Russia seizes Crimea by force, threatens larger invasion of Ukraine: Putin gambles with Russia’s future in the powder keg of Europe


Latest developments

For an excellent overview of the situation in the Ukraine by the New York Times, see

Alison Shale and David M. herszenhorn, “Kremlin Clears Way for Force in Ukraine; Separatist Split Feared,” New York Times, March 1, 2014.

For a particuly insightful report, which places the most recent events in Crimea in perspective, see

Julia Smirnova (Simferopol), Das Protokoll von Putins feindlicher Übernahme; Als Russlands President Putin das Parlament um Truppen für eine Invasion auf der Krim bat, hatte sein Militär die Halbinsel längst unter Kontrolle. Die Moskauer Truppen kamen auf dem Schleichweg,” Die Welt, 1. Marz 2014 (19:22 Uhr).

Der Spiegel provides an overview of the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis, including the “blank check” given Putin by the upper house of parliament to use military force in the Ukraine. Speculation abounds as to wherher Russian militar action will be limited to the Crimea, or also reach into other areas of the eastern Ukraine.

Benjamin Bidder (Moskau) “Putins Aufmarschpläne: Operation Protektorat Krim; Moskaus Militär-Beschluss gibt Putin freie Hand für eine Intervention auf der Krim; Kreml-Hardliner fordern sogar Vorstöße nach Donezk und Charkow; Doch Russlands Präsident hat wohl andere Pläne: Wahrscheinlich will er eher ein Protektorat – und nicht die vollständige Abtrennung der Halbinsel von der Ukraine,” Der Spiegel, 1. März 2014 (20:37 Uhr).

See also:

“Krim-Krise: Ukraine versetzt Militär in Alarmbereitschaft; Wird die Krim-Krise zum Krim-Krieg? Das russische Parlament gibt Präsident Putin grünes Licht für einen Militäreinsatz auf der ukrainischen Halbinsel; Ukraines Präsidentschaftskandidat Klitschko ruft die Ukraine zur “Generalmobilmachung” auf; Der Westen ist entsetzt; Der Nachrichtenüberblick,” Der Spiegel, 1. März 2014 (19:49 Uhr).

Important commentary includes the following:

Maxim Kireev (Moskau/Kommentar),”Einmarsch beim Brudervolk; Putin will auf der Krim den russischen Einfluss um jeden Preis verteidigen; Der Westen steht vor vollendeten Tatsachen und muss realisieren: Russland ist kein Partner, Die Zeit, 1. März 2014 (19:11 Uhr).

Stefan Kornelius (Kommentar), “Krise auf der Krim: Putin nimmt sich, was er will; Der russische Präsident ist zum Militäreinsatz entschlossen; Er hat auf der Krim schon Fakten geschaffen, bevor er das Mandat zum Einmarsch bekommen hat; So setzt Putin alles aufs Spiel, um ein bestimmtes Ziel zu erreichen,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1. März 2014 (14:52).


With these developments, an extremely dangerous situation has arisen in Europe involving nuclear superpowers — which calls to mind the atmosphere in August, 1914. Putin’s military intervention in the Ukraine may be driven by anger and hot-headedness, or cold-blooded calculation, but it has also been based on detailed planning done months in advance.

It will change inevitably the nature of relations between Russia and the West. The only questions are how long it will take Western leaders to wake up to the new realities, what they will do in response, and when they will act.

The Trenchant Observer
(Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter)
(l’Observateur Incisif)
(El Observador Incisivo)

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.