McFaul: “These Things Can Move Very Quickly in Unintended Ways”
According to Michael McFaul, who departed his position as U.S. ambassador to Moscow after two tumultuous years, shortly before the current crisis in Ukraine broke out, the invasion of Crimea was likely “not some premeditated move by Putin to fulfill his grand strategy of dominating that part of the world."
Rather, he argues, “it’s important for people to remember that his most important foreign-policy objective is to create the Eurasian Economic Union as a counter to the European Union. Critical to the success of that object was to have Ukraine in the economic Union, not Crimea but all of Ukraine.”
Perhaps in a bid to shore up support from the existing members of the union, Putin held a snap summit with the presidents of Kazakhstan and Belarus this week. In a conference call today, organized by the National Security Network, I asked McFaul whether Putin’s project to build an economic union of post-Soviet states to counterbalance the EU can survive the Ukraine crisis.
“I don’t think it’s a fait accompli that Crimea will be occupied forever,” he said. “It’s a big if. But if it happens, it destroys the project. There’s no doubt about it. Most importantly, if that tragic scenario plays out, you have made sure that the rest of Ukraine will never have any interest in joining a Eurasian Union. It just changes the electoral politics within Ukraine. The only mechanism he’ll have left is coercive power—he’ll coerce countries into joining. But the size of the Ukrainian economy and population just dwarfs everybody else in the former Soviet Union who could join. Ukraine was always the big prize, and he’s just guaranteed that it’s now over.”
McFaul, who has now returned to Stanford, where he was a professor and prominent scholar on Russian affairs before joining the Obama administration, said the upcoming Crimean referendum on joining Russia would “create some very sticky facts on the ground” that would be difficult for U.S. diplomacy to reverse. “I fear that that will create an ambiguous sovereignty in Crimea that could last for a long time,” he said.
McFaul is also not convinced that Russia’s military advance will stop with Crimea. “These things can move very quickly in unintended ways,” he said. “Is Putin planning an invasion of eastern Ukraine? I don’t know but I would be surprised. But can I put together a set of events over the next weeks or months that would lead to military intervention in eastern Ukraine? Of course. To say that it’s not possible would be irresponsible. I’m deeply worried about it, frankly. Even if the probability of it is low, the negative consequences are extremely high.”
McFaul defended the Obama administration’s “reset” policy, of which he was a key architect, saying that the intention was always to “engage with Russia to seek agreement on common interests” without linking them to areas of disagreement such as human rights or Russia’s policies toward its neighbors. He pointed to a number of accomplishments of the policy, including the New START nuclear reduction treaty and the Northern Distribution Network to Afghanistan.
On the question of whether Putin views President Obama as “weak” and has taken advantage of an unwillingness to inflict serious consequences, McFaul argued that “On the contrary, [Putin] has a theory of American power that is quite paranoid about how powerful the United States is, allegedly fomenting revolution in the Middle East and now Ukraine.”
Tension in Sochi as the Winter Paralympics Begin
The Sochi Winter Games were more politically tense than your average Olympics, though probably less than many were expecting, or hoping. But in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Crimea—just a few hundred miles up the Black Sea coast—has raised the stakes for the Paralympic Games, which kick off today.
Nobody’s completely boycotting the games, but a number of countries, including the United States, France, Norway, and Britain, have decided not to send official delegations to today’s opening ceremony. Ukraine is sending its athletes after strongly considering a boycott, but Valerii Sushkevych, president of the country’s Paralympic committee, said after a meeting with Vladimir Putin that he fears that “during the Paralympic Games we will see something which could not be rectified” take place in Ukraine, in which case the athletes will leave “at that very second.”
During the Olympics, the IOC denied a request by Ukrainian athletes to wear black armbands in honor of those killed during street protests in Kiev, and it will be interesting to see whether there are further political gestures from the team. Already today, the Ukrainian team made a statement by sending out only its flag-bearer, Nordic skier Mykhaylo Tkachenko, in the athletes’ parade at today’s opening ceremony, with the rest of the 23-member delegation staying in their rooms.
The Sochi Paralympics, the biggest ever held, are meant to highlight Russia’s progress in its treatment of its 13 million citizens with disabilities. Its record on this hasn’t always been so distinguished. In 1980, when Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics, the country simply declined to organize the Paralympics, with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev reportedly saying, "In our country, there are no disabled people."
According to a Human Rights Watch report issued in September, in recent years “The Russian government has taken some high profile steps to improve accessibility, but when it comes to daily life – such as going to work or visiting the doctor – people with disabilities face an uphill battle.”
According to the report, Russian accessibility laws are now actually quite strong—and unlike the United States, it has signed and ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—but Russians with disabilities still face serious barriers related to infrastructure and discrimination.
The School Textbook Change That Has Japan Furious at Virginia
The Washington Post reports that an “obscure textbook bill that elicited threats from Japan and drew busloads of Korean activists to the Capitol was headed Wednesday to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.”
The bill requires all new Virginia textbooks to mention that the Sea of Japan is also known as the “East Sea.” McAuliffe promised to make the change on the campaign trail while attempting to win votes from Northern Virginia’s growing Korean community, who claim that the name was wrongly popularized while Korea was under Japanese occupation. It has predictably irritated Tokyo, with Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. warning that it could harm Japan-Virginia business relations. New York and New Jersey are reportedly considering similar bills.
I don’t see anything wrong with textbooks mentioning this, but taking statewide action to require it seems unnecessarily provocative. I get Koreans’ frustrations with what they see as Japan’s failure to fully come to terms with its wartime actions—which I would hope the textbooks also discuss—but there’s an ongoing territorial conflict between the two U.S. allies that Washington is, wisely, I think, trying not to get further involved in.
This seems like an area where state government should follow the lead of the State Department, which announced in 2012 that despite a Change.gov petition, it would be sticking with “Sea of Japan” as the official nomenclature.
Before you blast me in the comments section, I don’t have any stance on which is the better name. But in cases where there’s ambiguity, the best course of action is usually to stick with long-standing practice rather than make a statement by changing it. Referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf just to irk Iran doesn’t seem all that productive either.
In any case, it seems like a lot of fuss for a very minor change. I would be surprised if Virginia textbooks spent all that much time of the Sea of Japan/East Sea to begin with. The fact that, according to one state representative, “For years, our textbooks said that the slaves were happy,” seems like a bigger cause for concern.
Don’t Mention the War
The irascible Syrian Twitter activist “The 47th” joked yesterday that “US politicians are the Hitlers of using Hitler in analogies.”
Indeed, the comparisons between Russia’s incursion into Crimea and the early days of Nazi Germany’s expansion are flying fast and loose in Washington. As my colleague David Weigel noted yesterday, some Republicans are almost gleefully welcoming Hillary Clinton into the fold after remarks she made on the subject at an event in Long Beach, which included “the sort of analogy that would light up Media Matters or your favorite conservative derp site if uttered by a Republican.”
Here’s what she said:
Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the '30s. All the Germans that were ... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right, I must go and protect my people, and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.
The analogy no doubt made a lot of liberal Hillary supporters groan, but in and of itself, it doesn’t seem all that ridiculous to me. Hitler did argue that the western rim of Czechoslovakia should rightfully be part of German territory because of the 3 million ethnic Germans living there. The arguments used by some Russian nationalists about places like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Crimea do bear a superficial resemblance to this worldview.
Peter Harris elaborates in the National Interest:
Russia today is a resurgent great power led by an autocratic strongman with a penchant for fanning chauvinist sentiment at home. A large part of Vladimir Putin’s domestic appeal is the perception that he rescued Russia after a decade in the doldrums. The 1990s were a period of humiliation for Russians, when their state and economy collapsed around them. Living standards plummeted and corruption was rife. On the world stage, the former superpower was forced to endure the indignity of the U.S. and its allies meddling in its traditional spheres of influences. Under Putin, this trend of national ignominy has been reversed—a process still underway, to be sure, but an achievement for which Putin has earned the admiration of many of his compatriots.
Putin also is popular among those in Russia’s “Near Abroad” who have resisted westernization—in Belarus, eastern Ukraine, the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and (at times) the Central Asian republics, for example. Especially among embattled elites (such as Viktor Yanukovych and his henchmen) and Russia’s “beached diaspora” (that is, those Russian communities which found themselves living in independent, often virulently anti-Russian countries following the collapse of the Soviet Union), Putin’s Russia is seen as a protector.
The real problem isn’t the comparison itself, it’s the lesson that is generally drawn from it. The invocations of Munich and Sudetenland have become a shorthand for the argument that seeking a negotiated solution to a crisis caused by a country’s violations of international norms will only invite further aggression and eventual catastrophe. Until now, it was invoked most frequently in reference to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. (It also ignores that more contemporary scholarship has suggested that Neville Chamberlain was far more realistic about the threat posed by Nazi Germany and acted far more responsibly than his historical caricature would suggest.)
It’s not the most original point to suggest that while historical analogies can be useful to leaders in a crisis situation, they can also be misleading. Not all negotiated settlements will turn out like Munich. Not all military interventions will end up like the Vietnam War.
Richard Neustadt and Ernest May’s 1986 book Thinking in Time, which provides a host of examples of policymakers being led astray by reaching for the nearest available historical analogy, is a staple of undergraduate poli-sci syllabi. The authors recommend simply that that leaders “stop, look, listen” before invoking historical analogies, taking a moment to note what is known vs. unclear about the situation at hand as well as the similarities and differences between the two situations being compared.
In the case of the Putin-Hitler comparison, it’s true that we have a nationalist strongman leader of a resurgent power with a historical grudge using his country’s scattered diaspora as a pretext for annexing territory from neighboring countries. Differences might include, among many others, the relative military balance in the world today, the interconnectedness of the global economy, Putin’s relatively limited ability to project power beyond his immediate neighborhood, and the fact that, while the country's human rights record shouldn’t be downplayed, there’s no evidence to suggest Russia is wantonly slaughtering civilians or plotting a massive genocide.
Harris' article actually manages to show that it's possible to talk about “Munich’s lessons for the Ukraine crisis” without suggesting that Putin is the same as Hitler, or that the two situations will play out the same way, or that any compromise will inevitably lead down the path to World War II.
But the shorthand that “Munich” has become in contemporary U.S. political debate, and the frequency with which it is abused, makes it very hard to talk about those lessons without drifting into Godwin’s Law territory.
Turkey’s Black Sea Blues
Turkey hasn’t had direct control over Crimea since 1783, when the Crimean Khanate, a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, was annexed by Catherine the Great. But because of cultural ties to the region’s Turkic-speaking Muslim Tatar minority, as well as a strategic interest in what’s happening on the other side of the Black Sea, Ankara has been watching the situation closely.
“If the term is appropriate, we are in 'mobilization' to defend the rights of our kin in Crimea by doing whatever is necessary,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during a visit to Kiev last week where he met with Ukraine’s new government as well as Tatar leaders. Davutoğlu has been active in Crimean affairs before. In 2012 he facilitated talks between Tatar leaders and the Ukrainian government.
While the term “mobilization” may conjure up visions of the Crimean War, when the Ottomans fought Imperial Russia with Britain and France as allies, Turkey’s actual involvement in the crisis is likely to be limited and the government seems to be taking pains to not unnecessarily antagonize Russia.
The two countries have a particularly awkward relationship at the moment. Russia is Turkey’s largest supplier of natural gas, and over the past decade trade between them has increased sevenfold and Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have met more than 30 times.
At the same time, the two are essentially fighting a proxy war in Syria, with Russia as the primary international patron of Bashar al-Assad and Turkey supporting the rebels—although it has backed away from the support a bit recently.
And while there’s still virtually no chance of military confrontation between the two, the fact that the naval power balance in the Black Sea has tipped heavily in Turkey’s favor in the past few years is likely part of the reason why keeping its fleet at Sevastopol is such a priority for Russia.
As Semih Idiz of Al-Monitor writes, Crimea “continues to hold an important part in Turkish nationalist lore” and the permanent reannexation of Crimea by Russia, particularly if there’s any backlash against the Tatars, could be a another political blow for Erdoğan, who has bigger problems on his plate right now. But like the Western leaders he’s allied with on this issue, he's not really sure what he can do about it.
How Many “Chief Rabbis” Does Ukraine Have?
In the ongoing coverage of the turmoil, and the discussion of what it all means for the country’s Jews, you may, confusingly, have seen a number of people referred to as Ukraine’s “chief rabbi.”
On one side, there’s Moshe Reuven Asman, who caused quite a bit of international consternation with his call for Kiev’s Jews to “leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too” amid fears that Jews would be targeted in the country’s chaos. But there’s also Yaakov Dov Bleich, who has accused Russia of staging anti-Semitic provocations to justify its invasion of Crimea.
This has been an issue for a while in Ukraine, where at least three men claim the title of “chief rabbi.” As the Jerusalem Post reported in 2005, Asman was elected that year by two Jewish organizations, the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress and the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, but his election was rejected as illegitimate by a number of other groups. The U.S.-born Bleich, a member of the Karlin-Stoliner Hasidic dynasty and the president of the Jewish Federation of Ukraine, has been referred to as chief rabbi since 1992 . There’s also the Russian-born Azriel Haikin, who was proclaimed chief rabbi in 2003 by “dozens of Chabad rabbis” working for the Federation of Jewish Communities. He seems to be keeping his head down in the current unrest.
Then there are also other figures, including Alex Dukhovny, head rabbi of the Ukrainian Progressive Judaism communities, and Reuven Stamov, head rabbi of the Ukrainian Traditional Judaism communities, both of whom are signatories of an open letter to Vladimir Putin, which circulated this week, asking him to stop using the protection of Jews as a pretext for invading Ukraine.
On its own, the ambiguity among Ukraine’s rival rabbis may not be that interesting. But it’s important to keep in mind that Ukraine’s Jewish community isn’t a monolithic bloc. A significant number participated in the Euromaidan movement in Kiev, but there seem to also be a significant number of Jews in Crimea who welcomed the Russian troops. Ukraine's Jewish community may be small by U.S. or Israeli standards, but by global standards its pretty big—somehwere between 70,000 and 200,000, depending on how you count. It doesn't seem as though any of these leaders really speaks for all of them.
There have been a number of anti-Semitic incidents since the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych. A synagogue in the Crimean city of Simferopol was defaced. In the midst of the proteststs, there have been at least three beatings of Jews and two vandalism attacks on synagogues. A synagogue was also reportedly attacked in the southeastern city of Zaporozhye, though a number of prominent Jewish leaders accuse Russian nationalists of these attacks. And there are undoubtedly anti-Semitic elements within the movement that now runs the country.
On the other hand, the notion put forward by Russia’s foreign ministry and president that Ukraine’s Jews need a Russian military intervention to protect them (complete with invocations of “pogroms”) is laughable. “Who speaks for Ukraine’s Jews?” might be a question open to debate, but the answer is certainly not Vladimir Putin.
Charles King’s 2009 dispatch from Sevastopol, “City on the Edge,” is well worth rereading in light of recent events. Among other things, it takes note of an overlooked character in the long runup to the current Crimean drama:
For years the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, has made Crimea and Sevastopol a pet project. He has invested tens of millions of dollars in local industry, politics and public facilities, stoking the sense of allegiance to Russia and challenging the former Yeltsin Administration’s commitment to Crimea’s permanent status inside Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Crimean inhabitants have reportedly taken Russian citizenship. Airlines connect Sevastopol and other Crimean cities with Moscow and St. Petersburg, carrying holiday travelers, business people, seasonal workers and military personnel between the old imperial capitals and their former provincial outposts.
Luzhkov is a fascinating figure. One of the founders of the ruling United Russia party, he was mayor of Moscow from 1992 to 2010. During that time, the city transformed from the drab and demoralized capital of a collapsed empire into a glittering boomtown. Russia’s new oil wealth funded dozens of new apartment complexes, shopping centers, and skyscrapers, many of which just happened to be built by the construction company owned by his wife, Yelena Baturina, Russia’s only female billionaire. During the last years of his tenure, the socially conservative Luzhkov was probably best known outside Russia for banning gay pride parades, which he referred to as “satanic,” and decorating the city with images of Joseph Stalin.
(Fun fact for anyone playing the six-degrees-of-Yury-Luzhkov game at home: Baturina’s brother Viktor, a former multimillionaire jailed last year for embezzlement, is the ex-husband of Yana Rudkovskaya—the ever-present wife of figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko.)
Though an influential power broker within United Russia, by 2010 Luzhkov had become a liability. The corruption scandals in the city government became too blatant to sweep under the rug, he was pilloried for going on vacation while the city was choked with smog from nearby wildfires, and he had taken to publicly criticizing then-President Dmitry Medvedev. After what seemed like a Kremlin-orchestrated media campaign against him, Luzhkov was unceremoniously fired on his birthday.
Luzhkov had a relatively soft landing considering the corruption allegations against him. He was appointed dean of the International University in Moscow shortly after his sacking.
In addition to leaving a formidable legacy in Moscow, Luzhkov also made his mark on Russian foreign policy—advocating the restoration of Russia’s regional influence and encouraging separatist sentiment among ethnic Russians living in neighboring countries. For years, he was the primary patron of the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, investing millions of rubles of his wife’s money to develop them. But Crimea, which he argued was rightfully Russian territory and was the victim of cultural suppression from Kiev, may have been his biggest passion project.
In 2008, the New York Times reported that in Sevastopol, Luzhkov “has constructed a branch of Moscow State University, Russian Orthodox cathedrals, schools, a sports complex and other facilities. Military personnel with the Black Sea fleet refer to their housing as Luzhki because Mr. Luzhkov built thousands of apartments for them.” Just this week, even in the midst of the conflict, Moscow formally launched a project to build a bridge between Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea coast, an idea that Luzhkov had championed during the 1990s.
Ukraine’s Security Service went as far as to bar Luzhkov from entering the country in 2008 due to “actions that threaten Ukraine's national interests and territorial integrity." He was eventually able to return under Yanukovych’s government.
Given that in the few months, Russia has passed a nationwide law banning “gay propaganda,” seen the culmination of a massive and costly construction project in Sochi, and seemingly retaken Crimea, it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that while Luzhkov has departed the Russian political scene, probably permanently, the country’s politics are heading in a direction he would likely wholeheartedly support.
How Deep Is China’s Support for Russia?
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has touted the fact that that Russia and China have “broadly coinciding points of view" on the situation in Ukraine, and certainly Beijing hasn’t joined the U.S. and Europe in rushing to condemn the taking of Crimea. But Beijing’s stance on this may actually be a bit more nuanced. (See China Digital Times for a useful roundup of commentary on China’s reaction to the crisis.)
China is a close ally of Russia on a number of fronts and shares with it a distrust of Western efforts to support “color revolutions” in other countries. The two have formed something of a sovereignty caucus on the U.N. Security Council, and China has similar fears to Russia of encirclement by hostile smaller countries supported by the United States.
But then again, Russia’s actions in Ukraine could also be seen as exactly the sort of interference in another country’s affairs and violation of its sovereignty that makes Beijing nervous.
The reflexively hawkish Global Times editorializes that “Chinese public opinion should firmly stand by Russia and support its resistance to pressure from the West. Such resistance is the real picture of the Ukraine crisis.”
But Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang, via Xinhua, was a bit more circumspect:
Condemning violences [sic] over the past days in Ukraine, Qin said China has been urging all parties in Ukraine to address their domestic disputes peacefully in accordance with the country's law, safeguard the legitimate rights of the Ukrainian people of all ethnics, and restore social order as soon as possible.
Qin said China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country's internal affairs and respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"There have been reasons for today's situation in Ukraine," said the spokesman, without detailing the reasons.
While not as extensive as its partnerships with Russia, China's economic relationship with Ukraine is deepening. Last year, as Alejandro Litovsky writes, “Ukraine agreed to a plan to lease 5% of the country’s land to Chinese state-owned companies for agricultural production.” China also imports arms and bought its first aircraft carrier from Ukraine.
Some in Washington have made the case that if Russia faces few consequences for its invasion of Crimea, it could encourage China to seize the islands it claims in the East and South China Seas. Like Robert Farley, I tend to think that the notion of “precedents” like this is a bit overrated. The situations are also so different—in Asia, we’re talking about uninhabited islets, not a large territory full of Chinese people; unlike Ukraine, Japan is a stable and unified country with a long-standing mutual defense agreement with the United States—that I kind of doubt strategists in Beijing are drawing too many useful lessons right now.
It seems for the moment as though the Chinese government will continue to support Russia, but not that loudly, and like the rest of us, hopes the situation will resolve itself quickly.
How Long Will Russia Keep Pretending That Yanukovych Is Still President?
Chris Borgen at Opinio Juris takes note of the fact that Russia’s legal rationale for its actions in Crimea depends on the assumption that Viktor Yanukovych, now in exile in Russia, is still the president of Ukraine.
During a debate in the U.N. Security Council yesterday, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin held up a letter from Yanukovych that appeals “to the President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine." The letter is dated March 1. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Feb. 22.
Therefore, as Borgen notes, the argument that this is not an “invasion, but rather a lawful response to a request for assistance by a government” is “predicated on the idea that Yanukovich was empowered to ask for Russian assistance and military intervention.”
Yanukovych clearly believes he is still president, telling reporters in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, "If a president hasn't resigned, if he hasn't been impeached, and if he is alive – and you see that I am alive – then he remains the president."
The U.S. State Department, on the other hand, argues that Yanukovych “lost his legitimacy as he abdicated his responsibilities.”
The general practice in U.S. foreign policy has been to recognize countries rather than governments. The U.S. deals—or in the case of more hostile governments, doesn’t deal—with whomever holds power. There have been a few notable exceptions involving the U.S. recognizing rebel groups or government in exile. Most recently, the Obama administration briefly recognized Libya’s main opposition group as “the legitimate governing authority" of that country while Muammar al-Qaddafi was still alive and nominally in charge of the country.
Other countries and organizations handle this differently. The Arab League has allowed Syria’s opposition to take over the country’s seat, for instance.
In this case things are complicated by the fact that the current government in Kiev’s legitimacy is being challenged not just in Crimea but in several cities in eastern Ukraine. However, going just by the facts on the ground, they certainly seem to have more of a claim than Yanukovych does from Rostov-on-Don.
Assuming that Yanukovych doesn’t make a miraculous return, Russia seems likely to keep up the premise that he’s still actually the president of Ukraine for as long as it’s useful. The country’s voting for a new president on May 25, and at some point, Moscow’s going to have to deal with the winner.
The Cost of Crimea
Obviously, losing a significant portion of your country’s territory to foreign invasion is a significant setback for any government. But from the perspective of pure electoral math, it might not actually be the worst thing for Ukraine’s new leaders if Russia’s control of Crimea becomes permanent.
American University professor Keith Darden writes in Foreign Affairs that “for two decades, Crimean voters have provided crucial electoral support for pro-Russian parties and presidential candidates. Without Crimea, Yanukovych could never have won office in the first place.”
That may be a bit of an exaggeration. Crimea’s population is relatively small, and voter turnout there tends to be on the low side. Plus, Yanukovych ran in 2010 against a divided and extremely unpopular pro-Western coalition.
But it is true that Ukrainian elections are close—Yanukovych beat Yulia Tymoshenko in the 2010 runoff by a little more than 3 percentage points—and will likely continue to be. Efforts by pro-Russian political forces to regain power can’t be helped by the loss of a region that they won with 78 percent of the vote. (In Sevastopol it was 84 percent.)
As Steve Saideman writes, when international borders shift, “you are not just changing a line, and not just changing who governs person x or group y, but also who wins and loses elections (or other ways to allot power) in the new and old states.” Russia’s move into Crimea may make life a lot more difficult going forward for Vladimir Putin’s political allies in Ukraine.
On the other hand, I’m guessing that at this point, Putin has pretty minimal faith in—or even interest in—the outcomes of the Ukrainian electoral process.