Thursday, August 07, 2014

Putin Hits Tipping Point as Ukraine Tightens Rebel Noose

By Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko - Aug 6, 2014, Bloomberg

As the military endgame in Ukraine approaches, President Vladimir Putin must decide just how far he’s prepared to go to defend the pro-Russian insurgency.

His options range from an invasion under the guise of a peacekeeping mission to abandonment of the rebels to avoid further sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union, said politicians, advisers and analysts.

With Ukrainian forces closing in on the remaining separatist strongholds in the eastern part of the country, military analysts say the revolt sparked by Putin’s annexation of Crimea in March is destined to fail without a sharp increase in aid from Russia. That means Putin must now decide whether to escalate his support to rebels and risk further international isolation, which seems likely, according to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist studying the country’s elite at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Putin has a very difficult choice in front of him,” Kryshtanovskaya said by phone from Moscow. “He has to protect his position in Russia. He has to show that he’s successfully pursuing his goals. He can’t afford to look like a loser in the eyes of the people.”

(More here.)

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