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Velshi: There’s more to Putin’s aggression than meets the eye


Putin’s goal when annexing Crimea was to convince Russians – and Ukraine’s sizable Russian-speaking population – that life was better inside Russia’s walls. And if he had to move those walls himself to make sure Russians outside of Russia were protected, he’d do that. That’s exactly what he did: he decided that the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in Ukraine was not a rebuke, but an opportunity to reclaim Crimea. Vladimir Putin’s intention then was pure empire-building. And today, that intention remains the same. Putin seems to want the world to believe that extending his arm of protection to all Russians around the globe is a noble, selfless act. But it’s an old playbook in the history of anti-democratic regional domination. Hitler used it as the pretext to invade Poland – to protect the ethnic Germans who lived there. That’s how World War II began. The rest of the world wisely decided that’s not how things should work. Countries don’t just get to roll over other countries because they feel like it, or because they have some grievance, or because they believe it was once their domain. That’s what this situation is all about. It’s not about Ukraine joining NATO. It’s not about NATO expanding toward Russia. It's about whether people have the right to decide who governs them, or not.