Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has established a new reality with troops loyal to Moscow on the ground in Crimea. Is the strategy aimed at expanding his power or are the lives of ethnic Russians really in danger? The Kremlin says the West supported the overthrow of Ukraine’s previous government. Is Putin disregarding the interests of a sovereign state or are his actions justified?
It appears that President Putin is prepared to use threats like cutting energy supplies, military action or prison against those who break his rules.
In the end it seems that difficult opponents can be quickly locked up in Russia, only to have their release ordered by the Kremlin, and then for Putin to bask in an image of a benevolent leader. Troops loyal to Russia are in the Crimea.
The West has threatened to use sanctions if they use heavy force but would be relieved if the situation does not escalate into full blown conflict. Are Putin’s actions rational or are they driven by injured pride? Has he assessed the situation properly? Is diplomacy the only tool the West has to influence Russia? Would sanctions help? Is Putin more responsive to falling stock prices and a weakened Rubel?
What role does Russia’s media play in generating fear of the West and promoting military action against a perceived fascist threat? Many ethnic Russians in the Crimea feel threatened because that is what they are told by Russian TV. But how big is the threat to the Russian language and culture? Or has Putin simply failed to come to terms with the end of Soviet might and is seeking a return to a glorious Russian empire? How far is Putin prepared to go?
Tell us your opinion: Russia – An Irrational Giant?
Markus Kaim- After graduating in political science, Markus Kaim went to Washington on a fellowship. That was followed by time spent lecturing at the University of Jena, and later back in Washington. In 2007 he went to Toronto as a guest lecturer having worked since 2005 for the Research Division "International Security" at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. Today he's the head of that division.
Anna Rose - began writing articles for a number of newspapers while studying Journalism at Moscow State University. In 1997 she moved to Germany, where she worked as a freelance journalist. Since 2005 she is the Germany-correspondent for the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, and contributed articles to Novye Izvestiya, Profil and The New Times, as well as for the online-site Slon. She is also a blogger for the internet portal of Echo Moscow radio.
Nataliya Schapeler- is a European research specialist from the Ukraine. She studied in Kiev, Fulda and at Dublin’s University College. She has worked as a project manager at the center for OSCE-research and an independent consultant at the German Society for International
Cooperation (GIZ). She is also one of the initiators of the Euromaidan protest vigil in Berlin and is in close contact with activists in Kiev.