It is time to rejoin our favorite villain: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and find out what he has been up to while we were otherwise preoccupied. Putin left the Brisbane G20 meeting hastily. Everyone was giving him the cold shoulder. It was explained to him that things would go better if his troops left the Ukrainian soil.
He replied that that was not possible since they were not there in the first place. Could he help it if some Russian citizens chose to spend their vacation there on a goodwill mission to help Russian speaking Ukrainians who were being persecuted by their own government? So he said, “So long guys, I have a long flight home and I need my sleep.” I hope he has a comfortable bed on his plane.
Before he left, Mr.Putin told Mr. Abbott of Australia that “Discussions with our partners had been frank and constructive.” In other words, they led nowhere. Has anyone ever described discussions as acrimonious and disingenuous?
Mr. Putin’s view is that the United States and its “satellites” have no business meddling in his sphere of influence. Borrowing from our Monroe Doctrine he has declared that the former Soviet Republics are his business and not subject to intervention by NATO or the US.
Well, our interference has been mostly symbolic since military intervention had been ruled out from the start. Vice-President Biden recently visited Kiev and the Maidan Square. Has he promised help or just uttered words of encouragement? Ukraine has obsolete weapons and technology. Its army is very poorly equipped and it relies heavily on volunteers. Ukraine is also financially in default. Winter is coming and conditions will only worsen. Are we prepared to send military advisors or are they fully occupied in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Meanwhile Russia seems to be riding out the sanctions. Yes, the ruble is very low. But, Putin’s popularity at home remains high.
Petro Poroshenko, the new Ukrainian President is not a military man and he is trying to gain time. He is talking to Vladimir Putin regularly and has recently negotiated a cease-fire. The trouble is that the fire has not ceased and since the agreement was signed, more than 4,000 people have been killed. Eastern Ukraine has effectively been separated from Kiev and the Russo-Ukrainian border is wide open. Once more we end on a question mark. Stay tuned and we will update you periodically.