The Guardian reports: When Vladimir Putin summoned the entirety of Russia’s political elite to the St George’s Hall of the Kremlin to announce that Russia would “welcome back” the territory of Crimea last week, the atmosphere was one almost of a country united in military victory.
“In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia,” said Putin, making it sound like it had always been just a matter of time before Moscow made its move to recover the territory. “This firm conviction is based on truth and justice.”
Some have seen Putin’s actions in the context of a post-imperial complex and a leader longing to reconstitute some form of the Soviet Union by gathering up lost territories. There may be a flicker of truth in this, but the reality is more complex, according to those familiar with the Kremlin’s decision-making over Crimea in recent weeks.
The evidence about how decisions were made over the past month points to reactive, ad-hoc and impulsive moves, rather than the implementation of a strategic gambit long in the planning. [Continue reading…]