Now it has happened. Putin’s occupation of Crimea was virtually unchallenged. The world is laughing at Obama’s so called ‘sanctions’. While more sanctions from the EU and the US are still to come, what does this unchallenged occupation means for Japan?
On one hand Japan is a member of G7 and obviously G7 has to act in accord restraining Russia from any further military actions and imposing further sanctions as a punishment for for this occupation. But taking into account the PM Abe’s strategy of personal relationships with Putin, Japan should not act on its own accord and go any further imposing its own sanctions.
But what is more important is China. Following Syria fiasco the occupation of Crimea is an open challenge for Obama. And he is not up to this challenge. Obama’s America is weak. It does not matter whether it is really weak or not, the important thing is that almost everybody in the world thinks that America is weak. China certainly understands this as well.
Putin’s occupation of Crimea that nobody really expected may give China strange ideas that blitzkrieg-like invasion of the Senkaku islands and creation of fait accompli will not give the US any time to react and the weak America will not be taking any actions post-factum. This might as well be true. Japan must comprehend this situation very well. While Obama is in power should the Senkaku islands by any chance be occupied one way or another they are as good as lost. America will not fight for Japan and probably will not go any further than futile talk about some vague sanctions.
In addition, America now needs China to restrain and isolate Russia internationally. China abstained on UN resolution on Crimea and then clearly stated that it will not be supporting any sanctions against Russia. US will probably come to its senses in a couple of days realizing what has happened in Ukraine and that it could not do anything about it. The China’s help will be very handy.
For Japan this is all bad news. Defense of Senkaku islands should be reinforced immediately. Diplomatic efforts should be stepped up to make America realize that failure to protect its closest ally in Asia will mean the end of America as the only superpower in the world.
What is the most important, Japan needs the power to be able to protect itself. There will be all kinds of obstacles and ‘militaristic’ accusations, but those are to be ignored. I believe that Shinzo Abe understands all seriousness of the situation and will do the needful to protect Japan.
If Obama wants to really try and punish Putin, he should read an interesting article in the NY Times article “How to Punish Putin” by Alexei Navalny, who is Russian anti-corruption activist and opposition politician. However the time is lost now, and America’s credibility took yet another dip.