What does Vladimir Putin really want in Ukraine?

February 2, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects laboratory projects as he visits the National Mineral Resources University in St. Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects laboratory projects as he visits National Mineral Resources University in St. Petersburg, January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Confusion, confusion, confusion! This is how Russian President Vladimir Putin, increasingly isolated from Western conversations, keeps the world on its toes. Because only he has any answers.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is ever more fierce. Russian-supported rebels in the occupied cities of Donetsk and Luhansk now use sophisticated weapons to capture more land and ports. Yet Putin continues to insist that Moscow has nothing to do with it, despite abundant proof from intelligence reports and satellite imagery. He has no influence, Putin declares, over the rebel bands battling for independence from a Kiev government that the CIA installed.

Putin needs the bombastic oratory of war. With economic disaster looming in Russia, because of the West’s sanctions and plunging oil prices, his thinking may be that a threat of war can help justify his autocratic regime. The growing recession is forcing the Russian public to pay a high price for the annexation of Crimea.

Russia's President Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Sisi attend a welcoming ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at a ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at the Black Sea port of Sochi, August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Putin seems to be counting on the sanctions to make it the patriotic duty of all Russians to stand by him. As they are doing now — his approval rating is more than 80 percent.

Though some of his aides might occasionally slip up and suggest the rebel troops in eastern Ukraine are Russian surrogates, Putin always stays on point. It looks as if he always will.

He has built his image on strength, resolve and total control over his country’s actions. Putin’s militancy might subside, but only if the West accepts Russia’s March annexation of Crimea.

Western approval is highly unlikely, however. Moscow’s seizure of Crimea betrayed all international norms. But being the victim of the West serves Putin’s interests just as well.

Last week, he was conspicuously absent from the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp, one of the Red Army’s triumphs in 1945. Snubbed by world leaders, Putin held his own celebration in Moscow, to the loud cheering of the public — united in denunciation of the European lack of gratitude for Russia’s sacrifices.

Putin also skipped last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He sent his cabinet officials instead, whose job seemed to have been to stir up yet more confusion. One appeared to be granting concessions, while others defended the mighty Russian president.

Russia's President Putin speaks during a commemoration of the Hermitage's 250th anniversary at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Hermitage’s 250th anniversary at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, December 8, 2014. REUTERS/Dmitry Lovetsky/Pool

Arkady Dvorkovich, a deputy prime minister, talked about a positive “turning point” in West-Russia relations because of Moscow’s interest “in stabilizing the situation globally and in Ukraine in particular.”

At the same meeting, however, another deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, accused the West of imposing sanctions on Russia to topple Putin. Shuvalov insisted Russians are ready for sacrifices — economic and military — to support their president.

There is yet more confusion. The Kremlin is talking about international negotiations to de-escalate the conflict and make both Ukrainians and the rebel separatists pull back up to 9,000 troops and 500 tanks. But the round of talks that began last week in the Belarussian capital Minsk  was quickly derailed by the rebels. Their  leaders have withdrawn from any peace negotiations and have begun a massive offensive in Debaltseve, an important railroad hub, and in and around Mariupol, a strategic port city whose capture could give Moscow overland access to the Crimean Peninsula.

Despite Putin’s denials, it is highly unlikely that the rebels would have initiated this major geopolitical reshuffling on their own.

Some political analysts assert that Putin is all about asymmetrical retaliation: Every time he feels his power is disrespected, he lashes out. Troop deployment, hyped-up anti-Western rhetoric and attacks on Mariupol were Putin’s response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s accusation that Russia has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Pro-Russian separatists from the Chechen "Death" battalion walk during a training exercise in the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic

Pro-Russian separatists from the Chechen “Death” battalion walk during a training exercise in the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, December 8, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

According to this theory, Putin wants Europe and the United States to feel threatened by a possibility of a larger war with Russia — in order to push them into continuing talks with him. If the talks fail, Putin might want the West to believe, Russia will have no choice but to expand militarily.

Other analysts suggest that what Putin really cares about is the negotiations, not the war. By pushing the rebels to take more territory in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is trying to create new facts on the ground that Putin can use as leverage in the impending talks.

In this case, both the Kremlin’s denial and the rebels’ offensive serve to strengthen Russia’s diplomatic hand. To avoid further rebel expansion, Kiev might also have to agree to federalization of the nation. It has already called for a ceasefire with the rebels. It may have to ultimately cease its efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Short of accepting Crimea’s annexation, the West, regardless of what it thinks about Putin, must continue to meet him at the negotiating table. It is possible that he could follow through on his decision to play a positive role in global affairs, as Dvorkovich, the deputy prime minister who is talking peace, suggested.

Not only because it will help Putin avoid additional sanctions, but also because the Russian economy might not survive additional shocks. There have already been mass layoffs, and the public’s growing unhappiness could threaten the existence of Putin’s rule.

The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine may have served the Kremlin’s purpose of destabilizing that country. But the level of dismay these insurgents have brought with their actions — from the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 that killed 298 people in July, to the dozens  of civilians killed around  Mariupol in recent  weeks — is creating unease across Russia.

So having Russian officials speaking from the different sides of their leader’s mouth is a tactic to keep everyone confused. It only further enhances Putin’s image as a leader who holds all the answers.

45 comments

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Honest diplomacy; And protection of Russian boarders because of (un) civil-war between brothers in the Ukraine brought on by western extremist.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

“Putin continues to insist that Moscow has nothing to do with it, despite abundant proof from intelligence reports and satellite imagery.”

Produce this ‘proof’. Even the CIA and the NSA are unable to do so.

Why do you make such wild, unsubstantiated claims? Why does the WSJ publish them?

Posted by godfree | Report as abusive

I am sure I remember the coup in Ukraine which was organised by the west to allow NATO access to Crimea and Russia’s borders. Do the writers of these articles actually have a memory or in fact receive payment?? Realistically no nation can allow a power the size of the US to have its navy and army on its borders. It was inevitable that Russia would respond the way it has as it was inevitable that the US would impose sanction. Anyone including this writer whom one assumes understands world affaires can work out that this was planned quite a while ago. Does the writer actually believe that the situation would be different without Putin, of course not the policy that Russia is following would be the same regardless of who was in charge.

Posted by Moties001 | Report as abusive

Are we to believe that Russia has hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops in Eastern Ukraine. I appeal to Nina Khrushcheva to convince sceptics, like myself, by sharing all this evidence with us so that Putin is clearly shown to be risking a hot war. The machinations affecting world security cannot be placed on Putin’s shoulders. Afghan,Iraqi and Libyan devastation as well as Afghani turmoil can only be blamed on Western geo-political greed hidden behind a screen of lies.

Putin is not blameless and seems to be guilty, at least, of making America’s $5 billion investment coup d’etat lose some of its attraction. Until concrete evidence is made public to damn Russia’s hand then I for one, will continue to back the Kremlin in their effort to keep NATO bases at a healthy distance in preference to believing my own liars.

Posted by baglanboy | Report as abusive

I would ask what does CIA want in Ukraine.
So far we see the result of the brokered regime change: an authoritarian, fascist Ukraine that is busy in suppressing indipendentist and ethnic russians living in the east.
All as usual. From Batista, to Pinochet, and all the others south american fascist states of the past.
But this time we are at the border of Europe.
If you read the declarations and the histories of the “personalities” supported in Ukraine by Nuland and Company you get a flashback from the nazi Germany.
Ukraine. Just another brilliant success by USA. Another mission accomplished.
And all that while palestinians are left rotting under the israeli rule.
What a wonderful world: CIA, NSA, IRS.
The american citizen pay taxes just to have such clowns “working” for american “security”.
At the end the real idiot is the one who pay taxes to uncle sam.

Posted by frozenwormhole | Report as abusive

It is pretty simple: what did JFK want Cuba & Russia to do during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Both wanted to remove a foreign partnership military threat from their nation’s borders. This escalated when the Ukraine tried to join NATO and the USA encouraged it so they could put listening posts and military assets right on Russia’s borders under the guise of NATO protection. It’s the USA propaganda machine in full gear trying to misdirect the real cause of the invasion and war. I am no fan of Putin, but in this case he is doing what JFK did or threatened to do if Cuba and Russia didn’t back down. It is hypocritical for the USA to criticize Putin for doing what JFK did.

Posted by Danilushka | Report as abusive

While Putin’s hands have some dirt on them let us not forget it was the West’s binge of toppling one government after another that led to the Ukraine conflict. It was the West that orchestrated the toppling of a legitimate government first.

Posted by SR37212 | Report as abusive

These are not rebels. If they really wanted to be Russian, they could move to Russia in 15 minutes. It’s literally a 15 minute bus ride to Russia – the biggest country on earth, with plenty of room for people who feel…. “Russian.”

These are paid Russian agents invading a country. Calling them Rebels is like saying that the fall of Iraq was carried out by Moqtada Al Sadr and his band of rowdy shiite rebels. Yeah. Ok.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

That is Nikita Khrushev descendant writing that? Good job. Nikita was knocking his shoe against the tribune while threatening to bury the West and also transferred the Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. She must feel guilty a bit. What a columnist, huh? And now she tells us what does Putin want? To fix your grandfather wrong deads.

Family:
Khrushcheva is the granddaughter of Leonid Khrushchev, eldest son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. When Leonid died in World War II, Nikita adopted Leonid’s two-year old daughter Julia, Nina’s mother. Nikita Khrushchev is thus Nina Khrushcheva’s biological great-grandfather, but adoptive grandfather. Khrushcheva’s father, Lev Petrov, died in 1970, aged 47.[2]

Posted by AlexVX | Report as abusive

Why does the west ignore the fact that the Ukraine govt and military includes neo-nazis? Why does the west pretend the Russian-populated eastern Ukraine is seeking independence from prosecution by a corrupt and unstable Ukraine govt? What if what is really going on is that the west should be supporting eastern Ukraine bid for self determination and independence from western Ukraine? What if the rebels are really just the people who live in eastern Ukraine? Why won’t the west come clean on what this is really about, rather than continuing to propagate a lie.

Posted by Normanium | Report as abusive

Dear AlkalineState

War is not the answer to a language barrier.

If the US backed Ukraine government’s objective is to live in a Peaceful and productive nation; Then they would simply write into the Constitution that Ukraine is a bilingual nation, to preform the tasks to service the voting public in a civilized culture of respect.

Due to the degree of abuse that the Ukraine government is expending on their own public, by basically bombing and starving said population, implies genocide aided and abedded by NATO, US,..

Genocide is a crime against humanity as The Hague recognizes and so should the UN.

“Genocide is the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group.” Wikipedia

The Ukraine government is committing crimes of genocide; However do have at hand a Peaceful solution by including the Russian speaking population into the constitution… if Peace is their objective.

God gives “them” free choice.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

Are Americans really THAT naive? Putin’s revisionist party has written its aim right on its flag: (re-)UNITED RUSSIA. He couldn’t have made it clearer than that. He wants the lost regions back, it is as simple as that.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

“Russian speaking population?” Who cares?

There is a Russian speaking populaton in Brooklyn. You wanna come and get it, Putin? Vladimir Pudding is embarrassing himself and his country with this boondoggle. His men can’t even show their faces on the battlefield in Ukraine (they literally wear ISIS masks), then he’s home thumping his chest like he attacked some big thing. It’s Chernobyl. Nobody wants it, nobody is impressed, nobody cares. This is the most laughable foreign campaign since Russia lost Kazakhstan to McDonald’s.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Amazing that the U.S. Reuters site is now “occupied” by Putin’s trolls. Not, of course, that they aren’t obvious.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

It’s not what Putin wants – it’s what the trade/defense/medical pushers of US/EU want.

This is a US(AID) instigated instability under the guise of original ruler’s resistance to trade-push by both US and EU.

This is just another conflict that feeds the perpetual defense/medical machinery with tax-payer dollars at the expense of ignorant masses.

But, with an important difference – you messed with a potent one this time – Russia, that has the capability to annihilate the globe 18+ times over just like we can.

Why do you think we have sudden love for Cuba if not for the fear of Russian’s counter-action in bringing the monitoring and war-machinery next door?

Total irresponsibility on the administration to have let this escalate to this state of senseless – loss of lives on both sides, loss of land and most importantly of all – ruined relations for the long-term, with Russia.

Hope the few defense strategists that have gone mental on this, get held accountable together with the one rubber-stamping at the top.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Dear AlkalineState

Says, “Russian speaking population?” Who cares?

Eye care; And you don’t care, in Brooklyn or anywhere else.

Point taken and one I believe your fellow Republican OneOfTheSheep shears.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

@Moties001 – “.. the coup in Ukraine which was organised by the west to allow NATO access to Crimea and Russia’s borders ..”

Well said. That’s the fact and the rest is just noise.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

I see the paid PUTINBOTS are active in this comment section, doing their little part in the Russian Maskirovka campaign.

No matter how many satellite images showing cross boarder artillery fire and tank tracks crossing from Russia to Ukraine, all a mere Google search away, they will say “No one has shown proof of Russian involvement!”… presumably to sway people too lazy to use an internet search engine to see the copious proof available.

The Big Lie is alive and well.

Posted by evilhippo | Report as abusive

Nina Khrushcheva’s attitude about Russian politics is very interesting, indeed. Her memory is short lived, and her thoughts focused only in one direction though. If Ms. Khrushcheva is so much concerned about the implementation of all the international norms, first she should make more research on the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo while talking about Crimea’s annexation by Russia.She also forgets to note, that her grandfather Nikita Khrushchev was the person, who decided to detach Crimea from Russia, and transfer it to Ukraine, without asking the consent of the residents of the peninsula. I wander, could we ever read critical opinions from Jenna Bush or Chelsea Clinton, about the “rightful” intervention of American troops to Iraq, Afghanistan etc. during the presidencies of their fathers. As nobody can deny, these two peaceful “missions” brought decades of destruction and fierce internal conflicts in the affected nations, with millions people already dead or wounded. Meanwhile, the goals of the American diplomacy were satisfactorily achieved: Afghanistan now produces and exports 10 times more opium than before, Iraqi oils are flowing to the markets,and in return USA is exporting weapons worth tens of billions of dollars to the countries around the Persian gulf. I also would like to ask Ms. Khruscheva, to present us next time a photo of Russian regular army in the Ukrainian soil, rather to use one of the Chechen militias.

Posted by Levko | Report as abusive

Confrontational Media language is still acceptable, but once the nuclear weapon language is triggered, no way back will be possible.

Posted by Nikolay_Korolev | Report as abusive

“The Big Lie is alive and well.”

Dear evilhippo

Welcome to The New World Order of Truth.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

Nina Khrushcheva’s attitude about Russian politics is very interesting, indeed. Her memory is short lived, and her thoughts focused only in one direction though. If Ms. Khrushcheva is so much concerned about the implementation of all the international norms, first she should make more research on the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo while talking about Crimea’s annexation by Russia.She also forgets to note, that her grandfather Nikita Khrushchev was the person, who decided to detach Crimea from Russia, and transfer it to Ukraine, without asking the consent of the residents of the peninsula. I wander, could we ever read critical opinions from Jenna Bush or Chelsea Clinton, about the “rightful” intervention of American troops to Iraq, Afghanistan etc. during the presidencies of their fathers. As nobody can deny, these two peaceful “missions” brought decades of destruction and fierce internal conflicts in the affected nations, with millions people already dead or wounded. Meanwhile, the goals of the American diplomacy were satisfactorily achieved: Afghanistan now produces and exports 10 times more opium than before, Iraqi oils are flowing to the markets,and in return USA is exporting weapons worth tens of billions of dollars to the countries around the Persian gulf. I also would like to ask Ms. Khruscheva, to present us next time a photo of Russian regular army in the Ukrainian soil, rather to use one of the Chechen militias.

Posted by Levko | Report as abusive

Russia claims that they must attack Ukraine because there are people in Ukraine who ….”speak Russian”.

Yeah So…. Portugal attacks Brazil now? What you speak does not make you property of some other former parent country. If these Russian-speakers in Ukraine feel so Russian, then Putin should let them into Russia. It’s a 15-minute bus ride. Go be Russian. Leave Ukraine alone. Don’t start a war and kill people for nothing. This whole thing is cooked up in a drunken russian kitchen with leaky pipes and rotten potatoes in the cubpoard. Yuck.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

All Mr. Putin wants is All Russians Into One State so no Russian will be second class citizen. What did US wanted in Kosovo ?
Glory to Russia and Vladimir The Righteous!!!

Posted by Macedonian | Report as abusive

Chechnya, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine… I believe there’s no confusion at all, but a straight and obvious trend as to what Mr. Putin wants and how he achieves his objectives. If for some reason someone prefers to think that one day a wolf is going to become a vegetarian – that of course leads to a confusion.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

@Lovetwo,

It has long been the prerogative of sovereign nation/states to demand assimilation of would-be citizens as a price of residency. When recalcitrants unite to refuse to comply with pertinent “laws of the land” or voluntarily leave one winds up with situations like “no-go” muslim zones in Europe. At some point governments must act on behalf of the majority of their citizens to restore order and civility.

As Russia fully knows from Chechnya, such insurrections must be effectively put down. But Putin is becoming the master at saying one thing and doing another when it suits him.

The world must judge by what Putin DOES and not what he SAYS. And, sooner or later, they must stand up to his aggression if it is to be stopped.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

The thing with it is, this is just one in a number of op-eds aimed at Vladimir Putin. If you take a minute to walk through Reuters op-ed section it will reveal a saga of articles questioning all aspects of his leadership.
This is what we’re being fed through the efforts of our MSM.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Thomson Reuters, or any major news outlet for that matter, expend this type of effort to unveil the very dark corners of our foreign policy.
Wouldn’t you be interested in finding out why we are finding ourselves embroiled in nation and regime changes around the globe ?

Posted by Laster | Report as abusive

The Russian trolls are invading forums of newspapers and news agencies in large numbers which can’t be a coincedence. Requests by these trolls for evidence about Russia’s involvement in the fighting in eastern Ukraine are ludicrous. Putin is a megalomanic leader and a danger to peace in our today’s world. Providing Ukraine with defense lethal weapons and additonal sanctions must be the next step to stop Putin’s agression

Posted by al43 | Report as abusive

The support such a coup d’état and then offer an election as washing machine does not convince a large majority that such actions can not be after going through the dryer.

Posted by Amsteldamer | Report as abusive

Amazing. Posted on the 1st with few comments. Come 9 am Russian time Monday morning, the pro-Russian comments start rolling in. What a surprise.

Posted by marty_CA | Report as abusive

I tried having a logical discussion with one of the trolls over the course of a few days. In the end, there was contradiction after contradiction. Fascists in Kiev? Why were so few Right Sector candidates elected? The best line was that Russia has never invaded Ukraine, because it was always a part of Russia…

Posted by vincasvilnius | Report as abusive

In my opinion Putin sees no reason to not allow the continual bleeding of Ukraine. It has always been treated as a buffer zone and backwater by Russia.
It serves his purpose to keep it as a thorn and a tool to antagonise the West, it has been treated as such for years.
Putin isn’t clever he is just devious. Why journalists treat him as if he is intellectually clever defies belief.
A suggestion; when the Russian Mafia see him as bad for business, Putin will disappear very quickly.

Posted by Wazzaa | Report as abusive

“Moscow’s seizure of Crimea betrayed all international norms.” Well, our author is not a disinterested observer in all of this. Her grandfather, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Krushchev, handed Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954. Perhaps Nina Krushcheva is more interested in preserving her grandfather’s legacy than “international norms”. Reuters, you really should have disclosed this tidbit of information.

Posted by Squeamish | Report as abusive

Putin has weakened Russia’s bargaining position in the world, and he has caused investors to leave Russia. He is now ruining their economy. All for what….. to get Chernobyl back and thump his milky chest about it? Not a good leader. Other than his usual band of adoring trolls (hired at a discount in Czech Republic)…. his previous supporters are fleeing. The smart money is on better places.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Dear OneOfTheSheep

No.

You just like war.

Truth be known.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

“Amazing. Posted on the 1st with few comments. Come 9 am Russian time Monday morning, the pro-Russian comments start rolling in. What a surprise.”

Deary marty_CA

Did it occur to you that the news also appeals to the dinner crowd, “Russian Time”?

Peaceful people live all around the world, and all at the same time, not just “9 am Russian Time”.

What is amazing, is that you think that all pro-Russians comments are written at “9 am Russian Time” when evidently they are not.

Dear Nina

Yes, lies are very confusing to those who believe them.

It is written.

Truth be known.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

What does Vladimir Putin really want in Ukraine? Very simple, Putin wants the West (EU, NATO, UK, US, etc.) to take Russia’s interests into account when they take any actions that are in Russia’s doorsteps. This analysis of Putin is just another piece of academic crap being done by academicians who do not know what is going on in the real world. Unfortunately, Washington is full of these people who will bring the world to a pile of ashes if the World leaders listen to these fools.

Posted by BobytheBrain | Report as abusive

Russia is an imperialist nation. Putin is American. Pussy Riot is operating within Chechnya and winning.

Not really. Just want to get the Russo-Bots fired up with key words. :)

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

If the west would like a favorable resolution to the situation in Ukraine and a clear message that such violations of sovereignty (a topic which Russia has long adamantly declared inviolable to cover their actions in Chechnya) they should call Putin’s bluff. Put NATO troops in Ukraine and push the “rebels” into the Russia they so dearly love. Putin perceives the EU and American interests in Ukraine to be weak, or at least weak enough that Russia can invade Ukraine, destabilize its government and assimilate it free from military threat by western powers. He’s currently correct, no western nation or alliance has the resolve to put men on the line to curb Russian expansion. To call his bluff is the only way to curtail future violations and assert NATO’s role as the western balance to Russian power.

Posted by Alloran | Report as abusive

Inconsistent report sounds bias.The fact is with 80% favorable rating for Putin by Russian people,Putin existence will never be threatened.The auther picks threads from half way of the crisis instead analyzing how the crisis started and who is responsible for that.Putin spoke of neucliar weapons for edge over Nato shows that he is prepared and can go to any extent if The west does not desist from aggravate the crisis putting more sanctions and taking Ukraine towards membership of EU.
It is still not late for a sort of compromise before it is too late to save thousands from killing.

Posted by gentalman | Report as abusive

A little man with a big ego, conflict to compensate for Viagra’s ineffectiveness.

Posted by Amwatching2c | Report as abusive

It is amazing that Putin’s supporters here pretend that there is no “evidence” of Russian troops and equipment in Ukraine. The self-serving lies coming out of the Kremlin are comparable to Putin’s recent claims that the Baltic Republics “voluntarily” joined the Soviet Union in 1940.
And for the record,the defense spending of all the Central and Eastern European states declined precipitously after the USSR imploded, American troops in NATO countries declined by several hundred thousand, and bases were closed in Germany and elsewhere. Germany spends a pitiful 1.3% of its GDP on defense. And Russia? Their defense spending has more than doubled in the past decade. Putin has played up the “NATO threat” to centralize power, stifle the opposition, and pursue his imperialist agenda in the post-Soviet space. But there was no threat.

Posted by Cassiopian | Report as abusive

These are fake rebels. If they feel so “Russian”…. they should just take a commuter bus to Russia. It’s 15 minutes away.

Is Putin denying entry to these so-called “Russians.” ?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

It’s very interesting that the author never mentions anything about the NATO and destabilizing effect it presents right at Russia’s doorsteps! Would the U.S. or any other Western country in the right mind tolerate that? Putin is doing what any rational president would, defend his country and her security the best he can! He didn’t stir up fake demonstrations in order to topple an elected president of a neighbor country (no matter what you might think of him or his government), again something the U.S. would not allow in a thousand years.

The U.S. and its Western satellites are not happy about the fact that Russia, or anyone else, would have the power to defend themselves if necessary, and that forms the basis for all their belligerence demonstrated in various forms of sanctions, propaganda, military, etc.. In essence they want a world where everyone is subdued and can be attacked at any time of their choosing! Tough luck, Putin is not that kind of customer!

Posted by camerashy | Report as abusive

Putin will feel challenged by more sanctions and his giant ego will pump his resolution up even more, making him even more aggressive in the slow but active Russian takeover of Ukraine. He has shown himself and his regime to be utterly ruthless. Nothing can or will stop him but a united military confrontation of overwhelming force. However, dare anyone go there? Putin has reminded the press and Russian people that Russia is a nuclear power, again & again: threat conveyed. Does his megalomania mean he would face a trained & armed defensive army with conventional weapons by putting nuclear weapons to use or would he “blink” & cave from such a potential global cataclysm? If Ukraine is to remain (or become) an independent nation, that ultimate “Mexican showdown” may have to take place between NATO & Russia — either that or let him rebuild the Russian empire.

Posted by Docnixon | Report as abusive