Florida editorial roundup

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Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

March 3

Miami Herald on Putin’s aggression:

Russia’s invasion and occupation of a region in Ukraine demand a unified and robust response from the United States and its allies that imposes serious penalties on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. The West must deliver a message that deters further hostile moves by Russia’s military.

Forget the exhortations of armchair strategists who would take American military forces to DEFCON 1 combat status immediately. Russian forces cannot be dislodged at this point without raising the stakes to the level of a possible showdown between nuclear powers. No one wants that.

Forget, as well, the lame excuses of apologists who say Mr. Putin’s action was necessary to protect Russia’s vital national interest in an area of strategic importance to his country. That’s bogus.

Ukraine is a sovereign country that has rejected the Russian bear’s embrace in no uncertain terms. Its people have been demonstrating since November against the puppet government of the pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, forcing him to flee when he realized his situation was untenable.

His flight exposed the failure of Russian policy in the Ukraine, an embarrassment that the Kremlin’s leaders apparently found intolerable.

If Russia has a complaint about the treatment of the Russian-speaking majority among the Crimea’s 2 million residents - or any other issue with Ukraine, for that matter - there are ways to resolve the problem short of a full-scale military takeover.

President Obama raised the possibility of using U.N. peacekeepers to protect ethnic Russians in the Crimea if it became necessary, but Mr. Putin decided that a show of force would satisfy his personal needs and Russia’s interests much better, regardless of the cost.

The response from the United States and its allies should be twofold: Help Ukraine’s fragile new government create a stable economy and impose significant sanctions on Russia.

President Obama’s first task is to persuade European allies to present a united front, along with the United States, to get Russia’s attention.

The economic and diplomatic sanctions should be quickly forthcoming, including targeting Mr. Putin’s friends in Russia’s new economic elite and refusing to do business as usual in international forums until a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis is found.

Aggression unanswered is aggression encouraged. That’s reason enough to move swiftly.

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