Monday, 17 March 2014

More on Putin's federated Ukraine fantasy

Mark MacKinnon in Canada's Globe and Mail:
.. statements from Moscow on Monday left little doubt that Mr. Putin’s aims extend well beyond Crimea. What he apparently wants to see in Ukraine is a broken, weak neighbour, one left at Moscow’s mercy. 
A statement posted by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday called for the new government in Ukraine to “urgently” adopt a new “federal constitution.” 
That reads like code for reinventing Ukraine along the lines of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country that is a collection of loosely united mini-states. It’s not hard to envision what that might look like in Moscow’s vision for Ukraine: an autonomous republic in the Russian-speaking east of the country along the lines of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
Grouped perhaps around the cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk, such a mini-state would naturally look east to Moscow and – of course – ensure that Ukraine never joins the European Union or NATO. For good measure, Russia might even push for Russian-speaking cities in the south of Ukraine (such as Odessa, Kherson and Mykolaev) to be added to this Russkaya Respublika, or to be grouped into another mini-state over which the Kremlin would have influence.
Kyiv will almost certainly say no to any such proposal.
Clearly, the leaked document was never meant to be an offer the West could accept, or even a starting point for serious diplomacy. It was an illustration of Mr. Putin’s anger over the revolution in Kiev, which he views as a Western-sponsored coup d’etat in a country he considers part of Russia’s historic sphere of influence. 
The note Mr. Lavrov presented to Mr. Kerry is akin to a kidnapper’s ransom note, a list of what it will take to keep Mr. Putin – who obviously believes he’s in total control of the situation – from hurting his victim, the country of Ukraine.

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