Ukraine: Putin has 'framed the debate' surrounding de-escalation
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Daily paper Bild described a “dead-end situation” in which both Russia and those looking to combat Putin’s influence, such as the USA and NATO, “ruled out any concessions” to the other. In the article, titled “Putin’s world map of power”, journalist Julian Röpcke added that Putin’s calls for security assurances against an advancing NATO did not reflect the reality of Russia’s position. Röpcke asserted that “while the Kremlin claims that NATO is expanding and pushing Russia back, the reality is very different”.
He described how Putin was fortifying Russia’s “military power” by injecting Russian influence wherever the Russian president senses a potential advantage, claiming that Russian troops are currently active in over 50 countries spanning four continents.
He wrote: “Sometimes with regular troops, sometimes with the help of mercenaries, Putin intervenes wherever he sees a chance to bring Russia back “to its former glory”.
He described how Russian troops have amassed on the border with Ukraine – to the alarm of the Ukrainian government and many Western countries.
Talks between Russia and the US began in Geneva on Monday to determine Ukraine’s path, with US officials anxious over a potential invasion by Russian forces.
Russia has demanded a guarantee that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO, and other assurances cemented in containing NATO’s expansion eastward.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, pointed to Russia’s military presence of around 100,000 on the border with Ukraine, telling CNN that the negotiations were a crunch moment for dealings with Russia.
He said: “There are two paths before us.
“There’s a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation.
“The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine.
“We’re about to test the proposition about which path President Putin’s prepared to take.”
Weighing on the US’s mind will be Russian involvement in Kazakhstan, which hit the headlines last week after Putin agreed to send Russian paratroopers to support President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
He petitioned the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for help after riots over the price of fuel in the country turned into anti-government dissent.
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The Collective Security Treaty Organisation, headquartered in Moscow, is an alliance that includes several states of the former Soviet Union.
He said: “Around 3,000 Russian soldiers have been in the country as part of a “peace mission”.
“Apparently they will only stay for a month. Nobody believes that.”
The protests were the most violent since the country gained independence over three decades ago.
More than 160 died and over 8,000 people were arrested in what the Kazakh president called an “attempted coup d’etat”.
Putin said that the military alliance spearheaded by Russia had prevented “terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements” from undermining the government of Kazakhstan, adding that Russian forces will be withdrawn when their mission is complete.
He said: “Of course, we understand the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside.”
He continued: “The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown we will not allow the situation to be rocked at home.”
Part of not being “rocked”, asserted Röpcke, was how the “Kremlin boss is rearranging the world and unscrupulously supporting despots like Syria’s butcher Assad, the West is mostly standing on the sidelines.”
On Syria, he added: “Putin’s army has been massively intervening in support of dictator Bashar al-Assad since 2015, killing thousands of civilians with his warplanes.
“In return, there was a free usage contract for the Mediterranean port of Tartus in 2019, which is to run for 49 years.
“More than 5,000 Russian soldiers and mercenaries are currently stationed in Syria.”
He also detailed Russian involvement in various other countries, such as Serbia – a country “dependent on Russian arms imports” with a military “closely networked with the Kremlin army”.
He also pinpointed Russian involvement in various African nations, including Mali and Libya, as well as in Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela in South America.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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