ソ連がウクライナのクリミア半島への軍事介入が実質始まったようです。アメリカにとっては重大な出来事ですので、 The New York Timesの電子版も連日大きく取り上げています。今日「Making Russia Pay? It’s Not So Simple」という記事の中で「the $64,000 question」という表現に出会いました(下記の下線部)。

WASHINGTON — President Obama has warned Russia that “there will be costs” for a military intervention in Ukraine. But the United States has few palatable(受け入れられる) options for imposing such costs, and recent history has shown that when it considers its interests at stake(賭けられている), Russia has been willing to pay the price.

Even before President Vladimir V. Putin on Saturday publicly declared his intent to send Russian troops into the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, Mr. Obama and his team were already discussing how to respond. They talked about canceling the president’s trip to a summit meeting in Russia in June, shelving(棚上げする) a possible trade agreement, kicking Moscow out of the Group of 8 or moving American warships to the region.

That is the same menu of actions that was offered to President George W. Bush in 2008, when Russia went to war with Georgia, another balky former Soviet republic. Yet the costs imposed at that time proved only marginally effective and short-lived. Russia stopped its advance but nearly six years later has never fully lived up to the terms of the cease-fire it signed. And whatever penalty it paid at the time evidently has not deterred(思いとどまらせる) it from again muscling(力ずくで押す) a neighbor.

“The question is: Are those costs big enough to cause Russia not to take advantage of the situation in the Crimea? That’s the $64,000 question,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, a retired Army officer who served as defense attache in the American Embassy in Moscow and now, as a Harvard scholar, leads a group of former Russian and American officials in back-channel talks.

この「the $64,000 question」は「誰でも知っている例の$64,000の質問」という意味ですが、あるクイズ番組の最後の非常に難関な問題という意味から来ています。これに正解したら$64,000貰えるわけです。

どうも欧米諸国には、ソ連を思いとどまらせる有効な手段はないようです。また冷戦状態に戻るのでしょうか。