Ukrainian sovereignty won't be the only casualty of Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to assert Russian influence and interest in Crimea.

It's still far too early to calibrate how this crisis will play out and what its consequences will be -- but it's a fair bet that whether it ends in a Putin victory, defeat, or draw, it's going to make a difficult situation in the Middle East even more complicated.

Whether Putin wins or loses in Ukraine, the odds that Russia could be a reliable partner for the U.S. have decreased dramatically. And this only reinforces the painfully obvious: When it comes to the core issues facing the U.S. in the Middle East, the U.S. must focus on outcomes, not solutions, and be very sober about what it might do to contribute to them.

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