Today’s Politico has an interesting cover story that attempts to get inside the brain of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his motivations for pushing military intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. (What else am I going to call it? The Russians didn’t need to “invade” anything. They just kinda showed up with guns and said, “Hi.”) One of the better comments comes from David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, who covered the collapse of the old Soviet Union for The Washington Post:
And while he may go further still, even pressing east or, God forbid, teasing
Ukraine into a shooting war (or a brief skirmish), I think he has improvised,
acted rashly and foolishly, even on his own terms. And while he controls state
media and can artificially pump up his popularity and get paid workers out on
the streets of Moscow to support him, Russians do not want to fight Ukrainians.
Russia, modern Russia, needs to live in the global economy, and this could cause
great damage and ultimately undermine Putin’s political prestige—not among the
liberal elites (he lost them long ago), but among his base constituencies.
Meanwhile, U.S. SecState John Kerry has set a Monday deadline for Russia to reverse course on its military intervention in Ukraine. Is that another red line? At least it didn’t come out of President Obama’s mouth, which has been decidedly muted throughout the Crimea crisis.