Monday, March 10, 2014

You Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time

It is way too soon to say that Russia has already lost the Crimean Crisis. That strikes me as a convenient excuse not to resist Russia.

The basic premise of this article is that Ukrainians may benefit from Russia's invasion of Crimea by forging the national unity to succeed where they have failed in the past to build a pro-Western, prosperous society and to reject Russian dominance.

The author makes a good point, but makes the mistake of assuming that Putin wouldn't accept a terrain grab that maintains a crucial base for Russia in Crimea, while enduring what he will hope is a short-term rallying effect in the remainder of Ukraine and a short-term cooling of relations with the West.

Then Putin can go back to work on applying pressure on Ukraine to undermine that unity, interfere with economic progress to make association with the West seem a waste, and do a better job of fostering resentment among ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine--or do a better job of projecting the illusion of that resentment.

After all, the Ukrainians lost that unity even after the period of Soviet control was a recent memory.

Then some point in the future, Putin can try to bring more of Ukraine into his new empire--whether or not the Ukrainians are willing participants in the new empire where Russia dominates them.

Even though western pundits have prematurely judged he lost because of his non-21st century thinking, Putin isn't a western pundit.