Independent Newspaper “Nezavisimaia gazeta” on Ukraine Crisis: Putin Strengthens Negotiating Position

Now up on the website of “Nezavisimaia gazeta”, an article titled “Maidan Bursts onto the Russian Political Scene”.

Article claims that Putin has played waiting game on Ukrainian situation until now, but has finally taken action, together with Russian Federation Senate.  The question is: is this action too late?  Some experts say no, that Putin has now set himself up in a strong negotiating position with Kiev and international community.  Others say that the situation is fluid — the implication is that Putin lacks a plan.

The article ultimately supports the first side.  Putin has been trying to convince the west, the authors, Aleksandr Samarin and Ekaterina Trifonova, claim, that Ukraine is the most important foreign zone of concern to Russia.  By taking  action, he has now got the attention of both Kiev and the western powers.  They suggest that he hopes not to engage in further military action, but to prompt serious negotiations about status of the Crimea and of Russian population within Ukraine.  Putin is holding “decisive measures” in reserve.

However, there are already serious consequences of Putin’s actions in Crimea.  Obama has threatened economic sanctions, which would have a very serious negative effect on Russia.  Also, such sanctions could include seizure of overseas assets of Russian politicians who have “played the Russian card,” that is chosen strong rhetoric about the oppression of Russians resident in Ukraine.

Moreover, Putin’s moves are creating fear among neighboring countries. Kirgiziia and Kazakhstan have sizable Russian populations and could be the target of Russian irredentism, as Ukraine is now.  China too could be made quite nervous by Russian moves in Ukraine.

The article reveals something very important about resolutions of the Russian Senate vis a vis the Ukrainian crisis. Among the laws proposed is a project that would make it much easier for breakaway regions of foreign countries to join the Russian Federation (!!!).  Clearly some Russian nationalists are thinking direct annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

The article cites polls suggesting that the majority of Russians (a) want a peaceful resolution to the conflict (b) view the West as primarily responsible for the crisis (c) do not support the “rebels” who seized power in Kiev.  About one third of those polled have relatives or friends in Ukraine about whom they are worried.


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