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                                        Volume. 11939
Will Putin abort Ukraine gambit and step back from the brink?
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The dispatch of Russian troops to Crimea sent shockwaves throughout the world. This is a dangerous game, and the costs will outweigh the benefits for Russia.
 
The incursion is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and a breach of international law, and it creates a bad image of Russia in the world. It has also revived the Cold War mentality, and pits Russia against the international community.
 
Russia says it has sent its forces to Crimea to protect Moscow’s interests and to safeguard ethnic Russians. However, those tasks can be accomplished in other ways, without military intervention.
 
Antagonizing Ukraine, a country which Russia is closely interlinked with culturally and economically, will in no way benefit the Kremlin.
 
Furthermore, this act not only causes consternation in former Soviet republics and other former Eastern bloc countries, it also invites confrontation with Russia’s old foe, the West.
 
Putin was credited with averting a war against Syria by convincing Damascus to hand over its chemical weapons. And now the world expects him to withdraw Russian troops from Crimea and resolve the dispute with the new Ukrainian government through dialogue. 
 
Russian officials know that if the Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan in 1979, the country would not be burning for over 34 years. The invasion of Afghanistan -- which Mikhail Gorbachev rightly described as “the bleeding wound” -- triggered extremism and global terrorism, and now even Russia itself is not safe from the Frankenstein monster it created.
 
Afghanistan should serve as a lesson. If Russia starts a war with Ukraine, the gates of hell will be opened, relations between the West and Russia will be seriously damaged, and extremists in Chechnya, Dagestan, and other parts of the Caucasus will take advantage of the situation to step up their acts of terrorism.
 
In the 21st century, there is no excuse for any country to allow a war to break out. And Russia, as the second greatest military power in the world, has a responsibility to work for world peace and global security and is expected to behave responsibly.
 
From a geopolitical perspective, Crimea is very important for Russia. But the interests of Russia and the West are intertwined at this point in time and cannot be unentangled. Thus, Moscow should be aware that temporary control over Crimea will cause more harm than benefit to its long-term interests.
 
MS/HG

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