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Global Insights: Russia Gambling That Ukraine Crisis Can Revert to Familiar Script

Richard Weitz

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an accomplished fact, but many questions remain unanswered regarding the crisis. Perhaps the most important of these are how far Russia will go, what steps the West can take to resist Russian belligerence and what economic consequences will ensue from Russia’s actions.

Thus far, Russian forces have only occupied the Crimean peninsula. While it is possible they will go no farther, it remains unclear under what conditions Russian troops would end their occupation. Moscow might decide to occupy the region for a while simply to pry various concessions from Kiev, such as a pledge to respect the rights of Russian citizens in Ukraine—the declared purpose of Moscow’s military move—or, more ambitiously, to secure guarantees that Ukraine will not join the European Union or NATO. But the Kremlin could best keep Ukraine out of these institutions by occupying Crimea indefinitely, since both institutions normally require that prospective members resolve all their territorial disputes before accession.

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