Putin may be weighing 'costs' of Ukraine invasion
5 Things You Should Know About Putin's Incursion Into Crimea - ForbesMOSCOW — Russia should not assume it will have an easy time if the nation's forces attempt to impose its will militarily on Ukraine, which the Russian parliament on Saturday said could be occupied by Moscow's troops for "safety" reasons.
"I think this will end badly," said Ilya Ponomaryov, a deputy of the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament and a member of a party opposed to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Deploying forces to the Crimea will only galvanize the Ukrainian opposition. And it will only distance Ukraine from Russia," he said.
How Far Will Putin Go?If Putin does annex Crimea, it will surely bring international condemnation and, quite probably, some form of implicit or explicit trade sanctions. With its weakened economy, that is not something that Russia can easily afford and a downturn can be expected. If the price of oil drops 15%-20%, the country could suffer a crisis on the level of what it endured in the 1990′s.
Putin will also see a military buildup in his backyard. NATO membership for Georgia, with the advanced weapon systems and training it will bring, will surely degrade Russian national security. The port of Batumi (see map above), could also serve as an important military asset.
Perhaps most importantly, annexation of Crimea will mean that Putin has lost Ukraine for good. It will be a transgression that will not be forgotten or forgiven and will speed up European aid and integration.
The Crimean Tatars, with their deep hatred of Russia, will resist Russian sovereignty, possibly resulting in a situation similar to the one in war-torn Chechnya. The Russian President is, in effect, sowing the seeds of conflict for decades to come.
And that is what is so worrying about Putin’s latest moves. They show that he is clearly a desperate man, willing to make a clean break with Ukraine and Europe, risk an acceleration of Georgia’s membership in NATO—an event that he wants to avoid almost as much as losing Ukraine—cripple his own economy and suppress yet another indigenous population. All for little tangible gain.
It appears that Putin feels that he has nothing left to lose.
There is only one reason Putin has embarked on what Russian democratic opposition leader Boris Nemtsov calls "folly": flexing his military muscle enhances Putin's authority as a strongman who will reestablish Russia's grandeur and brook no people-power in former Soviet states.
Putin's incursion suggests that he must fear Ukraine -- so much so that he is willing to risk Russia's prosperity and stability. Putin the rational Bismarckian geostrategist has clearly given way to Putin the irrational and impulsive leader -- possibly as a result of the triumph of the democratic revolution in Ukraine. This may be the only ray of light in an otherwise catastrophic picture. Bad leaders make bad mistakes and, when they do, their power often disintegrates. Unfortunately, thousands of Ukrainians and Russians may have to die before that happens.