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Commitment

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Bit of a struggle to envision a way in which this turns around:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree late Monday night formally recognizing Ukraine’s Crimea region as a “sovereign and independent state,” defying the United States and Europe just hours after they imposed their first financial sanctions since the crisis began and laying the groundwork for possible annexation.

Mr. Putin’s decree came after the breakaway republic formally declared its independence and asked Russia to annex it in keeping with the results of a referendum conducted Sunday under the watch of Russian troops. The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin would address both houses of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, when many expect him to endorse annexation.

Putin has committed his prestige and the prestige of his government to the annexation of Crimea. This makes it unlikely that he’s interested in finding a way out. I also suspect that the other military moves along the Ukrainian border are part of an intimidation campaign, rather than preparation for an invasion.

All that said, I still struggle to see the long-term positive outcome for Russia. If Putin had waited, the “revolutionary” government would have dithered for a couple of years before collapse. Now he has certainty; clear control over Crimea, but virtual certainty that Ukraine will be hostile for the foreseeable future.

Oh and look, Fareed Zakaria cites Jon Mercer and Daryl Press (hat tip djw):

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