The referendum on Crimea’s status has provoked vastly divergent interpretations in Moscow and Kiev. While the new Ukrainian government and its Western supporters believe Russia is grabbing territory and resuming its expansionist drive, Putin enjoys wide popularity at home and in Crimea, where the majority of the population never accepted the legal status of Crimea as belonging to Ukraine.

In the second part of a two-part podcast hosted by Carnegie–Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle, Carnegie Moscow’s Dmitri Trenin said that in much of Russia and Crimea, the expected secession is viewed as correcting a historical injustice within the Soviet Union. However, the referendum will not end the struggle in and for Ukraine. Trenin argued that a second Cold War has begun. He explained that the ever-present balance between cooperation and competition in international relations has been tilted toward competition. This new strategic rivalry lacks certain features of the previous Cold War, such as a static military competition or an ideological struggle. However, Trenin argued there will be a notable freeze in Russian-Western relations and predicted a fierce information warfare between Russia and the United States.

Dmitri Trenin

Dmitri Trenin is the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. He also chairs the research council and the Foreign and Security Policy Program. He retired from the Russian Army in 1993. From 1993–1997, Trenin held a post as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Europe in Moscow. In 1993, he was a senior research fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces from 1972 to 1993, including experience working as a liaison officer in the external relations branch of the Group of Soviet Forces (stationed in Potsdam) and as a staff member of the delegation to the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms talks in Geneva from 1985 to 1991. He also taught at the War Studies Department of the Military Institute from 1986 to 1993.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.