Brookings Scholars on the Ukraine/Crimea Crisis, 3/10/14

Brookings experts continue to offer commentary and recommendations on the unfolding crisis in Ukraine and Crimea. See previous editions of this roundup here and here.

Watch video clips and get full event video plus audio from our event on the crisis featuring a panel of Brookings experts.

Russia and Ukraine, right now, are one nervous 20-year-old soldier’s mistake away from something very, very bad happening that could spin out of control. … There needs to be some kind of de-escalation. Steven Pifer, Bloomberg News, March 8

Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe, spoke on WAMU’s “The Diane Rehm Show” about the West’s response to developments in the Ukraine/Crimea crisis. She explained how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s perspective on Ukraine difference significantly from that of President Obama:

They are actually talking about different situations, because it all depends on one’s perspective … We’re seeing here that what happened on the ground in Ukraine is the outcome of what we see as being a legitimate protest movement. For Putin … he doesn’t see protests as legitimate. Putin has actually created a system inside of Moscow, and Russia more broadly, where the only valid expression of peoples’ opinion comes through the election process; elections actually do matter in Russia. Putin also pays a lot of attention to public opinion polling, just to kind of get the gauge of the overall sentiment. And he tries to cut off any likelihood that people will go out in the streets. He sees protests outside these frames as illegitimate and so what he sees in Ukraine is an illegitimate overthrow of the government.

Steven Pifer, senior fellow and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, helped negotiate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances, in which Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal (then the third-largest in the world) for certain security commitments from the United States, Great Britain and Russia. In this NPR interview, Pifer said:

I think it’s very clear that Russia is in violation of its commitments, not only to the Budapest Memorandum, but also commitments that it’s made as a member of the United Nations and also as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. What you see happening over the last week in Crimea is nothing less than a Russian military occupation of the peninsula.

Listen to the interview:

Here is some of what scholars are saying on Twitter:

See our research and commentary archive on Ukraine.