News / Europe

Analysts: Putin Wants 'Frozen Conflict' in Eastern Ukraine

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during the BRICS 2014 summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, July 15, 2014.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during the BRICS 2014 summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, July 15, 2014.
Daniel Schearf

As Ukraine's military continues to retake eastern territory seized by pro-Russian rebels earlier this year, the Kremlin is threatening retaliation for a civilian death in Russia.

Moscow claims Ukraine's military shelled across the border, killing one Russian civilian and wounding others.

Kyiv denies firing into Russian territory and blames rebels for trying to provoke Russia to intervene militarily in Ukraine. The rebels denied responsibility for the attack.

Russian officials threatened Ukraine with “irreversible consequences” while NATO officials warned that at least 10,000 Russian troops had moved back to the border with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Kyiv says a military transport plane shot down Monday was hit by an advanced missile probably supplied by and fired from Russia. Moscow denies any involvement, while Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko this week claimed Russian officers are fighting alongside the rebels.

'Frozen conflicts'

Defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, a columnist with Moscow's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, says Russian President Vladimir Putin is stepping up military pressure because Moscow cannot accept a collapse of the rebel movement in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

A rescuer stands near a shattered five-storey building, which was damaged by a recent shelling, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk July 16, 2014.A rescuer stands near a shattered five-storey building, which was damaged by a recent shelling, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk July 16, 2014.
x
A rescuer stands near a shattered five-storey building, which was damaged by a recent shelling, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk July 16, 2014.
A rescuer stands near a shattered five-storey building, which was damaged by a recent shelling, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk July 16, 2014.

“Right now, as I understand, the Russian government is prepared to introduce the Russian air force over Donbas unofficially ... as unidentified warplanes,” said Felgenhauer. 

At the same time, Russia is supporting a cease-fire in Ukraine.

Felgengauer says Russia is pushing a truce while supplying weapons to the rebels in order to keep the conflict going and therefore retain leverage over Kyiv and prevent the expansion of Western influence.

It's not an unprecedented strategy. Moscow has used similar tactics in other post-Soviet conflicts in Russia-leaning, breakaway regions of Georgia and Moldova's Transdniestria, often referred to as "frozen conflicts."

“Keeping this kind of separatist enclave secure in Donbas, having a comprehensive ceasefire, having negotiations, it's like a Transdniester kind of ceasefire — more than 20 years of negotiations that can last until hell freezes over," he said. "And that's what basically Russia right now is trying to achieve.” 

Preventing a Western alliance 

Carnegie Moscow Center Director Dmitri Trenin says Putin's prime objective in Ukraine is keeping it from joining NATO, the Western defense alliance.

He says Russia hopes to attain that goal by pushing for a higher degree of autonomy for eastern Ukraine's Russia-leaning population.

“It is not dismemberment of Ukraine for the sake of annexing bits and pieces of Ukraine to the Russian Federation," Trenin said. "It is not instability for the sake of instability.”

NATO is reluctant to accept new members with security issues as it could drag the organization into military conflict.

“Putin's strategy with regard to NATO is probably not failing," Trenin said. "I do not see any reason to believe that either Georgia or Ukraine, and I would include Moldova in this category, is on a path to join NATO in the foreseeable future. I just don't see it. I see very little appetite for that, particularly in Europe.”

Economic results

As Trenin sees it, Putin also wants a peace agreement in Ukraine to escape increasingly crippling economic sanctions from the European Union and United States.

A pro-Russian separatist stands guard during a rally in support of Novorossiya on Lenin Square in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 13, 2014.A pro-Russian separatist stands guard during a rally in support of Novorossiya on Lenin Square in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 13, 2014.
x
A pro-Russian separatist stands guard during a rally in support of Novorossiya on Lenin Square in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 13, 2014.
A pro-Russian separatist stands guard during a rally in support of Novorossiya on Lenin Square in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 13, 2014.

“Mr. Putin's performance will not be judged by his past accomplishments including Crimea, but rather by his economic results, Russia's economic results," Trenin said. "And there Mr. Putin has a lot of concerns. And he's, in my view, more focused today on those concerns than even the crisis in Ukraine.”

Putin's failed attempt to encourage a broad Russian alliance in eastern Ukraine is also likely influencing his calls for a cease-fire.

Stanislav Belkovsky is founder and director of the Moscow-based Institute of National Strategy.

“Putin's policies has failed in the sense that I think Putin has seen the vast majority of the population in southern, eastern Ukraine regions does not support him," said Stanislav Belkovsky, founder and director of the Moscow-based Institute of National Strategy. "Does not support the idea of any alliance with Russia or, moreover, leaving Ukraine and go to Russia under Russian umbrella. In this way, Putin should be bitterly disappointed. Because, maybe several months ago, he thought different.”

Putin still retains a great deal of influence over the rebels and can end the conflict in Ukraine whenever he wants, according to Belkovsky, who adds the Russian leader wants to be treated with respect by the West and a full-scale Russian invasion, while unlikely, is not impossible.

“Putin is a very emotional person. He's very reactive," said Belkovsky. "His slogan is 'Don't act, react.' And, when he's very much offended, humiliated by the West, by the situation in Ukraine, he could maybe change his decision. We cannot rule it out. So, though I consider the full-scale invasion of Ukraine very improbable now ... we cannot rule it out 100 percent.”

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 16, 2014 2:51 PM
The frozen conflict theory is a good one, but it would indicate that Putin is stupid, which we can observe he is not. The other frozen conflicts, did not damage Russia's relations with the West. Western leaders still trusted him.
Russia, not withstanding the frozen conflicts, was enyoing a tremendous gain from the fact that Western markets had very much been opened almost fully, because Putin was seen as a very a "TRUSTED LEADER", a member of the Western club of nations, the few, the G8.
Russia's involvement in the Ukraine, has set back relations with the West at least 15 yrs. If it was not for Russofile Merckel, the situation would have been much more negative for the Russian economy.
On the strategic front, Russia's negative involvement, in forcefully changing borders, has resulted in the re-awakening of the NATO alliance; potentially NATO, especially the European countries, will undertake to increase their assets/resources, to ensure their level of deterrence, is compatible with a potential future un-expected Russian deviation from the normality the West was getting too used to; the requirement to support international protocols/ laws/ agreements... etc re BORDERS Russia looked like a Western country. Russia signed the letter agreement to respect Ukraine's borders, it was a dishonest word, not in good faith, given what has occurred in Crimea.....
The other real down side is trust, and issue that is difficult to measure, acquire and even far more difficult to regain; Putin no longer has the trust of many, if not most, NATO leaders; again, I think, with the possibly exception is that of the German Chancellor, that always appears to give him some reasonable level of confidence, based on her belief that he will get back on a normal path; let us hope she is right for everyone's benefit; she does appear to know him better, so maybe she is correct.
Over the past decade Russia's economic sit has greatly improved, in part due to European trust markets were opened, in part due to its large reserves of hydrocarbons, and in part due to many progressive measures taken by Putin et al, to regenerate Russia's industrial capacity. Loss of trust in Putin = accelerated prospecting and development of hydrocarbons, in Western Europe and other nations, and as they come on stream, down goes one of the pillars of the Russian economy; as doors to markets are closing on Russia, in the West, down goes another pilllar of the Russian economy; lots of reforms with no markets are useless, down goes the employment levels in Russia. One can already observe some of these economic negatives. With more un-employment, down goes Putin's popularity, even the nationalists will abandon him, no more a "great one"; all in all one can predict a negative future, all because Putin is off track on Ukraine, IS IT WORTH IT? Only Vlad can answer the question!


by: Leon from: Cape Town
July 16, 2014 2:32 PM
Imagine what Mr Cameron will do if Argentina reclaims the Falklands ?


by: reubenr from: Cornwall
July 16, 2014 2:04 PM
Mr. Putin is an oil slick on humanity. He is the dumb of the dumb. He had to have the port. He couldn't ask. He had to blow up everything. What a child. I would be more harsh, but it's near the end, and we might as well all give up by now.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid