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The crisis in Ukraine was produced by two sets of blunders, neither emanating from Washington.For years, the European Union has had an ambivalent attitude toward Ukraine, causing instability in that country and opposition from Russia. Ukraine is the most important country in the post-Soviet space that Russia seeks to dominate politically. In taking over Crimea, Putin has lost Ukraine.Since 1991, Russia has influenced Ukraine through pro-Russian politicians who were bribed by Moscow to listen to its diktats. In other words, once you take Crimea out of Ukraine – which Putin has done – it becomes impossible for a pro-Russian Ukrainian to ever win the presidency.In fact, the only hope that Russia will reverse course in Crimea comes precisely because Putin might realize that his only chance of maintaining influence in Ukraine is by having Crimea – with its large Russian majority – as part of that country.As important as losing Ukraine, Putin has triggered a deep anti-Russian nationalism around his borders.
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