"Mr. Putin misunderstands the complexities of language and ethnicity in Ukraine. Certainly, Ukraine is diverse, and language, history and culture play a role in some of its internal differences — just as they do in blue- and red-state America, in northern and southern Italy, or in the north and the south of England. The error is to believe there is a fratricidal separation between Russian and Ukrainian speakers and to assume that everyone who speaks Russian at home or voted for Mr. Yanukovych would prefer to be a citizen of Mr. Putin's Russia," writes Chrystia Freeland in the New York Times.
"It is worth remembering that, in the back-and-forth of Ukrainian governments since 1991, both the pro-Russian leaders, like Viktor Yanukovych, and the pro-Europeans, like Yulia Tymoshenko, have been brazen thieves, enriching themselves at fantastical rates. Both sides have played one half of the country against the other," writes David Remnick in the New Yorker.
"This is not Ukraine's war. Ukraine is the immediate victim, but it is by no means Putin's ultimate target. This is a blatant attack on the principles of state sovereignty, inviolability of negotiated borders, and adherence to multilateral agreements that underpin today's rule-based international system. Countering Russia's aggression is thus the responsibility of all who would uphold that system," write Karl-Theodor Zu Guttenberg and Bogdan Klich for Project Syndicate.
The Middle East's driest winter since at least 1970 has led to varying degrees of drought in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq, hurting prospects for local crops and posing a threat to global food prices (Reuters).