Pro-Russian activists wave a Russian flag during their rally in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoria on March 5, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV)
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Russia is unlikely to pull back its military forces in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, analysts and former Obama administration officials say, forcing the United States and Europe into a more limited strategy of trying to prevent President Vladimir Putin from making advances elsewhere in the former Soviet Republic.The threat of economic sanctions, along with a series of modest measures that include canceling trade talks with Moscow and suspending plans to attend an international summit in Russia, have so far done little to persuade the Russian leader to pull his forces back from Crimea.White House officials have condemned Russia's military maneuvers in Crimea as a violation of international law and insist they would oppose any long-term occupation of the region.The official said the U.S. would oppose any Russian efforts to formally annex Crimea or recognize its independence, steps that would echo Moscow's moves during its 2008 conflict with Georgia, another former Soviet Republic.Barry Pavel, who worked on the White House National Security Council under both Obama and President George W. Bush, said reasserting control of Crimea may be even more important to Russia than the Georgian territories.The long-term ramifications of Russia's remaining in Crimea are unclear, particularly as the rest of Ukraine works through its next steps following Yanukovych's ouster.
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