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A cornered rat: Putin starts negotiating for Ukraine

A cornered rat: Putin starts negotiating for Ukraine
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

Western sanctions, the fall of oil prices, the rapid devaluation of the ruble and outflow of investments are slowly doing their ‘good deed’ for Russia. Even though Putin continues to spew nonsense that “because of the fall of the ruble, budget revenues are not only not suffering, they have even increased,” he understands that he screwed up royally. While before we heard the Kremlin’s cries about the threat of fascism, the importance of defending “compatriots” in Ukraine from the “brown Kyiv junta,” federalization and the “inefficacy” of Western sanctions; the negative tendencies in the Russian economy made the Kremlin regime honest regarding its position on Ukraine.

As a background for internal use, there is still the broken record about Ukrainian “Nazism,” however the Kremlin started launching completely different messages to the outside world, in a quite earnest and even inappropriate form. The main conditions the Kremlin now poses is abolishing the sanctions against Russia and an international guarantee that Ukraine would not become a NATO member in exchange for the Kremlin’s cessation of further confrontation of the Ukrainian situation. The statements by Russian politicians regarding the necessity to adhere to the Minsk Accords and initiate dialogue between Kyiv and the rest of Ukrainian regions (i.e. federalization) lie in the plain of “non-membership” of our country in European-Atlantic structures.

Economic aspect

In order to make sure that the West’s sanctions against Russia are giving the necessary result, it is enough to look at the differences between the statements made by the Russian Prime Minister in the past months. For example, in July at the Russian government session, Dmitry Medvedev claimed that “no sanctions are able to lend irreparable economical damage (to Russia).”

In October, in an interview to CNBD Medvedev was also sure of Russia’s power, claiming that “our partner, at least those of our partners who are passing certain sanctions at the moment, made it their main goal to cut Russian banks off from the solvency market, from financing. I don’t think they will be able to do it… We will definitely survive these sanctions.”

In parallel to such brave statements, oil continued to decrease in price, and the ruble – to devalue.

This has the necessary effect on the consciousness of the Kremlin junta and Medvedev who chained his viewpoint about the sanctions drastically in mid-November, saying: “We have to just (!) say no to sanctions, return our relations to the normal plain of work, return to normal, calm, productive dialogue.”

It is also necessary to note, that the oil price laid at the foundation of the Russian 2015 state budget is $96, and Energy Minister Alexandr Novak reports that Russia has no possibility of influencing the global oil prices. However, it is necessary to hope for something to fill up the budget which is tied to oil and gas.

It seems “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” if Medvedev wants to “just” solve the sanctions issue.

Military-political aspect

Besides economic ‘proposals,’ the Kremlin started bargaining over NATO’s possible expansion in the east.

On November 13, in an interview to German TV channel ARD, Vladimir Putin vaguely mentioned some sort of “demarkation lines” in Europe in the sphere of security.

On November 17, the deputy director of the department of information and press of the Russian MFA Zakharova accused the NATO of increasing its military presence near Russian borders.

On November 19, during a press conference with his Hungarian colleague, head of the Russian MFA Sergey Lavrov stated the importance of Ukraine’s non-block status to “ensure stability in Europe and the Atlantic region, also from the viewpoint of Ukraine’s national interests.”

On the same day, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told BBC openly: “Russia needs a 100 percent guarantee that nobody is thinking of Ukraine’s membership in the NATO.”

On November 20, official representative of the Russian MFA Lukashevich proposed an option to guarantee NATO’s non-expansion into the east on account of Ukraine: “Russia proposed (and retains it large-scale European initiative at the talks table) to turn these obligations into legally-binding ones, which could be documented in the Agreement on European Security… There are individual statements made by Ukrainian politicians that the neutral status of the country, documented in the Constitution, should be changed. If a principal political decision is made to change this status, of course, the issue of guarantees will be raised directly. It is obvious, that the appearance of such guarantees could help diffuse the tension.”

What may we conclude?

It is obvious that the Kremlin does not view Ukraine as an independent subject of international relations. But there is another, more important instance.

Putin’s statements manifested through his associates are not diplomacy but an open way to haggle and plea for salvation. For the Tzar to be able to safe face. All the claims about “Nazis” and “threats” to the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine turned out to be a screen for the annexation of Crimea and starting the war in eastern Ukraine.

The West understands this very well. It is a matter of time whether anyone will give Putin such guarantees. But it is quite obvious that Putin betrayed ‘Novorossiya,’ ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ as independent formations or new Russian subjects. The only thing he has left for him is begging the West to ensure Ukraine’s non-block status.

Another important issue is the following: does the West understand that by allowing Putin to breathe now, they are charging him for another attack against Ukraine and, possibly, the Baltic states? The situation in Georgia in 2008 should not repeat itself, when Europe pretended it believed Moscow’s fairytales about the genocide to Tskhinvali citizens and elegantly distanced itself from the conflict.

Despite the Kremlin’s readiness to haggle with the West over Ukraine, we have to account for the possibility of influence of external players on the decision-making process in the Kremlin. By playing on Russia’s foreign-political priorities and emperor Putin’s personal ambitions, they can encourage the Kremlin to deepen further into Ukraine with the bloodiest consequences possible for both Russia and Ukraine. At the same time, we cannot exclude Russia’s new strategic partner, China, from the list of these players.

It is important for the West to comprehend one obvious reality: Russia headed by Putin is an Ebola virus which has to be combatted using the most radical means.

Girkin should either shoot Putin for betraying ‘Novorossiya,’ or, governed by officer’s honor, shoot himself in the forehead.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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