As a Russian military siege of Ukrainian military installations in Crimea continued, Russian and Western leaders seemed to occupy separate policy universes. President Vladmir Putin and his administration's diplomats contended that Russia had responded to a political coup in Ukraine, sending thousands of Russian troops to take effective control of Crimea because ethnic Russians there were being set upon by Ukranian extremists. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev, bearing a $1 billion American loan guarantee, offers of technical financial help, and accusations that Russia was trying to achieve its policy goals in Crimea "at the end of a barrel of a gun."
The Crimean crisis seemed to pause this week, with Putin ordering troops involved in military exercises inside Russia near Ukraine to return to base, even as Russian forces for most intents and purposes occupied Crimea. While leaders considered next steps, the Bulletin asked a panel of American experts to offer their suggestions on the best short-term US response to the Ukraine situation, and on how US policy toward Russia should change in the longer term as a result of events in Crimea. The experts seemed to agree that the US response should not be military. From there, the advice about a fluid, dangerous, and unpredictable situation diverged widely.