How to understand Putin's Ukraine strategy
March 1st, 2014
08:57 PM ET

How to understand Putin's Ukraine strategy

By Leon Aron, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Leon Aron is resident scholar and director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.

To understand what motivates Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukrainian crisis and how he will proceed, we have to recall two key things about his strategy and his tactics.

First, Russian foreign policy – whether under Brezhnev, Yeltsin, Putin or anyone after him – is informed by three imperatives: Russia as a nuclear superpower, Russia as the world’s great power, and Russia as the central power in the post-Soviet geopolitical space. And a power that is political, economic, cultural, diplomatic and most certainly military.

What differs from one Russian political regime to another is interpretation and implementation, that is, the policies that support these objectives.  Putin’s have been far more assertive and at times riskier than those of his predecessors. The nuclear “superpowership” has been translated into a vehement opposition to missile defense in Europe.  Russia as a great power has been defined largely in opposition to the U.S. and the West in general. And the centrality of Russia in the post-Soviet space has been re-interpreted as dominance and hegemony.

Ukraine’s European breakout – caused by Putin’s first major political blunder in openly and heavy handedly betting on ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and thus escalating the issue from corruption and thievery to Ukraine’s sovereignty – is hugely important to Putin’s Russia. Why? Because it has dealt a very heavy, perhaps fatal, blow to not one but two elements of the Russian geostrategic triad as defined by Putin: to the "great power" pillar (the West has won in the Ukraine!), and to Russia's hegemony in the post-Soviet space.

From Moscow’s point of view, the double whammy must be mitigated – or better yet reversed – before the consequences become irrevocable and the geopolitical map of Eurasia permanently redrawn.  As a result, for as long as the eye can see, containment, de-stabilization and, if possible, derailment of the Europe-bound Ukraine will be by far the most important objective of Russian foreign (as well domestic) policy.

As to the tactics, in his effectively 14 years in power, Putin has been very lucky both in his domestic and foreign endeavors, in part because of objective factors (when he took over as acting president in 1999, a barrel of crude averaged around $17 a barrel) and in large measure because his opponents, at home and abroad, were politically or economically handicapped.

As a result, Putin has trusted his luck and his smarts while counting on his opponents' weaknesses. This means he has operated in accordance with Napoleon’s principle: On s’engage and puis on voit, which I would translate as “First get into a fight, and then decides what to do."

And that is how he has proceeded thus far,  gradually escalating the pressure on Ukraine, seeing what works and what does not, pausing and looking over his shoulder at the response from the West, primarily the U.S.  From the expression of concern for the safety of ethnic Russians in Ukraine (which proved ineffective), to the questioning of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government, to the introduction of forces in the Crimea, to his “request” to the Federation Council of the Russian parliament for the “use” of troops in Ukraine. In accordance with his tactical habits, Putin will likely stop now and assess the reaction.  A full-scale invasion and occupation of Crimea is therefore likely to be next – unless the response from the “West” proves effective.

What will that response be? We know (and so surely does Putin) that the U.S. is not going to go to war over Ukraine.  Yet even with the military option off the table, the U.S. still has quite a few diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal, to be deployed publicly and, most crucially, privately.

The U.S. and its allies also must keep in mind that most, if not all, of these measures are aimed not only at Putin but at the elites around him and at the Russian public at large. Dominant though he is, Putin is not Stalin or Brezhnev. Russia is not the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain is gone – the internet exists and public opinion matters.

The West’s steps are not difficult to divine. To begin, in the public domain, separate statements and phone calls to Putin by U.S. allies would be replaced by a joint statement from the heads of state of NATO and EU countries warning about the “consequences” of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Such a statement should stress that Russia risks isolating itself from the world – economically, politically, culturally – with disastrous results for the people of the Russian Federation.

These “consequences” may have been spelled out in President Obama’s private call to Putin (with an understanding that what is private today may become public tomorrow). Ideally, the conversation would have been one in which the American president was speaking not only for the U.S., but also for NATO and the EU. The president is likely to have pointed out that the risks would involve Russia's membership in the G-8, the safety of financial and other assets of the Russian elite which are located outside of Russia, as well as the ability of the members of this elite and their families to visit, live or study in the U.S. and the EU. In addition, Moscow's behavior could trigger new export controls, which given its dependence on Western technology, particularly in the oil and gas sector as well as in the food industry, could have a very negative impact on the Russian economy.​

Alongside these measures, the U.S. and its allies might also provide – publicly and in private – a few face-saving devices for Russia, such as guarantees that the Russian-speaking Ukrainians will be free from harassment or discrimination of any kind; an introduction of U.N.  peacemaking forces in Crimea to protect the political rights of all  Crimeans, and the reaffirmation of the pre-existing “special status” of Crimea within Ukraine, as well as the continuation of the pre-existing Russian sovereignty of the leased naval base in Sevastopol.

Given the size of the hole that the Ukrainian revolution has torn in the fabric of Russia’s geopolitics, these measures may not stop Russia from attempting to reverse the crisis. But they will certainly convey the increasing costs of the course in which the Kremlin seems to be embarking, and possibly provide a way out without losing face.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. John

    Much to often, the voices of moderation that occupy the middle ground, yearning for compassionate compromise, go unheard, or out of fear, unspoken. The world yearns for all its inhabitants to embrace freedom not as just a concept, but a way of living. How much war can civilization take? In the final analysis I believe that it is war that has peace locked in a cage occasionally throwing it a scrap of hope. Peace should rather have war locked in a cage occasionally reminding it to look back at so much misery from so many poor choices made by so few.

    March 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm | Reply
    • Ivan Venke

      there is no war John
      ukrainers are our brothers and sisters. but the power in KIew goes against the law. Moreover nationalists threthen russians – that's why russian forses are there.

      March 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Reply
      • John

        Thanks Ivan, that was a general statement on war and the threat of war either real or implied. So much talk of war, possible wars etc... has in my opinion our world in a state of needless anxiety which comes from fear. I try to keep it philosophical/social as opposed to political/social, being a non player in this latest crisis. I am invested as a old man who grew up in the "duck and cover" generation of the 50-60's. We were scared then as kids. It's the children that I worry for the most. The word peace has been bounced around for years. I wish us all peace in our days.

        March 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
  2. David

    This is ridiculous. As Dr Paul Craig Roberts (ex secretary of state) says the US is being led by a pack of criminals. The hypocrisy of the US to say stay out of the Ukraine when they have gone into Afghanistan and other countries. Put it this way, if American interests were at stake in another part of the world do you think they would take a wait and see approach and do nothing. Russia is exercising its right ! Get real people. There is a destabilisation compaign going on by the West and the end goal is strategic in nature including military positioning and RESOURCE control. America has gone to far. They are poking their nose into everyone's business and now the US is on the back foot and getting aggressive. Sorry to say but the US is on its way out. China is the new boy on the block and now that this has happened you can guarantee Russia and China will form a stronger pact. Good night USA.

    March 2, 2014 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • Guest

      At a time when the United States start wars and revolutions in many countries on different continents, impose their policies, the idea of religion – democracy. Russia criticized for otstavivaniya interests of its people, and its sister territories. For failing to condemn the Nazis, for fighting with them. U.S. paid for and arranged everything as it was in Egypt, Libya, Syria and others.Paid for death and split the territory. Promote and impose their rule over the world, their thoughts. USA – aggressive country, the main problem of the world. Huge taxes paid by residents spend on war and revolution on wrecking gosudarsv and assisting terrorists.

      March 3, 2014 at 1:13 am | Reply
    • yurybakharev

      Jason Miks, very funny, what you write! Rulers and bankers in the U.S., realize that their economy is heading into the pit! Very Big allocated money on production of new resources (in this case, the population of Ukraine). People in the west of Ukraine is not so smart, they have neither the production nor the scientific research and development so they are easily fed zombies that applies NATO. U.S. colonized almost all of Europe. Russia will not allow someone to dictate their own rules!

      March 3, 2014 at 1:27 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      Well said David. 100% right.

      March 3, 2014 at 3:02 am | Reply
      • Niklas

        Not 100%. "Russia is exercising its right!" To invade a country is not to exercise any country´s right – may it be the US, Russia or any other country...

        March 3, 2014 at 10:53 am |
      • Chris

        i Really thank that they, As Americans/Russian, Don't anyhow know What they are, doing, if anything, to Establish, Presence, for the Ukraine "oil" in Europe country areas This Week....

        March 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
    • gert

      In the end, It 's about power and ideology. And With the stubborn backward paradigm that the Chinese and Russian government are blinded with (gay rights, freedom of speech,corruption).
      Chances are stacked against them. Revolutions happen as we have seen, dictators disapear We all know that there are some leaders very nervous about this revolutionary spirit spreading to their country and guess what Obama isn't one of them.

      March 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • notquite

      There is gigantic difference between the invasion of Afghanistan and what Putin is threatening to do in the Ukraine. The Taliban in Afghanistan were a dictatorship that the majority of the population resented, so much so that most Afghans wanted allied forces to remain for longer to prevent the Taliban returning to power. On the other hand, what Russia is threatening to do now is invade a nation with a government that the majority of the nation supports, solely because that government is too pro-west and replaced an unpopular pro-Russia one. Russia has no right whatsoever to invade Ukraine. You can argue it has a right to the Crimea, seeing as is was given to the Ukraine for no really good reason, but the Russian precedent of protecting Russia citizens there isn't really true here.
      And everyone knows power is shifting to China, its been obvious for years, so don't think these are some revolutionary ideas you've got. It may seem like Russia and China will bond together, but history shows that the two tend not to get along (sino-soviet split). That could change of course, but don't just assume the two will get along solely out of mutual dislike of the US.

      March 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • theorycraft

        Actually China is coming closer to the US and has been for a few years now. There is a very real crackdown on corruption and the ideology of the new Chinese mirror closely to US counterparts. China is looking towards soft power (respect through scientific and consumer innovation) whereas Russia is backtracking towards military might. China's new perspective requires their people to be well educated and objective (theyre quicking climbing higher education charts) while Russia's strategy requires only that people not revolt as the oligarchs amass more and more wealth.

        China is becoming more like the US and Russia is turning into NKorea. Yes minorities in China are still stepped on but the majority Han people are getting their voices heard. If China continues this trend, I would go as far as to say Taiwan would enjoy reuniting with the mainland and the US wouldn't mind. (Right now there are more and more economic collaborations between them and their relationship is almost like that of EU member states)

        March 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
    • Russia

      I totally agree with you. This will wake up Europe for ever. Good bye USA. New era is coming. After Syria this is new win for Russia.

      March 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  3. politiciansOpoliticians

    Some words of advice for all the politicians,

    When law and order in countries is missing, the end result is chaos and anarchy. If you look at any of the countries such as "iraq, egypt, afghanistan, lebanon, mexico, thailand, pakistan, libya and several african nations", where killings/anarchy is the norm, the root cause is almost no proper governing law and order body. Now lets look at countries which are actually dictatorships "china, north korea, iran and even russia", there are killings within the populace, however there isn't chaos and anarchy resulting in the killing of thousands of people, purely because there is a governing body which handles law and order.


    good/bad ?,

    The politicians should watch this ted talk,

    March 2, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  4. John

    There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate. I fail to see the reasoning of such bold statements ^^ though, presented as fact. What is that old saying? Ah yes, "somewhere in the middle lies the truth". Who knows for sure but put downs are so risky, as they may fall on the less informed. Destabilization really? Pretty soon we're going to hear the world doesn't need gravity because it sucks. Enough East, West! My God, that was for explorers hundreds of years ago. Now we're all within 24 hours of each other.

    March 2, 2014 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  5. Matt

    Before he starts a civil war I hope he has calculated that Russia can meet PRC wheat requirements to supplement the Ukraine market. Because the US and Australia which is drought will not be able too. The law of unintended consequences. Civil unrest in the PRC.

    March 3, 2014 at 1:01 am | Reply
  6. Rocky IV

    Guys in Ukraine, you were with balls , you can keep clashing with Putin with your weapon as you did in Maiden.
    but dare you ?

    I like Ukraine, but you guys just can not expect on the one hand you say fxxk off and on the other hand , you still want to develop a relationship with Russia . Putin is rude but not a idiot , you can noooooooooot drive Putin to the corner!!

    no more any ridiculous military analyze please , even Pution just got one tank left, he won't allow Nato's missile only 500km away from Moscow!!!

    March 3, 2014 at 1:08 am | Reply
  7. Sergei

    Putin's strategy ? It's very simple . But it's easy to understand not all. And then it's not in the mind or education . I am writing from Russia. When I was little , my parents went every summer to Ukraine. There I lived grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and two cousins ​​. ( They are now there. ) We say " go to Ukraine ," but not much point in this expression nobody invested . It was just the place . There was no border as such. There was no thought to consider Russian and Ukrainian different people. All were one people . And who remembers this ( those older than 35 years ) and live with the feeling that the country was cut in half abroad. Stupid cut . And now pits residents with the right half of the left half of the residents . But this artificial division not only notice the young . They do not compare. Others understand that everyone would be better to live peacefully together. From abroad, which would not interfere with the people of Russia and Ukraine live as one family . After relatives in Ukraine has almost half of Russians .

    March 3, 2014 at 1:17 am | Reply
    • dino

      the russia – ukraine border should be open as before. russians in ukraine must be protected. but if ukrainians just want a normal european democratic country where competent technocrats govern for everyone (eg: norway), then why would the average russian be against this? if russians love to be ruled by one guy, ok that is their choice, but don't force this on ukraine. they just want to live peacefully in a normal modern society.

      March 3, 2014 at 7:00 am | Reply
  8. Sergei

    Sorry for my bad English

    March 3, 2014 at 1:19 am | Reply
  9. CK

    "First get into a fight, then decide what to do" is really nonsense.
    You seriously think a nation like Russia would invade and THEN think of the consequences?
    They had the plans ready long ago!

    Russia sees this moment to separate Crimea from Ukraine and simply make it Russian. They might even Annex it?
    Dont act like you all never seen it before; Israel is doing it all the time.

    The worst part about all this negative media towards russia is the hypocrisy of the UN, and the West. And no, I am not pro-russia or anything. I just don't like that west lies all the time. Even to its own people.

    They act like nothing when it is themselves doing it, and justify their actions with words like "intelligence, insurgents and interests".

    Why cant Russia do it if you may do it?
    How many lives have Russia taken in the last century? and the west? (US alone is responsible for millions of lost lives)

    March 3, 2014 at 1:37 am | Reply
    • carlosg

      Agree with CK. This article is suggesting that Putin screwed up big time when in fact it is quite the opposite. It is the West who is backing the wrong horse. Think about it; the US and NATO will never go to war over Ukraine. Any 'economic and diplomatic' backlash against Russia will be limited – as seen when Russia invaded Georgia. Meanwhile, the Russian can strangle the Ukraine without needing to invade it's capital. So in the end, the Ukrainians will have little choice but to submit to Putin's whims, and US/NATO look like a bunch of lame ducks. I really fail to see how Putin screwed up on this account.

      Ironically, had the opposition won at the ballot the box instead of going out into the streets and illegally overthrowing an elected government, Putin may have been reluctant to interfere. The ouster of Viktor gave Putin the perfect pretext to intervene, and with it will bring about the end of the opposition.

      March 3, 2014 at 3:11 am | Reply
  10. Anna

    You information is far from correct.
    So, what's going on ..
    Group paid the Nazis seized power in Kiev ... parliamentary deputies family intimidated .. beaten, threatened.
    Crimea does not recognize the new power .. ask for help from Russia across Ukraine .. go armed Nazis. people scared .. Ukrainian authorities appealed for help to the terrorist .

    March 3, 2014 at 1:45 am | Reply
  11. русская украинка

    Абсолютно непонятно, что нужно правительству США от Украины и России? Россия и Украина отлично знает, что такое фашизм, а на Украине сейчас он процветает! Священник Коломийско-черновицкой епархии католической церкви на весь мир говорит такие слова: «Ни негр, ни еврей, ни москаль не придут отбирать наш дом!...». Фашизм по вашему- торжество демократии?! Кому, как не США, это известно, ведь является основным спонсором неофашистов, это не просто слова, но почему-то не освещаете такую информацию! Где же ваша демократия и свобода слова? Россия соблюдает все международные нормы! Все! США и Евросоюз использует двойные стандарты! Что США знает о войнах? Развязать войну- пожалуйста, а потом кричать, мы действовали в интересах мира! Какого мира? Каким образом Югославия угрожала миру, которую ВС США разбомбили? Зачем подстрекали Грузию на конфликт, который Грузия же и развязала, обстреляв мирных граждан, а ваши СМИ обвиняли Россию? Зачем в Ливию, Ирак и Сирию залезли, подпитывая и провоцируя боевиков? Что же в Саудовскую Аравию не лезете? да потому, что именно там боевики, спонсируемые США, готовятся к терактам, которые совершают их по всему миру. Американцы, очнитесь! Россия- не агрессор, вы не знаете, что такое фашизм и бендеровцы, это ужасно и страшно, сколько наших дедов, отцов полегло во Второй Мировой Войне, слыша слова вашего президента, они в могилах переворачиваются!!! Вы и понятия не имеете, что это такое, ваши граждане спокойно жили, когда наша страна, боролась с фашистами! Германия и Италия- прародители фашизма, в 1933 году никто не знал, что ожидает мир, когда Гитлера поддерживали. Спросите любого немца в Германии, что для него Вторая Мировая Война? на что скажут, что это печальная страница в истории их государства. Если Россия- агрессор, то спросите у евреев, что такое фашизм! И спросите Израиль что скажут о ситуации на западной Украине. Кто из вас знает почему Еврейский мемориал памяти жертв Холокоста расположен в районе Бранденбургских ворот в Берлине. Зачем США переворачивают всё с ног на голову? Именно ваш канал смеялся над мемориалом "Мужество" Войны против фашизма, становится понятным почему. А ведь это боль наших народов, именно там, где находится этот мемориал положили свои жизни против фашизма украинцы, белорусы, русские и другие народы, о существовании которых вы и не знаете. Что нам хочет доказать США, арестовав и осудив нашего летчика Ярошенко, сфабриковали дело. Кого поддерживает ЕС и США? Фашиста Тягнибока, боксера Кличко (кстати, прочитайте его биографию, когда он вдруг стал таким великим патриотом Украины). Это США и ЕС поддержало Майдан, не мирный, а вооруженный! Мирное население уже ехало в Россию с просьбой оказать помощь, с ноября 2013 года едут! 143 тысячи украинцев попросили у РФ только за последние 2 недели убежище! А давайте они поедут в Европу и США, окажите им помощь вы! А на Майдане от имени народа Украины убивали и воевали западные наёмники (хотя у вас называют до сих пор "мирный Майдан"). Зачем некоторые государства ЕС и США развязывают войну? ЗАЧЕМ? Наш Президент адекватный политик и очень грамотный человек, в отличии от некоторых лидеров других государств, он только внес обращение в Совет Федерации об использовании Вооруженных сил РФ на территории Украины до нормализации обстановки, не отдавая никаких приказов, а его уже обвинили во всех грехах! Зачем лидеры ваших государств вникали в украинско-российские отношения? Есть старая русская поговорка: не зная броду- не лезь в воду! Что в США нет других вопросов для решений, думаю есть много внутренних проблем? так решайте свои дела! Зачем завезены на Украину морские пехотинцы США? читайте историю: русские, белорусы и украинцы- братья, что бы и кто бы не говорил! А мы своих не бросаем! Нет в России русского, в котором бы не бежала украинская кровь. Естественно, мы- граждане России полностью поддерживаем своего Президента в вопросе на Украине, тем более наши украинские братья просят об этом, чтобы спасти от западных интервентов! Это не та кучка бунтовщиков- наемников и наркоманов, которых показывают западные СМИ, отключили все российские каналы, покажите настоящий народ Украины! Вы же этого не показываете, для вас двойные стандарты- правило! Уважаемые граждане США, если хотите узнать правду смотрите в интернете, а лучше посетите Украину сами! Сейчас назначают руководителями регионов Украины воров-бизнесменов, при Януковиче разворовавших казну. Янукович- жалкое подобие лидера государства, метался от ЕС к России, дометался, наш президент Путин таких не уважает и поддерживать никогда не будет. Между Россией и Украиной никогда не будет войны, слышите, НИКОГДА, как бы этого не хотели лидеры ваших государств. США последние годы постоянно пытаются контролировать территорию вокруг, провоцируют Россию, играют в игры, но это не с нашим президентом и народом, терпение может лопнуть. У нас замечательный президент, и мы его просим о поддержке, и во всех действиях полностью поддерживаем! Россия со времен СССР кардинально изменилась, что вам скажут те граждане, которые приезжали на Олимпийские игры. Хватит обманывать людей, переписывать историю и собирать лавры за то, чего не делали! Вы все живете в мире, за который именно наши отцы, деды, прадеды отдали свои жизни, борясь с фашизмом! А вы даже понятия не имеете об этом! США может грозить нам любыми экономическими и политическими наказаниями, но мы никогда не допустим возрождения фашизма!

    March 3, 2014 at 1:55 am | Reply
    • Guest from Russia

      Super! Absolutely right!

      March 3, 2014 at 3:38 am | Reply
    • Alex

      Зачем ты врешь? Назови хоть одного русского, которому запретили говорить на русском, либо хоть одного человека, которого избили или убили в Крыму либа на Юго-востоке из-за его взглядов? Что за западные наемники воевали на Майдане? Нуланд, которая раздавала булки? Или которая говорила, что Яценюк более выгоден западу? Да, это очень даже вмешательство, по сравнению с вводом войск в независимое государство. Вы – продажные вруны. Майдан боролся не против России, майдан был против коррумции и криминала, который принес Янукович. На майдане не поддерживали Тягнибока (до 5%), майдан был против фашизма, на майдане стояли и россияне в том числе.

      Why do you lie? Tell me about at least one man, who was forbided to speak russian, or about one man, who was beaten or killed in Crimea or South-East of Ukraine for his views? Who are these westen mersenaries, which fought in Maidan? Was it Nuland which gave brad to the people and said that Yatsenuk is more comfortable to the west? Deam YES, it is a real intervention comparing to the dislocation of 6000 russion troops on the territory of the sovereign state. You are PERPAYED LIERS!!! Maidan fought not agains Russia, it fought against corruption and criminal, which Yanukovich brought. Maidan did not support Tyagnibok (maybe 3-5 % of support from total). AND MAIDAN WAS ALWAYS AGAINST FACISTS!!! Even russian residents partisipated in Maidan.

      March 3, 2014 at 3:46 am | Reply
    • Martin

      Пункты ваш друг.

      March 4, 2014 at 12:48 am | Reply
  12. tal

    putin is scared to loose his dictatorship, he see what happens in the world and try to change it. but he cant win progress. probably he will be hang soon.

    March 3, 2014 at 2:46 am | Reply
  13. Dirk

    The was all very predictable with NATO and the EU trying to creep right up to the Russian border.

    March 3, 2014 at 2:51 am | Reply
  14. little ray of truth

    Ukraine just freed of established by Russia puppet Yanukovich's regime. No more corruption, people are saying these days in Kiev. We do not hate Russia, we are trying to prevent the country to be occupied by Putin's military junta based on organized russian crime.

    March 3, 2014 at 3:27 am | Reply
  15. Alex

    I'm from Kiev. I always loved Russia. I have many friends and relatives in Russia. My parents are from Russia. So I always considered this country as a best friend. But this was till last week. Putin IS OUT OF HIS MIND!!! I could not even imagine that such thing could happen. I could never imagine that russian media can spread so many LIE over the world. THEY LIE ABOUT EVERYTHIG!!! The lie that houndred thousands of people leave Ukraine, they lie about facists (I myself hate facists), about crime on the streets, about events in Crimea. They send their politics there to influence locals. They use their troops to take ukrainian militaries as a hostages and force them betray thier country. They tell about facists EVERYWHERE!!! But without any facts. They show the movies in media about the facists in Ukraine, made long ago and even not in our country. Friendly RUSSIA??? We are peaceful people who want to leave in a souvereign country without corruption, terrany and crime. We don't want other countries to tell us how to live and who is our president. We are against facists and can handle it ourselves. We can solve our problems ourselves, without Russia's troops.

    March 3, 2014 at 3:28 am | Reply
    • Sergei

      I am also against the lies, it is unacceptable. But the try in the next forum thread to comment in support of Putin. With the facts. You can wait as long as you want, you will not see it. What is this if not an information war and deception?

      March 3, 2014 at 3:49 am | Reply
    • LesyaKo

      You are absolotely right. In Ukraine are not fascists. They are normal people, who wish live in normal democratic country.
      They are not against russian people, only against russian imperialism.

      March 3, 2014 at 4:00 am | Reply
      • Jeremy

        Yeah, right. Most of the people in Russia and Ukraine feel like brotherly nations – its true. But not the most active group that took part in coupe/revolution/riot (whatever) in Kiev. Looks like even BBC starts to see Maidan thugs for what they really are: "Not like under Hitler. But our own way a bit like that." Classic. Either idiots (like the young guy in the video) or rascals

        March 3, 2014 at 10:00 am |
  16. adi

    the polish president was right in 2008

    March 3, 2014 at 4:44 am | Reply
  17. Sergei

    One of the leaders of the Ukrainian revolution Mr. Yarosh. Official site. Read, draw conclusions ...

    March 3, 2014 at 5:08 am | Reply
    • adi

      it doesnt matter, Ukraine was free independent country, there are no reasons to send troops to occupy Ukraine

      March 3, 2014 at 5:13 am | Reply
      • Sergei

        "Ukraine was free independent country, there are no reasons to send troops to occupy Ukraine"
        – of course. You are absolutely right.
        "it doesn't matter"
        – You are mistaken. For people whom he will manage, it will matter.
        IMHO, of course.

        March 3, 2014 at 5:29 am |
      • Andrey

        Ukraine is still free independent country. Where do you see occupation? For you nothing changed. Want to go to Crimea. Welcome. Only people in Crimea better to be "occupied" but not accepting culture of west to destroy and remove those who don't think as they are.We don't want to hear from banderov "Smert' Vorogam".

        March 3, 2014 at 6:16 am |
  18. Oksi

    I am ukrainian with russian heritage. And I demand to stop Putin according to guarantees from USA and Europe. Please WATCH OUT for propaganda in comments of this thread

    March 3, 2014 at 5:55 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      Putin didn't do anything bad for you.... Why worry. Crimeaans are happy to be with russian support against "Smert vorogam"

      March 3, 2014 at 6:20 am | Reply
    • Sergei

      Where is propaganda? Only opinions. Propaganda in another forum thread. There moderators tirelessly cut the objectionable comments.

      March 3, 2014 at 6:40 am | Reply
  19. Oleksander

    To Anna and русская украинка
    I am yang adult, a lawer, attorney at law in Ukraine, have a degree in economics. I live in I the Western part of Ukraine. I have visited Crimea last summer (2013), actually rest there with the family. Mostly people, who lived in Crimea, as well as those, who live in Eastern part of Ukraine speaks russian. Is I have noticed they are under influence of myth conducted by pro-russians propaganda machine. The myth consists of thesis that there is some mistirious BANDERIANS and Ukrainian NATIONALSTS, which live in the West of Ukraine, conducted the revolution at maidan and all the tome wants to harm peacefull ukrainian-russians, that NATIONALISTS behaves like fashists and bandits. People are really scared by this horror tale. BUT IT IS LIE! None in Wester part of Ukraine doesn't do any harm to anyone. Revolution was against the corruption of former president Yanukovich and his gang, against of human rights voilation, and economic degradation for peace and NOT AGAINST RUSSIANS in Ukraine or RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, as now official Russia say. At my point of view , what is going on in Crimea is provocation if war and annexation of Ukraine.

    March 3, 2014 at 6:06 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      Don't worry! Russians in Crimea are happy to be out of guys yelling "smert vorogam" and if you coming to Crimea with good intentions you are always welcome. But if you want to bring here disaster ... we are not going accept it.

      March 3, 2014 at 6:25 am | Reply
    • lomax

      You are liar. I'm ukranian and i faced this mythological (as you say) nazi's. They are 100% real, and absolutly insane. I support Russia in regime change for Ukraine this time. It's better for Ukraine to get rid of nazi in government as soon as possible, or.... there will be collapse of Ukraine, and desintegration.

      March 3, 2014 at 7:42 am | Reply
  20. Otae

    If you keep calling the people of Kyiv Nazis, the war is imminent. Crimea is Ukraine, no matter how many russians live there, it's still Ukraine. Read the international law!

    March 3, 2014 at 6:07 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      Crimea doesn't want your revolution here. Due to your revolution hundred of people dead. And thousands are injured. Don't come here with this revolution. That is the main point.

      March 3, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
    • necronicus

      Hey Otae, Svoboda and Pravy Sektor ARE nazis. They are condemned by the words out of their own mouth. Ukraine run by a Muscovy-jewish mafia? These are the words of people who should be respected?

      March 3, 2014 at 7:22 am | Reply
      • lomax

        Obama want Putin to respect and shake hands with this guys.... it's some kind of epic fail.
        Putin will never shake hand of neo nazi and negotiate anything.

        March 3, 2014 at 7:38 am |
    • lomax

      Nazi is Nazi, how you d like to be called ? 100% NAZI. Slogan of Yarosh. leader of Maidan Revolution was "Kill jews and russians, save Ukraine". And there is video, just don't be lazy, take a look at this "NOT NAZi"...

      March 3, 2014 at 7:35 am | Reply
    • Jeremy not nazi? just " a bit like hitler"?

      March 3, 2014 at 10:02 am | Reply
  21. Anna

    Discussions here are useless. Whats is done can not be changed.
    In my opinion author has covered only one really important thing:

    As a result, Putin has trusted his luck and his smarts while counting on his opponents' weaknesses. This means he has operated in accordance with Napoleon’s principle: On s’engage and puis on voit, which I would translate as “First get into a fight, and then decides what to do."

    Mr Putin, acting from the backstage of all these "events" has now established a war inside his own country and also almost ruined reputation of RF in the world. He acted not as a Leader but as human beeing with no political sence.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:02 am | Reply
    • Jeremy

      dangerous mistake. and the fact that no single gunshot was fired in crimea between "russian" and "ukrainian" force this far – just illustrates that that was a hard but well thought through decision

      March 3, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply
  22. John

    Just an opinion...but are the two pillars of hate, not fear and ignorance? If so, which comes first? If not, is hate more complex? Is it relevant by perception only? There is a lot of anger here on this thread, and this is a good place to vent it.

    This is not about Presidents, they are tasked by good fortune of position to rise above it. Yes, I believe our presidents are not haters. I see talk of Hitler and Nazi's, old deep wounds from the past. It's no secret that he used cocaine eye drops, was delusional, even trying to control platoon and squad movements at Stalingrad from 2,200 km away. He wasn't there pulling triggers though was he? Now as far as the leader who made the hate speech, is he gone? If we're going to drag anything out of the past, why not the resolve that ended WWII. War is a fear word, and ignorance feeds it. Spelled backwards "raw" it is exactly that for the citizen, the soldier in the snow, and families that await their return.

    Two people with like anger, unchecked, sometimes become four and then if left unchecked, grow in numbers exponentially. No, I don't see war here, but rather anger. Every one of us deserves a world with less angst, a world where our children and grandchildren can grow. Before the age of reason, we largely make choices for them, and then after, choices are mostly made by them. There's a good lesson in this latest crisis. View it as a child, and then ask as a child: "Do I want safety and security?" That is where Presidents make the tough choices. Thank you for suffering my ranting. It's just the ranting of an old man growing older knowing that tomorrow is a gift, not a promise, and worried about his children and grandchildren.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Sergei

      Thank you for your words. All true.

      March 3, 2014 at 9:15 am | Reply
      • John

        Thanks, your insight on propaganda is also true.

        March 3, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  23. John

    ps. Your English is better than some Americans. I saw that above. My maternal grandparents were from Moscow and Vilnius. My paternal from Novo Mesto. Those places, I may visit someday. I would like to fish where my grandfathers did in their youth besides take in the beautiful vistas of those places.

    March 3, 2014 at 10:20 am | Reply
  24. тов. Сталин

    Приказываю вернуть Крым во владения Российской империи.

    US and EU can play their mind games with the third world countries, including Ukraine. Don't mess with mother Russia.

    March 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  25. Martin

    Крымская ситуация в военном' свершившимся фактом ' за Путина.

    Тем не менее, он пришел в большой стоимости с точки зрения собственного международного авторитета Путина и его надежды для дальнейшего расширения в старый след СССР .

    Независимо от того, что он видит заслугу его мотивов и независимо от того, мы могли бы понять, почему он это сделал ( для обеспечения Севастополь ) свои действия в занятии часть суверенного государства явно незаконным с точки зрения международного права.

    Я думаю , что это вдохнет новую жизнь в НАТО .

    Ожидать существенных натяжного НАТО , который будет создан вокруг границ России ... в
    просьба соседей России. Мы уже видели, некоторые запросы от стран Балтии.

    Ожидайте НАТО , чтобы укрепиться свое отношение в отношении систем противоракетной обороны .... при государственной поддержке .

    Ожидайте больше соседей России к вступлению в НАТО .

    Ожидайте русский медведь , чтобы быть в немилости в течение длительного времени .

    Действия Путина в Украине подтвердит в общественном сознании , что он представляет собой современный " Доктор Франкенштейн " одержим реанимации холодный труп СССР.

    " Бросьте переключатель Дмитрий! ! "

    " Да .... Мастер ! "

    " Да ! ...... Дмитрий ! ...... Он живет ! .... Он живет !

    March 4, 2014 at 12:57 am | Reply
  26. jason

    love the comments so far!! Send the Seal team 7 for Putin!!

    March 4, 2014 at 1:59 am | Reply
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