Why Russia wants to talk about Ukraine
THE proposal came out of nowhere. After years of swatting down Ukrainian calls for international peacekeeping forces, Vladimir Putin changed course ahead of the UN General Assembly last month, putting forward his own plan for so-called blue helmets in eastern Ukraine. Officials in Kiev and the West dismissed the Russian offer as a cynical ploy. The details, diplomats say, betray Russia’s true intent: Mr Putin foresees peacekeeping forces stationed along the front line inside Ukraine, and not along the border with Russia—essentially formalising the internal division of the country.
Yet as unpalatable as the proposal is, its mere appearance hints at important shifts in Russian thinking. “Summoning the United Nations deep into Russia’s historical space is a serious step,” says Dmitri Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, a think-tank.
Until recently, the status quo in Ukraine largely satisfied Moscow. Heading into 2017, the Kremlin saw a rosy geopolitical picture: Donald Trump won the White House and spoke of lifting sanctions on Russia; a victory by Marine Le Pen seemed possible in France; Angela Merkel was preoccupied with her own re-election in Germany. Ukraine, for its part, was fretting about being abandoned by the West. As recently as last spring, Russian officials maintained that the Ukrainian government would soon collapse and that the…Continue reading
Source: Europe Economic News