Obama's Remarks On Ramped-Up U.S.-Russia Sanctions Sounded Like A Breakup Speech
On Tuesday, the United States and Russia officially broke up: President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia following their apparent involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. These sanctions come in conjunction with the European Union's latest sanctions, and with the combined clout of effectively half the world's economy, it seems that Russia will be feeling the effects. While Obama was careful to assure those present that this was not another Cold War, his speech certainly had a breakup ring to it that rivaled the goodbyes of Andi Dorfman.
This breakup, however, took "irreconcilable differences" to a whole new level. Obama began his remarks by noting that "Russia continues to support, train, and arm" separatist forces, even as the international community has called on Putin to stop. Citing major violations of Ukraine's sovereignty, Obama promised that Russia would have to pay by enduring "major" sanctions on its economy.
Oh, Russia, lamented Obama, it did not have to be this way! Obama sadly noted that these new sanctions, which are geared specifically toward Russia's energy, arms, and finance sectors, would be "setting back decades of genuine progress." In the 23 years since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia have indeed made enormous strides together, and their relationship, though rocky, seemed to be one worth rooting for.
But alas, that fire and passion that kept Russia and the U.S. on their toes has proven too much to handle, especially considering Russia's continued refusal to cooperate in negotiating peace in Ukraine. And while some couples may be able to agree to disagree, the U.S. and Russia simply cannot see eye to eye about Ukraine's "right to determine its own destiny." And as for America's destiny, it does not seem to include President Putin and Russia in the near future.
Despite high tensions, Obama maintained that the dispute "ought to be resolved diplomatically," the breakup equivalent of wanting to stay on speaking terms with the possibility of a reconciliation. But, Obama warned, "If Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow."
Clearly tired of not being taken seriously, and having complaints fall upon deaf ears, the U.S. has taken its threats of a breakup to a new level. Said Obama, "Today is a reminder that the U.S. means what it says." After all, how many times can you tell someone to seriously stop funding rebel forces before you just can't take it anymore?
And just in case Putin and his administration want to turn the tables on the Americans and fault Obama for the breakdown in communication, the president was quick to assure the world that this fallout was not his fault. Obama announced,
It didn't have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia and President (Vladimir) Putin in particular has made.
Knife, meet heart.
Sounding like a lover who has tired of broken vows, Obama said that there is "waning patience with nice words from President Putin." Though Putin vowed to "provide all necessary help to shed light on this criminal act," these seem more like empty promises than sincere efforts. After all, actions speak louder than words, and considering Putin's continued support for the separatists who are driving the violence, these are actions that won't be winning any praise anytime soon.
Obama also noted in his breakup, er, remarks, that while the international community can pressure Putin all it wants, meaningful change must be organic, and it must come from Russia. Like in any good breakup speech, the ultimatum isn't a real ultimatum until it has a call to action — one that is driven by our significant other's desire to just be better. Said Obama,
In the end we can’t make President Putin see more clearly, that’s something President Putin must do on his own.
And what is it exactly that Putin must see? According to Obama, it "involves recognizing the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the independence of the Ukrainian people," which up until now, Putin has consistently refused to do.
Please, President Putin, for the sake of your relationship, won't you reconsider?
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