16:41 Mar. 31, 2016
Conference on the Hybrid Solutions for Security in the Black Sea Region took place in Odesa, on 24-25 March
U.S. President Barack Obama's refusal to militarily defend Ukraine against Russian aggression has sent a chill halfway around the world to Odesa, the Black Sea port only 200 kilometers by warship from Crimea.
In the April issue of The Atlantic, Obama says: "The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do."
This statement sounded like dangerous defeatism to many experts gathered here March 24-25 for the Odesa Security Forum, sponsored by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, the Odesa Regional Council, Ukraine Today, NATO Information and Documentation Center, and The Black Sea Trust Fund.
"Essentially, President Obama just took Ukraine and threw it under the Russian bus, along with Moldova and Georgia," said David J. Kramer, a former official in the George W. Bush administration and currently senior director for human rights and democracy at The McCain Institute.
From Georgia, Gela Bezhuashvili, a former defense and foreign minister, said: "It's a direct message from Obama: Ukraine is not in my direct interest, seize the momentum."
Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's former President and current governor of Odesa Region, shared similar concerns. "If Ukraine fails, Georgia can be wiped off the map," he warned.