Vladimar Putin Annexes Crimea, Will He Stop There?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin completed the annexation of Crimea on Friday, signing the peninsula into Russia. In a bold move against warnings from the U.S. and European Union, Putin is not backing down.

Putin said he saw no need to further retaliate against the newest U.S. sanctions, braving a newly conciliatory tone and reflecting an apparent attempt to contain one of the worst crises in Russia's relations with the West since the Cold War.

Could it be that Putin is just an opportunist, taunting the U.S., or a clever strategist with the longer-term goal of restoring a greater Russia? As one observer put it, is he "drunk on power" and oblivious to sanctions?

There were some clues as to Putin's intentions during his speech to the Duma this week, when he described the fall of the Soviet Union as unfortunate, stating it separated Russians. "The Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders," he said.

"It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realized that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered." He went on to say, "if you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard."

But is he just after Crimea, or is he just "power crazy" and Ukraine just the tip of the iceberg?

Thursday, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that Americans should turn their focus to Ukraine and away from the missing flight MH370 news, as Russian President Vladimir Putin considers himself “a new czar.”

“Those of us that have dealt with Putin know how he thinks, and he really is nostalgic and believes that he’s some kind of a new czar,” Albright said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

She said the U.S. must be “more vigilant” and called the situation in Ukraine a “game-changer” in U.S.-Russian relations. She explained that Americans’ “very short attention span.”

“I know we’re all focused on the airplane, but the bottom line is: This has really, truly long-term implications, and we all need to focus on how to deal with Ukraine, how to deal with U.S.-European relations,” Albright said. “Then focus on our relations with Russia. Turning point.”

Her comments led to her stressing that in order to stop Putin, there is a need for military intervention, although not necessarily by sending in troops.

“When people talk about military force, they always think boots on the ground. And there are obviously other ways to think about military force,” Albright said. “I do think that NATO, and through a variety of exercises and support, I think that there is a way that that tool has to also be on the table. And vigilance.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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