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Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Are Western Governments Still Focused On Yesterday's Conflict?
6 years
A Hole In Ukraine's Border
Russian Stocks Higher Than They Were Before Crimea Invasion

What we have witnessed in the last several weeks has been the start of a new phase of the conflict in Ukraine. Russian-backed separatists, swelling in numbers and wielding increasingly powerful (and Russian made) weapons, have captured Ukrainian military bases, including National Guard bases and Border Guard posts, across parts of eastern Ukraine.

The fall of those bases have given the separatists several advantages. First, it is a major boost for morale. Secondly, it has provided them with more weapons, including armored vehicles and Igla anti-aircraft missiles. Not only does this serve an obvious purpose, but it provides the separatists with plausible deniability when it comes to the source of their weapons. Whereas before many eyebrows were raised by the amount of firepower in the hands of these "rebels," now the separatists (and the Kremlin) can say that they got them from captured bases. Third, as we've been writing, the victories have opened up the borders, allowing more Russian fights, and possibly weapons and heavy equipment, to come and militarily support the rebel fighters.

In the last two days, the G-7 has been meeting in Brussels. The summit was supposed involve the G-8 and was supposed to take place in Sochi, Russia, but the Russian Federation was dis-invited to its own summit. The G-7 has decided not to pass more sanctions against Russia at this moment. Here is an excerpt from the press release sent by The White House today:

G-7 leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and stand united in support of the efforts of the people of Ukraine to build a deeper and stronger democracy that accommodates the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine.  Despite violence and intimidation, strong voter turnout for the May 25 presidential election underscores the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country.  Against this backdrop, G-7 leaders discussed their commitment to support Ukraine as it works to unite the country and transition to an inclusive democracy and prosperous market-driven economy and their determination to raise the cost for Russia of continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Response to Russian Actions

G-7 leaders also agreed that coordinated actions must continue to raise the cost of Russia’s unacceptable interference in Ukraine, including the occupation of Crimea in violation of international law and the ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine’s east and south.  G-7 leaders have taken a number of steps to impose economic costs on Russia and committed to take further intensified measures if needed.  Specifically, all G-7 members have:

•        Imposed sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity or who are threatening the peace, security, and stability of Ukraine.

•        Committed to supporting a diplomatic solution and called on Russia to fulfill the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement to pursue a diplomatic path and cooperation with the government of Ukraine as it implements it plans for promoting peace, unity, and reform.

•        Called on Russia to recognize the results of the Ukrainian election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border, and exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence.

•        Affirmed their readiness to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia if necessary.

But Russia's stock market has rallied and erased most of the losses it has suffered as a result of this crisis and the previous rounds of sanctions. So while there is an acknowledgement that Russia is still playing the role of provocateur, the statements from the G-7 lead with Crimea as the headline. In reality, the provocations in eastern Ukraine are a far more pressing problem.

In separate statements, U.S. President Barack Obama has stressed that the current crisis is moving Ukraine into dangerous waters. Financial Times reports:

“We can’t simply allow drift,” Mr Obama said. “The mere fact that some of the Russian soldiers have moved back off the border, and Russia is now destabilising Ukraine through surrogates rather than overtly and explicitly, does not mean that we can afford three months or four months or six months of continued violence and conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

Russia’s foreign ministry reacted angrily to accusations that it was responsible for weapons shipments to rebels in eastern Ukraine. “These unfounded allegations on Ukraine’s part that trucks with weapons are crossing the border, et cetera, this is all the work of the devil,” said Alexander Lukashevich, the foreign ministry spokesman, according to Interfax.

But will the G-7, and both the U.S. and the EU, hold Russia to those standards, or is the Russian troop pullback good enough for them?