If Vladimir Putin had any misgivings about the consequences of invading Ukraine and taking the Crimea, the Obama foreign policy team gave Putin every reason to launch his invasion by soft-peddling the Ukraine crisis and publicly attacking U.S. climate scientists instead.
Nations signal their foreign policy priorities and resolve by choosing issues on which to focus and issues on which to tread lightly. As the Ukraine crisis escalated throughout the month of February and Russian military forces predictably prepared to invade the nation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose to launch a high-profile campaign of attacks against American climate scientists and essentially give the Kremlin a green light to invade Ukraine.
The Ukrainian people’s uprising against an oppressive government reached a climax on February 22 when the Ukrainian parliament voted 380-0 to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office for human rights violations and for failing to uphold Ukrainian national rights in the face of Russian aggression. As the crisis continued and Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Obama and Kerry said and did little other than make weak statements expressing “concern.” Simultaneously, however, the administration signaled it was keeping a laser focus on global warming politics. Indeed, less than a week before the Ukraine crisis reached its climax, Kerry went to Indonesia of all places to blast scientists in the United States and elsewhere for disagreeing with the Obama administration’s global warming views. Kerry blasted climate scientists for allegedly performing “shoddy science” and being “flat-earthers.” Then, implicitly pooh-poohing the looming threat of Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Kerry called global warming “the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction.”