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4 Reasons Why Putin's Crimea Grab Will Backfire

Published: March 28, 2014 (Issue # 1803)


On the surface, President Vladimir Putin’s swift annexation of Crimea was a rousing success. Russian forces easily seized the region, and Putin saw his already high approval rating soar above 70 percent. Many Russians are applauding Putin as a hero who stood up to the West, defended Russians’ rights and rectified a historical injustice.

But rallying around the flag after a seemingly successful military operation is nothing new. Even U.S. President George W. Bush’s ratings shot up to nearly 70 percent immediately after the Iraqi invasion in 2003. Following the initial euphoria, however, ­Putin’s popularity will likely dip as quickly as it rose, just like with Bush. When Russians see that the high economic costs of the Crimea annexation outweigh the benefits, Putin’s victory will surely turn hollow.

Also by this author: Why Russia Is No. 1 in Anti-Americanism

One inherent problem was the haste with which the “Annex Crimea” operation was executed. Once Viktor Yanukovych was stripped of presidential powers by the Ukrainian parliament on Feb. 22, Putin had to move quickly to take advantage of the power vacuum. But in his eagerness to grab Crimea, Putin overlooked — or at the very least dismissed — the consequences of his actions.

Here are four reasons why the Crimean annexation will backfire against Putin.

1. Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, the U.S. flirted with the idea of NATO membership for Ukraine, but at the end of the day Bush understood how much Ukraine meant to Russia and backed off. Bush understood that unlike the Baltic states, which joined NATO in 2004, Ukraine was a firm “red line” for Putin. He knew that Putin would never tolerate the notion that Russia’s Black Sea naval base, which Russia had rented from Ukraine since the Soviet collapse, could be liquidated and turned into a NATO beachhead.

President Barack Obama understood even better than Bush that NATO membership for Ukraine was not worth a major conflict with Russia. Thus, the topic was completely off the table during his presidency.

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Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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