Alexander Ermochenko/ReutersA man walks near a residential building, which according to locals was recently damaged by shelling, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine January 19, 2015.
In a closed session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a high-ranking Ukrainian official just shared the Ukrainian government’s current view of the conflict with Russia:
- Fighting has resumed after a three-week ceasefire.
- The administration sees signs that Putin is escalating his forces, albeit in a limited way. The administration does not currently see Putin amassing force for a major invasion.
- Russia now has 9,500 troops in Ukraine and occupies 7% of Ukraine terrain. This 7% encompasses 20% of Ukraine’s population. This control of a fifth of the population is putting further pressure on Ukraine’s economy and finances. The most pressing problem is the need to refinance debt to cover the budget deficit.
- The Ukrainian government believes time is working against Putin. The combination of economic sanctions, plunging oil prices, and a backlash against Putin’s aggression are putting Putin in an increasingly isolated position. Putin is responding by escalating his forces and aggression.
- The Ukrainian government says it does not know what Putin wants. The administration believes that even Putin does not know what he wants. Putin’s tone changes on every phone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the official said.
- The last time Putin spoke with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko was 11 days ago.
REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/KremlinRussia’s President Vladimir Putin (R-L), Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev attend a meeting of the Security Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, January 16, 2015.
- Russian “terrorism,” including a missile attack on a civilian bus, has united the country against Putin. A year ago, the country was split in its loyalties between Europe and Russia. Now, the administration official says, the country is solidly pro-Europe.
- Ukraine is frustrated with the lack of support from the West. The official applauded support from China.
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