Growing Crisis in Its Backyard Snares Russia

   < < Go Back
from The New York Times,

Despite repeated vows not to interfere or intervene, President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia has now found itself more deeply ensnared than ever in Ukraine’s worsening political crisis, facing appeals to support the country’s ethnic Russians, provide haven for its deposed president and perhaps even undertake a military response. The question is whether he intended it that way.

Mr. Putin himself has made no public remarks on the turmoil in Ukraine since President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev last week. That coincided with the end of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which officials here have celebrated as proof of the emergence of a new, powerful and proud Russia nearly a quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Putin’s silence has resulted in confusion over Russia’s policy, even as the crisis in Ukraine has moved closer to Russia’s own border and raised concerns about Ukraine’s geopolitical and economic impact on its neighbor. Russia could stand to lose what it considers a place that is not only within its sphere of influence but part of its political, social and historical identity. For now, Mr. Putin’s strategy for retaining Russia’s influence in a country where the Kremlin has profound interests, from its largest foreign military base to gas pipelines that fuel its economy, remains unknown and full of risks. Even so, events are subtly forcing Moscow’s hand.

More From The New York Times: