Hillary Clinton on Vladimir Putin

We generally enjoy the thoughts of Jedediah Bila on just about any topic, and especially appreciated her recent thoughts on Hillary Clinton vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin.

She began her blog with a recent article from The Hill, which reported:

In a CNN interview scheduled to air on Sunday, the possible 2016 front-runner and former secretary of State said Russia “bears responsibility” for arming and supporting Russian separatists in Ukraine.

“I think if there were any doubt it should be gone by now that Vladimir Putin – certainly indirectly through his support of the insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the supply of advanced weapons and, frankly, the presence of Russian special forces and intelligence agents – bears responsibility for what happened to shoot down the airline,” she said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

Vladimir Putin So, Jedediah Bila posed some questions for Hillary on her blog. Here is a sampling of her questions:

1) What happens if Europe doesn’t take the lead on sanctions? Would a strong American policy stance inspire a strong European policy stance?

3) Should the United States be placing Pentagon advisers in Ukraine right now? What about military assistance to the government in Kiev?

4) The Daily Beast recently reported that “Kiev last month requested the radar jamming and detection equipment necessary to evade and counter the anti-aircraft systems Moscow was providing the country’s separatists.” Your reaction?

Jedediah’s last question is the most important, given the coming 2016 elections:

6) If you were President today, what would you do with respect to Russia and Ukraine?

Jedediah Bila is co-host of “Outnumbered” on Fox News at 12pm ET. She is an author, columnist, and Fox News Contributor. Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.

Read Jedediah’s blog at jedediahbila.com.

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New Ambassador to Russia will be John Tefft

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s senior foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, has signaled to Washington that Moscow will agree to the appointment of John Tefft as the next Ambassador to Russia. Although cautious, Ushakov in an interview with the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS called Tefft a “professional diplomat” with previous experience in Moscow.

New Ambassador to Russia will be John Tefft

Still ahead are the US Senate hearings once the Obama administration makes the formal nomination. Confirmation shouldn’t be a problem as Tefft is no stranger on Capitol Hill, with foreign service experience dating back to 1972. Most recently Mr. Tefft was the US Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013 and he has served previously in the Moscow Embassy under deputy roles. From 2000 to 2003 he was the US Ambassador to Lithuania and the US Ambassador to Georgia during 2005 to 2009.

The nomination of Tefft , who speaks Russian and Ukrainian, is likely to be well received in the Senate after the debacle with the inexperienced Michael McFaul in the position. The Russians say that the Obama administration made the initial request regarding Tefft in June and their announcement of acceptance came while Russian President Putin was in Cuba as part of his diplomatic tour to Latin America.

The annexation of Crimea and the continued fighting in Eastern Ukraine have left relations in tatters between Russia and the United States, some going so far to call the chill a new “Cold War.” Adding to the tension is the suspicion that Tefft’s appointment is due to his experience with so-called “color revolutions.” He served in Ukraine at a time of regime change and he was the US Ambassador to Georgia during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.

Pravda wrote this week that Russia could not afford to trust Tefft regardless of his prior experience in Russia. Andrei Kortunov, of the Moscow based New Eurasia Foundation, was quoted in Pravda saying that the Tefft appointment would not automatically signal a renewal of open dialogue with Russia. Kortunov pointed to the failures of the McFaul ambassadorship and current tensions regarding Crimea and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Both countries must approve Ambassadorial appointments and foreign diplomats are received when the incoming Ambassador formally presents diplomatic credentials to the host nation. Traditionally foreign ambassadors present their credentials to Russia’s president and foreign minister during ceremonies held in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s the Alexander Hall.

June 2014 reception of new Ambassadors in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
June 2014 reception of new Ambassadors in the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Of interest to some is that Tefft’s wife will join him in Moscow. Many Russians didn’t understand why previous Ambassador Michael McFaul chose to leave his family in California while trying to make the 9,000 kilometer weekly commute fit his Embassy schedule.

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What is happening in Ukraine?

US foreign policy shares much of the blame for what is happening now in Eastern Europe. This isn’t solely the fault of the Obama administration either. When the Soviet Union began to fall, President Reagan promised Russia that NATO would not encroach on Russia’s borders. The promise was that if Mr Gorbachev would remove the Berlin Wall, then Germany is as far as NATO would go and the former Soviet republics could choose to remain independent or align themselves with a democratic Russia.

We lied. The agreement largely held through Bush I, but beginning with the Clinton administration and moving forward, we have reneged on our word time after time. The fruit of our dishonestly is more than just about NATO, the EU and free trade. We have sought to destabilize the region in order to weaken the rule of Vladimir Putin. At some point we should stop, and now would be a good time to cease our behind the scenes efforts to effect regime change in Ukraine.

If our word is to ever count for something, then we must hold our government accountable when it steps out of line. Right now we’ve not only crossed the line, we’ve stomped it in disdain as we crossed.