Putin’s Crimea Grab Could Hurt Russia

And he may have underestimated President Obama’s resolve this time.

“The intervention in Crimea and subsequent fall in Russian assets has resulted in tightening financial conditions and is likely to have reversed the improvement in business confidence experienced in the first two months of the year,” Jinny Yan, a London-based economist with Standard Chartered, said in a note Wednesday.

Snowdon Damage Will Take Decades To Repair

That’s according to the White House official in charge of cyber security.

“Make no mistake: We are going to be dealing with the fallout from that for all of your careers, and the impact that that has had on our national security will reverberate for decades,” Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president for cyber security, told Naval Academy midshipmen.

And some poor misguided souls still think Snowdon is a hero.

Israel At Odds With U.S. Over Visas

Albeit they are close allies, Israel is not included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – With the United States irked at Israel over its settlement policies and the lack of progress in peace talks, an obscure diplomatic classification has emerged as a new sticking point between the two close allies.

To ease the travel of its citizens, Israel is pressing to join 38 other countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program – a prestigious club of nations whose citizens don’t need a preapproved visa to visit America. So far, their efforts have not only been rebuffed, but Israel has seen a spike in the number of young people and military officers rejected entry to the U.S.

The Crimea Crisis Is Obama’s Nightmare

And how will he deal with it, considering the doubts many Americans have about his foreign policy positions?

The president’s apparent inability to pull together a coherent (domestic and international) coalition to deal with the Syrian civil war and Syrian chemical weapons without the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t help his ratings much at all. Then, most recently, what appeared to many to be confusion within the Obama administration over dealing with the on-going turmoil in Ukraine – and then the sudden Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula – has highlighted difficulties the Obama team has had in identifying and carrying out policies to deal effectively with a seemingly surefooted Vladimir Putin.

Two public opinion polls, both released the week of 24 March, have now defined how support for Obama’s foreign policies have dropped, although there has been one important qualifier. According to the new Associated Press-GfK poll, despite falling support more generally, Obama’s primary tactic of imposing economic sanctions on key Russians has gained strong backing.

What Will Putin Do Next?

According to Top Intelligence Analysts, there are five things Putin might do next.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invaded and annexed Crimea, continuing a Kremlin practice of employing military intervention abroad under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians and Russian interests.

While Putin’s creep into Ukraine is far from over, there are other military moves Russia could make to extend its post-Soviet sphere of influence.

Wikistrat, a consultancy that analyzes geopolitical and economic forces using crowd-sourced expertise, has been calculating what could happen next in the region.

In January, Wikistrat analysts forecast the potential for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to resign (which he did a month later) and for Crimea to request annexation into Russia (which occurred this week).

Recently, 66 analysts spent five days exploring scenarios involving all types of interventions, from small-scale missions against criminals and terrorists to outright invasions and massive cyberattacks.

Here are five plausible and alarming scenarios compiled by Wikistrat senior analyst (and BI contributor) professor Mark Galeotti:

Get the full story in this article

Maybe the Vikings weren’t invincible after all

It turns out the legends were wrong about the Vikings kicking ass all the time. In fact, they got their own asses kicked as often as not:

“Forget the funeral boats burning at sea and tales of the most bloodthirsty warriors in history. In fact, you can forget pretty much everything you think you know about the Vikings — it’s all wrong. Many of the legends associated with the Norse raiders were invented by their victims whose written accounts dominated the narrative long after the Viking Age.”

Given the upper hand, the Vikings were as ruthless and brutal as can be — there’s no question about that — but in battle on equal terms, they were by no means invincible.

For instance, a recently discovered mass grave in Dorset, southern England, contains some “50 men, whose bones can be traced back to Scandinavia.” The men had been “rounded up and beheaded at some point in the 11th Century. It’s hardly the kind of scene you find in the terrifying, florid descriptions of unbeatable Norse raiders written by monks and churchmen at the time.”