Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2014 Contents A37
Friday, August 1, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MOSCOW---For Russian President Vladimir Putin,
there are few options left in the Ukraine crisis and
they all look bad.
He is caught between a determined West demanding
that he disavow the pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine
and increasingly assertive nationalists at home urging
him to champion the mutiny and send in the Russian
The Malaysian plane disaster this week triggered
another round of US and EU sanctions, which for
the first time targeted entire sectors of the Russian
economy, severely limiting Putin s room for manoeuvre.
He may be eager to sever ties with the rebels, but he
would need to find a way to do so that would allow
him to save face---an exceedingly hard task amid
growing Western pressure.
Bowing to Western demands would potentially
spell political suicide for the Russian leader, who has
built his popularity on standing up to the West. Under
pressure, he may choose instead to escalate the crisis
and risk an all-out confrontation.
Putin didn t plan for it to happen this way.
Last fall, he used a combination of pressure and
subsidies to prevent Ukraine from signing an asso-
ciation agreement with the EU and lure it into a
Moscow-led alliance. When mass protests chased
the Russian-leaning Ukrainian president from power
in February, Putin saw it as a Western plot against
Russia and quickly moved to annex Ukraine s Black
Sea peninsula of Crimea to head off what he said was
the imminent threat of Ukraine joining NATO.
Putin then sought to maintain pressure on the West
by fomenting a pro-Russian insurgency that flared
up in Ukraine s mostly Russian-speaking industrial
east in April, apparently hoping that a slow-burning
conflict would help persuade the West to strike a
compromise that would allow Russia to keep Ukraine
in its orbit.
That strategy has failed. The West, especially Europe,
long showed unwillingness to take a strong punitive
stand against Putin. But the downing of the Malaysian
passenger plane was the unforeseen event that over-
turned the dynamic, and compelled the West to act.
Now with his hand weakened by the plane disaster,
Putin may be eager to accept any vague deal that
would allow Moscow to maintain just a symbolic
degree of influence. Such a deal, however, would have
to involve concessions by both parties, something
that is hard to achieve amid continuing fighting and
The West has demanded that the Kremlin disown
the rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
The Malaysian plane disaster, however, could offer
a face-saving way of publicly condemning the rebel
leadership. If an international investigation confirms
that the missile that downed the plane on July 17 was
launched by the rebels, Putin may say that Russia
can t support those who were responsible for the
tragic death of nearly 300 innocent people. Such a
statement could pave the way for talks. AP
den s temporary asylum status
in Russia was due to expire at
midnight last night, but the
former US National Security
Agency systems administrator
appears set to stay on until
authorities decide on his appli-
cation for an extension.
Snowden was stranded in a
Moscow airport last year en
route from Hong Kong to Cuba,
shortly after he revealed the
NSA s sprawling programme of
He received temporary asy-
lum in Russia, attracting Wash-
ington s ire.
Under Russian law, that sta-
tus must be renewed annually.
A demonstrator against spying holds a sign asking for asylum for former NSA contractor Edward
Snowden outside US Army's "Dagger Complex" near Griesheim, Germany, Saturday. The massively
secured property is run by the US Military and supposed to be used by the US intelligence agency NSA
(National Security Agency). AP PHOTO
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a
meeting outside the Tzar Pushka (Tzar Cannon) in
Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, yesterday. Putin
yesterday presented state awards to cosmonauts,
lawmakers, journalists and others. AP PHOTO
Snowden's asylum status ending
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