"The things that President Obama and the European Union have done—relatively mild sanctions, the exclusion of Russia from an upcoming G-7 (formerly G-8) meeting, the shoring up of defenses in Poland and the Baltic nations, and presumably more actions of this sort to come—are proportional steps worth taking. But no one should suffer the illusion that any of this will prod Putin to send the troops in Crimea home (most of them were already stationed there) or give the land back to Ukraine. To pretend that it might—as some of Obama's rhetoric about 'costs' and 'consequences' has implied—works only to Putin's benefit; it makes him seem stronger (he's withstood the American sanctions!) than he really is," writes CFR Murrow Press Fellow Fred Kaplan in Slate.
"Mr. Putin has cynically raised nationalist fervor to a fever pitch; imperialist annexation is a strategic choice to bolster his regime's survival. Mobilizing the masses by distracting them from real problems like corruption and economic stagnation can take place only beneath the banner of fighting external enemies," writes Alexey Navalny in the New York Times.
"Deterrence requires a credible threat of military action. The various economic and diplomatic efforts to isolate Russia and compel Putin to pull back his troops are wise, and they are likely to have an effect. But soft and hard power are two sides of a coin. We need to recognize how military options fit into this strategy," writes CFR's Janine Davidson for the National Interest.
Michelle Obama Arrives in China for Weeklong Visit
Pakistan to Improve Conditions for Journalists, Sharif Says
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists that he would establish a commission to improve conditions for journalists. A New York Times correspondent was expelled from Pakistan last year, and the country remains one of the deadliest for journalists (Express Tribune).
Julie Anderson blogs about protecting journalists in armed conflict.
Italy's navy and coast guard rescued about 2,400 migrants coming from North Africa over a two-day period, authorities said Wednesday, adding that the number of migrants reaching Italian shores at the beginning of 2014 was ten times as high as the same period a year prior (NYT).
COLOMBIA: President Juan Manuel Santos signed off on the impeachment of Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro, dismissing an injunction issued earlier on Wednesday by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. An ombudsman, citing mismanagement, initiated the move, but Petro says it was politically motivated (Colombia Reports).