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The Road to Slovyansk

TOKYO – The Ukraine crisis has demonstrated that one person alone can endanger world peace. But that one person might not be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in reality only leads a large regional power that, owing to his authoritarian rule and muddled economics, is a long-term threat more to itself than to the world. No, the lone actor most responsible for threatening world peace might unwittingly be US President Barack Obama, with his scholarly inertia and apparent disregard for the fate of smaller, faraway countries.

Of course, Obama is not responsible for Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, or for Putin’s massing of Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border in an effort to intimidate the government in Kyiv. Nor is Obama alone in crafting a Western policy of appeasement by default. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also bears considerable responsibility: Her tough rhetoric masks a largely business-as-usual approach that reflects her country’s dependence on Russian gas supplies.