Speed Reads

foreign affairs

Why Russia authorized the use of force in the Ukraine

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With the Russian Parliament approving Vladimir Putin's request to deploy troops in Ukraine, foreign policy wonk Ian Bremmer has weighed in with a graphic illustrating Russia's perspective on the Ukraine, and just why Russia is willing to entangle itself in the country, in spite of the warnings of President Obama and other Western leaders not to do so:

The territory that makes up the Ukraine today has been part of various Russian empires for much of the past 400 years. Some regions — including the troubled Crimea — have Russian majorities even today due to mass migration that occurred during the Soviet years. And Kiev — the Ukrainian capital today — was the first capital of Russia itself.

The breakup of the Soviet Union has been a long and messy process, and is in some ways still ongoing today in the Ukraine. If the Russian-majority regions including Crimea wish to leave and rejoin Russia, it would seem to be rather impossible and futile to prevent that process.

On the other hand, if Russia tries to annex the whole of the Ukraine, then that is much more likely to draw Western retaliation, a rather edgy and tense prospect given the massive numbers of Russian and Western nuclear weapons.