• With: Matt Kaminski, Bret Stephens, Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel


    GIGOT: You reported when were over there that there were some of these Russians coming in. They were actually Russian citizens who had been brought in, bused in, to wave the flag and --


    KAMINSKI: Sure.

    GIGOT: -- they wanted secession.

    KAMINSKI: And the ones who were picking fights with people, the guy who raised the flag on the city hall in Harka (ph), which is the second- biggest city in Ukraine, was a Russian citizen who was from across the border in Russia itself.

    There is some support for Russia in these parts. There are definitely a lot of Russian speakers. They also watch Russian television.

    GIGOT: Right.

    KAMINSKI: But there was never a separatist problem in this part of Ukraine until a few weeks ago.

    GIGOT: Ukraine has now asked the United States for military aid. So far, not forthcoming. Would that make a difference militarily? I guess it would make some difference. But would it make a bigger psychological impact?

    KAMINSKI: I think it would be very important for the U.S. to show that the survival of Ukraine -- we're going to do everything that we can to make sure that this country gets to decide its own future. And the future it wants is to be a normal, free, transparent democratic place. Now, we should be providing the military with aid. If we don't provide aid -- and there are countries, allied countries in NATO that will. For example, Poland has a fairly sizable military. It's Ukraine's western neighbor. Also --


    GIGOT: And Poland is a member of NATO.

    KAMINSKI: Absolutely. So I think Poles will not stand by and let Ukraine be carved up anymore than it has been now.

    GIGOT: Now, you are a Russian speaker and you watched Russian television when you were over there. What does Russian television -- it's obviously controlled by the Kremlin substantially. But what does it say about Western Europe, about the Ukraine leadership, and about the United States?

    KAMINSKI: Russian TV is very slick. They really know how to do this very well. And Putin has very good political -- they call them technologists. But you have to understand that Russian television and now the Internet, radio, as well, has been pushing one message over and over again. The message is that the government in Kiev are fascists who want to oppress Russians. It says that what happened in Kiev was illegitimate.

    GIGOT: And a coup.

    KAMINSKI: Was a coup, but it was done by the U.S. and Europe, and that Russia is being welcomed with open arms in Crimea, but also in eastern Ukraine because there is a real threat to Russians there.

    GIGOT: What is the message about the United States briefly?

    KAMINSKI: It's basically this is all the U.S.'s fault, that we are -- that Russia is in a -- is competing with the U.S. for control of Ukraine and Ukraine is our brother and we can't let it go.

    GIGOT: It's a nationalist message.

    KAMINSKI: Very nationalist, but creating a kind of reality in a does not exist on the ground in Ukraine, which is actually a fairly nice place these days and very tolerant and multi-ethnic, multi-lingual. But in Russian minds, it is preparing them, I think, for more conflict and possibly a major war.

    GIGOT: All right. Thanks so much, Matt.

    When we come back, the Ukraine crisis and growing global disorder. Is Russia's new aggression the price of failed American leadership?



    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: President Obama wanted me to come personally to make it clear what you already know, that under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, we will respond. We will respond to any aggression against a NATO ally.


    GIGOT: Vice President Joe Biden in Lithuania this week reassuring our eastern European allies that the United States stands with them in the face of Russian aggression. So just how confident should they be?

    We're back with Matt Kaminski. Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stevens, also joins us.

    So, Bret, let's step back a bit, kind of bigger picture. How significant an event for European security and American security is this territorial acquisition, the first since I think the end of World War II by Vladimir Putin?

    BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: It's the most significant since 1991 since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Far more significant than the very bloody events in the Balkans in the 1990s when Yugoslavia was breaking up into several pieces.

    GIGOT: Why?

    STEPHENS: Because this is a great power confrontation. This is not a question of small, out-of-the-way countries with insubstantial armies killing one another. This is the revival of Russia as a major power trying to make a play in a strategically vital region of the world. The Crimea is Russia's -- historically, its access to warm-water ports. There's a great deal of oil in the Black Sea. And it raises very significant issue, which Joe Biden alluded to, about other post-Soviet states like the Baltic States --

    GIGOT: Right.

    STEPHEN: like the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia --


    STEPHENS: -- now members of NATO and which we are obliged to defend.

    GIGOT: What do you think Putin's goal is?

    STEPHENS: Putin's ultimate goal is to reconstitute as much of the old Soviet Union as he can, minus state planning of the economy and all of the encumbrances of Communism. Putin is -- sees himself as a new Russian czar with designs on the European continent as a major Eurasian player. And whether we stop him now or forcefully counteract what he's done is going to have an affect going forward, not for year, but for decades, Paul.