Sanctions have been imposed on rich Russians, but this has done little to persuade Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to reverse his strategy. Most in the West have resigned themselves that the Crimea annexation cannot be reversed.
Ukrainian authorities are quick to point out that a 1994 accord gave guarantees by both the United States and its allies and Russia of the integrity of its borders in return for giving up its nuclear weapons. That guarantee appears to be negotiable.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama, while on his Saudi visit, which resulted in a hastily arranged meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They met for four hours in Paris on Sunday and it appears that some concessions were made to Russia.
Russia put the protection of the ethnic populations on the table and suggested that the country needs to be organized as a federation, granting neutrality to states. While the US says that this has to be decided by Ukraine authorities, Kerry and Obama seem to be open to the idea.
BBC’s Bridget Kendall comments that it is no wonder that Lavrov looked satisfied after the meeting, while Kerry just looked tired. She asserts that much of what was discussed was on Russia’s wish list, such as rights for national minorities, language rights, the disarmament of irregular forces and inclusive constitutional reform, including – most importantly, the idea of federalizing Ukraine.
Americans of course insist that all of this has to be negotiated with Kiev, although Kiev has already dismissed the idea. As far as Moscow is concerned putting the idea on table is the first step.
Kerry appeared to be less forceful overall. He said that Russian troops on Ukraine’s border were intimidating and inappropriate, but since they were on Russian soil, the could be no demand, legally, that they be removed and returned to their garrisons.
Kerry during his press availability in Paris late on Sunday night said that the U.S. and Russia had differences, but that both sides agreed to ongoing diplomacy and the importance of a diplomatic solution. He said both sides made suggestions on ways to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.
The U.S. and Russia have differences of opinion about the events that led to this crisis, but both of us recognize the importance of finding a diplomatic solution and of simultaneously meeting the needs of the Ukrainian people – and that we agreed on tonight.
Both sides made suggestions on ways to deescalate the security and political situation in and around Ukraine. We also agreed to work with the Ukrainian Government and the people to implement the steps that they are taking to assure the following priorities: the rights of national minorities; language rights; demobilization and disarmament of irregular forces and provocateurs; an inclusive constitutional reform process, and free and fair elections monitored by the international community.
We agreed to consider the ideas and the suggestions that we developed tonight and to continue our discussions soon.
The United States is consulting with Ukraine at every step of this process, and we will not accept a path forward where the legitimate Government of Ukraine is not at the table. This principle is clear: No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine.
Meanwhile people in Eastern Ukraine are fearful of the military build up along their border. The Washington Post reports that some people are making sure that their cars are gassed up to ensure they are prepared to flee with their families from the advancing Russians. Others are stockpiling food, but nearly everyone is worried.
Ukrainians feel abandoned. The U.S. and its allies have taken any military option off the table and appear to have given in to some of Putin’s demands.
The UK has shown that it is not willing to sanction some of the rich Russian’s because it would have a devastating effect on it banks. Europeans, as a whole, are not willing to punish themselves with imposing sanctions on Russia. Despite all the talk of green sustainable energy, the end result is that fossil fuels, which Europe heavily relies on are imported from Russia (approximately 35 percent).
In this high stake game of poker, the Ukraine seems to hold all the winning cards. In the end the Ukrainian people will get the short end of the stick.
Some people are making sure their cars stay gassed up, in case their families need to flee advancing tanks. Others are stockpiling food so they can dig in if there is an invasion. A few talk about learning to shoot. Nearly everyone is worried.
Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are massed along the Ukrainian border, U.S. officials report, with large contingents gathered near the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Russian officials say the troops are conducting routine exercises. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has no intention of using them against Ukraine.