For now, it’s completely unclear how the situation in Ukraine will turn out, but wouldn’t it be ironic if history records that Vladimir Putin made a crucial geo-political blunder by trying so hard to host the Olympics in Sochi? Russia poured over $50 billion into the games and invested much of its prestige in them.
But so long as the Olympics were being held this month, Russia’s ability to overtly manipulate the Ukraine crisis was somewhat limited. While Putin was preoccupied in securing Sochi from terrorist assaults, Ukraine’s street protesters chased his buddies out of the presidential palace in Kiev. One opposition figure e-mailed me: “We knew it was better to act while Russia was hosting the Olympics and had to abide by international norms.”
Of course, it’s important to remember the Olympic Games conclude on Sunday night, leaving Putin greater freedom to respond more firmly to Ukraine’s latest Orange Revolution.