Zakaria: Putin improvising in Crimea
March 11th, 2014
10:03 AM ET

Zakaria: Putin improvising in Crimea

CNN speaks with Fareed about the latest developments in Ukraine and what might be motivating Russia’s policy in Crimea. This is an edited version of the interview.

The general feeling over the weekend appeared to be that Crimea is pretty well lost and that Russian President Vladimir Putin has won the day with this. Is that your take, and what happens then with regard to Ukraine?

There's no question that Russia has created these facts on the ground. They've taken over Crimea, they've sealed off the borders – right now flights out of Crimea into Kiev are now taking place from the international terminal, no longer the domestic terminal.

So they've almost created their own new country, Crimea. The question, though, is what does Putin want to do with the rest of Ukraine? Because Russia has long wanted to have Ukraine as part of its protector and sphere of influence. And the real game is going to be whether Russia tries to continue in some way to influence it. They've done it in the past for money – huge amounts of cash – and they've done it informally throughout, by the use of low price gas.

But I'm not sure that this has all been thought through. There’s this theory out there that Putin is this genius strategically playing this game. Here's what I actually think happened. I think he was watching events in Ukraine slip out of control, this country that Russia has dominated for 300 years, but couldn't do anything about it because it was happening during the Sochi Olympics. And so Putin is sitting there seething, watching this country escape his grasp.

The minute the Olympics ends, he scrambles to figure out what to do, and he improvises brilliantly and has been able to detach Crimea. But he hasn't figured out what he's going to do about Ukraine, and the Ukrainian people are increasingly becoming anti-Russian and have watched this Russian takeover of Crimea with great apprehension.

What’s also happening is all the other neighbors are watching – from the Poles, the Baltic states, and also countries like Kazakhstan. The countries around Russia. And remember, there are 25 million to 30 million Russians who live in all these other countries, so imagine if you are the president of say Kazakhstan, and you're watching this news. You say, "Gosh, if Putin doesn't like what I'm doing, he's going to stir up secessionist movements in all my country."

So Putin has a lot on his hands and I don't think this is as much a plan as a lot of improvisation.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Wholewitt

    NATO must put troops and heavy arms into Ukraine now to show Putin that any further aggression will cost him dearly. If he enters Ukraine proper then destroy his army. Its the only way to stop a bully and he can't fight the whole western world. Russians in Ukraine should get the hell out if they don't want to be part of that country. Why did they go there to start with, there is lots of land in Russia. They are showing very poor judgement in Crimea and staying with the Ukraine was not even on the ballot while all the propaganda was pro Russian. Too bad.

    March 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
    • john smith

      America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
      In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
      During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
      In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
      Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

      March 17, 2014 at 2:29 am |
      • kurt

        Let's say all you claim is true.

        What in that makes Russia's actions okay? Using that as a justification is like saying: "Jeffery Dahmer killed and ate people... so it's okay if I want to kill and eat people too."

        Others acting badly is never an excuse to act badly.

        And the US hasn't annexed any territory since the late 1890's... a stretch where we got Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and some other territories. While the US has put their military in other countries where they shouldn't many times since then, it's never been as conquerors. Sometimes we've been liberators (as in france in WW2), sometimes we've been protectors of regimes not worth protecting, sometimes we've been peacekeepers and sometimes we've overthrown governments we didn't like. But we've never taken the step Russia is taking... starting a conflict to annex land from another nation into our own.

        We could have. We could have annexed Cuba... heck many cubans would have supported it at certain times in their history. We could have drummed up a similar defense that Putin is using now. But even for an interventioninst nation like us... that's a line we wouldn't cross.

        And Russia did.

        March 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
      • wow, what a comment

        Nice try kurt. But why did you cleverly mention the 1890's? Ahem..... in 1847 America brutally marched troops into the sovereign nation of Mexico, stealing millions of square miles of land, by "annexing" California, Arizona, Texas & New Mexico. During the period 1800-1900 the US Cavalry brutally murdered over 2 million Native Americans and then ruthlessly shoved over 3 million into "reservations". So are you saying that Russia is somehow "bad" because they have continued to behave like you guys used to behave???? or is the teapot calling the kettle black???????? excuse me while I laugh.......... Ha! Ha! Ha!

        March 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
      • Elizabeth

        what is the difference what the U.S. has or has not done? This has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on in Ukraine today. these forums are just an opportunity for America bashers. If you are going to put forth a reasonable discussion stick to the subject at hand- that is the illegal seizure of Crimea.

        March 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • wow, what a comment

        My dear Elizabeth, the reason why it is majorly significant what the US has done, in the past, is because it exactly mirrors what Russia is doing, at this very moment. The illegal seizure of Crimea is exactly similar to the illegal seizure of California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, in 1847.......... get it????? So, my question to you is, does the passage of time make a terribly illegal action by one nation against another nation, make it somehow less illegal????? The subject at hand is: The illegal seizure of land. Period. Bringing up the past actions of the people of European descent, is not entirely insignificant............ good lawyers always use "precedence", or previously contested matters of law, to prove their current case at hand........... get it????????????

        March 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
      • kurt

        Look, the point is that the time of conquerors has passed. Military aquistion of territory was something many countries tried to do 100-200 years ago. But we'd reached a point in time where it was not considered okay by the world community anymore.

        Russia, by taking these actions, is ostracizing themselves from that communtiy. They came close with Georgia, but were smart enough to not officially annex those territories... instead forming puppet states.

        This is different. This is Germany invading Austria or the Sudetenland (both of whom welcomed the Germans in). This is conquering justified by nationalism (or fascism if you prefer). This is using military power not to influence or bully... but to conquer and annex.

        The world has not reacted positively to those doing this in the past 50 years or so. The last successful invasion and annexation of territory (as opposed to creating "independent nations"... or puppets) was probably the Green March of Morocco into Spanish held Saharra in 1975. That's 49 years ago.

        Russia is stirring up fears of invasion that were long thought to be a thing of the past. They're going back to a time that SHOULD be in the past. Conquest should NOT be how the world works now... but that's exactly what Russia has done. Yes, it's been relatively bloodless... but so was Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland. And we all saw how that worked out.

        March 18, 2014 at 9:31 am |
    • David

      America is the root of all terror even most Americans are waking up to this. What a bunch of criminals, really.

      March 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
      • wow, what a comment

        Not so different than what you Muslims did, from 800 AD thru 1700 AD, calling it Jihad, but in reality, murdering and thieving from Mecca, all the way to Spain in the West, and all the way to Malaysia in the East.......... and then saying "Allah Oh Akbar"............ God is Great............ 🙁 Same crap, different century........... get it????????

        March 17, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
    • David

      Hypocrisy ! The US has invaded dozens of countries without authorisation.

      March 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
      • kurt

        And the last time one of those invasions led to annexation was over 100 years ago.

        Conquering, imperialism, expansionism... those were how the world worked 100 years ago. That's not how the world has worked recently... World War 2 scared a lot of that out of the world.

        But Putin has decided to bring it back. This is NOT a good thing. Germany's conquering of Austria and the Sudetenland was largely welcomed by those areas as well. It didn't end well for anyone. We've got the same thing happening now with Russia and Crimea.

        March 18, 2014 at 9:41 am |
    • Евгений

      Russian lived on this land long before the creation of Ukraine. Ukraine created by Russia. The audacity to tell these people that they were cleaned to the east. Just because Americans too lazy to study history.

      March 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
      • Kirko

        And Russia originated from Kiev. What's your point? Can Kiev claim the entire Russian territory?
        I love reading these history referencing posts that are as meaningful as African history. Guess what? History is the past and no one in 21 century has the right to change borders just because some time ago the map was different.

        March 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
      • kurt

        That's a silly argument.

        By that definition, since all life originated in Africa can the Congo claim ownership of every nation of the world?

        Of course not. That sort of justification is stupid... it's an excuse to invade and annex territory and it isn't flying anywhere outside of Russia.

        Russia just did the same thing Nazi Germany did with the Sudetenland. They bloodlessly invaded and annexed part of another country by using a nationalist (fascist) justification. "Protecting Germans" or "Protecting Russians".

        March 18, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • Aleksandr Sanaev

      The Crimea is going home)))

      March 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
      • wow, what a comment

        Good point Alexsandr. But how come, from 1989-1999, 25 former Soviet Republics decided to call "daddy Russia" a rapist, murderer and thief, and run away from home??????? And now, in 2014, only ONE solitary former Soviet Republic wants to go home????????

        March 17, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
    • Tim

      Your text clearly shows YOUR desire for the war. So, who wants it – you or Russia?

      March 18, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • federika

      Yes, lets go to war, More business for the war machine. We don't care if millions are killed or displace, these are only disposable and replaceble bodies. I am sure that Fareek will agreed from his perch in WAPO, CNN and TiIME with American foreing policy like NSA. Deny. Disrupy. Degrade. Deceive. Distort. Delay. Disimform and Destroy

      March 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
    • jeni

      America is no more the world power; Only europe respects it; The whole of asia /africa ,china,russia does not like the way USA interfers in other `countries

      March 19, 2014 at 8:52 am |
    • serb

      Did your mom help you write this cause a third grader knows better then you. Nato destroy Russia? lol . What you suggesting is a WW3 you arrogant IDIOT. Did you know that more American soldiers died upon return from Afghanistan, Iraq etc. due to a suicide then from actual war inflicted wounds. If you ever been in war you would not talk this kind of bull, war brings nothing but suffering and death and only civilians die in it. When NATO planes killed school children in Serbia it was called a "Collateral Damage" and if any non member country does the same it is called a genocide. Crimea is a 97% Russian population and was always Russian. Russians living in Ukraine always lived there they never came there from Russia. Americans came to America and decimated the native population so why don't you listen to your advice and go where ever you came from.

      March 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • Nick

      Do you know anything about Russian history? Read it first and you will see how integrated the two countries are. They are not going to fight and crimea was always part of Russia. This is a unique case, has nothing to do with Kazakstan or other former USSR country.

      March 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm |

      Hey Wholewitt, you are an utter Dimwitt. Judging from your comments you certainly haven't read much

      March 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • Michael

      You have no idea what you are spewing so please stop. Do you think you are dealing with Saddam or some other so called leader. If you want to sacrifice Washington for Kiev then by all means send the troops but if not do not call Russia on this. Instead of me teaching anything to you about this subject I suggest reading Steven Cohen an American Princeton professor who specializes in Soviet/Russian history politics maybe then you will learn some facts and history and not spew, project or communicate the nonsense you just did. Just for the record my father is from Kiev, Ukraine.

      March 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
  2. Eric Rasmussen

    The danger is that those who improvise successfully can be tempted to do that again - and again. It looks as if Putin is already exploring that prospect in Eastern Ukraine by sending in agents provocateur and linking them with pro-Russian residents of that Ukraine region. If you want to stop a bully you must do that promptly with severe punishment. Regrettably, other nations will probably have to use force as well. It is all Putin now understands. Do Obama and other Western leaders have the courage to do that?

    March 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
  3. Andrey

    "The minute the Olympics ends, he scrambles to figure out what to do, and he improvises brilliantly and has been able to detach Crimea. " That's a fantasy, from start to finish! Putin had three months to think and plan after USAID started meddling with Ukraine again, and Olympics required zero attention from Putin himself, and even less from his advisers!
    And anyway, it looks like you say he has done a better job improvising that Crimea take over, than Obama administration did with it's Orange revolution re-run and Nazi coup... it really sucks for you then!
    Putin has got lot's of time to plan what will be next. So if he is capable of figuring something like this on the run, what he will do when he has got all the time he needs!

    March 16, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
  4. Amit

    Now when people of Cremia wants to be with Russia. i dont think anyone should stop them from doing so. If any other country tries to interfere its going to be bad for Cremia and for the country which interferes because going against the will of people is not going to serve anyone. Let Cremia be part of Russia.

    March 16, 2014 at 11:47 pm |
    • wow, what a comment

      Just like we should let Kashmir become part of Pakistan huh??? After all, there is a muslim majority in Kashmir that speaks urdu.......... Ha! Ha! Ha!

      March 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • pappu

        Kashmir and indeed Pakistan has been part of India since centuries. India is a secular country. So why should Kashmir become part of Pakistan? Don't mix apples and oranges. Using that logic, even Bradford should become a separate Muslim country in UK. Or Latino dominated parts of Texas and California should be annexed by Mexico.

        March 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
    • Jayanarayanan Sankaranarayanan

      Kashmir being stolen by Pakistan is very different from Crimea being stolen by Russia. Pakistan has not sent troops into Kashmir with no identification and then held a vote in occupied territory asking the people there if they want to join Pakistan. Instead, they have infiltrated Kashmir with Muslim extremists, that systematically murdered Kashmiri Hindus, over 30 years. This resulted in over 2 million people being killed and over 6 million running away, all of them Hindus. That is why the population of Kashmir became Muslim majority. Very sick and very sad.

      March 18, 2014 at 2:03 am |
    • kurt

      Chechnya doesn't want to be part of Russia... should they be allowed to leave?

      What if the ethnic Chinese in Vladivostok want to go home to China... is that okay? Can china send in troop to occupy the city and have a referendum at gunpoint to make them part of China?

      March 18, 2014 at 9:53 am |
      • DmitryAS

        Did you ask Chechenyans? Even one of them? I doubt it. Besides, Chechnya already had been independent (de-facto, an very likely de-jure in near future). But seems that they wanted something different than independence.

        March 19, 2014 at 8:44 am |
  5. Mike K.

    facts on the ground?

    Wrong when Russia does it in an area where most people are Russian but right when Israel does it where most people aren't Jews?



    March 17, 2014 at 4:10 am |
    • Common Sense

      The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was the result of a war that was started by the Arabs, not the Israelis, which the Israelis won.

      There was no war in the Crimea. There is no similarity. Next argument, please.

      March 18, 2014 at 3:51 am |
  6. James

    Plagiarizer Zakaria at it again. 0 real world experience just a journalist commenting on Putin's tactics. We really need to distinguish between reporters (few left) and commentators. Bring in Fred Burton or Bob Baer please. STRATFOR has far more intelligent and in depth observations.

    Zakaria is speculating about something he only read about never actually working in the field. I am tired of these news clowns (all networks) who pretend to know what they are talking about.

    March 17, 2014 at 11:33 am |
    • wow, what a comment

      Get over it James.......... Fareed is much smarter than you and your navy seal Bob Baer combined. You can leave your mommy's basement now, and go do something useful, like maybe graduate from Harvard, like Fareed.......... 🙂

      March 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
      • Common Sense

        James did not state that Fareed was not smart. He said he had no field experience. If you're going to contradict someone, at least get the subject right.

        March 18, 2014 at 3:44 am |
  7. Christian

    Valid opinions are too complicated. Let's make a sound opinion, this way we can make things more simple! Fact: Russian military migrated to Crimea, according to Putin to protect the Russian background Ukrainians! And yes about more than 10% Russian background Ukrainians lives in Ukraine! It is also true most Crimean's are Russian origin backgrounds who are majority to choose over Russian side! Now, here is where the the TRUTH comes in and where you can call Putins' direct motive! If Russia's sincere motivation for such move to Crimea is purely to protect their Russian ethnic background, then why not open the border to Crimea's people and welcome the millions of people back to Homeland Russia!?, after all, most crimea's people are more than willing to become part of Russia Im sure they will migrate to Russia! This way Crimea stays part of Ukraine, Putin can protect his people, and everyone can go back to their daily lives!! But this isn't the real motives for the Russian Militaries invasion is it? This is to protect their territorial waters and about their black sea fleet base! If New Ukraine took over completely, There could be a chance Russia might not be able to renew their lease on the Crimea base and that Russia cannot afford! Putin also knows if Ukraine becomes part of the west & Europe, foreign military bases are sure to border Russia! So this move isn't about the people who are Russian ethnic background living in Crimea, Ukraine. This is about securing Russian borders by invading Crimea! The solution is simple! Open the border to Russia so people who choose to be part of the homeland can go to homeland! No bloodshed, no winner, no loser. For every action, there's a reaction, but without a source, there is no action. For every purpose, there's a source, but without a meaning there is no purpose!!

    March 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
  8. Christian

    If Russia successfully attain Crimea and secure the black sea fleet base, it will not be a thoughtful victory! The new Ukraine will simply allow foreign bases surrounding Crimea withease and tensions will escalate greater than the situation! Going further, the new Ukraine will likely to join NATO just to attain military and nuclear support, afterall they have already given up their nuclear programs but didnt produce a wuick reaction since they're technically isn't part of NATO. If you invDe their country now, what makes you think they won't join?, when they know you have it! And your the one who took a piece of their country! There is no advantage for Russia to win Cremia! NONE!!

    March 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
    • Albert K

      The way you put it one would infer that the West has long standing ambitions of setting up maillitary bases in Ukraine, (which makes suspect their real reason for their support for Ukraine against Russia) and if that is the case what's wrong with Russia wanting to do the same?

      March 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  9. Alexander

    Well, Kosovo is just one more precedent. Now, the US and Europe cannot say "my invasion is valid but yours is not". That was exactly Putin's words to the community organizer, the worst American president EVER.

    March 17, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Please, Aleksandr. We both know that the US acted with NATO to stop a genocidal war in Kosovo. There was no war in the Crimea. We both know that Kosovo did not get annexed by the US or any other NATO country. The Crimea is going to be annexed.

      There is no similarity. Please stop trying to confuse the issue. The United States has not annexed land since the 1800's, before there were international agreements to make it illegal. In most cases, it was the result of a war. Again, no similarity at all.

      Stick to the main point, and address it, without raising spurious, unrelated events that have no bearing on the topic.

      Thank you.

      March 18, 2014 at 3:48 am |
      • Ilya

        So you prefer to wait until ukraine's naci's start kill russian people that always lived in Crimea? They have Rada in their hands and first steps they do was proclaim they want all Ukrainian russians speak ukrainian only. The ones who won't will be under lustration.

        March 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
      • serb

        If u believe that kosovo was not annexed from sebia by us and nato then I have a bridge t sell u ny city and beach land in arizona
        Genocide in kosovo looks like cnn news and.state.department did a good job on u

        March 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
    • kurt

      I wasn't aware the US or any other nation annexed Kosovo.

      In Kosovo, there was an uprising against their government and in the end some foreign countries (including the US) lended that uprising support. The end result did not have any country absorbing Kosovo.

      If Russia had just "liberated" Crimea, they would probably get away with it. But they've taken it a step further... they're conquering Crimea. And because of that they will not be welcomed back into the world community. Sanctions will simply keep increasing and increasing and they'll be more and more ostracized. They've put themselves in Iran's shoes. Even China will likely abandon them at some point because of how much they've tied themselves to the world economy.

      Russia has few friends left. The end result (probably 10-15 years from now) will likely be a revolution WITHIN Russia do to economic hardship that will just get worse and worse as they stubbornly refuse to let go of Crimea.

      March 18, 2014 at 10:04 am |
  10. tiger khan

    But Russia also has a brutal past.. it has carried out genocides and mass deportations.. lets not forget that,,

    March 18, 2014 at 2:15 am |
  11. Common Sense

    There are legally-binding treaties that all parties have signed regarding mutual respect for their national sovereignty. The UN Charter specifically prohibits member states from invading other countries. Russia is a member state. It has violated international law.

    The UN did not exist in the 1800's, and respect for one nation's national sovereignty by another was a gentleman's agreement, unless it was specifically cited in a particular treaty. So, comparisons with the US's behavior in the 1800's have no basis in law, and are merely an attempt to fog the issue.

    Invading Crimea was clearly illegal. The masked gunmen were either criminals or Russian troops, and could have been arrested or shot (their choice) on either basis. That the Ukrainians showed restraint is admirable; can you imagine how Putin would look now if his forces had killed whole Ukrainian units?

    Anyone who believes this was not premeditated need only look at the effort made to disguise the troops, take over the Ukrainian defense forces recruitment station, and shut down all media to see that this was well planned. Improvisation is not how Putin works, and this is no exception.

    March 18, 2014 at 3:42 am |
    • Alex279

      Treaties may be signed, ratified, cancelled, withdrawan from, or loose meaning.

      In any case the 1994 Memorandum you are refered to was never ratified by any party who have signed it.

      Want peace and stability in the World? The easiest way to achieve it is to make people living on a territory be happy, and feel that they live where they belong. 2 million people on the Planet are now happier than they were 2 weeks ago. And there are ABSOLUTELY NO LOOSERS. I am not counting three polytical clowns in Kiev whose ambitions now have to be toned down a little bit, and a hanful other politiciand whose "credibility is at stake". This is progress. The World is happier and more stable place now than it was 2 weeks ago.

      March 20, 2014 at 12:33 am |
  12. modu

    As United States of America and other Western powers totally disagree with the outcome of the recently held referendum by the Crimea people to leave Ukraine and join with Russia, it is an obligation within the principles of democratic culture for these Western powers to respect the overwhelming voice of the Crimea people. However, Obama and his crew (Western powers) should approach the current Ukrainian political crisis with pragmatic and common sense diplomacy, with such steps of quickly initiating the political will to admitting Ukraine into NATO and EU. As these measures would offset the Crimea people’s decision, diffuse the political maneuver of Putin, and finally, send a direct signal to quasi-totalitarian and expansionist country (ies) of the preparedness of Western powers to support and continue to promote democratic values around the world.

    March 18, 2014 at 5:44 am |
  13. Kenneth

    I say it's time the US sets up the missile defense shield across Europe and the Pacific.

    March 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  14. sinna mani

    This situation arises partly from lack of sensitivity on the part of the Ukrainian rulers as much as anything else. They should have been aware of the fact that NATO moving ever closer to Russian territory was bound to cause concern regard less of the person in charge there. This situation was confounded by the fact there was already an east west divide, one inclined towards Russia and other Towards the West. As in Egypt West behaved irresponsibly by not defending an elected government against an ill disciplined opposition whose ranks included well known Nazis. Restrain on all sides is what is required now.

    March 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  15. FaustusMD

    What's pathetic is Obama's geopolitical skillset. Leader of the free world my ars. Sanctions. Sanctions. Sanctions. Blah blah blah. Unfortunately it takes multiple failures on the world stage over time for everyone to get a clue. Israel finally has a clue and is set to go solo against Iran. Putin got a clue and has started with the occupation of Crimea. Assad got a clue and decided to keep his chemical weapons. Iran got a clue and has since been aggresively pushing forward with enriching plutonium to weapons grade. Obama? No clue or just completely incompetent (along with his advisors. If US intelligence was worth all the money the taxpayer spends to support it, the US would've had troops in Ukraine long before Russia occupied Crimea and this discussion wouldn't be occurring. Instead Russia has troops in Crimea – checkmate. Not much that can be done for Ukraine at this point. However, since Russia is no longer playing by the rules, maybe the rebels in Syria could use more support – I seem to remember a Russian naval base in the area. Perhaps a proxy war with Iran. They are surrounded by countries that despise the Persians. Better get a clue boss and get boots on the ground in whats left of "free" Eastern europe.

    March 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm |
    • Dmendez

      Who cares if ASSAD has chemical weapons who cares if Iran has a nuclear bomb, who cares if crimeans voted to become part of Russia?.... when was the last time Assad Attacked the US? When was the last time Iran attacked the US?
      America's Foreign policy is not about freedom or democracy, it's about interests, and the way they get americans to go along is by instilling fear in Americans....oh no chemical weapons, we have them, oh no nuclear weapons we have them, oh no invasions, we've done them. Protestors in occupy Kiev, their president resigns, protestors accupy wall street they get arrested. I wonder what would happen to US citizens if the protested they way the protestors in kiev did??????

      March 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  16. Shawn Davis

    Kick Russia out of G8, the WTO, and any other group we can. Ban Russian passports. Freeze assets. Cancel oil deals. Startup the missile shield ten fold. Increase troops in Europe and make the Europeans (besides Britain which already punches above it's weight) ante up as well. Charge a tax on any country that does business with Russia starting at 5% and moving up to 50% at 5% each year. Close our embassy in Moscow. Yes, pretty drastic, but Russia is a gangster state - it is time that we recognize this and act accordingly.

    March 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
    • guest

      Big boy pants talk HA:)...BS

      March 19, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • wait a minute

      powerless American, divorced, has no job, smokes reefer, but talks tough........... 🙂

      March 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
    • Sergey

      Wow, cancel oil deals. as I am living in North America I wonder how Americans will react to say $200 per barrel crude? and how economy will react to high oil prices? US economy is not build for this level of energy prices hence non ending crisis. Crude just won't go bellow $100

      March 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • Sergey

      Nobody mentions but US is responsible for between $500 000 and 1 million deaths in Iraq... Add to this Vietnam, country that never made any aggressive move towards US, Laos, Cambodia and US easily looks like the most criminal state in the world after the fall of Germany. Telling others how to behave it clearly a sign of duplicity. Crimea originally is Russian territory and always were. Not only this, The whole of Eastern and Southern Eastern parts of Ukraine are Russian provinces given to artificially created Ukrainian state. And who created this state if no Lenin. Cause I was born and lived in Ukraine I definitely know more than US armchair generals about what is truth and what is not. We always considered Ukrainians from western parts as outsiders.
      Current crisis was caused by US and EU interferences in Ukraine affairs. Ukraine is Russia's red line. After USSR fall, there were written and oral agreements about NATO not expanding into Eastern Europe. US breached those agreements and set NATO on Russia borders. From my perspective US is Russia mortal enemy and Russians should clearly awake to this reality and stop seeing US in any favorite light as there is none.

      March 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Visit Ukraine

    Annexing territory, occupying another country!!! Pretty strong accusations for most here that have no idea what they are talking about. Anyone from New York here?? Analyze the next scenario if you are or know what i'm talking about: Jersey City is less than 4 minutes away from downtown Manhattan on a Path train. Jersey City is part of the NJ state and Manhattan is a borough of New York, which is part of the NY state. Let's say that Jersey City is given to NY for technical reasons – easier to govern as most businesses in Jersey City are extensions of NY. Now, let's say that the American states decide to separate and become independent nations, who should hold claim on Jersey City, NY or NJ??? I'd say NJ, what would you say?? A similar thing happened with Crimea and should have been rightfully claimed by Russia. The chaos with USSR's fall has created this very unpleasant situation for both, Ukraine and Russia, and their people whose history and blood is so intervined that it would be hard to compare Jersey City and Manhattan to them. Now, about Barack Obama and commentators here about Nazis. If Barack Obama goes to Western Ukraine as a president of the United State, he'll surely be welcomed. But if he goes there as not a president and simply as a person of color (not an Aryan looking that is) i'd be surprised if he walks out of there alive. The national hero of Ukraine now is Stepan Bandera (long been labeled by Ukraine, Russia and the world as Hitler of Ukraine. he was killed in 1957 in Germany), the person that welcomed Hitler during WW2 and killed his own Ukrainian people, also Poles, Hungarians, Russians, Jews, Gypsies and others.

    March 19, 2014 at 12:47 am |
  18. Visit Ukraine

    Crimea was not on Russia's agenda, it was never a reason for a fight. Russia could fit 100s of Crimeas in its territory. Just like democracy is not the agenda for Iraq, Libya, Egypt or any other places where coups were orchestrated. Proteciting and preserving your country's interests are always the cause. Crimea, Ukraine is in the back of Russia, which is currently protecting its national interests and the interests of its people, both in Ukraine and Russia.

    March 19, 2014 at 12:56 am |
  19. hwester

    putin take me back in history. like hilter, putin is taking over as the world watches!

    March 19, 2014 at 6:05 am |
  20. AMAZED @ CNN

    What I am amazed at is the coverage of this MAJOR event provided by CNN. Seems like CNN does not want to talk about it. They are intentionally diverting our attention to the " lost" plane. Either US is upto something or they are so ashamed of themselves that they don't want to talk about it. I liked GPS because it gave better coverage to this event.

    March 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  21. Albert K

    My problem with the West is that they are ever so ready to support any opposition group that sets itself up against the government. It is this knee-jerk reaction empathy for the "under-dog" which has led to their supporting opposition groups which have turned out to be mere thugs. The majority of Crimeans have shown that they have an emotional connection with Russia which they feel so strongly as to find cessation desirable. Any political repression of that will can only have negative effects in the long run. Let them be Russian; the west has nothing to lose out of that other face, but that's not a big deal.

    March 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  22. kassandra100

    In 1994 US, UK and Russia signed a memorandum agreeing to protect Ukraine's independence and its borders. For that Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons. Now we see one of this countries annexing part of Ukraine, and other two, trying to impose frankly laughable sanctions, instead of showing Russia its place. Meanwhile, Russia's channel 1 "talking head" promises to redo USA into nuclear ash. Don't believe me?
    Check yourself at .Only he speaks Russian, obviously. I don't think he would allow himself such a rhetoric, unless he had a permission from Kremlin

    March 19, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
    • serb

      Kasandra look up UN resolution 1244 which guarantees the borders of serbia and then usa and west took kosovo away by force so what is ur comment on this

      March 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
  23. serb

    So its ok for usa and west to take away kosovo away from serbia by bombing d country for 78 days drop 20 tons yes tons of depleted uranium cigarette factories, vacuum factories, trains full ofcivilians,tvstation,kindergarden,bridges,chinese embassy and lot more but when russians do it ahhhh you cant do that its illigal, need to honor internationalborders,blabla bla by d west
    Fuy spit good for russia so america and nato go over there and bomb them if u dare
    Its easy to be a bully now here is ur match america

    March 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • wait a minute

      both america & russia have been the bullies on our planet, over the last 100 years! maybe china will become the bully in the future? why can't we humans co-exist peacefully without somebody trying to be the bully?

      March 20, 2014 at 1:57 am |
  24. Alex279

    Dear Fareed,

    Can you say some new bad thing about Putin? This "improvisiong" article has been for the whole week, and it now boring. I bought popcorn and prepared to entertain myself, but there is nothing worth commenting....

    It seems like CNN took a 3-day pause, and BBC become objective: it does not even express outrage about reckless Putin's action any more.



    March 20, 2014 at 12:22 am |
    • Albert K

      The fact is Crimea means more to Putin than Ukraine could ever mean to the West. He is ready to gamble on dangerous games because for him the prize is worth it; for the West it just isn't.

      March 20, 2014 at 6:02 am |
  25. lole gwakisa

    I am a fan of Fareed Zakaria. but in this issuehehas misdirected himself by not being balances.
    America findd itself in a situation it didnot breed.

    But for the sake of democracy,Zakaria conveniently leaves out the part of ousting a legitimate president of Ukraine.
    Whats good for the gender is also good for the goose.
    The EU formented this crisis, Russia responded in kind, now who is crying wolf?

    March 20, 2014 at 6:37 am |
  26. Anton

    Dear, following your logic, North America is still the land of the Indians. And all of today's population – occupiers))

    March 20, 2014 at 11:38 am |
  27. Anti-Fareed

    I find it amazing that Fareed Zakaria is getting paid to write nonsense. Fareed, why don't you make yourself useful, go back to India and advocate for "toilet for everyone"?

    March 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
  28. jake

    Of course Putin is not improvising. It looks like some plan strategically performed very well. The more Russians say they protect their people in Ukraine and return their land forcefully back, the more it looks like pure propaganda. They want whole world to believe in this. We know how Putin's regime (or former USSR) really cares about own people and what human rights mean to them. What is a real goal of this game? If Crimea is a first victory, what will be next in Putin's plan?

    March 21, 2014 at 4:07 am |
  29. America is a crumblin'

    Do we Americans realize that our own CEO's imposed gargantuan sanctions, against us, the American people, when they shipped all our jobs overseas??? And less than 10,000 of these super-rich traitors continue to live opulently, in gated mansions, on a hill not too far from you!!! Who cares about sanctions against Iran or Russia! Verily I say unto you, we Americans have been "sanctioned" into poverty, by our very own super-rich CEO's. And our government did absolutely nothing to stem the tide! How come there is absolutely no discussion, at any level, about this "elephant in the room"???

    March 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
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