Putin and his supporters are determined to show they’re not cowed. And anyway, they remember President George W. Bush’s warnings in 2008 that there would be consequences about the Russian military involvement in Georgia, and seem to assume that the same level of nothing will come out of Obama’s threat Friday as did from Bush’s.
“Were there really consequences for the Russians in those days?” said Gene Rumer, who just finished as the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia and now runs the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s program on the region. “Putin probably thinks he doesn’t really have any good options. But he’ll get over the reputational risk.”
Putin’s spokesman said Saturday that even after the votes, he hadn’t made a decision about whether to actually send in troops or on what to do with the ambassador.
Nonetheless, asked how worried people should be, Rumer said, “very.”