Although we have recently heard many fearsome statements from President Obama and the E.U. leaders, the actual sanctions (issued two and half weeks after the beginning of Crimea adventure) leave much to be desired. The â€œunprecedented measuresâ€ against Russia turned out to be relatively feeble prohibitions against several random and not very influential Russian officialsâ€”definitely not the primary decision-makers in the Crimeaâ€™s story. The real heroes of the occasion stayed (even symbolically) unpunished. Moreover, not only has Russiaâ€™s maintained its G8 membership, but, recently, G8 representatives have been distancing themselves from earlier statements regarding suspension of Russiaâ€™s membership. Loud talk and a small stick, indeed.
Moreover, the â€œacceptanceâ€ of Putinâ€™s actions among the Western community appears to be on the rise. A Bloomberg View editorial, for example, announced that â€œthe U.S. and EU aren’t going to fight to defend what remains of Ukraine. They aren’t bound by treaty to do so, and their interests (not to mention their electorates) argue against it.â€ (In fact, the U.S. has at least moral obligations to defend Ukraine under 1994 Budapest Memorandum.) Analyst John Walcott went as far as to suggest that â€œthere is no question anymore, Ukraine (not Crimea, but Ukraine overall) is goneâ€ on Bloomberg News this past weekend. Even the Baltics states that are often viewed as the fiercest opponents of Russiaâ€™s policies in Ukraine have shown some restraint. Yesterday, the Latvian minister of finance asked the E.U. to provide compensation to the European Union countries that will suffer economically from sanctioning Russia.
Altogether, this means that Putin is reading the situation correctly: The monopoly on violence rules the international order. There is simply no one to stop Putin from taking what he wants.