By Gel Santos Relos
WHEN news broke that Russia deployed troops to Ukraine, most Americans, including kababayans, cried “ENOUGH” to wars. They would not want the U.S. to act as “Big Brother” or “Global Police” anymore to help Ukraine.
“Americans are more likely than not to say that the United States has no responsibility to get involved in Ukraine, even under extreme circumstances,” said a new poll by Huffington Post/YouGov, which was conducted from March 1-2.
Forty-six percent of the respondents said the U.S. should NOT be held responsible for protecting Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion; only 18 percent of Americans said America should be responsible. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed were unsure of their position.
Kababayans expressed a more definitive vote: 73 percent of Balitang America's viewers opposed the U.S.' involvement in the Russia vs Ukraine crisis.
In terms of political leaning, based on the survey: Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike agree that it is not America's responsibility to protect Ukraine.
This sentiment is understandable, given that Americans are still hurting because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the nation’s debt and budget deficit problems, many say that scarce resources should be appropriated toward helping the economy grow, as well as financing social services and infrastructure development.
But as CNN reported, the standoff between Russia and Ukraine has a significant effect in global markets. It has raised oil prices since Russia is a key exporter of oil and natural gas.
Meantime, Republicans blame President Barack Obama’s failed foreign policy, for this escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
In an interview with CNN, Sen. John McCain said the U.S. has lost its credibility as a Superpower, when it did not attack Syria but crossed the “red line,” following the Assad regime’s massacre of its own people. Obama chose tot be diplomatic instead and averted war.
Sen. McCain also criticized the Obama administration for scaling down the military force. The senator argued that it was a move that further weakened America’s standing as a Superpower in the world, and further embolden leaders (like Russian President Vladimir Putin) because ““nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
McCain further said that military action should not be ruled out in dealing with this crisis.
The U.S. and many European countries demand that Moscow scale back its deployment of troops in Ukraine's southern region of Crimea, or face sanctions and isolation as a consequence. Putin warned that any sanctions the West places on Russia will backfire.
In a press conference in Moscow, Putin blamed the West for anarchy in Ukraine, accusing it of encouraging an unconstitutional coup in the country.
These were Putin's first remarks, when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv last month and landed in Russia. Ukraine's new government wants to put Pres. Yanukovych on trial, for the deaths of over 80 people during protests in Kyiv.
Russia says its soldiers are protecting the human rights of worried, vulnerable Russian speakers from the interim government in Ukraine.
From America's and the European Union's perspective, Russia is violating international law.
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reported on Tuesday that Pres. Putin have pulled his forces back from the Ukrainian border on Tuesday, but Moscow said reserves the right to use all means to protect Russians there.
BBC reports that tensions remained high Tuesday in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers.
For a deeper understanding of the issue, let me share with you this primer by CNN:
What does Russia want to achieve?
CNN commentators suggested that Putin has overplayed his hand by sending troops into Crimea, creating a situation that will hurt both Ukraine and Russia. Others say it's a calculated move, based on the assessment that the West will fail to come up with a strong, unified response.
"Putin's broader plan is to recreate some kind of 'Soviet Union lite,' a ring of countries under Moscow's control, with the goal of boosting Russia's geopolitical standing," wrote Ulrich Speck, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels.
If Putin gets what he wants in Ukraine, Speck says it augurs badly for other neighboring countries with Russian populations. He points to Moscow's "de facto-annexation" of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, after the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
"Beyond Ukraine, this conflict is also a defining moment for future Russian foreign policy." Speck says.
"If Moscow succeeds in Ukraine, it will come to the conclusion that it can act like an empire," he added.
What is Ukraine saying?
Ukraine's Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (who has accused Moscow of declaring war) vowed that his government will not give up Crimea.
"Nobody will give Crimea away," he said. "There are no grounds for the use of force against civilians and Ukrainians, and for the entry of the Russian military contingent."
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said that if diplomacy fails to persuade Moscow to withdraw its forces from the Ukrainian region of Crimea, the world should apply the "strongest means" on Russia.
Asked by CNN’s Christaine Amanpour if she was calling for the West to use military force against Russia, Tymoshenko avoided giving a direct answer, saying she "cannot solve this issue."
Russia says that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom Moscow still recognizes as the country's legitimate leader, requested that Russia send in military forces.
What is the atmosphere like in Crimea?
Reporters on the ground say the standoff is a strange one. Russian soldiers, who are not wearing any military insignia, have taken up positions around the region. They have blockaded Ukrainian troops in their bases. But for the time being, the situation remains surprisingly calm.
It has been "a very low-key kind of invasion," CNN correspondent Diana Magnay reported Monday from Simferopol, the Crimean capital.
But Russian forces "have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula," a senior US administration official told CNN.
It appears that there is a "war of information" in the region "between those who watch Russian state TV and those who are getting their news from the West, none of them listening to the calls from Kiev for unity in this country," Magnay reported.