Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops took over Crimea yesterday, defying President Obama’s warnings to stand down and dramatically raising the stakes in a showdown where the United States has limited military and political options, experts say.
Some 15,000 Russian troops were in Crimea after the Russian parliament greenlighted Putin’s request to put boots on the ground — a move the U.S. condemned, calling for Moscow to withdraw its forces. Russia’s parliament also recommended that Moscow recall its ambassador from Washington.
There is little more, other than sanctions, that the West can do, said Harlow Robinson, a history professor at Northeastern University and an expert on Russia.
“The U.S. has very little leverage here,” Robinson said. “We have to deal with Putin in other places like Syria and Iran. You can’t afford to alienate him. … There could be economic sanctions, but military intervention is completely out of the question and would be a huge mistake.”