Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Russian debate: Invade or persuade?

April 8 (BBC News Europe) Tensions are rising in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk, as pro-Russian demonstrators occupy government buildings. Meanwhile, the Russian media look on and mull whether it's time for their country to step in - or even to annex more of its neighbour's territory.

Russian militants are raising the stakes in eastern Ukraine

"Current events hardly seem real," writes Dimitriy Durnev in Novyye Izvestiya, "and reminds one a lot of a film." Mikhail Rostovskiy in Russian daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets calls the situation "a tornado, a hurricane that sweeps away everything in its path and does not recognize any state borders". He continues:
The east of Ukraine was not the one to throw the first stone in the conflict. It only took on a challenge that it was confronted with. The east of Ukraine is trying to talk to the west of Ukraine in the only language the latter understands... The inevitable conclusion is that it is time for Ukrainian servants of the people from all regions to again start mastering the political art that has been completely lost in the country - the art of negotiating.
Russian author and political dissident Eduard Limonov writes in Izvestiya that he is not surprised by the recent turn of events.
"I predicted many years ago that the independence Ukraine got for free might not stand the first serious endurance test. And this is exactly what has happened," he writes.
What occurs next, he continues, is up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I advise him to make Donbass [in eastern Ukraine] part of Russia," he says. "The West will not hamper this. And relations with them have been spoilt forever. We understood that they wanted to make Ukraine a base for attacking Russia and to take hostage eight million Russians living in Ukraine. This will not happen."
Russia is facing a "difficult choice", writes Sergey Frolov in Trud:
Diplomatic methods of settling the intensifying crisis in Ukraine are still available. But if Kiev decides to play an all-or-nothing game and blood is shed in the south-east, talk will be of no use any more... The key thing is obvious: Ukraine is missing its last chance to preserve its statehood and territorial integrity.
Kirill Khartyan in Vedmosti agrees that Mr Putin is confronting an "unpleasant dilemma":
Suffer sanctions - even from Germany, which has proved most loyal in the given circumstances - that would extend beyond the Ozero cooperative [nickname for businessmen close to Mr Putin] and would most certainly worsen the already not-so-brilliant situation in the Russian economy, or disappoint overjoyed Russians who, having got the gift of Crimea, are prepared for new gifts. I think in the vision of values held by the Russian leader the second option is much worse.