Brent Scowcroft Center Program Assistant Robert Gramer writes for the Hill on why Europe and the United States are unlikely to respond to the crisis in Ukraine and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in a meaningful way:
The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine marks a tragic new chapter in the Ukraine crisis. Overwhelming evidence indicates pro-Russian separatists shot the plane down (though not shockingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine’s government). Hundreds of European Union and NATO citizens were killed in the crash. But neither the United States nor Europe is likely to respond to this tragedy with any meaningful action.
First, there is a lack of U.S. leadership. From the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, the United States demonstrated it was content “leading from behind” on foreign policy matters in Europe. After Russia annexed Crimea, the United States unleashed a barrage of vague warnings of further warnings of stern warnings. Unsurprisingly, halfhearted condemnation has yet to phase Putin. The most recent round of sanctions against Russia is a step in the right direction, but still a step too late. If Crimea’s invasion — a blatant act of war — didn’t provoke a strong U.S. response, this tragedy won’t either. In a statement after the crash, President Obama said he didn’t see any new military role for the United States “beyond what we’ve already been doing” with NATO. Former Secretary of State and presumptive 2016 presidential candidate Hilary Clinton reinforced this, saying it is up to European leaders to “take the lead” on handling this tragedy’s fallout.