Putin admits to aggression in Ukraine but leaves loopholes for more

Analysis & Opinion

Even as Vladimir Putin is being praised by some for having the Russian parliament rescind its authorization for the use of force in Ukraine, the Kremlin leader has admitted that he has done just that, left himself a variety of loopholes to do more, and promised to continue to “defend” ethnic Russians and others in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Speaking in Vienna on Tuesday, Putin said that he would “not conceal” the fact that Moscow “used our armed forces in order to guarantee the freedom of the expression of the will of Crimeans” and to “block certain armed formations of the Ukrainian army,” his clearest acknowledgement yet of what preceded the Anschluss of Crimea.

As Andrey Illarionov demonstrated in an Ekho Moskvy blogpost yesterday, Putin’s words show that Russian action in Crimea fall under the United Nations definition of aggression and thus constitute “a public confirmation” of his “direct participation” in the launching and conduct of “an aggressive war against Ukraine” in violation of international and Russian law.

The Russian parliament’s earlier authorization does not affect that, and its decision, at Putin’s request, to rescind its earlier action does not end the threat. First, Putin could get the parliament to reverse itself again anytime in a matter of hours. Second, the parliament’s earlier, 2009 authorization of such use of force in this way remains very much in effect, officials say.

And third and perhaps most ominously, the Russian president, even as he made his acknowledgement about the use of force in Crimea, did not back away from the arguments he has used to justify the use of that force. Indeed, if anything, his words suggest that he has adopted an even more expansive definition of what he calls “the broad Russian world.”

Putin stressed that he and his government will always defend “ethnic Russian in Ukraine and that part of the Ukrainian population and people which feels an indivisible connection with Russia not only ethnically but culturally and linguistically and feels itself to be part of the broad Russian world.”

Courtesy of Window on Eurasia

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  • sandy miller

    Putin is delusional and dangerous. Bomb the Kremlin…At this point, he’s not backing down from his aggression. How much longer is NATO, and US, UN gonna give this guy time to gradually continue to invade Ukraine? It’s obvious Putin is playing games with EU and USA…he has not respect for them and he will continue lying and moving at first against Ukraine and eventually every country he may want. So europe keep playing with with your figners while Rome burns. Bomb the son-of a bitch into submission…make sure that snake can’t ever raise it’s ugly head again and threaten the civilised world.

  • David Rusinas

    Yes Sandy, Mr Putin is playing games but NATO has no mandate to intervene in Ukraine even if Russia did invade. President Obama may be seen as weak in his response but Senator MaCain, when interviewed by the BBC on the invasion of Crimea also ruled out military action. As for the EU, it is 28 sovereign states and the only option for EU foreign policy is to influence Russia to change its ways. After the Iraq debacle it is doubtful that there would be British public support for another military adventure; the fact that conversations about Iraq between G W Bush and Tony Blair were not disclosed at the inquiry because it would offend the Americans is offensive to many UK citizens, the UK is not the 51st or 52nd State. No doubt the NATO forces already in the Baltic States and Poland are presented to the Russian people as an act of Western aggression; whatever we do, we cannot win. The best we can hope for Ukraine is that Russia doesn’t invade, at worse, containment. The possibility that Russians themselves will rise up against Mr Putin is remote and whose to say the replacement would be any different.