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March 3, 2014
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Russia's invasion of Crimea in the Ukraine caught much of the world by surprise. Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown down a gauntlet to the West, whether that was his intention or not. Here are four columns that help explain what Russia is thinking, and how this invasion could shape the world. --Peter Weber

With the Crimea invasion, "Putin is striking back and playing for keeps in Ukraine," says Damon Wilson at the New Atlanticist. We shouldn't be surprised:

The classic Putin playbook is now on display: fuel separatist sentiments, justify military action by asserting the need to protect ethnic Russians (or at least passport holders), and then "maintain the peace" by stationing Russian forces permanently. In effect, dismember your weak neighbors. [New Atlanticist]

America, and President Obama, will lose in any just about any resolution of the Ukraine crisis, says Aaron David Miller at CNN. In the U.S., "we have a very risk-averse president who's focused more on domestic affairs than foreign policy":

That president is facing a crisis in Ukraine, where geography, history, and proximity favor Putin and leave Washington with a weaker hand. Perhaps some face-saving win-win can be devised. But if not — and perhaps unfairly, because Obama's options are bad ones — America will again be judged a weak and feckless power. [CNN]

"In the parallel universe of the Russian media, the preemptive and humanitarian nature of the operation gets pride of place," says Charles King at The New York Times. In this telling, by Putin and his various mouthpieces, Russia is stepping in not just to protect ethnic Russians, but restore a democratically elected president ousted by what Russia calls "fascists" and thugs. "This interpretive frame may be hard to understand, but some things are not wrong just because Russians happen to believe them":

The Crimean affair is a grand experiment in Mr. Putin's strategy of equivalence: countering every criticism of his government's behavior with a page from the West's own playbook. If his government has a guiding ideology, it is not the concept of restoring the old Soviet Union. It is rather his commitment to exposing what Russian politicians routinely call the "double standards" of American and European foreign policy and revealing the hidden workings of raison d'état — the hardnosed and pragmatic calculation of interests that average citizens from Moscow to Beijing to New Delhi actually believe drives the policies of all great powers. [New York Times]

Putin doesn't care about what the West thinks or, even, does: "After the Olympics, the next 'event' is the Crimea, as cynical as that may sound," says KermlinRussia, a satirical Twitter duo who also writes serious columns on politics and the economy, in The New Republic. "For foreign observers this was a surprise, but not for Russians":

The West has already begun to threaten Russia with political and economic isolation, but this stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of Putin's power. For example, Western analysts say that "Russia will not invade Crimea because Russia's economy is in bad shape and this would only weaken it further." They are mistaken. Putin no longer needs economic growth. He has grasped the contradiction between economic growth and the consolidation of his own power, and he has made his choice. [New Republic]

12:55 a.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton is adding another Republican to her endorsement list: Former GOP senator John Warner of Virginia.

A Clinton campaign aide told The Washington Post Warner, 89, will announce his support at an event Wednesday with Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (R-Va.), in Alexandria. While Warner, a World War II veteran and former U.S. Navy secretary and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has gone against the party before — he opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork and endorsed the Democrat running for his seat rather than the Republican — this is the first time he is endorsing a Democrat for president.

Warner retired in 2009 with high approval rates, and was known for his extensive knowledge of national security affairs. "I am proud to have John's support, and to know that someone with his decades of experience would trust me with the weighty responsibility of being Commander in Chief," Clinton told the Post in a statement. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton brought up former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado in her debate against Donald Trump on Monday night, using only the things Trump said about her, not her name, but then quickly released an ad with Machado talking (in Spanish) about how Trump's insults and comments about her weight humiliated and shamed her. Trump repeated his criticism of Machado's weight on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, a point Megyn Kelly obliquely brought up when she interviewed Machado on Tuesday night's Kelly File.

"The Trump campaign can't really deny that he harassed you over your weight, because it's on camera — many times," she said. "They seem to be denying the specific charges Hillary leveled, which is the language of 'Miss Piggy' and 'Miss Housekeeping.'" She asked if Machado had any witnesses when Trump called her those names, and Machado said, in slightly stilted English, said it happened 20 years ago and that she came forward to share her story for her Latino community and to "open some eyes."

Kelly noted that Machado now says Trump's comments helped drive her into eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, then read a 1997 interview in The Washington Post in which Machado appears to say she had eating disorders for years before winning Miss Universe. Machado said no, "I never had any problem before the Miss Universe" pageant. "No, I'm sorry, but that was not true," she added after Kelly read the quote. "Maybe in that moment, they — the company, Miss Universe, and in specific, this person — they manipulated a lot of information about me."

"I'm here because I know this person, and he is not a good person — that is the point," Machado said. "The point is, no more abuse for us. No more abuse for the girls. If you gain weight, if you don't look the most beautiful girl in the world, you have your mind, you have your heart, you are strong, you are intelligent. And in the future, that ladies can be a president, too." Peter Weber

September 27, 2016
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President Obama is honoring the late Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel who died Tuesday at age 93, calling him a "Founding Father of the state of Israel and a statesman whose commitment to Israel's security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism."

"There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves," Obama said in a statement. "My friend Shimon was one of those people." Obama recounted that he first met Peres in Jerusalem when he was a U.S. senator, and that he'd asked him for advice. "He told me that while people often say that the future belongs to the young, it's the present that really belongs to the young," Obama said. "'Leave the future to me,' he said. 'I have time.' And he was right." He described Peres as a "soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves."

In 2012, Obama presented Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, and said Americans are "in his debt because, having worked with every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy, no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries — an unbreakable alliance that today is closer and stronger than it has ever been." Peres never gave up on the "possibility of peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and Israel's neighbors," Obama said, adding he believes there is "no greater tribute to his life than to renew our commitment to the peace that we know is possible." While a "light has gone out," Obama said, "the hope he gave us will burn forever." Catherine Garcia

September 27, 2016
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For the first time in its history, The Arizona Republic newspaper is supporting a Democrat over a Republican for president, endorsing Hillary Clinton.

In an editorial published Tuesday night, the board said Clinton, not Donald Trump, understands that the "challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head, and the ability to think carefully before acting." Clinton not only has the "temperament and experience to be president," but she knows how to "compromise and to lead with intelligence, decorum, and perspective," the editorial says. For decades, Clinton has withstood "scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians," including some attacks that "strain credulity," while Trump "hasn't even let the American people scrutinize his tax returns, which could help the nation judge his claims of business acumen." The board goes on to tick off several of Trump's "demeaning comments" about women, a disabled reporter, and POWs, saying they prove he has a "stunning lack of human decency, empathy, and respect."

When it comes to immigration, Arizona "went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels," the editorial says, and it earned the state "international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration." The editorial board does believe Clinton has made some "serious missteps," like the use of a private email server while secretary of state, but she "does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies" and is the "superior choice" to Trump, who "responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads." Read the entire editorial at The Arizona Republic. Catherine Garcia

September 27, 2016
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Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the Oslo Accords, died Tuesday. He was 93.

Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago, and was on a respirator at a hospital near Tel Aviv when his health quickly declined and he died, the official Israel News Agency reports. During his long career in politics, Peres — who in 1934 emigrated at age 11 from Poland to British Mandate Palestine — held almost every significant position in the Israeli government. He was first elected to parliament in 1959, and had two brief turns as prime minister.

Peres served a seven-year term as president from 2007 to 2014, and argued for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a key player in putting together the Oslo Accords, and was jointly awarded the Nobel prize in 1994 with Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister at the time, and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Peres, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012 and founded the Peres Center for Peace, is survived by his wife, Sonya, and three children. Catherine Garcia

September 27, 2016
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More than 84 million Americans watched Monday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and thousands of miles away in a secret location somewhere in Afghanistan, so did leaders of the Taliban.

A spokesman for the militant organization, which has killed thousands of people during two decades of violence, told NBC News they were "very interested in watching," but said there was "nothing of interest to us in the debate as both of them said little about Afghanistan and their future plans for the country." Zabihullah Mujahid also gave his opinion on Trump, declaring he says "anything that comes to his tongue" and is "non-serious." Catherine Garcia

September 27, 2016
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On Tuesday, President Obama nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis as the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than a half-century.

Since 2014, when the U.S. Embassy in Havana reopened, DeLaurentis has been the country's chief diplomat in Cuba, but he's able to get a promotion to ambassador now that the diplomatic freeze is over. "Jeff's leadership has been vital throughout the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, and the appointment of an ambassador is a common-sense step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between our two countries," Obama said in a statement.

DeLaurentis must be confirmed by the Senate in a simple majority, but some senators, including Cuban-American Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, have both said they will oppose any ambassador named by Obama. "A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial and closed regime," Rubio said Tuesday. "This nomination should go nowhere." Catherine Garcia

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