Is Putin caving in to West pressure?

Is Putin caving in to West pressure?

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Sat May 24, 2014 5:55AM GMT
Finian Cunningham
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Russian President Vladimir Putin told the international business conference in St Petersburg that his government would recognize the results of the presidential election being held this weekend in Ukraine.

That seems to signal a significant concession by the Russian leader to placate the Western-backed regime in Kiev.

Only a few weeks ago, Moscow’s position was that the Ukrainian presidential election was not legitimate. That was because, rightly, it is being organized by a regime that seized power illegally from the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych on 23 February. That coup came on the back of nearly three months of street violence in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, during which more than 100 civilians and state security personnel were gun downed by snipers. There is convincing evidence that many of these deaths were carried out with the complicity of Washington and its covert forces working in collusion with the coup plotters.

On the face of it, that represents a huge criminal interference in Russia’s strategically important Western neighbour.

Putin told delegates this week at the conference in St Petersburg that he still views the Kiev coup to be unconstitutional, and he laid the blame squarely on Washington and its European allies for orchestrating the criminal overthrow of the elected Ukrainian authorities.

So, it seems a strange logic from the Russian leader to now say that Moscow will “respect the will of the people” when they vote in the Ukrainian election this Sunday.

How can an election be recognized as legitimate, when that election is being conducted by a criminal junta comprised of foreign-backed murderers and usurpers?

Still more, this regime of self-declared neo-Nazis is inflicting a reign of terror on dissenting populations in the east and south of Ukraine, who refuse to submit to the self-imposed rule of the junta.

Since the Western-backed Kiev junta embarked on its so-called anti-terror operations four weeks ago dozens of civilians have been murdered by the regime’s neo-Nazi shock troops. This week, civilian homes in the eastern region around the city of Slavyansk came under artillery and mortar fire from the so-called “national guard” and ultra right-wing paramilitaries of the Right Sector.

Terrified residents speak of “incessant bombing” in what appears to be a calculated campaign to terrorize them into submission.

There are also reliable reports emerging that Kiev’s storm troopers have even shot dead dozens of soldiers belonging to the national guard, who had earlier refused to bear arms against civilians.

The civilian populations being targeted are mainly ethnic Russians who do not recognize the self-styled authorities that grabbed government power in Kiev as a result of Washington’s covert support.

In the eastern regions of Donetz and Luhansk, the people organized their own referenda to declare independence from Kiev earlier this month. The newly formed People’s Republics of these regions say they will not participate in the presidential elections this weekend. The population in these regions represent about 15 per cent of Ukraine’s total of 46 million.

Under such conditions of massive violence – Putin himself calls it “an all-out civil war” – and widespread dissent towards the Kiev junta, it is patently absurd that a presidential election is presumed to be proceeding as normal.

Furthermore, the only candidates in this electoral charade are oligarch figures that are closely tied to the fascistic Kiev regime, including the Chocolate King Petro Poroshenko and the Gas Princess Yulia Tymoshenko. None of the candidates being fielded represent the views or interests of the people in the east and south of Ukraine.

Indeed, the so-called candidates harbour deeply hostile contempt towards the ethnic Russian populations, with Tymoshenko caught in a private telephone conversation a few weeks ago declaring that she wanted them all “whacked in the head.”

The chaos in Ukraine is highlighted by pro-Kiev oligarch figures, such as Oleg Kolomoisky, who are organizing their own fascist brigades to go on murder sprees against civilian communities. One such attack occurred in the town of Krasnoarmeysk, where Kolomoisky’s Dneipr Battalion opened fire on unarmed civilians on 11 May as they were trying to vote in the referendum for independence.

Multi-millionaire Kolomoisky has also taken to bounty hunting, offering huge cash rewards for the tracking down of political opponents and journalists. His death squads have also been linked to the massacre in Odessa on 2 May, in which more than 40 civilians were murdered in an arson attack on a public building.

In addition – and this is particularly damning – all this mayhem is being coordinated with the deep involvement of the American CIA, FBI and private mercenaries, according to several independent reports in German and Russian media.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has again this week called on the American government to provide answers to the evidence of covert US involvement in Ukraine, only to be met with unconvincing stonewalling from Washington.

Thus, Moscow’s position on the Ukrainian presidential election this weekend is appearing untenable even by its own definitions.

How can one even begin talking about “respecting the will of the people” when a good many of those people are being shot at and bombed in their own homes?

At the St Petersburg conference this week, President Putin also admitted to business leaders that American and European economic sanctions are beginning to take a toll on the Russian economy. Some estimates put the figure of capital flight out of Russia since the Western sanctions were imposed two months ago at around $200 billion.

That impact on the Russian economy is not to be taken lightly despite the $400 billion gas deal signed this week between Moscow and Beijing.

Nevertheless, it seems a tactical mistake by Putin to acquiesce to the Western-sponsored regime-change operation in Ukraine and the ongoing terror campaign that this regime is subjecting dissenting populations to, by affording a fake legitimacy to a farcical election.

You can’t placate a lawless bully by pandering to it. The bully – the Washington-backed junta in Kiev – only understands the language of force. Moscow would be better to condemn this regime, as it did until recently, and the sham election that this imposter-junta is foisting on the Ukrainian people. A reign of terror does not stop being a reign of terror just because a few polling booths are opened up.



Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation. More articles by Finian Cunningham


By piotrbein