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Trying to Get Inside the Head of Vladimir Putin

Published: March 7, 2014 (Issue # 1800)


On Sunday, Russian troops invaded Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine in which 15,000 sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are stationed. What was the Russian presidents thinking in escalating a world crisis over the past week? Why has a politician, whom many considered to be a rational actor, chosen to intervene in Ukraine?

Analyzing Putins mind is not a simple task. His statements are often contradictory. He maintains, for example, that Ukraines new leaders should have adhered to the deal brokered by European foreign ministers on Feb. 21 that would have allowed Viktor Yanukovych to remain in office as president until an early election that was scheduled for December, according to the agreement. Yet Russia took no part in that discussion and refused to sign that agreement. Perhaps even more significant, it has not advocated the return of Yanukovych, despite the fact that he has fled to Russian territory.

Related: Why There Will Be War in Ukraine

Putin also maintains that because of the collapse of the European Union-brokered deal, Russia is no longer bound by the terms of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, according to which Russia, the U.S. and Britain committed themselves to guaranteeing the security of Ukraine. Many were left scratching their heads, asking what the link was between the two events.

In essence, according to this line of reasoning, the protest leaders carried out an illegal coup. Yet it was precisely as this deal was being debated that the former president ordered his troops to use live ammunition on the protesters, carrying out a massacre on the square. Consequently, Yanukovych lost his majority support in the parliament as many Party of Regions deputies deserted to the opposition. Sensing that he had lost all support and legitimacy, he fled to Russia.

Related: Putin's Law

What else do we know about Putins thinking on Ukraine? What could have prompted him to flout the Budapest Memorandum and perpetuate and give new credibility to the old canard of Russian aggression against Ukraine? If we assume for the moment that we are inside Putins head, then it might run something like the following:

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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