International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Boehner and Bipartisan Coalition Pressure Obama to Act on Ukraine

In light of the continuing tumult in Ukraine, House Speaker Boehner and a bipartisan coalition from Congress have been increasingly pressuring Obama to provide Ukrainians with weapons to defend themselves in their conflict with separatists sympathetic to and supported by Russia. The group wrote a letter to Obama this past thursday, calling Russia’s behavior not only an attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine, but also a “grotesque violation of international law, a challenge to the West and an assault on the international order established at such great cost in the wake of World War II.” According to the group, more arms support is needed from the U.S., because the Minsk agreements which led to the so-called cease fire have failed to do much.

Vice President Joe Biden called Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyku Thursday, expressing concern that the cease-fire is failing to stop separatists from attacking Ukrainians. Both Biden and Yatsenyku, according to the White House, are worried that international monitors, which were agreed to in the Minsk agreements, will not be allowed to enter into Ukrainian territory. If the cease-fire continues to be violated, Obama and European leaders will likely increase the sanctions that they already have on Russia.

While U.S. lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to give more military support to Ukraine, many European governments oppose the move out of concern that it will cause a bigger proxy war.

Will Obama heed to the demands of a bipartisan coalition of Congressmen and send arms to Ukraine, or will he listen to European governments that fear that this will only compound the problem? Again, it is interesting here to see U.S. leaders calling for adherence to international law among other nations, yet itself still not signing onto the Rome Statute. Furthermore, what are the chances that this case will get referred to the ICC if the problems keep raging on? While Russia will certainly not vote for a UNSC referral, what about the other major powers? Have they had enough with Russia’s antics, or will they continue to proceed cautiously?

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2 responses to “Boehner and Bipartisan Coalition Pressure Obama to Act on Ukraine

  1. tlunn March 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    It seems as if the west and all major powers will continue to treat this issue cautiously. From a US perspective, I think that there is much concern about what happened in Afghanistan in the 1980s happening again – that is, the US supplying arms to rebel groups that would then use them against the US. Furthermore, it seems as if it is in no one’s best interest to anger Russia. This is not to say that nothing should be done. The ICC is very unlikely to open a case unless it is proprio motu (which, again, is very unlikely). This is especially because the international legal aspects in the case as far as separating from Ukraine are so ambiguous, as is the situation as a whole. As far as domestic policy is concerned, Obama himself is more likely to stick by his European allies than to cede to Congressional Republicans who have been very much on his case recently. Any action or inaction by the Obama administration is definitely going to be effected by bother international and domestic affairs.

    • CRuj March 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      The US needs to tread carefully with this situation. I agree with Tommy. While I agree that there should be some action to help the Ukrainians, the pressure to act quickly, especially in the form of providing arms, is hasty and could cause serious repercussions. The group that has been pressuring Obama to provide Ukrainians with weapons to defend themselves overlooks the greater implications that this could cause between Russia and the US’s relationship.

      If Obama caved the US would be providing arms to the Ukrainians for their conflict with Russia. Congress is calling for the US to give more military support to the Ukraine, but European governments oppose because this could cause a bigger proxy war. Given the history between the US and Russia it is safe to say that if tensions arise, it would create a larger problem.

      At the current moment, Obama has yet to take any action. It is likely though that if the terms of the cease-fire are continued to be broken, there will be an increase in sanctions on Russia. It is unlikely that Obama will succumb to domestic pressures given the state of US domestic politics. (Since the Republicans won the majority in Congress, Obama has been under constant critiques and constraints.) Obama is right to hesitate on this issue, as the US’s history in international intervention usually leads to greater conflicts for the US. The US has a history of supplying arms to other nations and it backfiring. If the US supplies arms to the Ukrainians, it is a political move against the Russians.

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