Obama Says Putin Acting Out of Weakness, Ukrainian Defense Minister Sacked, Gingrich Has Putin Right, What NATO May Need to Do

03/27/14 Update:  Now McCain insults Russia and Putin

Beacon2Light: I don't think it's terribly smart to say that Putin is acting out of weakness (Obama) or to say that Russia is no more than a gas station (McCain).  This invites further aggression.  Putin may wish to show who is weak and it won't be him/show what a "gas station masquerading as a country" can do.  It would be better to show resolve and seek to lower aggression through a process of peace through strength (Reagan).  Where are NATO troops mobilized in NATO countries with shared borders with Ukraine? Those troops could be reduced as Russian ones are reduced on the opposite border with Ukraine. But alas, it's far better that we forbid Putin's inner circle from visiting the Grand Canyon or Disney World.  That will fix them (sarcasm).  

US intel: More indications than ever Russia could invade Ukraine

New U.S. intelligence assessments say there are more indications than ever that Russia could invade eastern Ukraine, as congressional lawmakers reacted with alarm to Vladimir Putin's rapidly expanding military buildup along the border.

Despite wake-up call, Europe reluctant to bolster its militaries

From the Washington Post story:  

Military spending across Europe fell dramatically after the Cold War, then ramped up for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in the five years since the global financial crisis struck, it has been cut sharply again, while Russia’s defense spending has surged by more than 30 percent.

More European cuts are on the way, even as leaders hurl a daily dose of tough rhetoric toward Moscow.

Western governments see continuing Russian buildup on Ukraine border
WASHINGTON Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:27pm EDT

MOSCOW, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:44am EDT

Beacon2Light: question -- where is the compensation for all of those Ukrainian military bases, ships and assets that Russia commandeered?

********************Original Post************************

I don't care if the president is Republican, a Democrat or an Independent.  This has got to be the dumbest thing to say about Putin. It may very well push him to act further:  

Ukraine: Obama says Russia 'acting out of weakness'

If Ukraine is going to give Putin any pause and any reason for the West to back its government with arms, this is a good start: 

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Victoria Butenko, CNN
updated 4:39 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014

Finally, a U.S. politician who gets it about Putin. The only thing missing is getting beyond what the U.S. and the West are doing wrong to what we need to do right

Inside the mind of Vladimir Putin
By Newt Gingrich
Tue March 25, 2014

For all of those who thought, perhaps hoped and prayed, that Crimea would be it:

MOSCOW Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:20pm EDT

This is a great map and it shows what NATO/the U.S. needs to do. There must be troop and equipment deployments to the NATO countries bordering Ukraine where the aggression has been seen. Deployments on the borders must be made to counter where Russian troops have massed and trained.  For example, Russian troops massed on the borders with Ukraine mean that NATO should mass troops on the opposite borders with Ukraine (Southern Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and in the case of Romania, where its borders meet both Moldova [potentially under threat] and Ukraine). When Russian troop presence drops, these also could drop and visa-versa. Military aid must be expedited to Ukraine but only as Ukraine has a will to fight.  We trust with the sacking of the defense minister that we have a sign that the will is there.  As long as Russia leaves the rest of Ukraine alone, they have no worries.  However, if Putin orders troops into Moldova or Eastern Ukraine, etc., then he must anticipate a reaction.  

Here's something I just found, a few hours after posting all of the above. This may keep you up at night:  

As Russia re-arms, the West increasingly neglects its defenses.

The Putin regime has increased defense spending 79% over the past decade, according to a Brookings study. Defense expenditures amounted to 4.5% of Russian GDP in 2012, the World Bank reports. After a period of post-Cold War neglect, Moscow has been closing its capability gaps, including the upgrade of its Soviet-era fleet of military-transport aircraft and interceptor jets. Russia's state-run media celebrated these developments a few weeks before Mr. Putin's Crimean incursion.

Only four members—the U.S., U.K., Greece and Estonia—spent at least 2% of GDP on defense.

At 1.9%, France last year fell short of the 2% that is supposed to be the technical requirement for membership. Mr. Rasmussen's Denmark spent 1.4% of its GDP on defense, Angela Merkel's Germany 1.3%, Italy 1.2%, and Spain 0.9%. This is what a country spends if it thinks its main security threat is Belgium.

And the trend is down, as a majority of NATO members reduced defense spending in 2013. Among the more drastic defense cutters last year were Canada (7.6%), Slovenia (8.7%), Italy (10.3%), Hungary (11.9%) and Spain (11.9%).

The U.S. reduced its overall spending by an estimated 2%. That might not sound like much, but American spending comprised 72% of all NATO defense expenditures in 2013. Under President Obama's latest budget proposal, U.S. defense spending will fall from 4.6% of GDP in 2011 to 3.5% in fiscal 2015 and 2.9% by 2017 when he is supposed to leave his successor a country stronger than he inherited. On present trend it will be weaker.

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