In comments to Russia’s Security Council that have been released today Russia’s President Putin confirmed that Russia is not intending to cut off diplomatic relations with Kiev.
Putin has also appointed Dmitry Livanov, a former education minister, as Presidential envoy to Ukraine on trade and economic relations. This appointment implies that the Russians do not expect ambassadorial relations with Kiev to be re-established any time soon.
Ever since the recent Crimean incident tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been high with the Ukrainians and their media allies in the West talking up the possibility of a Russian attack on Ukraine to the greatest extent that they can.
A classic example of the genre was provided by this article in The Financial Times, filled with uncorroborated reports of Russian troop movements and feverish speculations about why Russia might be about to launch an invasion of Ukraine, which fails to mention the reasons for the sudden deterioration in relations between Moscow and Kiev – the Crimean incident and the attempted murder of LPR chief Igor Plotnitsky – in a single place.
This despite the fact that as even this convoluted article by the staunchly neocon and pro-Kiev Atlantic Council admits that in light of the capture of Yevgeny Panov there is no doubt that the Crimean incident really took place.
“Because of the arrest of Panov, it has become clear that the Armyansk incident was not invented by the FSB, as many have claimed online, though details provided are difficult to verify.”
To be clear, the Crimean incident is the only act of violence perpetrated by Ukraine and Russia against each other this summer, and the perpetrators were the Ukrainians not the Russians.
The Western media does the Western public no service by floating wild speculations about the possible motives for the Russian reaction – when those are entirely obvious – instead of examining the reasons the Ukrainians acted in the reckless and dangerous way that they did.
The Russians have already said how they intend to react to this incident, and there is no secret about it.
Firstly, they are beefing up security in Crimea, along the border with which the Ukrainians have also placed their troops on high alert. Secondly, it is likely that the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics are being reinforced. That is what some of the troop movements reported by The Financial Times are probably about. Given the ongoing fighting there and the fact that the Ukrainian army has been placed on high alert in the same area, following the Crimean incident and the attempted murder of Plotnitsky that too looks like a basic precaution.
The Russians have also made their political response clear. They have called off the Normandy Four meeting which was due to take place at the G20 summit in September. There are also reports that they are now also on the brink of giving the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics the green light to hold elections, even though this has not been agreed by Kiev.
These last two steps have exposed the bluff behind the West’s sanctions policy.
The EU linked the lifting of sanctions to the full implementation of the Minsk II agreement. If the Russians now walk away from the Minsk II agreement process, the EU will lose the pretext it has left itself to lift the sanctions. It will then be stuck with the sanctions, notwithstanding that they have obviously failed and that the Russians have shown that they don’t ultimately care about them, despite the sanctions’ growing unpopularity across Europe.
This is most definitely a situation the Europeans do not want to find themselves in, though it is one their own foolish actions have landed them into. The Germans especially seem to be pulling out the stops so that it does not happen. With the Russians still very angry and Putin reported to be saying that Russia’s “partners” (ie. the US and EU) have acted to exacerbate the situation in Ukraine they will find it hard going.