Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine’s acting minister of foreign affairs, writes: Last week Russia’s President Putin said he believed referendums should not take place in the eastern regions of Ukraine on 11 May. Remarkably, the change of Putin’s rhetoric has inspired some hope in many European capitals.
Putin distanced himself publicly from pro-Russia armed separatists in the east, pretending Russia had no influence over them. Unfortunately, his posturings are nothing more than a diplomatic trick and are indicative of the long-term game the Kremlin is playing.
As many European diplomats have observed, Putin’s acts regarding Ukraine belie his words. Despite his claims to withdraw troops from Ukraine’s border, he did not – according to all the independent intelligence reports of Ukraine, Nato and the Pentagon. A few hours after his “goodwill” commitment, an armoured Russian “Tiger” (wheeled troop transporter) crossed Ukraine’s border by force to join armed militants in the Luhansk region. This is just one of a multitude of examples of Russia’s direct involvement in the unrest in Ukraine’s east. However, this fact is often lost in the western media because of the Kremlin’s highly coordinated information campaign on Ukraine. [Continue reading…]