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Letter: U.S. ignoring Russian self-interest

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 24, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY

The editorial "Putin must pay for aggression" [March 18] ignored certain essential facts and their consequences.

What right does the United States have to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease taking control of Crimea under penalty of economic sanctions? We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan -- as well as Granada, Vietnam and Korea -- and have been accused of involvement in promoting the overthrow of the government of Ukraine. What moral authority do we have to insist that Putin back down?

In 1962, when John Kennedy was president, we had every right to demand the USSR back down when it provided nuclear missiles to Cuba, because Cuba is a next-door neighbor. The threat to our country had to be stopped. Crimea is next door to Russia; and Russia has the same self-protective rights we exercised in relationship to Cuba.

All reports indicate that there are significant military installations in Crimea. How can Russia be blamed for taking control of Crimea when the Ukrainian government itself proved to be unstable?

Putin will ignore empty threats, no matter how politically necessary President Barack Obama finds it to act tough. Putin will counter our financial sanctions with economic strategies of his own, such as cutting the price of Russian oil to European countries at a price well below those of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Robert Shorin, Syosset