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Crimean Punishment

Why Russia Won't Invade Ukraine

An ethnic Russian Ukrainian holds a Russian flag as Crimean Tatars rally near the Crimean parliament building, February 26, 2014. Baz Ratner / Courtesy Reuters

There has been much speculation of late about a possible Russian intervention in Ukraine. After Russia ordered large-scale military exercises on Ukraine’s border earlier this week, for example, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that “any kind of military intervention that would violate the sovereign territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a huge, a grave mistake." And NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tweeted today, “I urge Russia not to take any action that can escalate tension or create misunderstanding.” It seems that Western policymakers are most worried about two possible scenarios: First, that Russia would embargo gas to Ukraine, and second, that it would invade Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Is either of these two really likely?

Russia has used natural gas as a weapon against Ukraine twice before. In January 2006 and 2009, its state-controlled Gazprom corporation shut off pipeline deliveries to Ukraine in response to pricing disputes.

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