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Posted on Mar 17, 2014 in War College

FLASHPOINTS: Crisis in Crimea and Ukraine, the Limitations of ‘Soft Power’

FLASHPOINTS: Crisis in Crimea and Ukraine, the Limitations of ‘Soft Power’

By John Antal

The region of the Crimea and Ukraine continue to dominate John Antal’s FLASHPOINTS this week, as he explores “The Limitations of ‘Soft Power.'”
Click here to download the pdf from Armchair General‘s FLASHPOINTS page

John Antal has frequently authored articles for Armchair General, including “Wars Without End: the Challenge of ‘Arab Spring'” and “Flashpoint Gaza Analysis.” He has authored or co-authored numerous books. His latest is 7 Leadership Lessons of the American Revolution: The Founding Fathers, Liberty, and the Struggle for Independence. Read Armchair General‘s exclusive interview, “7 Questions for John Antal on ‘7 Leadership Lessons of the American Revolution.’


Get your alert as each new FLASHPOINTS is published on Armchair General! Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Get our RSS (the orange-colored icon on the left side of the page). In addition to Col. Antal’s FLASHPOINTS, you’ll receive notice when we post monthly articles by Carlo D’Este and Peter Suciu and our Tactics 101 series, as well as articles by other writers including Ralph Peters and Lt. Col. (ret) Jeffrey Paulding.


  1. Everyone agrees that there will be no western military intervention in Ukraine. That said, what is left? Soft power. Russia is not in a good economic position. It’s stock market has tanked in recent days. It is going to take some intestinal fortitude by Germany and other EU nations to follow this through since they will have to bear a reduced level of oil and gas imports from Russia. The US and EU must use all means necessary to squeeze Russia economically. Put pressure on infuential(read:rich) Russians that might help put pressure on Putin. He needs to find a way to back off from this that allows him to save face. This is a very touchy situation with parallels to Japan prior to WW2, when an oil embargo made them feel that a war was the only option to fulfill their needs. The US must support any EU moves, but I think the EU must take the lead here with decisive sanctions that make cause them some economic hardship in the short run but must be done for long term security.One move could be to grant some of these ‘at risk’ nations entry into NATO. Putin and Russia have shown a propensity to go after non-NATO nations, but an extreme reluctance to interfere with NATO affiliates.

  2. In Mr. Antal’s 17 March 2014 Flashpoint he states that with the reacquisition of Crimea “Russia will require a land route to Crimea”. And this will require Russia to move into eastern Ukraine to gain access to the Perekop Isthimus.

    I guess John has never heard of ships and airplanes. If you envision Crimea as an island, then the absurdity of John’s analysis should become instantly apparent. The United States doesn’t require a land route to Hawaii, does it John?

    This is amateur hour geopolitical analysis.