In response to the ongoing conflicts in Crimea, a bi-partisan coalition of U.S. Representatives recently introduced a strongly worded resolution, condemning Russia for its aggressive military actions in the Ukraine. Republicans and Democrats alike joined together to chastise Russia for its “unprovoked military operation” in the border region, citing President Vladimir Putin’s “history of bullying neighboring countries” and demanding “the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces.”
Strong words, indeed. But if this resolution passes, you might ask, what will it accomplish?
The answer: not much.
In 2012, there was a similar resolution put forth calling for a swift end to the war in Afghanistan. Here we are, 16 months later, and our troops are still there, in harm’s way. Since that resolution was passed in late November 2012 to “bring our warriors home,” an additional 154 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in the conflict in Afghanistan.
Resolutions like the one put forth last week are the go-to show of force for stymied politicians eager to impress their constituents. Putting their names on a hastily-drafted resolution affords them the appearance of taking strong, decisive action in the face of Russian aggression—all from the safety and comfort of their legislative chambers in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, on the same day the resolution was announced, a U.N. envoy assigned to assist in cooling tensions in the region was ordered to leave Crimea by a threatening band of armed insurgents, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was involved in intense diplomatic negotiations with Russian officials in Paris, trying to find a peaceful end to the conflict. They continue to be at the forefront of the crisis, working to achieve a measure of balance in a highly unstable situation.
The situation in Crimea remains dire. Ask anyone who has been monitoring the situation, and regardless of their political affiliation, they agree that it is time for the United States and other global leaders to take real, meaningful action in response to this crisis. While the bi-partisan resolution introduced last week does urge President Obama to impose sanctions against Russia, in the short term, it is little more than a good excuse for politicians to book themselves some face time on the local 24-hour news channel circuit, trumpeting a piece of paper that ultimately does nothing to actually resolve tensions in the Ukraine.
Defying both the Congressional resolution and President Obama’s executive order calling for visa restrictions last week, Russia continued its efforts to split the Crimea region from the Ukraine with a secession vote scheduled for Sunday, March 16—a complete turnabout from assurances given by Putin earlier this month that Russia would not seek to annex Crimea. Clearly the resolution had no impact, and the situation is worsening. What do you think the U.S. should do next?