Our government is wasting its time in trying to negotiate a Ukraine settlement with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. His standing with the Russian people has never been higher.

Why would he throw a 70 percent favorable rating away to pacify the United States and the Western European bloc? He is standing tall and wants to continue his strong-arm tactics becauses it pleases the Russian people.

It also directs attention away from the problems at home. The Russian economy is not that strong, there is widespread corruption in the government and unrest in some areas. There also have been protests generally based on freedoms that the Russians now are denied. It’s a police state.

The Ukraine crisis is exactly what Putin wants. It is serving his purpose of creating a nationalistic furor among the Russian people. The breakup of the Soviet Union was damaging to the pride of the Russian leaders and the people. The Russians who were left behind in the countries that broke away from the old Soviet Union have given Putin an excuse to unite them in a new federation. Ukraine is first in line.

What Putin has done has united the Russian people at this time even though this unity is destined to fail in the long run. Tighter economic sanctions are the only answer to make Putin back down from his land grabs. The Russian bear must be made to choke on tough economic sanctions. Putin doesn’t want a war he knows Russia couldn’t win. He’s bluffing. We can call that bluff by really imposing tough sanctions.