Wednesday, September 3 2014 1:12 AM EDT2014-09-03 05:12:37 GMT
Islamic State extremists have released a video purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warned President Barack Obama that continuing airstrikes against the group in...More >
Islamic State extremists have released a video purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warned President Barack Obama that continuing airstrikes against the group in Iraq will...More >
Wednesday, September 3 2014 1:12 AM EDT2014-09-03 05:12:32 GMT
President Xi Jinping straightened ribbons on huge bouquets and gunners fired salutes Wednesday as China commemorated Japan's World War II surrender as part of a campaign to remind the world of Tokyo's...More >
President Xi Jinping straightened ribbons on huge bouquets and gunners fired salutes Wednesday as China commemorated Japan's World War II surrender as part of a campaign to remind the world of Tokyo's historical...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:23:08 GMT
The World Food Program says it provided food to a record 4.1 million people inside Syria last month.More >
Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:12:17 GMT
The U.N. is warning that food prices are rising in countries hit by Ebola and that it'll get worse because many farmers won't be able to access fields during the upcoming harvests of rice and corn.More >
The international group Doctors Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is losing the battle against Ebola and lamented that treatment centers in West Africa have been "reduced to places where people go to die alone."More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:24:18 GMT
Amnesty International has accused the militant Islamic State group of carrying out a systematic campaign of mass killings, abductions and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes.More >
An international rights group accused the extremist Islamic State group on Tuesday of systematic "ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq targeting indigenous religious minorities, as well as conducting mass killings of men and...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:26:34 GMT
The Peruvian hackers have broken into military, police, and other sensitive government networks in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela and Peru, defacing websites and extracting sensitive data to strut their...More >
The Peruvian hackers have broken into military, police, and other sensitive government networks in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, defacing websites and extracting sensitive data to strut their programming prowess...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:24 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:24:05 GMT
U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says it is inappropriate to throw the full weight of the law at a family who spirited their ill 5-year-old child out of the country in order for him to receive a revolutionary...More >
The British parents who took their critically ill child for treatment abroad without doctors' consent were released from custody in Spain on Tuesday after authorities in the United Kingdom dropped charges of child...More >
(RNN) - As the crisis in Ukraine evolves, Vladimir Putin has history, public opinion and economic leverage on his side, said an international relations specialist.
With the May 25 Ukraine elections fast approaching, the Russian President's ultimate objectives are not immediately obvious, but his methods are clear.
"Putin is hard to read," said Mark Habeeb, PhD., who is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a past chairman of the Forum for U.S.-Soviet Dialogue. "But he clearly has the mentality of an aggressive chess player. He'll make a move and see what you do. He took Crimea, and not much happened except the U.S. put sanctions on some of Putin's friends and his inner circle. So now, he's seeing how far he can go in Ukraine.
The region's turbulent history - particularly in the past 25 years or so - has made Putin's apparent land grab an enormously popular move in his own country. The Levada Center, a Russian public opinion research institute, released a new poll showing Putin has an 82 percent approval rating in his country, up from 80 percent in March.
Russia also has a great deal of economic leverage in Europe, making meaningful retaliation difficult and costly. Similarly, the United States' tenuous recovery from the recession has limited what sanctions President Barack Obama is willing to impose to make Russia "pay a price" for the violation of the sovereignty of a neighboring country.
"In theory, we could hurt the Russian economy, but we could go down with them," he said. "Would Obama really jeopardize the recovery over Dunyetsk, Ukraine? The American population does not want to get involved in overseas ventures – we had war for eight years under President George W. Bush."
And while economic sanctions could do as much harm to the U.S. and Europe as to Russia, they could also galvanize public opinion behind the already popular leader.
"He's a true Russian nationalist," Habeeb said, "And nationalism can get kind of paranoid. A lot of people don't realize what a narcissistic wound Russia felt after the fall of the USSR. They went from being a world power to a laughing stock after [Boris] Yeltsin.
"They are a proud culture. Not long ago, anything the U.S. did, it had to think about how the USSR would react," he said. "Suddenly, they don't matter at all. Putin comes in, gets the economy back on track and suddenly attacks Georgia. Then he takes Ukraine back. The people in Russia are elated."
Obama said at a May 2 news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the U.S. is prepared to impose more sanctions on Russia if the incursion threatens Ukraine elections on May 25. Obama and Merkel both said they would prefer not to use sanctions on economic sectors that might hurt U.S. allies in Europe, but both are prepared to implement them if the elections do not go on.
This could backfire, Habeeb said.
"Russians are good at suffering," Habeeb said. "They might rally behind Putin. Russia has a historical narrative of the West trying to hurt them. Hitler, the Cold War, World War I, it's not hard for a Russian leader to sell the narrative that ‘the West is trying to hold us back.'
"The last thing we want to do is play into a narrative that supports their national paranoia."
Putin most recently announced that troops have pulled back from the Ukrainian border, and he urged insurgents in southeast Ukraine to postpone a May 11 referendum on declaring their autonomy from the rest of the country.
The Pentagon denied any change in Russian force along the border, and a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman would not identify the troops' location.
Saying one thing and doing another are typical of the Russian's strategy.
Late in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to sponsor negotiations in Ukraine to reunite the country at the same time that pro-Russian militants were holding members of the organization hostage in the east of the country. A few days later, the hostages were released.
"The foreign minister was talking one thing while there were gangs going around creating havoc," Habeeb said. "It's a conniving game."
Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:31:42 GMT
Confronted by a Kremlin-backed military offensive in Ukraine, President Barack Obama and Western allies will approve plans this week to position at least 4,000 troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe,...More >
Confronted by a Kremlin-backed military offensive in Ukraine, President Barack Obama and Western allies will approve plans this week to position at least 4,000 troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe, bolstering...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:12 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:12:18 GMT
Until last weekend, the Russian Direct Investment Fund touted prominent U.S. and European executives who serve on its international advisory board by posting their names on its website. On Tuesday, that list was...More >
A $10 billion investment fund backed by the Russian government that has avoided being targeted by U.S. economic sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine redesigned its website Tuesday and made it more difficult to find names...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 4:21 PM EDT2014-09-02 20:21:57 GMT
A Russian official is complaining that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso breached confidentiality when he quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow could take over Kiev in two weeks if it wished.More >
The ferocity of the attack on the fleeing Ukrainian troops was clear, days after the ambush by Russian-backed separatist forces.More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:22 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:22:03 GMT
Riding a wave of military gains by pro-Russia rebels, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it exceedingly clear that he wants a peace deal for Ukraine on his terms and will not be stopped by economic costs.More >
Riding a wave of military gains by Russia-backed rebels, President Vladimir Putin has made it exceedingly clear that he wants a peace deal for Ukraine on his terms and will not be stopped by economic costs.More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:12:15 GMT
President Barack Obama is traveling to Russia's backyard for the second time this year to assure nervous nations of his ironclad commitment to their security.More >
For the second time this year, President Barack Obama will travel to Russia's backyard to assure nervous nations of his ironclad commitment to their security. But his objectives will be clouded by the West's...More >
Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:31:26 GMT
The International Monetary Fund says Ukraine will need billions of dollars in additional support if the fighting between the military and Russian-backed separatists in the country's east persists.More >
While Ukraine's leaders are trying to win the war against Russian-backed separatists in the east, they appear to be losing the battle to resurrect the country's battered economy.More >
Monday, September 1 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:01:11 GMT
With a new round of talks on easing the crisis in Ukraine about to start, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on the participants to push for a cease-fire between Ukrainian government troops and...More >
Pro-Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine's sovereignty in exchange for autonomy - a shift that reflects Moscow's desire to strike a deal at a new...More >