Plenty of foreign policy analysts think Vladimir Putin's moves in Ukraine are signs of a brilliant tactician. But Andrew Kuchins begs to differ in Politico Magazine. He thinks Putin has blundered into a huge mistake, on par with Leonid Brezhnev's misguided decision to invade Afghanistan in 1979. While Brezhnev's mistake didn't cause the downfall of the Soviet Union, it certainly played a major role, writes Kuchins. "No analogy is perfect, but my gut tells me that historians will regard Putin’s reckless decision to invade Crimea much like Brezhnev’s mistake in Afghanistan—as the beginning of the end," he writes.
Consider that Putin made his Crimea decision in the 14th year of his tenure after consulting with just three close advisers, all Soviet diehards. Brezhnev made his decision in the 15th year of his tenure with a foursome of his own. "While both leaders started with a wider and more diverse circle of close advisers, each man’s leadership team grew steadily smaller and less diverse," writes Kuchins. The Crimea decision could easily backfire, jeopardizing Russia's fragile economy and Putin's presidency. In short, this might be his "Brezhnev moment." Click for the full column.