World View: Russia Demands a 'Federal Model' for Ukraine

World View: Russia Demands a 'Federal Model' for Ukraine

This morning’s key headlines from

  • U.S. desperately tries to salvage Mideast ‘peace process’
  • Russia demands a ‘federal model’ for Ukraine

U.S. desperately tries to salvage Mideast ‘peace process’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departed Sunday’s failed peacetalks with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and flew toJerusalem, where he has a “secret plan” to keep the Mideast “peaceprocess” from collapsing on its scheduled end day, April 29.According to some reports, Kerry’s plan is to go ahead with apreviously rumored offer to the Israelis to release spy JonathanPollard, who has been in jail since 1987 for selling secrets to theIsraelis. ( “25-Mar-14 World View — U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going”) This would presumably incentivize the Israelis to keepthem from walking out of the hallucinatory “peace process,” but it’snot known what incentive Kerry plans to offer to the Palestinians tokeep them from walking about. Arab News and Bloomberg

Russia demands a ‘federal model’ for Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was willing to agree to almostanything on Sunday, during his failed four hour conversation withRussia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, to convince the Russians toremove the tens of thousands of Russian troops from the Ukrainianborder. Lavrov not only refused to agree to pull back the troops, healso demanded that Ukraine’s government in Kiev rewrite theconstitution to adopt a “federal” system. The federal system willessentially make each region of Ukraine a kind of independentrepublic, similar to what Crimea was before it was annexed by Russia.Kerry is so desperate that he would probably agree to this if it wereup to him, but it isn’t — it’s up to the government in Kiev, andthey’re not going to agree to this “federal” system.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border withUkraine, being supplied with plenty of food, clothing andspare parts, there is a great deal of concern that Russia’spresident Vladimir Putin will soon give the order to invadeUkraine.

However, some analysts are insisting that Russia won’t invade,because they can’t afford it. As weak as the Western sanctionson Russia have been, not much more stringent than preventing seniorRussian politicians from visiting Disneyland, they actually aremore effective than anyone really expected. The sanctions havealready caused many investors to voluntarily move $60-70 billion oftheir money out of Russia, and it could be several hundredbillion dollars by year’s end. Russia’s has been dependingon oil sales, but those have been weak since the financial crisis,and the economy is already tanking. $100 billion in capitalflight would be a disaster.

However, there are other forces at work here, and Putin may actuallyhave no choice but to order an invasion. Putin’s approval ratingshave shot up to 75.7% among the Russian population, since the Crimeanannexation. ( “21-Mar-14 World View — Putin’s approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation”.) The Russian people are experience passions offerocious intensity to achieve victories that prove Russia’sit could be politically disastrous for him. Instead, he may have tofind a way to maximize the “shock and awe” from his next strike.Moscow Times and AFP and Jamestown

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