There’s a longer run, too (for those who’ll make it)

I’m not going to watch that documentary but there seems to be little discrepancy over its content between the state-controlled and independent media and from what I have read so far, I believe this title and subtitle, by the Ukrainian UNIAN, area good summary:

Putin admits to personally orchestrating military seizure of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has again admitted that he wasn’t telling the truth to the world and his nation when he announced that the Ukrainian military units in Crimea had been blocked by local ‘self-defense’ forces, who bought arms, military uniform and hardware at a post exchange.

He must be thinking he’s devilishly clever about it all, but I’m afraid this approach is going to destroy not just him but the Russian state. I tried to explain it in this Samizdata thread, and I’m pasting my explanation below with minor changes.

Suppose you’re the decision maker in the Kremlin and you accept, rationally or otherwise, the Russian-propaganda interpretation of the February 2014 revolution (Kyiv seized by “fascists,” the US sponsored the coup, etc.). What would you do?

Would you immediately invade an important region of the neighboring country under the guise of a separatist rebellion, only to admit involvement weeks later? Would you send your soldiers and weaponry to attack that country from another flank in support of a previously non-existent separatist movement?

You would only do that if permanently alienating that previously friendly nation is not a problem for you – if you want it destroyed as a nation.

For the most part, Ukrainians were neutral or friendly to Russia before 2014. There was a lot of goodwill towards Russia at all levels of Ukrainian society. A crude measure of the strength of pre-war anti-Russian sentiment could be the share of Greek Catholics in total population, a meager 8%.

Then Russia annexed Crimea and, according to polls, 90% of Russian supported the move. A message to Ukraine: 90% of Russians think it’s OK to stab a brotherly nation in the back when it’s in dire straits. News of Ukrainians being killed by Russian “volunteers” in the East did not help either, especially as most Ukrainian fighters came from the supposedly pro-Russian Southeast and the tolerant Center and were either bilingual or Russian-speaking.

Worse that just that. If Putin had openly declared, like the mensch he’s posing as, that Crimea was rightfully Russian, and the Russian army had openly occupied it, he would have emerged as an “honest” aggressor. It would have been a brazen breach of international law but not yet an admission of personal untrustworthiness. Now he’s bragging about outsmarting those dumb Westerners. The cost to Russia may be unbearable in the longer run but he probably thinks he won’t have to pay.

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