On Sunday, Pro-Russian separatists took over regional state television in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, marking the latest blow to the new government in Kiev.
The masked “activists” operating in east Ukraine are suspected of being infiltrated by Kremlin intelligence operatives. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the claim.
In any case, geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group notes that Russia is using the turmoil to its advantage.
“Russia is looking for any excuse for trouble here,” Bremmer told BI in an email. “Lavrov’s call to Kerry [on Saturday] makes clear that they see the Geneva agreement as an opportunity to pressure the Ukrainian government, both directly and indirectly — through the West — to end military operations in the southeast and to disarm Ukrainian paramilitary groups.”
Several militants died this week when Ukraine launched an “anti-terrorist” operation in the eastern Ukraine city of Slaviansk. Putin called the incident “a very serious crime,” and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Kiev of “waging a war on their own people.”
Basically, Russia is calling on Ukraine to disarm Kremlin-backed “freedom fighters” without using force. Bremmer explained how the position serves Moscow’s plans to stymie Kiev:
“After all, if southeast Ukraine is Ukrainian territory and the Russians aren’t intervening there, surely it’s the Ukrainian government’s responsibility to implement the accord — or so the logic goes.”
What’s clear is that there is currently little to no room for diplomacy in the crisis.
“In short, no chance for an agreement here,” Bremmer told BI. “More sanctions coming this week.”
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