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The U.S. should speak softly on Ukraine [Letter]

Regarding your reader who expressed disappointment over President Obama's lack of "engagement" in Ukraine, America must not forget the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came as close to Armageddon as hopefully we will ever get ("Obama must not abandon Ukraine's democrats," Feb. 24).

The primary reason for that crisis was the U.S.' refusal to tolerate under any circumstances Soviet military influence in a region we considered our own. We justified this by citing the 200-year-old Monroe Doctrine.

While I carry no brief for either Russian President Vladimir Putin nor ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose incompetence was only exceeded by his venality, we must consider how Russia reacts to an existential threat, regardless whether we see it that way.

Russians are keenly aware they have been invaded through Ukraine several times. Certainly their streak of Slavic paranoia and geopolitical grandiosity does not have to be appeased, but if the West were as belligerent as Putin and Company, the Russians' wildest fears would become real.

Corner a bear and you'll get a fearful bear, which is even worse than an angry one. The West has diplomatic, trade, economic and financial means to dissuade Russian foolishness. Furthermore, the arc of history is at work. Ukraine is another stage in the death throes of the former Soviet Union and a harbinger of where the Russian people will be in time.

Revolutions come when ordinary people simply have had enough of corrupt governance. We should let this play out in the region by supporting the Europeans but remaining aware of how we in America would feel if Mexico or Canada were coming apart as Russia loudly demonized the U.S.

Teddy Roosevelt had it right: Soft voice, big stick.

Laurence Eubank

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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