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 (391 Responses)
  1. 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 |
  2. 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 |
  3. 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 |
  4. 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 |
  5. 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 |
  6. Shtorch

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

    March 30, 2014 at 5:28 am |
  7. 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 |
  8. Joe

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

    March 31, 2014 at 7:26 am |
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