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'You Have to Understand, George. Ukraine Is Not Even a Country'

03/17/2014 09:25 am ET | Updated May 16, 2014

Thus spake Vladimir Putin to the second George Bush, the man who once said that he had looked into Putin's eyes and decided he could work with him.

Perhaps the United States and the West did not fully comprehend how closely intertwined the histories of Russia and Ukraine are. Perhaps the spectacle of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt walking through the Maidan in Kiev with packets of bread for the anti-government demonstrators was not fully perceived in Washington for the provocative gesture that it was.

However mishandled the U.S. and the EU initiatives toward the Ukraine were, we should now look upon Putin's recent actions -- including and especially his abrogation of the 1994 Budapest Agreement, to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity -- as something beyond the pale. We should look into his eyes, so to speak, as did Robert Gates ("I had looked into Putin's eyes and saw a stone cold killer" ) -- and come to the conclusion that he is not a person whose word is to be trusted. He should be countered, whatever the ambiguities of Russia's relationship to the Crimea and the larger Ukraine are. There is no mending of the ways with him.