Hypotheses abound as to why Russian President Vladimir Putin defied international treaties and dared global isolation by invading the Crimean peninsula last weekend, ranging from “he thinks he can act with impunity due to inconsequential U.S. leadership” to “he’s a shrewd opportunist playing well a weak hand.”
Then there’s the growing theory that Putin has simply gone round the bend. We might as well call this The Merkel Theory, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel first gave voice to it during a phone call with President Barack Obama last weekend. Via the New York Times:
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.
U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power expanded this diagnosis to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin during an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Monday, accusing Churkin and his boss of chasing at shadows:
“So many of the assertions made this afternoon are without basis in reality. Is Russia justified in invading parts of Ukraine? The answer of course is no. Russian mobilisation is a response to an imaginary threat.”
And on Tuesday morning, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright re-upped Merkel’s theory to CNN’s New Day:
“I agree with what Angela Merkel said after she spoke to him, which is that he is in another world. I think that either he does not have the facts, he is being fed propaganda, or his own propaganda. It doesn’t make any sense. There are no calls for assistance…There is not this kind of a crisis in terms of the way that the Russian-speaking people are in some way being harmed. So this is all made up. And I think it’s part of a much longer term plan that Putin has had which is to try to recreate some form of relationship between Ukraine and Moscow. I think that is the tragedy that’s going on. Putin is in many ways delusional about this.”
As New Day co-host Kate Bolduan pointed out, Putin’s irrationality would most likely make him tougher, not easier, to counteract.
Watch the clip below, via CNN:
[Image via screengrab]
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