Obama-Putin meeting won’t be a disaster for Ukraine, Portnikov says

Putin and Obama (Image: joinfo.ua)


Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Many Ukrainians and their supporters fear that the upcoming meeting of US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will be a disaster for Ukraine, a sell-out by the West to Moscow equivalent to the Munich Agreement between Hitler and Chamberlain in 1938.

But others are encouraged not only by White House statements that Obama agreed to the meeting only after repeated requests from the Kremlin and by the tough statement by the US Permanent Representative to the UN that Russian vetoes on the Security Council threaten that body’s legitimacy.

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

One Ukrainian commentator who takes a more positive view of the scheduled meeting is Vitaly Portnikov. He notes that Moscow media are treating the session as “a diplomatic victory of the Kremlin” because it supposedly shows that Obama had asked for it. But he didn’t, Putin did repeatedly, and Obama only then agreed.

Washington “had never said that they would refuse a request from Putin to occupy several minutes of the valuable time of the president of the United States,” Portnikov says. Moreover, because “Putin leads a state which is one of the chief destabilizers of the contemporary world,” others will talk to him if he shows any willingness to behave better.

But the most important reason for not being pessimistic about the meeting lies with diplomatic practice. And that is this: “the side which agrees to a meeting defines its real order of the day. And in this sense, the interpretation of the requester and the agreeing side clearly do not coincide.”

“In the Kremlin, they want to talk about Syria, but in the White House, about Ukraine,” as the White House has made clear. Putin will undoubtedly try to hijack the agenda but “with regard to the situation in Syria, Obama is interested in only one thing” – that Putin, while defending his “little friend” Assad “not destroy opposition units battling the radicals.”

The American government “understands perfectly well that Putin’s participation in the Syria conflict is in no way a contribution to the struggle with ‘the Islamic State’ but rather a strengthening of Assad in his struggle with all his opponents” – and ISIS is not “the first among these.”

For his part, Portnikov argues, “Obama needs Putin to do not what he cannot do but what he can: end the war which he himself unleashed.” Consequently, “the president of the United States will speak with the president of Russia not about Syria but about Ukraine” and about what the West will do if Putin doesn’t change course there.

The only thing left for Putin after this meeting, the Ukrainian commentator says, is to decide whether he will show a carrot or a stick to the world.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dirk Smith

    The gay dwarf made his move in Syria due in part to gain Washington’s attention again and leverage this meeting. I believe Washington holds the upper hand since Washington should have no problem letting fascist ruSSia get immersed in the Middle East quicksand, which will further their debt and loss of life. Barry remaining firm on Ukraine is the key here.

  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    ‘The only thing left for Putin after this meeting, the Ukrainian commentator says, is to decide whether he will show a carrot or a stick to the world.’
    In ‘First Person’ Putin talks about an encounter with a rat, that when cornered attacked him. We must just hope that Putin doesn’t feel cornered… because if so, he’ll use whatever stick he gets hold of.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    I disagree with Portnikov. It WILL be a disaster for Kyiv. Obama will happily betray the Ukrainians just as Frau Ribbentrop Merkel and Hollandier did at Minsk. Germany’s Vice Chancellor Gabriel (SPD) wants to lift sanctions against Russia- another of the demented dwarf’s useful idiots who is willing to betray Kyiv.
    The best thing to do is: ignore the dwarf completely. Withdraw ALL NATO aircraft and troops from actions in Syria. Let the dwarf do ALL the fighting in Syria, let HIS troops suffer the losses in planes, tanks, and manpower. Let Dwarfstan’s soldiers be the “stars” in IS beheading videos, not ours. The weaker the dwarf becomes, the better for the US, EU and Ukrainians and Belarusians.

  • Vol Ya

    The key is to continue and even increase pressure against putin. Increase sanctions against russia, supply arms to Ukraine and to Syrian rebels. Make putin feel the pain. This is the only thing that putin understands. Don’t believe a word that putin says, it is just another lie.

  • Murf

    Obama is not going to sell out Ukraine at least not now.
    Ukraine enjoys massive bi partisan support in the Congress and the Military. That support was reinforced just recently when they unanimously on called for Naidya to be released.
    Obama MUST get the Iran deal pushed through and that won’t happen if he is looking soft on Putin.
    The Russian economy is going down like the Titanic; slow at first but increasing in speed and with oil in the 40s or lower, just as irreversible.
    Obama has Putin by the Short and Curlies. All Obama has to is announce that he will allow the export of US crude and drop the price 10 DPB (Or more) in nano seconds.
    Putin needs the Sanctions lifted or curtailed and that ain’t gong to happen unless Obama says so.
    i am not an fan of Obama and he has not given UA what they wanted to fight this war. But he give them what the needed. The tools to fight this war themselves and eventually win it.