The juxtaposition of the uprisings in Kiev and the coverage of the Olympics from Sochi, Russia, took absurdity to a new level.

These games were, as many commentators have noted, meant to showcase the new Russia. Yet what did viewers see when they turned on the TV to watch the Olympics on Feb. 19? A group of young women being whipped by police, lost in their own bewilderment.

Any day now, I expect to look out over the coast of Maine and see AWACS shadowing Russian submarines, as I once did in San Diego when I was in the Navy. Incredibly, older “Cold War” strategies from the past seem to be playing out once again.

It is important to realize that Vladimir Putin is not Leonid Brezhnev and that Ukraine is not Czechoslovakia.

The United States needs to make a distinction between its disagreements with Putin and its support for progressive elements within Russia.

This means that when it comes to Ukraine that it should be painstaking in its support for new elections, but that it needs to keep the ideological pressure on Russian leadership to ensure that it does not meddle in the elections.

It also means that Russian leadership needs to be made aware of the fact that its own policies have exacerbated the current crisis, and that because of the religious dimension of the current crisis there, Russia risks far more if it continues to be perceived as attempting to exercise hegemony over Ukraine.

A measured, but relentless, ideological response by the United States can make a difference here, even while leaving the door open for cooperation on other important areas.

John C. Carney, Ph.D.

visiting professor of political science, University of New England

Kennebunkport