If Russia does intend to forcefully take control of Crimea, it would violate international laws on territorial integrity. Already, the western powers have threatened various ways to isolate Russia diplomatically and economically. Does Vladimir Putin care?

Carnegie’s Eugene Rumer and Dmitri Trenin spoke about the recent developments in Ukraine on KCRW’s To the Point. They were joined by Will Englund of the Washington Post and P. J. Crowley of the George Washington University.

Trenin argued that Russia has switched gears in a dramatic way during the past ten days, moving from moderate reactions to deep involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. This change of policy is a result of Putin’s reassessment of the situation: now he seems to interpret the victory of the Maidan as a victory of anti-Russian forces. Putin does not only fear to lose Ukraine as a good neighbor that can be influenced, Trenin added, but to have an anti-Russian state right on the Russian border.

Rumer said that Ukraine’s close relations with Russia and with the EU seem to be mutually exclusive for Putin, who looks at the world from a zero-sum perspective. Now Ukraine made it clear that it still want to vigorously pursue the path of European integration. Thus, Rumer noted, Putin has calculated the risks and the costs and figured out that getting hold of Crimea and letting Ukraine go west is worth the price of taking actions on the peninsula.

This interview was originally broadcast on KCRW.