Did Vladimir Putin completely outmaneuver Obama? Play him for a chump?
Garry Kasparov, the Russian dissident and onetime international chess master, says yessiree, he certainly did.
As of now Putin has Obama essentially accepting the fact that Crimea belongs to Putin's Russia, and the negotiations that Putin initiated Saturday night are about how much control he will exercise over Ukraine, courtesy an agreement with Obama.
Crimea's supply lines run through Ukraine. Putin cannot let his new member of the Russian Federation just sit there subject to the cut-off of water, gas, and electricity the Ukrainians could impose. So he called Obama to say, sure we'll negotiate, this is what we want. He demanded the southern portion of Ukraine where many Russians live to become an autonomous region, not fully subservient to law enacted in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
If Obama wants a pullback of Russian troops of the Ukraine border he can't slam the door in Putin's face. Negotiations are now on, and Putin is playing the chessboard as if he were Kasparov himself.
In addition, NBC News is now reporting that Finland is sweating the Russians too. Putin has launched f military exercises on its doorstep, causing deep consternation among the independent minded Finns. Finland has reason to worry. If negotiations with Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry don't go well, Putin can pressure the talks in his direction by opening up a new front somewhere other than Ukraine. Such as Finland.
It's bad to be a pawn in Putin's game. It's shameful to be a chump in Putin's game.