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Trying to Get Inside the Head of Vladimir Putin

Published: March 7, 2014 (Issue # 1800)


On Sunday, Russian troops invaded Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine in which 15,000 sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are stationed. What was the Russian presidents thinking in escalating a world crisis over the past week? Why has a politician, whom many considered to be a rational actor, chosen to intervene in Ukraine?

Analyzing Putins mind is not a simple task. His statements are often contradictory. He maintains, for example, that Ukraines new leaders should have adhered to the deal brokered by European foreign ministers on Feb. 21 that would have allowed Viktor Yanukovych to remain in office as president until an early election that was scheduled for December, according to the agreement. Yet Russia took no part in that discussion and refused to sign that agreement. Perhaps even more significant, it has not advocated the return of Yanukovych, despite the fact that he has fled to Russian territory.

Related: Why There Will Be War in Ukraine

Putin also maintains that because of the collapse of the European Union-brokered deal, Russia is no longer bound by the terms of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, according to which Russia, the U.S. and Britain committed themselves to guaranteeing the security of Ukraine. Many were left scratching their heads, asking what the link was between the two events.

In essence, according to this line of reasoning, the protest leaders carried out an illegal coup. Yet it was precisely as this deal was being debated that the former president ordered his troops to use live ammunition on the protesters, carrying out a massacre on the square. Consequently, Yanukovych lost his majority support in the parliament as many Party of Regions deputies deserted to the opposition. Sensing that he had lost all support and legitimacy, he fled to Russia.

Related: Putin's Law

What else do we know about Putins thinking on Ukraine? What could have prompted him to flout the Budapest Memorandum and perpetuate and give new credibility to the old canard of Russian aggression against Ukraine? If we assume for the moment that we are inside Putins head, then it might run something like the following:

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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