The more I read what Garry Kasporov has to say about the West's reaction to Putin's aggression, the more convinced I am that he is right. Here is an excerpt from his latest opinion article in the Washington Post:
The first hard truth is that the only sanctions or other measures that would affect Putin’s conduct are those that, directly or indirectly, would target his hold on power. That is all Putin cares about, because he knows what happens when people in his position lose that grip. This is why a recent comment by Secretary of State John Kerry was precisely wrong. “We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we’re saying is meant as a threat,” Kerry said. “It’s not meant in a personal way.” With one feeble remark, Kerry took off the table the only thing Putin cares about.
Obama repeated this mistake on Wednesday when he said that the United States would not send troops to defend Ukraine. Nobody was asking for troops, and Obama probably thinks he is defusing tensions. But where Obama sees a gesture of peaceful intent, Putin sees more weakness. To Putin, his opponent freely surrendered one of his greatest advantages: America’s overwhelming military strength. On Iran, on Syria and now regarding Ukraine, Obama has outsourced his foreign policy to Putin and, in so doing, has crippled the power of his office in ways that will long outlast his White House tenure.
The second hard truth is that there is no dealing with Putin, no mutually beneficial business as usual. He exploits every opening and feels no obligation to operate by the rule of law or human rights in or outside of Russia. Putin is a lost cause, and Russia also will be until he is gone