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No Exit
Russia Not Backing Down in Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine’s security chief has called Russia out for continued hostilities, even as Vladimir Putin has notably lowered the temperature of his rhetoric regarding eastern Ukraine:

Mr Parubiy told the Financial Times in an interview that Ukraine’s security services had photographic and video evidence and wiretaps showing fighters from the north Caucasus and other Russian regions were on Ukrainian territory.

He said Kiev had intelligence information that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s inner circle had decided against direct military intervention in Ukraine for fear of escalating western sanctions. It was instead using “diversionary groups, allowing Russia to claim it has no involvement”.

“This is a so-called new type of war, a hybrid war, where armies do not always take on the role of direct aggressor. Instead, they act to intimidate, while imported diversionary groups, together with local extremists and criminal gangs” carry out the fighting on the ground, Mr Parubiy added. “[These groups] could not enter or act in Ukraine without the co-ordination and support of Moscow.”

The West keeps giving Russia opportunities to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, and Russia keeps on not taking them. The most recent was the election: Putin promised to respect the election and the West hoped this meant he would start working constructively to stabilize the situation. But it doesn’t seem to be happening. The thugs stayed active throughout the election, suppressing turnout in areas under their control, and Russia is stepping up the diplomatic pressure now, still gnawing away at what remains of Ukrainian sovereignty in the troubled east.

And far from gradually strengthening over time, the West seems to be fragmenting. France, where Russia’s claims on Ukraine have always had an appeal as Paris thinks about keeping Germany balanced in Europe, has invited Putin to its D-Day celebrations. That should be a fun party for all. And more notably, Russia’s open sabotage of the elections and continuing pressure on Ukraine hasn’t triggered a new round of sanctions.

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