Angela Merkel suggested last weekend after a phone call to Vladimir Putin that the Russian leader seemed out of touch, or "in another world," as quoted in the New York Times. And his "paranoid," rambling news conference this week sealed it for Julia Ioffe at the New Republic: "Putin has lost it," she writes. Not so, counters Marc Champion at Bloomberg. Consider for a moment that he "just carried out an almost perfect operation, using hard power, covert tactics and disinformation to secure his goals." In other words, it was a classic KGB operation by a former KGB officer.
What's more, don't assume that Putin intends to annex Crimea. He seems intent on turning the region "into another frozen conflict zone." If he annexed it, he would be giving up leverage in future dealings with Ukraine. No, Champion thinks Putin will keep advancing the "covert" option, the end result being "an 'autonomous' territory that is bound to Russia but remains the constant object of Ukraine’s dreams and source of its insecurities." Putin "isn't crazy," he writes. He's KGB. Click for Champion's full column.