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Sound the Alarm

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays over the last two weeks. It looks like spring has finally sprung here in the Northeast, after our late taste of winter last week with 30 degree temperatures and a bit of snow.

Since my last posting, I've been reading about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly as it relates to Crimea, and the U.S. policy in dealing with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Now I'm not an international scholar, nor am I a foreign policy expert. I sometimes dabble in political commentary in this column and very rarely, if ever, write about religion. With that said, some of the things going on in Ukraine have been alarming.

First let me say this. It seems that Mr. Putin is hell-bent on taking Russia back to the era of the Soviet Union, rekindling the Cold War and undoing everything accomplished by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in tearing down that wall and ending the Cold War. Putin appears determined to take mother Russia back to the good old days of isolation, despite the benefits that he and his oligarchic cronies have seen since the wall came down 25 years ago.

It seems Putin is not at all fazed by threats of retaliation or sanctions imposed by the Obama administration since his march into Crimea in February. With all the natural resources the Russians have been able to monetize and the wealth they have amassed in the post-Cold War era, and with trading partners willing to keep doing "business as usual" with them despite the U.S.-led sanctions and political and economic isolation, it appears Putin is on a mission, no matter what we think on this side of the globe.

But it's not only what I see as Putin's agenda to resurrect the Soviet Union that scares me. What is most alarming to me is the shocking demand that surfaced last week in the break-away eastern region of the country that Ukraine Jews register with the government or face expulsion and loss of their assets. Not being one to take things at face value, I can only imagine the real reason for this appalling campaign, during the Passover holiday, no less. It's ominously reminiscent of another former dictator who in the late 1930's and early 1940's rounded up and systematically murdered 6,000,000 Jews along with other ethnic peoples.

Now, I'm not sure what Putin's actual agenda is, or whether he fashions himself as a modern day Stalin, Lenin, Hitler or a combination of the three, but I think that sanctions and isolation may not work. Hopefully we will not find out later that registration of Jews in the Ukraine was just the first step in something much more diabolical. I hope Washington has this one covered.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

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