Disrupting Putin’s Game Plan

Russia's invasion and occupation of Ukraine is a blatant attack on the principles of state sovereignty, inviolability of negotiated borders, and adherence to multilateral agreements that underpin today’s rule-based international system. Countering Russia’s aggression is thus the responsibility of all who would uphold that system.

MUNICH – No sooner did the Sochi Winter Games end than Russia bade farewell to the Olympic spirit by invading and occupying a foreign country. With its aggression against Ukraine, the Kremlin has breached the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and other international agreements, including the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances and the Black Sea basing agreement, which spelled out Russia’s relations with Ukraine.

Crimea has been turned into a military zone, and its inhabitants might soon find themselves trapped in the firing line if the crisis continues to escalate. Russians now face international diplomatic and economic isolation, thus exacerbating their country’s economic woes. And Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reckless gamble risks dragging the world into a wider conflict.

In light of Putin’s dangerous behavior, the West must rethink its stance toward him. Here is a leader who read a hidden, menacing agenda into a technical European Union document about export subsidies and anti-fraud provisions. More broadly, here is a paranoiac who sees an implausible coalition of liberal Russians, Ukrainian fascists, the CIA, and Islamist terrorists trying to thwart his preferences, if not topple him, at every turn.

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