President Putin’s point man for bringing Ukraine to heel is really yanking on the choke chain these days, threatening to support the dismemberment of Russia’s neighbor if it votes to move closer to the EU. The Times of London has the eyebrow-raising scoop:
Sergei Glazyev, one of Vladimir Putin’s top advisers, said that Ukraine’s Russian-speaking minority might break up the country in protest at a move that European, Russian and Ukrainian politicians see as a shift away from Moscow’s influence. He said that Russia would be legally entitled to support them.Speaking after a conference in Ukraine, Mr Glazyev nodded when asked if he thought that signing an “association agreement” with Brussels “could lead to the break-up of the Ukrainian state”. He compared it to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, both of which split in the 1990s.
While Putin has been able to run rings around Obama in the Middle East, he remains the president of a weak and declining power that is watching Ukraine, far and away its biggest foreign relations priority, slip away out of its orbit. But just because Russia is weak, we shouldn’t conclude that it is powerless. It’s entirely possible Putin would try to foment a split in Ukraine, a move that could, among other things, bring the strategically important Crimea back under Moscow’s direct control. After all, Ukraine remains something of a fragile entity, with its Eastern half largely Russian-speaking.