Brookings Scholars on the Ukraine/Crimea Crisis, 4/1/14

According to media reports, Russia is pulling some of its tens of thousands of troops away from the Ukraine border, and Russian energy company Gazprom is raising natural gas prices to Ukraine. Brookings experts continue to offer commentary and recommendations on the unfolding challenges. See previous editions of this roundup herehere, and here.

It was only a very small elite around Yeltsin who were buying [that the collapse of the Soviet Union signified the triumph of Western democratic capitalism. Too many people (Westerners) saw what they wanted to see, rather than what was happening. Fiona Hill, director, Center on the United States and Europe, to Reuters

While the West may rule out the military option, it has other tools, including political isolation and financial sanctions that could inflict serious pain on the Russian economy. Steven Pifer, senior fellow and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, to Reuters

Pifer, joined by William Taylor and John Herbst, writes that NATO needs a “comprehensive security plan” … fast. 

Putin has shown a willingness to violate sovereign borders, Russian obligations, and international law. Having declared himself the protector of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers outside of Russia, he has used this principle to pressure neighboring governments and to change territorial borders by force.

The question now is how the United States and NATO should respond. President Barack Obama has designed financial sanctions to chasten the Kremlin for its aggression against Ukraine, and the European Union has followed suit. But Obama now needs to lead NATO in developing a security response—the West needs to take seriously the possibility of future Russian aggression.

Outlining a series of steps NATO should take, they write, “would bolster NATO security, strengthen Ukraine’s ability to resist aggression, and offer political support to other countries made nervous by Putin’s recent actions. More pointedly, such a show of strength could discourage the Russian leader from more Crimeas.”

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research and commentary archive on Ukraine