What's on Putin's mind? Inquiring minds want to know. Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
What's on Putin's mind? Inquiring minds want to know. Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In the spirit of the recent exchange between the U.S. Department of State and Russia’s Foreign Ministry, I have a few questions for Russian President Vladimir Putin on the crisis in Ukraine:

1. Ukraine doesn’t, as you rightly say, have a legitimate president for now. But this will be rectified by elections on May 25. Why not wait until then before you start changing borders?

2. There is no evidence that ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being attacked. If you are concerned that they are at risk, why not call in United Nations peacekeepers? They'd be eager to help.

3. Who stole and sold high-end Russian military equipment and armored vehicles to those mysterious non-Russian troops in Crimea? Are your arms depots secure?

4. Now that you have become a defender of people's right to self-determination, are you going to change your stance on Chechnya? It declared independence from Russia in 1991, and your country responded with force.

5. It seems that the decision to hold a referendum in Crimea with just 10 days to prepare, on March 16, and to change the question to include unification with Russia, was made in a closed last-minute emergency session of parliament, to which many MPs were not invited. No information was provided as to how many deputies were there or what the vote was. Will you be finding out whether there was even a quorum, before accepting a new piece of territory?

6. No doubt you are confident that Crimea’s Russian-majority population will vote to join Russia. If so, why not invite international monitors and encourage a delay? A transparent vote will make it much harder for the European Union and the U.S. to claim you’re simply annexing territory.

7. Once Crimea has joined Russia, will you be letting South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova do the same?

8. Do you have any other plans that your neighbors should be aware of?

(Marc Champion is a Bloomberg View editorial board member. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcChampion1.)

To contact the writer of this article: Marc Champion at mchampion7@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: David Shipley at at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.