Brookings Institute: If We Relax, Putin Will Relax

Brookings Institute: If We Relax, Putin Will Relax

In a March 15 article in Spiegel Online, Brookings Institute experts Fiona Hill and Glifford Gaddy suggested that if the West would just relax, Russian President Vladimir Putin might relax as well.

Gaddy said he could imagine Putin rejecting the annexation of Crimea, even if the Crimeans voted for it. Hill painted a picture of Putin as unsure of what he would do with a pro-annexation vote, suggesting instead that he was in a “wait and see” mode.

Gaddy said, “If we don’t get the message [Putin’s] sending, then he’ll have to repeat that message. And every time he repeats it it’s going to be harsher and harsher.”

Hill stressed that the focus on Crimea was not about Ukraine, but about Putin’s “fight with us.” She said Putin “believes that it comes down to whether we understand his message about how far we go and about whether we can find some kind of accommodation here.”

Hill also painted a picture of Putin as a man who feels cornered by the European Union. She said he sees the “EU as a big threat.” Gaddy said we need to use this to our benefit, somehow linking Ukraine to the EU.

Gaddy also said that as of the time of their article–March 15–Putin had “acted in a very serious way but he could have done more.” Gaddy believed this was a “signal” that Putin was “not looking to simply [push] ahead as far as he [could].”

The Crimeans voted for annexation on the same day that Hill and Gaddy’s commentary appeared in Spiegel Online.

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