Did Russia underestimate Ukraine’s restraint?

Colonel Yuli Mamchor (R), commander of the Ukrainian military garrison at the Belbek airbase, speaks to troops under Russian command occupying the Belbek airbase in Crimea on March 4, 2014 in Lubimovka, Ukraine.
Colonel Yuli Mamchor, right, commander of the Ukrainian military garrison at the Belbek airbase, speaks to troops under Russian command occupying the Belbek airbase in Crimea on Tuesday in Lubimovka, Ukraine.
Credit: Getty Images

In Crimea, Russian soldiers have fired warning shots over the heads of Ukrainian soldiers. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a press conference in Moscow, calling armed conflict a “last resort.” Is the risk of a Crimean war over?

Metro spoke with Jana Kobzova, an associate fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

What was Putin’s goal with the press conference on Tuesday?

He was trying to defuse the situation while leaving all his options open. When all the talk about a Russian ultimatum came, it created much more tension than Putin had expected. Before the ultimatum, the talk was about the G8 and Ukraine’s economic problems; after the ultimatum it was about NATO getting involved. But Putin wasn’t backtracking in the press conference.

Isn’t Putin almost helping his adversaries, given that the world’s attention is now on Crimea, not the new government in Kiev?

Yes, Crimea is taking attention away from the new government’s problems. But remember that the protesters are still there in Kiev. They didn’t just want to change governments; they wanted to change the system. Some members of the new government come from civil society and are respected by Ukrainians, but many ministers are part of the old system. The protesters will keep watching them. But for now, Ukrainians are united against Russia. And it’s amazing how much restraint this young government has exercised against Russia. Russia was hoping for a provocation like what happened in Georgia [in 2008].

So Ukraine’s government is acting more wisely than the Georgian government did five and a half years ago?

Yes. It’s amazing that it hasn’t happened and that the new government has been able to enforce its restraint. That restraint goes all the way down to the Ukrainian soldiers. That’s something the Russians underestimated.


Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…


The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.


Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…


Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.


'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.


New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!


James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…


True Detective


Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.


Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…


Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.


3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.


Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…


Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…


How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.


A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.