March 3rd, 2014
11:36 PM ET

Zakaria: Men in ski masks not the answer in Ukraine

CNN’s Piers Morgan speaks with Fareed about the latest developments in Ukraine, Russia’s deployment of troops and how the West should respond. Watch the video for more.

Vladimir Putin is clearly pretty paranoid about what he perceives has gone on here. He probably thinks the West has ganged up, and has been pretty duplicitous over this whole issue and therefore is perfectly justified in taking this action. What is your reaction to that if that is indeed what he is thinking?

I think that’s exactly right. But here’s Putin’s problem: Whether in Georgia or Ukraine, the West has not been particularly provocative in regard to Putin. They have been trying to deal with him. George W. Bush said he looked into his eyes and saw someone he could trust. Obama tried to reset the relationship with him…

…But the point is this – the people of Ukraine, the large majority of them, have wanted to move West, to have their destiny to be with Europe. They have wanted a modern future in the 21st century. It’s similar to what happened in Georgia. And that is the dynamic on the ground that Putin doesn’t know what to deal with. What you have in Ukraine surprised the West as much as it surprised Vladimir Putin.

…I readily admit it’s a complicated situation. But surely the way to respond to that is not to send in thuggish paramilitary troops who don’t have markings because you don’t even have the courage to admit that you have effectively invaded Crimea, and so you are doing it in this surreptitious way with gangs and paramilitary forces.

The best way to have dealt with this, I think, would have been to have negotiations, diplomacy, perhaps ask for a referendum in Crimea to see what the people there want. And if they want a special autonomous status, or even if they wanted secession, then maybe that’s possible. But surely no one would argue that this is a good principle of international life to argue that anytime the country next door is acting up then they go and gobble a piece of it up. If China were to do that with its neighbors, how would we feel? If other countries were to do that.

That is the principle that is at stake, not the fact that Ukraine is divided and complicated – that’s true. But surely the answer is not the men in ski masks.

Post by:
Topics: Protests • Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. THORN

    China did do it with Tibet, didn't they, and what about our Mid East adventures and our "trumped" up charges of WMD, perhaps we should consider the adage, let the man without sin be the first to cast the stone. Russia may not be in love with Crimea but they are with their navel base and so would we be. Why not stop the bluster and hand wringing and just back off a bit. So far, NOTHING has really happened that is SO terrible.

    March 4, 2014 at 8:48 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      @THORN, "Russia may not be in love with Crimea"!
      The Russians see Crimea as their French Riviera and go there for sun and fun. Their tsars and Soviet leaders had palatial homes in Yalta. So they love Crimea. They lost it to Ukraine in 1954, which was part of Soviet Union. Since its independence, Moscow and Kiev have had disputes over the presence of the Russian navy in Sevastopol.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:40 am |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      Thank you, THORN. I couldn't have put it better!

      March 4, 2014 at 10:41 am |
      • stormwater

        No wonder you're the Clown, no more, no less!

        March 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      So far nothing has happened that is so horrible. Except that a sovereign nation has been invaded by the very nation that guaranteed the sovereignty of that nation. It's nice to see you Russians on all the blogs and comment sections trying to excuse the cowardly aggression against your neighbor. Because it just allows us to see how very uncivilized you are. No one but a Russian would think that taking over a neighboring country is just fine.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:42 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        It's funny that I don't see you griping about our unprovoked invasion of Iraq back in 2003 where we had no business at all. And what about Afghanistan where we never had any right to be in the first place? It seems that all you can do here is to vomit out your anti-Russian ignorance!

        March 4, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • William Bellah

      Democracy is a little like marriage, if we don't like the rules we just redefine the word. Democracy is now: violent revolution or mob rule, it's no wonder Putin might have to protect those from those who have already called for heads to roll.

      March 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • andres

        Our own democracy evolved from a pretty bloody war over 200 years ago. I simply don't understand your rant

        March 4, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • Dingle Derries

      Yes, lets continue with the foreign military adventures, because after all...if China and the USA did, so should the Russians...I just hope that another country doesn't get pillaged.

      March 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
  2. Gerald O'Hare

    The United States of America can't do very much in this crises but guess what? It doesn't have to do much but do some sanctions and sit back to watch the show. It is Putin who has painted himself in a corner not the US. It is Putin who is losing trust and money in this crises not the US. If gunfire breaks out Putin can only use the Ukrainians as hostages in the Crimea. If the Ukrainians in the west blow up pipe lines Russia is in deep.

    March 4, 2014 at 8:58 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Indeed, the West has a few options to teach Putin a lesson. Russia's economy is vulnerable to crisis. Its currency and the index of Moscow Stock Exchange fell sharply yesterday. It will fall even further, if an armed conflict breaks out. Putin's popularity in Russia has much the economic growth to thank for. Without that, he knows what will happen.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:44 am |
      • Gerald O'Hare

        Well said.

        March 4, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
  3. stan

    " But surely the way to respond to that is not to send in thuggish paramilitary troops who don’t have markings because you don’t even have the courage to admit that you have effectively invaded..." Um, like the plainclothes CIA/special forces operatives that slink around the globe kidnapping, torturing and assassinating people OR training, funding and logistically assisting 'rebels' in sovereign countries with the goal of 'destabilization'?! How naive are you people? Our side does exactly the very same things as any tin-pot dictator...right down to secret evidences and secret courts. Our side just wears suits and ties.

    March 4, 2014 at 8:59 am |
    • Josh

      Hmmm invading Iraq was so un-provocative yet, there was no single shot fired: there was "shock and awe."

      March 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Nuclear Mike

    Is this the best you can do Freed?..."take off your ski masks"...

    Harsh words will stop the Russians and Ukrainians loyal to Russia for sure!!!

    Just like the Iranians who are watching all this and waiting to make their next big move in the Middle East!!!

    March 4, 2014 at 9:08 am |
  5. Kelly

    I think the troops have been acting a lot more humane than an American invasion force. As soon as the Russians open up an Abu Grahib-style prison in Yalta, or lighting up Sevastopol like the Americans did to Fallujah, then we can start pointing fingers. Until then, we have no credibility lecturing the world on a single damn topic.

    March 4, 2014 at 9:37 am |
    • Devin

      Kelly ~ I'm in total agreement with you, you hit the nail right on the head.

      March 4, 2014 at 9:53 am |
    • Nick

      Kelly its good to see a western girl with some sense and intelligence!

      Thanks for your post.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:37 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Great posting, Kelly. We have absolutely no business telling Putin anything at all. We Americans need to quit being so self righteous and arrogant. Besides, we're already the most hated country in the world as it is!

      March 4, 2014 at 10:45 am |
    • radar8

      You are missing the point. The United States, along with other countries, signed an agreement to protect the Ukraine. This was done to convince the Ukraine to get rid of their nukes. The United States and EU countries are OBLIGATED to helpif the Ukraine asks.

      March 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • Jack Wagon

      Have another shot of that clear cleaning fluid you all drink, Commyrade

      March 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Spoken like another weak minded Tea Partier. Thank you, Jack!

        March 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
  6. sand

    What a joke USA is helping Ukraine and promoting democracy USA is doing this because of direct and indirect benefits as for world peace its not democracy that’s holding up and promoting world peace its the international world currency and the increase in exports and imports all over the world after world war II that’s has built the peaceful system that we live in Ukraine belongs to Russia and Russia should invade and take all of it.

    March 4, 2014 at 9:40 am |
  7. palintwit

    There is only one person for the job. Sarah Palin. Send her over there wearing her black high heeled boots and with a large platter of her famous s'mores and an autographed copy of the infamous crosshairs poster. She'll have Putin eating out of her hand in no time.

    March 4, 2014 at 9:40 am |
  8. DP

    > But the point is this – the people of Ukraine, the large majority of them, have wanted to move West, to have their destiny to be with Europe.

    1) how about doing in a normal democratic way during the elections, instead of coup ?

    2) where did you get an idea about the majority ? who counted ? last elections were won by Yanukovich under pro-Western president, with Western observers and acknoledged...

    March 4, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • dondiego

      @DP: I caught that, too. They pull these factiods out of their butts and expect us to just nod our heads abd agree.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:57 am |
      • DP

        > @DP: I caught that, too. They pull these factiods out of their butts and expect us to just nod our heads abd agree.

        Zakaria is just an opportunist... granted a little better than Fox, but then he goes futher down and down... nobody asks him to justify one thief (Putin) but he has to put the account straight for both sides... opposition used force for a takeover ? what goes around comes around... opposition – meet Putin now... a little lesson abouve US WWI veterans camping in DC back in early 30s and what happened to them helps too... gloogle for Bonus Army, get some mirror and reflect on your own history.

        March 4, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • NP

      1) It's not a coup. Yanukovich fled the country because he was isolated by his own parliament. He feared for his life because he was somehow responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 protesters. He is not a strong leader (just a puppet of Kremlin). That's why he called Russia to send in troops to take over his country even though Ukraine didn't do anything to provoke Russia. Did new leaders kill any Russians? NO
      2)If Yanukovich had signed a trade deal with EU, he would have still been in power today. That's how we know the answer. Now he has become the victim of Kremlin, humiliated and powerless.

      March 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • E- man

        have you read the trade deal terms?? the deal was not in ukraines interest at all. I do not think Yanukovich was a good guy, but when peopel fail to see reason, and logical thinking this is what happens

        March 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
      • NP

        Trade deal is just a part of it. Ukraine people expect more democracy when they associate with EU. Once people taste democracy, they don't want to go back to the orbit of dictatorship or communism or corruption like Russia

        March 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
  9. David Metz

    Another blurp from Mr. Zakaria – if you look at the Ukraine coverage, the Ultranationals from the right sector, chanting "Slaughter the Russians" ("Moscolyaku na gilyaku" and "Moscolyaki na noshi") were wearing ski masks..

    Oh well, what can you expect from the guy that claims that Crimea is in a Northern Caucasus.
    Back to school, Mr. Zakaria, you may learn something.
    What a pity state CNN is in – talking heads with no brains…...

    March 4, 2014 at 11:01 am |
    • gs

      They are saying in Ukraine ...Russia is not our. Stop looking at the Russian propagand.... The president was corrupt...a thug who did not serve the peoples interest...only robbed state money to better himself along with is inner party and top officials....

      March 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
  10. Samuel

    Sudeteland version 2.0

    March 4, 2014 at 11:16 am |
  11. sly

    Take a look at a map – neither Russia nor Ukraine rightfully owns Crimea. They will battle over this valuable geopolitical location, but there can never be a resolution until Crimea is totally independent. That won't happen easily.

    Ukraine better face up to the fact that it will lose Crimea, which is really doesn't deserve in the first place.

    March 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  12. JAL

    The analysis of this situation will create an almost infinite cause and effect diagram. Best to keep it simple. It is one thing for the US economy to show signs of improvement, but now, we must allow the confidence to really permeate the global economy.

    March 4, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • JAL

      I believe that the Asian economies are the best at instilling quick and sustained confidence. We need their Bullish energy to really get confidence going. Bearish energy is out there and the Bulls need their reinforcements.

      March 4, 2014 at 11:59 am |
  13. palintwit

    The latest news in the literary world has Sarah Palin hosting another book signing event this weekend. Tens of people are expected to show up.

    March 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  14. radar8

    While I'll admit that I do not like Putin, he does make a good case for invading.

    The democratically elected president was overthrown in a coup. As a democracy ourselves, we should never support a coup..

    March 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
    • He's A Chronic Liar

      Good to see that the Russian propaganda sector is fully staffed. Thank you for your misspelled rants and awkward verb tenses.

      March 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • NP

      At the press conference in Russia, Yanukovich said he was not overthrown. He feared for his life. He abandoned his post after nearly 100 protestors got killed. He couldn't handle the pressure. This is not a coup. Majority of his parliament didn't like him.

      March 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
  15. E- man

    we here in the U.S have imbeciles for reporters, at least 90% are. their job is simple report the news, not comment on the news and provide opinions. opinions are for decision makers and the individual. we are not stupid Zakaria, but apperently you think the American people are stupid. on another point,let me get this straight, U.S has 15 plus trillion in debt, want to give Ukraine $1Billion, IMF AKA International M-Fers will provide a few more billion, and in return Ukrain will have to jack up thier energy prices, in other words squeez the little guy in Ukraine to death. now how is that a good deal?

    March 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
  16. gs

    They are saying in Ukraine.....Russia we are not....translated....those president did not care about his people or state...ran the country like a thug....robbed it along with is inner circle of ministers and party loyals.....and when the people revolted against him....the money train was no more he ran away with what he could to russia

    March 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
  17. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    This guy, our COVERT ISLAMIST Mr.FAREED ZAKARIA will now start RAINING articles against Putin and Russia, simply b'coz he h ates both, and the reason Putin's heavy handed treatment of Mr.Zakaria's brethren – The CHECHAN ISLAMIC TER RORISTS.

    March 4, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
  18. DON Diego

    This board gives me a laugh. It is fun to come here once in awhile and see the stupid, ignorant post from a bunch of basement dwelling dumb a$$es who have never done a thing with their lives, try to seam international intelligent. I'm sure I'll get a kick out of the stupid respones this post gets. Please keep going this is a hoot for my luch hour.

    March 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  19. joe anon 1

    so many lies, so few countries left to lie about.

    what will our tv mouthers for the ministry of propaganda have to lie about when the u.s. runs out of govts to overthrow.

    presidents putin and assad permanently put a boot into DC's mouth.

    by the way

    sochi was a spectacular success – sports and art and host.

    amurderka the pitiful and ugly.

    March 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  20. sly

    "CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the vital Crimea region. The number of Russian troops that have surged into Ukraine in recent days remains well below that threshold"
    Seems pretty legal to me. Negotiate a diplomatic solution.

    March 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  21. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    In the light of the on-going visit of Netanyahu to the US and the futile effort by John Kerry for a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestine issue, it will not be longer before Mr. Zakaria turns his focus on yet another of his favorite ventures attacking NETANYAHU & ISRAEL.

    His argument will be that Israel is not serious about peace.

    Why will he say so.......b'coz Israel was not yielding to Palestinian demands of a right-of-return of Palestinians into Israel, which could help complete the next & final phase of the JEWISH HOLOCAUST down the road faced with a Muslim majority Israel!

    So, given Mr. Zakaria's well known PENCHANT for supporting radical Islam such articles come as nothing surprising to many AMERICANS as also to his FORMER COUNTRYMEN from INDIA!

    March 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
  22. christian

    Yes I agree, I think some politician's here ar3e complete hypocrites. You always here the we shouldn't be the policemen of the world until a Democrat is in charge then it's always captain save a ho. I heard some retard Dem last night saying he thinks we should put an ill-equipped (thanks to the Dems) overworked US force on the Border of Poland and the Ukraine. Really??? Not a real good idea considering there's god knows how many cruise missles in the black sea. Not to mention the 150,000 Crack Russian airborne tropps on the Ukrainian border. MORONS!!!!! How about we mind our own damn business. What do you think we would do if Egypt denined us use of the Suez or we saw what we'd do if someone threatened to bar us from the Panama Canal. Most of the Russian Fleet anchors off of Crimea... These people stirring up feigned horror over this are gonna get us into serious trouble that is NONE OF OUR BUISNESS!!!

    March 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
  23. joe anon 1

    jewry is never serious about peace – only the stealing of more land and resources from the palestinians and syria and lebanon to name a few.

    ben gurion said we will steal and steal and hide behind our fake diplomacy.

    when "diplomacy" fails (is seen through", we will blame the arabs for our violence.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm |

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