Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that no one will go to war against him and the Crimea has, in reality, already fallen into Russian hands, said Kadri Liik, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who was stationed in Moscow as a journalist for six years.
Speaking on ETV's morning program today, Liik said Russia has begun to believe its own propaganda and recent events demonstrate the danger of living without the freedom of information.
People close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel have indicated that Putin is living in a different “reality” and therefore it would be difficult to reason with him. On the other hand, there are economic measures that could considerably hurt Russia, but the lack of unity in the west could hinder using them, Liik said.
Commenting on the subdued reaction of western nations, Liik noted that previous experiences with wars, for example in Iraq, has made the west wary. They are also afraid that by escalating the situation they would lose all the leverage they currently hold and prefer trying to talk to Russia, “but of course, that won’t work”, Liik said.
Liik said that Russia probably doesn’t have a long term plan for Ukraine but certainly sees the country as part of its sphere of influence. She also noted that the large pro-Russia demonstrations held over the weekend were clearly orchestrated because they took place according to the same scenario in different locations, whereas earlier gatherings were more spontaneous and peaceful.
Predicting future developments, Liik thought the conflict will fester. The best option would be for the west to find a way to extend political and economic support to the new Ukrainian government and link the situation to a legal mechanism that would include the west, instead of accepting the solution Russia has imposed with force. This legal framework would provide the west with some kind of option to solve the situation in the future.