Putin Redraws Russian Borders; Obama Unveils Bracket Picks

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Perhaps Obama Will Play the Fiddle at Tonight’s Democratic Fundraisers

Today’s Headlines, from Moscow . . . 

In a gilded Kremlin hall used by czars, Vladimir Putin redrew Russia’s borders Tuesday by declaring the Crimean Peninsula part of the motherland — provoking a surge of emotion among Russians who lament the loss of empire and denunciations from Western leaders who called Putin a threat to the world.

From Kiev:

Ukrainians, however, were convinced from Putin’s speech to the Russian Duma that the conflict could not remain cold. Many said they found some of Putin’s phrasing chilling, including his statement that “We’re one nation. Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities.”

They also noted that his proclamation of respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity rings hollow when he has already invaded and taken control of one region, and has an estimated 60,000 troops massing at the shared border.

Vitali Klitschko, the former world heavyweight champion and a leading member of Ukraine’s Parliament, underscored what many Ukrainians are thinking when he addressed the Russian threat, pointedly using the words “when the Russians invade” instead of “if.”

From Simferopol:

A member of a pro-Russian militia group is reported to have been killed in the same gun battle that claimed the life of the Ukrainian soldier earlier. There’s some confusion over how the militia man died and it seems that he may have been killed by his own side rather than shot by resisting Ukrainian forces.

From Sevastopol, an old woman in a pro-Russian crowd, lovingly holding an image of Joseph Stalin:

And from Washington:

President Obama stumps for a minimum wage hike Wednesday by appealing to specific television markets.

The president sits for interviews with stations based in New England, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Diego.

He has asked Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

Also on Wednesday, Obama will host the screening of a new film about Cesar Chavez, the farm worker who campaigned for labor rights.

Just in case you thought this was a productive use of his time, “The odds that Congress will pass an increase in the U.S. minimum wage before the November elections are so low that even the nation’s lobbyists are largely ignoring it.”

That’s not all Obama has going on today: “President Barack Obama, the nation’s No. 1 college basketball fan, is going to make his picks public on Wednesday.”