March 25th, 2014
08:37 AM ET

Putin trapped by history

By Fareed Zakaria

Whatever happens in Ukraine over the next few months and years, the crisis has reminded me that there are really two kinds of rulers around the world: those who think about the past and those who think about the future. And if it weren’t abundantly clear already, it is now – Vladimir Putin is in the first group. And his country will be the poorer for it...

...Think of Pakistan's generals, still trying to establish "strategic depth" in their backyard while their country collapses. Or think of Vladimir Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century. What has he achieved? Ukraine has slipped out of his grasp, its people deeply suspicious of Moscow. Even in Crimea, the 40 percent who are non-Russian are probably restive and resentful. Moscow's neighbors are alarmed, and once-warming relations with Poland will be set back. Trade and investment with Europe and the United States will surely suffer, whether there are sanctions or not.

Meanwhile, Russia continues along its path as an oil-dependent state with an increasingly authoritarian regime that has failed to develop its economy or civil society or foster political pluralism. But no matter – Moscow controls Crimea. In today's world, is that really a victory?

Watch the video for the full Take or read the TIME column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Ivan

    First Putin changed to laws so he can be president forever just like the Soviets did.
    Occupy a strategic county under a false presence just like the Soviets did.
    Install a puppet regime in a country they want to control just like the Soviets did.
    Feed the western leaders a bunch of lies just like the Soviets did.

    Anyone else see a pattern here..

    Putin and the former Soviets are not to be trusted.

    March 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      "Let me be clear" the leader of Country A that trusts the leader of Country B is a moron. Politics is about deceit, hedging your bets to obtain the optimum result. I would trust the EU leaders anymore than I'd trust Putin...Nice guys finish last.Mubarak was our ally and we threw him under the bus, the Pakistani's are our allies and they work against us in Afghanistan, NSA love across the board...

      March 26, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • john

      I agree with Ivan 100% Russia is for Putin, by Putin and of Putin.
      What is the cost for building Putin village near Sochi? More than a billion US dollars? Where does the money come from?
      Corruption of Putin government is the sad chapter for Russian people. Do not elect Putin for next term starting 2018.
      If Russian people are smart enough, there is no need for take over Crimea. Russia is as big as China, USA, and Brazil tcombied. Russia has enough oil and gas, and other mineral resources to make Russia heart lands and elsewhere to be good places to live. Is there any Russian Dream, except Putin's Russian dream?

      March 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        John he paid for just like everyone else pays for stuff they can't afford. Loans. But he also has Oil $$$. They also are betting on flipping with tourism $$$ to profit. US politicians are corrupt to. Special interests sums that one

        March 26, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
      • Bobby

        More like Putin's Soviet dream...

        March 27, 2014 at 12:22 am |
      • Humanity4All

        You know what I worry about is the ability to understand the world stage. Putin will gradually take away the IQ or smart Russian people and the worst case is they will end up like North Koreans living in fear and saluting even the pictures of oppressors. these missteps put Russia decades behind. The people of Russia failed to understand the power of vote and end up voting someone who is locked past in history.

        March 30, 2014 at 1:21 am |
    • ANN

      Don't forget Putin attacked Georgia during the Olympics when countries were supposed to make peace. Poland's president and congress promised Georgia that they would help defend Georgia against Russia. After that the Polish president had a number of assassination attacks against him. A few years passed and Russia invited Poland's president and the congress to his country. They were supposed to make a formal apology for killing 20,000 Polish soldiers during WWII. Unfortunately the plane went down over Russia. In my mind this was not an accident.

      March 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Sometimes you gotta watch out whose shoes you relieve yourself on. Just ask Władysław Sikorski. Assuming your belief were true.

        March 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
      • Alex

        Poor, gullible Ann. Grew up on CNN headlines and conjured up a wild theory. It is much easier to blame another country than realize that you live in the country of war criminals. The only country that used A-bombs to kill hundreds thousand of people but wants to stop other countries from developing this weapon. Country that used chemical weapon in Vietnam but whose senator who bombed Vietnam is the loudest voice to blame Syrian government for the same crime (without much prove). If you look hard enough at yourself, you realize that images that you see is the mirror reflections and crimes that you attribute to others are committed by your country.

        March 26, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
      • fassler6

        I agree. Putin was probably behind Maiden shootings.

        March 29, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
    • trueteller1

      Fareed Zarakia is a typical reporter who will never dare deviate from your typical hypocritical Western reporting. The US illegal invasions of Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Haiti and Cuba as well as Iraq and afghanistan are perfectly fine with Mr. Zarakia. But we are all supposed to be angry when Russia invaded Ukraine. The argument that Russia did annex a Ukrainian territory but the US did not annex any of the countries it invaded is simply pathetic and just silly. What is implicit in this argument is that it is acceptable to invade another country but it not acceptable to annex it.

      March 29, 2014 at 3:44 am | Reply
      • Jerry Svejda

        Dear "trueteller1"

        speaking of invasions – and how about Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Aghanistan, Georgia etc.
        During my six years of work in Russia I have heard many times from many Russian that all of Eastern Europe including my native country Czechoslovakia are their "colonies". One of the people who said that to me was a graduate of elite Moscow school for their diplomats.

        March 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • Marcello Botzo

      May be Russian people needs and approves the system that Putin put in place for them. In the Crimea case, the reality is that Russia have annexed Crimea following a free and fair referendum of the Crimean people who voted to be united with Russia. The Russian army, already in Crimea under an international treaty, protected the Crimean people to exercise the sacrosant right to decide for their future. CNN and BBC senior propagandists were there looking for blood, but they could not report a single case of armed pressure on the Crimean people. This is a fact like it or not, the rest is propaganda.

      March 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • WISDOM

      Obama can't give in and negotiate the neutrality of Ukraine with a bully like Russia he need to stand firm and demand Russian has no right to demand

      March 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • bob clark

      Here is the pattern :

      Six months after Germany’s absorption of Austria, which was quickly ratified by a plebiscite, Adolf Hitler, on Sept. 26, 1938, discussed the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia, home of many ethnic and linguistic Germans. Three days before the Munich Conference began, he said: “This is the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe.” On March 15, 1939, six months after Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland, agreed to at Munich, Hitler swallowed the rest of Czechoslovakia.

      Then his attention turned to “protecting” the German-speaking population in Poland. On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland on the pretext of responding to a Polish provocation. Ten days before, he had told senior military officers, “I shall give a propagandistic cause for starting the war, whether it be plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked, later on, never mind whether we told the truth or not.” On the night of Aug. 31, a German prisoner was dressed in a Polish uniform, killed and displayed as a casualty of a Polish attack on a German radio station.

      Putin, whose lamented Soviet Union was then Hitler’s ally, knows Hitler’s tactics.

      March 31, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  2. jpherling

    Russia now has the warm water port it has always craved, and this will be just the start of Russia's aggression. Yes, it's a victory, and will be followed by others.

    March 26, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • Concerned World Citizen

      Russia's warm water port off in the Black Sea can be blocked by sinking a couple of ships in the channel out of the Black Sea...Not a very difficult feat to accomplish...and can be done in less than a couple of hours....It is not a very good strategic move...Putin has lost more than he will ever gain...

      March 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Reply
      • rp1588

        Russia has quite a few ports on the Black Sea, and already had a long term lease on Sevastopol. They just decided not to pay for it, and grab some Ukranian ships as part of the deal.

        You can't block that many ports, over hundreds of miles of coastline, with only two ships.

        March 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm |
      • FKell

        rp1588, Converned is talking about the channel that leads to the Black Sea in Turkey. It is only about 2000 feet wide at the narrowest point with the channel deep enough for ships much narrower than that. Block that channel and nothing leaves the entire Black Sea. No need to blockade hundreds of miles of ports....

        March 27, 2014 at 1:56 am |
      • Mike

        What has he lost exactly? Sanctions won't last. He and Russia will outlive them or adapt and hit a bump in the road before business as usual....the West has done nothing

        March 27, 2014 at 7:40 am |
      • kurt

        Mike... here's what he's lost.

        Right now he's got economic pull over all of europe due to them not wanting to use fracking to get natural gas and Russia supplying it.

        He's basically lost that now regardless of what happens. The Europeans are not willing to trust Russia after this. They remember the last time a nation invaded all or parts of others in order to protect those of the same ethnicity... except then it was the Sudetenland rather then Crimea and the ethnicity was German rather then Russian.

        The EU countries are already starting to explore lossening restrictions on Fracking to avoid being at all dependent on Russian gas. And if Russia tried to cut them off... there's now a country that has already explored Fracking and just passed Russia as the #1 natural gas producer in the world who can supply europe if that happens.

        The United States.

        People miss how GOOD this will be economically for the US if Europe flees Russia's gas... and that's what they're looking to do. Russia doesn't have much of an economy outside of energy... and they're getting ready to lose that because they wanted to invade a tourist area (where no non-russians will ever go now) that had a port that they already had access to.

        Russia is using a very old way of thinking. The belief that you can use military might to push people into doing what you want. But that thing becomes less and less effective every year and economic influence becomes more and more important. The countries who's dictators have used military force to hold their people down are all facing rebellions (Egypt, Syria, Tunisia) while those who use economics (Saudi Arabia, Jordan) are still going strong.

        Russia will cause a lot of damage with their current mode of operations... but they're not going to come out ahead because of it. It will take a while for the economics to play out, just like Reagan's strategy of using the arms race to economically cripple the Soviet Union took a long time. But this is a losing move by Russia... and frankly a very stupid one.

        March 27, 2014 at 9:04 am |
      • Mike

        The WWII analogies have got to go. You can draw parallels to a number of things in history for almost any major event. That doesn't make them comparable. You still need to put things into the context of the times. The Putin-Hitler comparison is just not realistic. One the politics are not there, yes he's exploiting a strategy they used in the Sudentland. A fool what not take lessons from history on what is useful. But look at the context of the times, Versaille, economics, who is in power. Its just not on the same level.

        The one thing people keep over looking is Ukraine is NOT a NATO member. There is zero consequence militarily that Putin risks. At least not seriously. The baltics states even Poland however are not only members of NATO but the EU. while the EU is a trade bloc it doubles the investment. If he attacked them he would trigger the NATO obligations i.e. an attack one is an attack on all. Now you might hedge your bet the US might not be anxious for a military confrontation. But Europe being doubly invested could not risk such hesitancy. Europe has less to fear if Ukraine falls. Doesn't make Putin trustworthy. But no national leader is trustworthy (we torpedoed Mubarak).

        All the alternative for energy logistically to rely on America would be more costly and would take more time. Self sufficient energy would require time to get the infrastructure built where it does not exist or time to build up supplies and offset Russian supplies. Nevermind any contractual obligations.

        Gazprom also has business relations with these companies so it doesn't necessarily completely remove Russia. It's only good for America if the price is right. I don't care about supply Europe w/ gas just to buddy up. I want the price to profit for us as well. We don't have pipelines to Europe which means its gotta go in ships or barreled. Who pays for cleanup when there are spills and there will be? Will Europe pay for shipping costs? How long will it be for this benefit to be realized? Will US strategic reserves be risked?

        Military force is still realistic. Europe has lost its resolve. Germany should look to its Prussian roots. Instead they brow beat themselves over something that happened long ago, that none of them are responsible for and whats offensive is they suppress speech over it. We here in America have our own dark past but we don't shame ourselves over it. We learn and move on. Should I apologize for some ill some guy I don't know, with no ties to my family, whose own family doesn't even know him suffered long ago? Nope.

        March 27, 2014 at 9:27 am |
      • cherry

        The black sea fleet is not in a strategic location if Russia could invade, he is sorrounded by Nato countries.

        March 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
  3. Austin Murray

    Putin has proven himself a strong leader and actually improved the economy and overall standing of Russia since he's been President. Fact.

    March 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Exactly and that is all that matters. Now he's poised to finish the job and roll over the eastern border of Ukraine

      March 26, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Reply
    • Concerned World Citizen

      If you are thinking in the short term you are correct...but great leaders think about the long term....and his current moves will result in a country cut off from a major part of the rest of the wordl

      March 26, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Major? Europe needs Russia as much as Russia needs Europe. But Russia has the ability to look East & south, Hardley limited. That major part of the world gets it cash supply from China. No money. No relevance

        March 27, 2014 at 6:54 am |
  4. triklops

    Shut up Fareed for your useless article! Do you really think Russians care about the foreign investments. Their definition of a "strong" economy is completely different than the western version of "over expanding" GDP as a growth model. In Russia and eastern countries the strength of a nation is seen in terms of who has military might and never bows to external threats. Putin rightly doesn't care about donkey's a$$ for the financial hit. He will go to China/Asia.

    March 26, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Reply
    • Concerned World Citizen

      The ordinary Russian citizen will care when the value of Russia money will not buy anything worth having when outside of Russia...

      March 26, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Reply
    • Sandvichmancer

      China on the other hand DOES care substantially about foreign investment. China only supports Russia because they can coordinate votes against the western powers in the UN, and they only back North Korea for strategic military value.

      The moment either becomes more of a liability than an asset, China will switch sides without a second thought. Really, the number one concern politically in the eastern world is "How useful am I to the Chinese?"

      March 26, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  5. Goldenarm

    Authoritarian regime, you want to risk losing security for liberty? Putin's days are numbered, yes he does have Crimea for now, but a country with poor economy can not maintain a war, enjoy your stay while you can Putin.

    March 26, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  6. Dejan

    No Putin is not trapped in history. The problem is a constant US desire to dominate. Whether you guys want to admit or not that is the fact. How many wars US had done in last 20 years? I do not see the word better place after intervention but I see misery US created in many places. I guess it is an American stile. Most of of people commenting do not even understand the facts, neither history and only source of info is CNN. Good for American, to have such reliable source of info.

    March 27, 2014 at 1:09 am | Reply
    • Mike

      I call it the dictatorship of the democracies. They have an ongoing policy of for me but not thee...unless you have their approval. The cast diktats on values, laws, & governments or they cut you off and starve you out

      March 27, 2014 at 7:03 am | Reply
      • Dejan

        I have listen a speach of president Obama and his clarification why Kosovo and Krimea is not the same. The fact is that he has provided completely falls statement regarding recognition of Kosovo and anybody who knows the facts and history cannot agree. The only problem is that when ever US cannot have own way US using miliary to achieve results. Argument and justification and law dos not exist in US dictionary. At the what is the result of US policy? Unresolved conflict in Kosovo and knowing Serbian mentality and determination they will never yield to anybody including US. It is occupied but never surrendered.

        March 28, 2014 at 1:14 am |
      • Dejan

        I have listen a speach of president Obama and his clarification why Kosovo and Krimea is not the same. The fact is that he has provided completely falls statement regarding recognition of Kosovo and anybody who knows the facts and history cannot agree. The only problem is that when ever US cannot have own way US using miliary to achieve results. Argument, justice and law dos not exist in US dictionary. What is the result of US policy? Unresolved conflict in Kosovo and knowing Serbian mentality and determination they will never yield to anybody including US. It is occupied but never surrendered. West thinks that at the end will prevail imposing own will...but not in this case.

        March 28, 2014 at 1:21 am |
  7. Russian

    Sometimes it's useful to look into the past.....
    Напрасный труд — нет, их не вразумишь, —
    Чем либеральней, тем они дошлее,
    Цивилизация — для них фетиш,
    Но недоступна им ее идея.
    Как перед ней ни гнитесь, господа,
    Вам не снискать признанья от Европы:
    В ее глазах вы будете всегда
    Не слуги просвещенья, а холопы.
    Ф.И.Тютчев, 1868 г., обращается к "западникам"...

    March 27, 2014 at 4:46 am | Reply
  8. RU4EVER

    you, americans better watch your yourself, you are the main Aggressor around the world! You think you are the only country allowed to do what ever you want, you never respect other countries. How many times you ignore UNN and international laws? Stop thinking about russians as a "brainwashed idiots by RU TV propaganda".
    TV is not the only source of information we use to understand what things happening around the world. A lot of russian watch CNN, BBC other "mainstream channels" to understand your logic and we see those channels do their job for a benefit of US and West countries governments. There are a lot of things they never broadcast to you, you are living in the world that you created yourself without understanding that WORLD is much more wider. You never understand PUTIN, because you don't know who the Russians are, what the russian history is, and why ukraina is so important for us and PUTIN took a Crimea back.

    PUTIN is the true leader for us not because we "brainwashed" as you think about us but simply he is the leader who knows russian history, country, people. We see him as true patriot of his country despite that there is still corruption in country (same as in US) to be resolved. I can tell you that people really support him know, we see all the west countries against him but he's strong enough to defend our boarders and russian speaking people who want to be part of Russia if you dont believe you go and watch, most of the people in Crimea are happy to be russians, there was no pressure on them to vote for Russia at all, yes there were russian troops to protect from potential provocations. Again you better go over there and watch rather than keep watching CNN propaganda.

    March 27, 2014 at 5:29 am | Reply
    • Mike

      Putin isn't afraid to tell the truth call things for what they are. He's a true executive. US politicians are all about image...they throw out qualifier after qualifier....

      March 27, 2014 at 7:08 am | Reply
    • kurt

      Tell me... when was the last time the US annexed anything?

      The US uses their military many times when they shouldn't. But even the US hasn't been so brazen as to invade anyone or start a war of conquest.

      Russia just did that.

      March 27, 2014 at 9:13 am | Reply
      • Mike

        I had to go back to page 3 when this came up before:

        "Well the US in all but name annexed Puerto Rico & Guam after the Spanish-American war....Hardly can say Spain voluntarily sold them. There's Guantanamo Bay which again the US used compelling means to get. Its not like we went hey we'll cut you a check to setup shop. Wake Island – annexed,Manua was annexed, we colonized american samoa, nevermind territories we seized during the war w/ Mexico, occupied and forced them to cede after we setup shop. Texas itself was an annexation....facts they are inconvenient I know..."

        March 27, 2014 at 9:36 am |
      • Mike

        It should also be noted that Andrew Jackson more or less annexed Florida form Spain.

        March 27, 2014 at 10:07 am |
    • bbill.x

      Putin is a girly man who like to show his boobs to other men.

      March 27, 2014 at 11:30 am | Reply
    • Adam

      Yes... And those who are not happy about the anexation will be silently dealt with... with shot in back of the head...

      March 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Reply
      • maggie

        You are right, any resistance will be dealt with lethally. It is a crisis. what are neighboring countries doing to collectively develop a strategy to deal with this bully? Maggie

        March 28, 2014 at 1:09 am |
  9. Bob Kebic

    Thank God for Putin! We needed something to get our attention away from the high unemployment, flimsy recovery, run-away deficit, screwed up Obamacare and the infrastructure in disrepair! Again, thanks comrade Vlad!!!

    March 27, 2014 at 5:56 am | Reply
    • Mike

      uh oh you didn't praise Uncle better get ready to be told to go back to Fox News

      March 27, 2014 at 7:06 am | Reply
  10. Brazilain guy

    Mr. Zakaria is trying to sell eggs to chickens.

    March 27, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
  11. AGREE Valdmor Putin

    Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia Russia;
    US and OBAMA US and OBAMA US and OBAMA bye bye on Nuclear FIRE!

    March 27, 2014 at 9:26 am | Reply
  12. doug

    Its stupid conjecture and false statements to say the US annexed Puerto Rico and Guam. They had legal elections by their people well in advance of becoming territories. The US did not invade and then hold an election at gun point like the russians. It is recognized by the UN and the world for how the US handled it. Putin is a ruthless and evil man. To say he is trapped in the past is an insult to the thousands who have been killed by the communist elitist regime. It is certainly a country whose moral code represents an ideal that things and life are expendalbe; totally contrary to those of us who hold dearly the standards of God's Word; something believe it or not, our whole legal system and foundation of freedom was designed from day one....whether you like it or not, without this foundation, chaos will reign supreme just like you see in so many of these countries without a moral code based on God's Word.

    March 27, 2014 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Mike

      Oh really Doug? We repeatedly planned then dropped actually annexation proposals. Included then dropped annexation plans within our own war plans as part of war planning for a war w/ Spain. To quote from wikipedia, which sources Yale Law:

      "On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish–American War, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam, then under Spanish sovereignty, to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris. Spain relinquished sovereignty over Cuba, but did not cede it to the U.S.[41]"

      Occupation first then ceding a territory is more or less annexation. We occupied Guam during the Spanish-American war and the island was ceded after the fact. We very specifically annexed Wake Island.We annexed Swains Island, Manua. Having a teraty signed after the fact ceding a territory is just a clever way making an annexation not look so bad.

      What does having an occupying forcing and an election have to do with it? An annexation is an annexation.

      Whose God? Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish? And whose interpretation? The western version that is katowing to political pressure? Gods Word has little to do with this.

      March 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        read the history yourself and check the sources...

        March 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
      • stephane

        STupid answer?????

        March 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
      • Historian

        Mike, did you just use Wikipedia for historical evidence? You know a 2nd grader can publish content on there, right?

        March 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
  13. Adam

    I must fully agree with author's take on this difficult situation. I'm polish, living in my country, a big fan of world's history, or should I say 'History'. There is one thing which is coming back to my mind, when I think of Russia. Since the day this country emerged from the dark depths of late medieval, through all the times untill present days, you will not find any nation, that gained any profit from being Russia's neighbour. Russia is like a parasite, feeding on neighbouring nations, and what's even worse, on its own people even more. Maybe you will say, that I'm overreacting and rusophobic. Of course I am!!! I have many reasons to expect only bad things from Russia. My grand grand father was shot in the back of his head in Katyn forest in 1940 only because he was polish Policeman. And what do the "World's Leaders" do, when after few silent years the vicious russian parasite is showing its teeth again? They are talking about sanctions against 20 or 30 people... That will surely stop Russia from invading continental Ukraine... Does anybody in the western world uderstand, that russian udnerstand only the language of brutal force? They were terrorised by their own rulers since birthday of their country, and opposite to young and naive american nation, they don't care about iPhones, big cars and hamburgers. If they will have to, they will eat only potatoes and drink water to survive. They don't need anything more. Beware of Russia! Beware of Putin..

    March 27, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • maggie

      this US citizen agrees with Adam. Ukraine is hopelessly out gunned and cannot fight back by itself...neither can the other countries. Russia's neighboring countries should have formed an economic and defense union while still being soviergn. Russia has always been a bully and is not changing it's ways. It's time to develop a strategy together for dealing with this bully. Cheers, Maggie

      March 28, 2014 at 1:06 am | Reply
    • vlad

      Спасибо. Очень патриотичное и эмоциональное высказывание. Но очень однобокое. Война не ограничивалась только Катынью. Как вам нравиться подразделение "СС" "Галичина" . или концлагеря в Польше и Германии. Воцна грязное дело, а не предмет для патриотических дифирамбов. С уважением.Vlad/

      March 28, 2014 at 3:02 am | Reply
      • Adam

        Hi Vlad :-)
        I'm not thinkig about this conflict only through the historic aspect, but I would be an optimistic fool, to think that such country as Russia will stop on Crimea and will not go any further... If Putin wants to keep his power, he has to make the next step. If he will not, he will be treated as a coward in his own country and that means losing power. So the equation is very simple. He will attack and he isn't affraid of doing it.

        Russian people is "brainwashed" with very agressive propaganda since 1917 and after so many years its look on world's politics is very simple: Russia is besieged by spoiled western countries and has to defend its people. And attack is the best defence.

        You can say that my thinking is bad, but I think that it is justified by historical facts. I must say, that I am very proud of polish diplomats, who finally managed to help understand wesern countries the true nature of Russia. Russia is agressive and violent country wanting to show its power to the world and only way to stop it is by using greater power against Russia....

        March 28, 2014 at 8:22 am |
  14. Historian

    Mike, did you just use Wikipedia for historical evidence? You know a 2nd grader can publish content on there, right?

    March 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  15. World over War

    If a nuclear war didn't happen during the Cold War, it should not happen today… There are no winners, only losers.

    Here is where I am conflicted...

    Putin is doing what "great leaders" do – secure borders and maintain power and influence. I work with a Russian who tried to explain to me why Crimea should be a part of Russia again, and why so many are in support of it because apparently Russian families were being mistreated and their culture was being put down. So, Russia revisited the idea of taking Crimea so that people of Russian heritage can join the country. BUT what I can't seem to get passed is that in 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave Ukraine Crimea and it the most modernly unique imperialistic way took it back.

    Does Russia not see how this looks on a global stage?

    I am not saying they are right or wrong, but I hope that Russians know how this looks to the international community.

    March 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • cherry

      To the international community it looks like bullying. It is a slap in their face with a bunch of s##€%&.

      March 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  16. Bel

    From Ukrain to Syria....

    Today and again, Bashar Al-assad breal the red "dashed" lines of Mr Obama by using Chemical weapon against civilians in Damascus Suburb......Obama's red lines !!!!!!! Thanks for the humanity...

    March 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  17. Victor

    " Or think of Vladimir Putin, who is, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, playing a 19th century game in the 21st century."

    In 1995 USA bombed Jugoslavia to separate Croatia and Bosnia. In 1999 USA bombed Serbia to separate Kosovo. Now americans "forgot" these, and became mad when Russia achieved the same goal not by several months of bombing, but by democratic procedure – referendum. And also, Russia did it only after democratically-elected Ukrainian government was ousted by US-backed coup.

    March 27, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Reply
    • cherry

      Let's not forget that it is the goal of the US to punished a dictator government who does ethnic cleansing. Remember sadam Hussein, Khadaffi and also who give protection to terrorism. Dictators will not learn a lesson unless there is uprising and rebellion to oust them out off power.

      March 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  18. What I'm I

    “John McCain has not spoken about my Muslim faith.” interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who jumped in to correct Obama by saying "your Christian faith," which Obama quickly clarified. Remembering what religion you are can be tough.

    March 27, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  19. maggie

    good article, appropriate comments. Yes Putin looks to the past. Yes Russia's neighbors should be alarmed.

    March 28, 2014 at 12:58 am | Reply
    • Dann

      Look into the future or the past – this is just a play on words. Past always must be kept in mind when making decisions. One should also consider the people's desire to reunion. When Geramy reunited, did it look to the past or future? Some time Korea and China (Taiwan) will reunite. Is this past or future? And about the neighbors concern, then indeed Baltics should think about what they treat their Russian inhabitants as second-class citizens. Crimea – is a message for them.

      March 28, 2014 at 2:13 am | Reply
  20. Dann

    There are many arguments that Putin is right or wrong, restoring Russian Crimea. But no one interested in the opinion of people living in the Crimea, who have always considered themselves part of Russia and hopefully waiting for this event for more than two decades.

    March 28, 2014 at 1:56 am | Reply
  21. oihyo

    What history are the U.S.'s leaders trapped by? That voters are powerless to do anything once the election's over so they can disreguard them completely?

    March 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  22. The sanctions are really working

    Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history, are bound to repeat them. Old wise saying. Apparently, the "Charge of the Light Brigade" means nothing to a KGB clerk that crawled out of a gutter. His 2 minutes in the limelight is more important. Stealing Crimea is a Crime. Period.

    March 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  23. Frank Maunder

    I think President Obama should leave the handling of this crisis to (former) President G. W. Bush. After all; he "looked into Putin's eyes and got a sense of his soul". He must know how to make this work out right.

    March 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  24. trueteller1

    Fareed Zarakia is a typical reporter who will never dare deviate from your typical hypocritical Western reporting. The US illegal invasions of Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Haiti and Cuba as well as Iraq and afghanistan are perfectly fine with Mr. Zarakia. But we are all supposed to be angry when Russia invaded Ukraine. The argument that Russia did annex a Ukrainian territory but the US did not annex any of the countries it invaded is simply pathetic and just silly. What is implicit in this argument is that it is acceptable to invade another country but it not acceptable to annex it.

    March 29, 2014 at 3:42 am | Reply
  25. doug

    Fareed; for you to say putin is trapped by the past provides excuse for him. He chose to move militarily. He chose to break the law. We all have choices. Being trapped means you have no way out and allows him to have an excuse for his behaviours. Very bad word choice.

    March 29, 2014 at 8:14 am | Reply
  26. Shtorch

    Putin knows the history,loves his country,fights corruption. Hi is a pride of Russia!

    March 30, 2014 at 5:28 am | Reply
  27. Steven

    If Putin were not trapped, he would have let Western Countries to do what even they like in his borders.
    I would think That is Westerners who is still thinking the way of Cold War. Why do you want to expand your reach to former Russian territory?

    March 31, 2014 at 5:12 am | Reply
  28. Joe

    Perhaps we Threaten to give Afganistan back to Putin. That would teach him a lesson.

    March 31, 2014 at 7:26 am | Reply
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