Dr. Mostofa Sarwar.1

Dr. Mostofa Sarwar

The Ukraine crisis proved that American political leadership can coalesce to chart strategy in response to external threats. This is the beauty of the battle-hardened American democracy and its time-tested institutions.

To counter Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats, American approaches vary in severity within a reasonable spectrum, from peaceful negotiations to military means. It’s nice to know that all options are on the table.

Ukraine has gone through much political turmoil since its independence. Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown from the presidency in 2014. The next day, Russia invaded Crimea and later annexed this strategic region. Shortly afterwards, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donets Basin declared independence with Russian military aid.

After the USSR’s demise, Russia was so weak due to internal strife that it was compelled to quietly witness the desertion of its fourteen republics and the seven Warsaw pact countries. Many joined NATO. But lately, Putin, energized by the flow of petrodollars coming from vast reserves of oil and gas, is causing concern for its neighbors who left Russia’s sphere of influence.

As a continuation of its blatant annexation of Crimea, Russia — possessing stockpiles of nuclear weapons, a formidable army, a powerful air force, a significant naval presence and petrodollars — is trying to strong-arm the United States and its Western allies by amassing a huge army along the eastern border of Ukraine. Citing security concerns, Putin demanded that Ukraine and Georgia never become NATO members. Additionally, he demanded that NATO never expand further to the east.

Perhaps Putin’s gamble relies on German and other American allies’ dependence on Russian oil and gas, and America’s recent internal political squabbles.

Nevertheless, President Joe Biden’s stern warning against a Russian military adventure, with the Republican congressional leadership's support, should be a wake-up call for Putin. Nothing less than the territorial integrity of sovereign Ukraine and the guarantee of its national security should be accepted in any negotiated settlement. Simultaneously, Germany and European allies should develop renewable energy at a fast pace to reduce dependence on an unreliable source. I am guardedly optimistic that Putin’s flexing of military muscle will turn into a fiasco for the ex-KGB operative.


professor and university dean

New Orleans