Russian Tsar ["President", surely! Ed.] Vladimir Putin called US President ["Tsar", surely! Ed.] on the phone yesterday. What do you suppose he said?
a) "Can you hold off the sanctions for six weeks? I was going to take the kids to Disneyland."
b) "Your hockey team couldn't beat the Canadians either!"
c) "Just ignore the troops camping on the Ukrainian border. We're not going there... at the moment..."
The correct answer is "C". The Not-so-white-anymore House released a statement that said, "President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path... with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. [He] made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."
We were not told how Mr. Putin replied. Perhaps a snort of derision wasn't caught on the CIA's sensitive recording devices. In any case, the two leaders [one and a half? Ed.] agreed that their foreign ministers would meet soon to discuss the next steps.
For what it's worth, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country has no intention of sending troops into Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Skerry has said he hopes not, since any invasion would kind of... like... you know... oblige the US to do something to avoid losing the few shreds of credibility it has on the world stage.
The jaw that walks like a man is pushing a plan under which Russia would halt its military build-up on the border with Ukraine -- see (C) above" -- and withdraw its troops to its bases in Crimea.
Oh yeah, "international monitors" would be sent into the area too, "to protect the rights of Russian speakers". No mention was made of the rights of Ukrainians! The Kremlin version of yesterday's phone call says Mr. Putin drew Mr. Obama's attention to "the continued rampage of extremists" in Kiev and various regions of Ukraine. All is quiet in the Crimea, of course!
To sum up, Russia has occupied and annexed the Crimea -- a part of Ukraine for the last six decades -- with no casualties and barely a shot fired. And the Western "powers" have been unable to do a bloody (or unbloody) thing about it. Walt hopes that Mr. Putin will be satisfied that he's proven he's da man, and "The Leader of the Free World" isn't.