STATE DEPARTMENT— The Obama administration says sanctions against those backing separatists in eastern Ukraine are having an impact on the Russian economy, but the coming change of legislative power in Washington may affect U.S. policy toward the crisis.
Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-backed separatists are looking for more help from Europe and the United States at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin may see President Barack Obama as weakened by electoral losses, the Atlantic Council’s Robert Manning said.
“We know, for example in the Ukraine, Putin looks like he is trying to strengthen his position in eastern Ukraine and break away Donetsk from the rest of the country, and he might be more encouraged to do that,” Manning said.
Putin faced little criticism on Ukraine at a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Beijing, in part because of what former Putin adviser Andrei Illarianov, now a research fellow at the Cato Institute, called a “tactical pause” in the Russian offensive.
“This is partly the result of elections in the U.S. Congress and partly connected to Putin’s visit to Asia," he said. "It was probably a decision that escalating the conflict would create a bad atmosphere during Putin’s meetings with international leaders. But then after this visit, we will see an escalation.”
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is in line to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been pushing Obama to take a harder line against Moscow. This could help the president, said Keith Darden, an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington.
"In some ways, it increases President Obama’s leverage in his negotiations with the Russians, to the extent that those exist, because basically there is always a threat that Congress is going to act on its own,” Darden said.
Eric Rubin, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said there is broad, bipartisan support for how to move forward on Ukraine.
“The key question is does Ukraine need help rebuilding its military and its national security infrastructure," Rubin said. "The answer is yes. And are we committed to helping them? Yes, we are, very publicly. There has been a significant amount of assistance. There will be more. The question is what, and that is the debate that is going on now.”
In that debate, the installation of new leaders in Ukraine’s breakaway regions could help fuel a Republican drive for stronger U.S. action, including sending weapons.
“If Congress gets involved," Darden said, "not only is it probably going to be more severe, including military aid and maybe some economic aid, it might be more significant sanctions on Russia, and they are much harder to undo.”
Prospects for tougher sanctions will be part of European Union talks in Brussels on Monday, said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“There will be a discussion there," Mogherini said, "but I would say not just on whether to increase the sanctions but most of all how to support Ukraine in these difficult times — difficult because of security on its territory.”
That security is threatened by troop movements along the Russian border, which German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warns could lead to violent confrontations.
1.tactical adj. 战术的；策略的；善于策略的
It's not yet clear whether his resignation offer is a serious one, or whether it's simply a tactical move.
2.installation n. 安装，装置；就职
The building was turned into a secret military installation.
3.breakaway n. 分离；脱逃
A breakaway faction of the rebel group has claimed responsibility for the killing.
4.leverage n. 手段，影响力；杠杆作用；杠杆效率 v. 利用；举债经营
His position as mayor gives him leverage to get things done.
1.because basically there is always a threat that Congress is going to act on its own,
act on one's own 自主 ; 按照自己的意愿行事
To Josh, checking with his wife would mean he was not free to act on his own.
To act on my own to practice volunteer spirit, dedicate my love to the society and those in need of help;
“关键问题是，乌克兰是否需要帮助重建其军队和国家安全基础设施，答案是确定的。那么我们会努力帮助他们吗？是的，我们公开支持他们 。我们已经提供了巨大的帮助了，但未来还会帮助更多 。问题是如何帮助，这就是我们准备辩论的话题 。”