Fletcher in the News

Putin’s Shadow Shock Troops Roil Ukraine: Dean Stavridis Weighs In

Dean Stavridis The Fletcher School

The world woke up Friday morning to the spectacle of Russia staging a non-invasion invasion of Ukraine: mysterious armed men in uniforms occupied the airport in the Crimean capital of Simferopol while what appeared to be conventional Russian troops reportedly blockaded the military airport at Sevastopol. The previous day, in the pre-dawn dark, another group of men had occupied the regional parliament building. And all this took place against the background of 150,000 Russian troops on the move and Russian jets roaring through the skies just across the border…

…Yet at some point the Obama administration may have to define what it means by “grave” consequences for Russia if it intervenes in Ukraine. At this point no one seems to know what those would be: Withdrawing ambassadors? Some form of sanctions? “It would depend on the nature of the intervention,” says Kupchan, but if the situation really gets ugly, “U.S.-Russian relations would take an adversarial turn of the sort we have not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Former NATO commander James Stavridis, now dean of the Fletcher School, takes much the same view. “I hope Vladimir Putin is listening closely to Secretary of State Kerry's warnings against intervention in Ukraine,” he tells The Daily Beast. “Doing so would be a geopolitical disaster for all sides.”

Most likely, Putin will continue to taunt Kiev and Washington as he did this morning in Simferopol airport, biding his time like those nameless soldiers sitting in the coffee shop, until he thinks the moment is right for a more decisive move.

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