- Diplomatic hell broke out this weekend when the citizens of Crimea, the southwestern region of Ukraine at the center of a standoff between Russia and the West, voted to secede and join Russia. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally reclaimed Crimea and gave a speech which The New York Times characterized as "emotional": “'Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,' Mr. Putin declared in his address, delivered in the chandeliered St. George’s Hall inside the Kremlin before hundreds of members of Parliament, governors and others. His remarks, which lasted 47 minutes, were interrupted repeatedly by thunderous applause, standing ovations and at the end chants of 'Russia, Russia.' Some in the audience wiped tears from their eyes."
- Needless to say, U.S. politicians are not amused by Putin's antics.
- Speaking from Poland on his solidarity tour of NATO allies, Vice President Joe Biden called the move "nothing more than a land grab" by the Russian leader.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called on congressional committees to find ways to punish Russia for its actions, writing in an emailed statement, "We should also assess what support we can give to Ukraine’s energy production and to increase our own exports to weaken Russia’s stranglehold, and put long-term pressure on their economy.”
- Yesterday, President Obama officially sanctioned 11 of Putin's closest allies (though not the Russian leader himself, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made it clear that was not out of the realm of possibility).
- Top U.S. officials expect to be sanctioned in kind, and they're wearing it as a badge of honor. Senator John McCain, who traveled to Ukraine last week, told The Daily Beast, “You think I’m not going to be on it? I would be honored to be on that list.” Senator Dick Durbin, who has been vocal in his criticism of Russian actions, said, "My Lithuanian-born mother would be proud her son made Vladimir Putin’s American enemies list."
- While McCain might be happy to see himself on Putin's official "bad guys" list, he's not so thrilled with President Obama's handling of the crisis, taking to the pages of The New York Times to voice his displeasure: "In a broader sense, Crimea has exposed the disturbing lack of realism that has characterized our foreign policy under President Obama. It is this worldview, or lack of one, that must change."
- Mitt Romney (remember that guy?!) wrote basically the same thing at The Wall Street Journal.
- Given the retro turn geopolitics have taken of late, we suppose it's only appropriate that the new Muppett Movie features a Russian villain.
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