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Putin’s gamble: the risks and rewards of invading Ukraine

World

Putin’s gamble: the risks and rewards of invading Ukraine

The economic effects of the 2014 Crimean takeover hint at what would come after for Russia and its taken territories

Marc Champion

About a kilometre from a border post that marks the last Ukrainian controlled territory before Crimea, soldiers suddenly emerge from the long sea grass to check on an idling car.

Their concern over who comes and goes is no surprise. Should Russia decide to invade Ukraine as feared by the US, tanks and infantry would pour across this narrow causeway connecting the peninsula to the wide open steppe of southern Ukraine in numbers Europe hasn’t seen since 1945.

The strategic loss for Ukraine would be as huge as the prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin. A few kilometres up the road he could unblock a makeshift dam that has severed Crimea from its agricultural water supply since he annexed it in 2014. Moving east, he could connect the peninsula by land to Russia and those parts of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region already controlled by Russian-armed separatists. By moving west to Odessa and its seaports he could leave the remainder of Ukraine landlocked...

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