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West’s response to Putin on Ukraine

  • March 7th, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

Ukraine armsPolitical allies of Russia in the Crimea moved to get the region incorporated into Russia, as the United States laid out its first diplomatic and financial steps against Russian interests, and European Union heads of government conferred in Brussels (6.3.14).

EU PLAN

The European leaders decided on a staged imposition of escalating measures to try and impel the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, to back off from his intervention in Ukraine. See EUAustralia Online, Ukraine: Fear of War, 3.3.14.

ukraine-summit-article-60314Overall judgments on the gathering, which included a session with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatseniuk (picture, with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council), had Eastern European heads wanting a stronger line, and the larger states (doing the greater business with Russia), Britain, Germany and France, not in such a rush.

Their immediate moves were to arrest the process of setting up a closer association of the EU and Russia, being developed to ease business and trade relations; arrest also the progress towards no-visa travel between the two zones, and stop planning for the summit of the G8 economic powers in Russia – though expulsion of Russia from that group was not foreshadowed.

Following  those, they would consider going further to impose measures like those declared by President Barack Obama in the United States, in an executive order, blocking visas and overseas bank accounts of identified persons, as it said found to be working against the territorial integrity of Ukraine or the security of its citizens.

EU AND THE USA

The European leaders said that if the Moscow government went further with its actions, seen as a campaign to destabilise Ukraine, they would move to harder and wide ranging economic penalties and restrictions on trade. The EU had already contributed the main share of new credits to Kiev, together with the USA; stability funding of some $US6-billion (A$6.57-billion; xe.com, 7.3.14).

PUTIN UNMOVED

President Putin meanwhile continued to insist the new interim government in Kiev was not acceptable to him, and to encourage the movement to take Crimea out of the Ukraine.

Russian troops in Crimea and armed groups linked to them maintained the occupation of key sites in the Crimean  Peninsula  — Ukrainian military bases with aircraft and ships, government buildings and road links.

CRIMEA CENTRE OF ATTENTION, FOR NOW

The provincial parliament of the autonomous region this week declared for joining Russia, called for the Russian Duma to back that move also, and set up a secession referendum for later this month.  It ignored dismissal notices from Kiev, and the region was shut off to unwanted parties, such as a large group of observers from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), denied entry.

SPHERE OF INFLUENCE – PLAYING ON THE MIND

That all maintained a definite focus on the so called “near overseas” idea in the mind of the Kremlin leadership; its preparedness to engage in intervention and neo-brinkmanship to keep holding onto a sphere of influence, a buffer against the outside world, held onto since the red revolution and long before. It has figured in earlier crises, over Belarus, Georgia and Maldova. Ukraine while inevitably bound by economics and history to some substantial, on going association with the East, is a much larger country, and ever closer to the West, by way of its geography and a mentality for change.

Reference

European Council, Brussels, EU stands by Ukraine, 6.3.14. http://www.european-council.europa.eu/home-page/highlights/extraordinary-meeting-of-eu-heads-of-state-or-government-on-ukraine?lang=en, (7.3.14).

Voltaire Network, Paris, Statement of the Heads of State or Government of the European Council on Ukraine, 6.3.14. http://www.voltairenet.org/article182543.html, (7.3.14).

The White House, President Barack Obama, Executive Order — Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine, 6.3.14. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/06/executive-order-blocking-property-certain-persons-contributing-situation, (7.3.14).

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