This is the sort of move that gives “Pyrrhic victory” a bad name.
Washington has backed Putin into a corner, forcing him to take drastic measures to protect Russian minorities in Ukraine. That in turn forced Europe’s leaders into Washington’s camp, and within 48 hours, the European discourse has shifted away from economic cooperation with Russia to a possible boycott of Russian gas.
Putin will sell the gas to China, which last month proposed to construct a pipeline that would increase Russia’s deliveries tenfold. More importantly, Russia’s considerable scientific and engineering resources—by some measure on par with those of the United States—will be put in the service of China’s high-tech industry.
Washington maneuvered Russia into the crisis. Putin was willing to negotiate the status of the Russophone districts of Eastern Ukraine under the 2015 Minsk protocols brokered by the French and Germans, and signed by Ukraine, Germany, France, Russia and representatives of Luhansk and Donetsk, the rebel provinces.