
take it anywhere you want.”

How Trump’s handling the Azov crisis

Essentially, Moscow used a military escalation to steal another
chunk of Ukraine’s sovereignty, building on their past annexation
of Crimea, as they now control both sides of the pivotal Kerch
Strait.


sea of azovGoogle
Maps

In response, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, vocally
condemned the move and called for action.

But no real action has come forth yet.

NATO hasn’t responded to Ukraine’s calls to send ships.
Meanwhile, Russia has blocked Ukraine’s two
most important ports on the Azov
.

As the Azov is an inland sea, not international waters, and
requires both Russian and Ukrainian
approval
for foreign vessels to legally enter, NATO doesn’t
have a straightforward case for entering the sea.

A slew of treaties also keep the US from flooding Ukraine with
weapons to fight back against Russia, but Russia has shown little
regard for its own treaties in making the land and sea grabs.

Indeed the US and NATO would be in a better place to respond to
the Sea of Azov crisis if they had met Russia’s 2014 Crimea
annexation with more resolve, but that still doesn’t bode well
for Trump’s hypothesis that Putin respects him and not Obama.

“Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was
Obama too soft on Russia?” Trump tweeted in February
2017
.

But despite the respect and friendship Trump claims to have with
Putin, Russia has effectively taken the Sea of Azov from Kiev’s
hands, and Trump looks nowhere close to action.

Trump is expected to meet with Putin on
the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on
Saturday. 

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