While the Obama administration issued stern words condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Bloomberg News reveals that behind the scenes Obama actually helped thwart efforts to fight off the Russian strongman.

“As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces took over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in early 2014, the interim Ukrainian government was debating whether or not to fight back against the ‘little green men’ Russia had deployed,” writes Bloomberg national security reporters Josh Rogin and Eli Lake.

“But the message from the Barack Obama administration was clear: avoid military confrontation with Moscow,” Rogin and Lake reveal.

As with most Obama foreign policy adventures, it was a disaster.

“Looking back today, many experts and officials point to the decision not to stand and fight in Crimea as the beginning of a Ukraine policy based on the assumption that avoiding conflict with Moscow would temper Putin’s aggression. But that was a miscalculation,” they write.

“Almost two years later, Crimea is all but forgotten, Russian-backed separatist forces are in control of two large Ukrainian provinces, and the shaky cease-fire between the two sides is in danger of collapsing,” they write.

Obama’s declaration doomed Ukraine, and was a windfall for Putin.

“There was a debate inside the Kiev government as well. Some argued the nation should scramble its forces to Crimea to respond. As part of that process, the Ukrainian government asked Washington what military support the U.S. would provide. Without quick and substantial American assistance, Ukrainians knew, a military operation to defend Crimea could not have had much chance for success,” Rogin and Lake write.

And Obama’s national security team once again underestimated Putin.

“When Russian special operations forces, military units and intelligence officers seized Crimea, it surprised the U.S. government,” they write. “Intelligence analysts had briefed Congress 24 hours before the stealth invasion, saying the Russian troop buildup on Ukraine’s border was a bluff.”

Despite his past failures to assess Putin’s strength and aggression, Obama still refuses to consider Putin a threat to the region, Rogin and Lake report.

“The Obama administration, led on this issue by Kerry, is still pursuing a reboot of U.S.-Russia relations. After a long period of coolness, Kerry’s visit to Putin in Sochi in May was the start of a broad effort to seek U.S.-Russian cooperation on a range of issues including the Syrian civil war. For the White House, the Ukraine crisis is one problem in a broader strategic relationship between two world powers.”