Published 25-06-2015, 06:35
Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the broadening US-Russian cold war and confrontation over Ukraine. The main focus is on escalating challenges to the agreement reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Sochi in May to implement the Minsk plan for ending the Ukrainian civil war through negotiations. Those challenges include Vice President Biden’s repudiation of Kerry’s trip to Sochi; the US-backed Kiev government’s decision to blockade the pro-Russian enclave of Transnistria; a leaked Pentagon proposal to position, for the first time, heavy military weapons in countries on Russia’s borders; and a trip by UN Ambassador Samantha Power to Kiev. Other subjects discussed include how Putin may respond to these provocations and the possibility of a military escalation of the crisis, even involving aggressive deployment of nuclear weapons by both sides; Putin’s visit to Italy (and his meeting with the pope) in light of Obama’s declared policy of "isolating Russia”; and why Putin remains so popular at home despite mounting economic hardships on the Russian people. Also discussed is a recent survey revealing that considerably less than a majority of citizens of Europe’s NATO states support the required mutual defense of a member country embroiled in a war with Russia.
US army soldiers take part in a NATO exercise in Romania planned to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO and the EU, which borders Ukraine. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)