Sunday, April 19, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Putin conducts ‘Russia Marches On’

By
March 21, 2014 |

Last week, before Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea to Russia, I asked a leading Putinologist, Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, what the Russian president was likely to do.

“He’s on the offensive,” she said. “In his view, he’s got the advantage. He doesn’t seem likely to stop now.”

She turned out to be right. On Tuesday, Putin signed the treaty of annexation in a flag-decked Kremlin ceremony as crowds cheered outside in Red Square. In a defiant speech, the Russian president said the action merely restored Crimea to its motherland. “Crimea has returned home,” he told the crowd.

By tapping into the traditional nationalism of Russians and their desire to be seen as a great power, Putin has improved his domestic political standing, and he’s done it at a time when Russia’s economy has slowed to a crawl. A recent poll by the respected Levada Center put Putin’s job approval at 72 percent – well above, say, President Obama’s.

With that kind of cheering section, it seems unlikely the Russian leader will stop now. His most immediate goal may be to secure Crimea’s energy sources, most of which happen to be in eastern and southern Ukraine, which also have substantial Russian populations. But that won’t be all. Putin’s central goal as president, Hill said, is to restore Russian influence over as much of the territory of the old Soviet Union as possible, beginning with Ukraine.

Russia won’t necessarily try to annex more of Ukraine, but Putin is bent on ensuring that the country joins his planned Eurasian Union instead of the European Union. “This is his legacy,” said Hill, who coauthored the widely praised biography “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.” “This is what his presidency’s about.”

That’s why Putin wasn’t willing to stand by as a rebellious Ukraine moved toward a formal economic association with the EU. And that’s why he will continue to exert pressure on both eastern Ukraine, where much of the population is pro-Russia, and on the understandably anti-Russia government in Kiev.

One possible next move would be for Russia to annex Transnistria, a self-declared separatist state on Ukraine’s western border. Transnistria broke away from Moldova, though its sovereignty has not been recognized by most countries, and now has close ties with Russia. “Keep your eye on that one,” Hill warned. “It’s another way Putin can create a problem for the government in Kiev.”

At its heart, the conflict in Ukraine is as much about Putin’s fears as his ambition. In Putin’s mind, he is acting to defend Russia’s interests against an assertive, expansionist West. (As recently as 2008, after all, NATO was moving toward making Ukraine a member.) He rejects the idea that every country should be moving toward both democracy and a Western-style market economy. To the Russian leader, democracy looks like chaos. And after the U.S. financial crash of 2008, “he doesn’t think the West is worth emulating as an economic model anymore,” Hill said.

In other words, Putin’s looking at the 21st century through the cold, wary eyes of a Russian realist, and he sees it differently than Western leaders do.

Take the recent threats of economic sanctions from Europe and the United States. Putin thinks the West will hesitate before imposing crippling sanctions on Russia’s economy because of Europe’s many financial interests in Moscow. (So far, he’s right about that.) And he thinks the West will tire of imposing sanctions before Russia feels any need to back down.

“His message is: We think you’ve been trampling our interests, and we have a higher threshold for pain than you do,” Hill said. She noted that Putin’s parents survived the World War II siege of Leningrad, when some Russians ate grass to fend off starvation – an episode Putin once referred to as evidence of his nation’s resilience under pressure.

Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and their allies hoped threats of sanctions would deter Putin from moving troops into Crimea, but their threats had no effect. They hoped the imposition of limited, “proportional” sanctions might deter Putin from annexing Crimea, but that had no effect either.

What we have here is an asymmetrical problem: It’s more important to Putin and his people than it is to the West. For Americans and Western Europeans, Russia’s assertion of power is an outrage and a threat to our ideal of an international order, but it’s also a long way from home. For Putin, it’s the cure for Russia’s national resentments and the legacy he wants to leave as president. He’s betting that he can outlast any sanctions the West is willing to impose. He could well turn out to be right.

Doyle McManus is a columnist for The Los Angeles Times. Readers may send him email at [email protected].

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Waiting game: Woman, toddler hope for kidney transplants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Tiny twins call Heather House their 1st home

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

Solano ranks last in Bay Area for health

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
SID to consider water rate hikes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

California water saving mandate shrinks cuts for some cities

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1

 
Who is the Bay Area’s most popular athlete?

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
City announces Browns Valley Road closures

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

Healthier Living program begins mid-May

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Bachelor party turns into community event

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Il Fiorello serves up chocolate desserts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
When to throw in the towel on sickly plants

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

Coping with seasonal allergies

By Emerita Brigino-Buenaventura, M.d | From Page: C4

 
Solano superhero back in school

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Church hosts health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Home, garden show offers something for everyone

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Weather for Sunday, April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
2 nations at center of market drop

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

Vanden robotics team ready to compete in world championships

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Fairfield hotel gets major renovation

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Teen victim of Dixon shooting dies

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7

Land use, design, project synergy key to growth

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Commissary-Exchange pairing gains steam

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Airmen with county ties complete training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco marks anniversary of 1906 earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Time plus distance help some Oklahoma City victims move on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Police: Officers kill man who charged at them near St. Louis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Scarlett O’Hara outfit fetches $137,000 at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Turin Shroud goes back on display for faithful and curious

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Caged puppies on car roof trigger dozens of 911 calls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

French replica of revolutionary frigate sets sail for Boston

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Islamic State blamed for Afghan suicide bombing killing 35

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Justice not served

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Clinton should spruce up a bit

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Brown support of ag water ruffles feathers

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Talk about corruption

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 19, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Sunday, April 19, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Is it possible for Methodists to agree to disagree on gay marriage?

By The Washington Post | From Page: C3 | Gallery

 
Vatican unexpectedly ends crackdown of US nun group

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes: April 19, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Wife needs to decide if she can tolerate husband’s binge drinking

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Anna Kendrick has book of essays coming out in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Phil Klay, Leslie Jamison among PEN award nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
.

Sports

Crawford, Heston lead Giants to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry scores 34, Warriors beat Pelicans 106-99 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Reddick’s 3-run homer sends A’s to 5-0 victory over Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Cal defense shines for a change at scripted spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Serena Williams gets a rare test from Giorgi but holds on

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tom Watson: Next Masters might be his last

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Free agent center Wisniewski signs 1-year deal with Jaguars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pete Rose hired by Fox as special guest studio analyst

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Marcotte, Ryan win US cycling Criterium championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Independent league experiments with 3-ball walks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Merritt maintains edge through 3 rounds at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Jones throws 2 TDs, wins challenge at Ohio State spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
As Spurs know, international players can impact NBA playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Rose scores 23, Bulls beat Bucks 103-91

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Harden has 24 points, Rockets beat Mavs 118-108 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pierce leads Wizards past Raptors in OT in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hometown report: Little League baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Hometown report: Youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Kenseth content in car and not contemplating retirement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Logano leads flag-to-flag to win Xfinity race at Bristol

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for April 19

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Business

Using a prepaid card? Avoid getting socked with fees

By The Washington Post | From Page: B7

 
Recalls this week: blowers, bike hooks, mattresses, toys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This year’s fight for the tech industry: Patent trolls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
IMS: US prescription drug spending jumped 13 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Fast-growing Asian aviation confronts safety challenges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
USDA veterinarian: Bird flu outbreak could be ‘devastating’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Carole Anspach

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frances Bayona Lozano

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Larkin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Barbara Medders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Carrol “Carl” Gordon Parker

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
John Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Allen Ellsworth Dolby Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sterling Jenkins

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics