The question can be risky. When a Moscow historian who compared Putin to Hitler for invading Ukraine posed it in a newspaper column last Sunday, he was fired from his job at Russia’s most prestigious university. Elsewhere, however, many now believe it has become reasonable to ask. Has Vladimir Putin lost his grip on reality?
If stepped-up US military activity with NATO partners such as Poland and Lithuania seems like a paltry response to Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea province, there’s a reason for that. The modest US show of force – a handful of jet fighters in Eastern European skies and a single warship to the Black Sea – is intended more to calm the nerves of former Soviet republics and satellites nervous about Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, regional experts say, than it is designed to send Russia into retreat with its tail between its legs.
On Thursday a senior Indian official appeared to endorse Russia’s position in Ukraine in recent days, even as Delhi urged all parties involved to seek a peaceful resolution to the diplomatic crisis. When asked for India’s official assessment of the events in Ukraine, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon responded.
In a thoughtful post on Ukraine and Vladimir Putin's decision to invade it, Ross Douthat suggests that the incursion was plausibly connected to White House fumbling in Syria. He begins with a nod to those who disagree. "Many writers I read and respect are dismissive of the idea that concepts like 'toughness' and 'credibility' and 'resolve' meaningfully shape the behavior of foreign actors," he writes.
A U.N. special envoy was forced to abandon a mission to Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region on Wednesday after being detained and besieged inside a cafe by a hostile crowd shouting "Russia! Russia!" Dutch diplomat Robert Serry flew to Istanbul after the incident and, according to the United Nations, would head from there back to Kiev.
Remember the Sochi Olympics? Yeah. Me, neither. There’s been so much focus on Ukraine, we almost forget that just a short time ago we were talking about the “twizzles” of ice dancing. Those were good times. The Sochi Olympics were widely considered a success. They helped introduce a new image of Russia to the world.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev on Tuesday to show support and solidarity with former opposition leaders prepping for a military standoff with Russia. Kerry pledged $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine’s anti-Russian leadership, and had talks with Ukrainian officials to prepare the nation for elections and transition.
Russia invaded Ukraine over the weekend, justifying its incursion by claming it needed to protect Crimea’s ethnic Russian population from supposed neo-Nazi extremists. This was pure propaganda, of course—Vladmir Putin has been keen to annex land that used to be part of Russia, as he did in Georgia in 2008, and seems to think that the Ukrainian army will and should immediately surrender to the Russian one.