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You're reading: William Varettoni: A primer on Crimea’s road to ruin

To paint Russian leadership as reactionary, ham-fisted hardliners is to ignore a decade of methodical deployment of soft power techniques, patient construction of fifth columns, and the massive incentives Russia has not to blow the place up. 

Focus on Russia’s military is misdirection; it is absolutely important, but the real benefit to brinkmanship is to make other outcomes seem downright reasonable.

 In light of recent setbacks, two potential outcomes are both reasonable (when compared to the extremes of military conflict and secession) and advantageous for Russia: 

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