Putin’s Crimean gamble: Russia, Ukraine, and the new Cold War
Since the time of Catherine the Great, Crimea has been a global tinderbox. Most recently, the world was stunned when the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded and seized Crimea in March 2014. In the months since, Putin’s actions in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and, more recently, in Syria have provoked a sharp deterioration in East-West relations. Basic questions have been raised about Putin’s provocative policies, his motivations, and the future of U.S.-Russian relations—and whether the world has now entered a new Cold War.
On October 26, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted Nonresident Senior Fellow Marvin Kalb for the launch of his new book, “Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine, and the New Cold War” (Brookings Institution Press, 2015). In “Imperial Gamble,” Kalb examines Putin’s actions in Ukraine, the impact on East-West relations, and how the future of the post-Cold War world hangs on the controversial decisions of one reckless autocrat, Vladimir Putin.
Joining the discussion were Thomas Friedman, The New York Times columnist, and Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international relations at The New School. Brookings President Strobe Talbott provided introductory remarks, and Martin Indyk, Brookings executive vice president, moderated the discussion.
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I think probably that the lesson that [Kim Jong Un is] learning is that he doesn’t have to give up anything and yet people will be scrambling for summits with him. ... The longer we have these drawn-out talks, these summits, bilaterals, trilaterals, quadrilaterals, the more it buys time for them to reinforce their claimed status [as a nuclear power] but also to continue with their R&D. But I do think that there is an element of trying to mitigate the sanctions, and also Kim took all those discussions about military strikes seriously enough to try and take the wind out of the sails. ... I find it difficult to envision how or why he would give up his nuclear weapons, which have pretty much given him what he’s wanted: which is the strategic relevance, the international prestige, and deterrence.