WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to disdain international pressure and continue extending Russian influence into eastern Ukraine, while creating a buffer zone against the Western-influenced portion controlled by Kiev, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Regional analysts say Putin’s tough stance is due to his increasing concern over Western encroachment into Russia’s sphere of influence and that he seeks to maintain another buffer zone, one between the Russian heartland and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
For those reasons, analysts expect Putin to continue to resist calls by the United States and some European countries to increase sanctions on Russia for its support of the rising insurrection in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. recently decided to send military advisers to the Ukrainian government. Their duties are said to include assisting Ukrainian military forces with strategy and well as intelligence sharing, which appears to have been effective in directing land forces as well as the Ukrainian air force.
However, the Ukrainian rebels are maintaining strongholds in two principal cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, which are near the border with Russia. And Russia is expected to continue providing military supplies to the rebels.
Demand for increased sanctions intensified after the recent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers on board the Boeing 777.
All sides acknowledge it was downed by a surface-to-air missile, probably the Russian Buk, or SA 11 Gadfly.
Both the Ukrainian government and the rebels had the missile, although the one in hands of the rebels was reportedly rolled back to Russia secretly, after indications that two of its missiles on a launcher of four were missing.
Amid U.S. demands for harsher sanctions, Putin knows the Europeans are hesitant to appear to be too strident against his country because of their dependency on Russian energy.
Additionally, Europeans, especially the Germans, are under increasing pressure from their industries to ignore Washington.
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The Germans also remain agitated with Washington over revelations that the National Security Agency spied on German citizens, including the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sources say the episode will mean continued cold relations between Germany and the U.S. for some time.
And there are reports Washington is getting fed up with Europe because of a lack of strong sanctions designed to inflict economic pain on the Russian economy.
The U.S. wants an end to European Union weapons deliveries to Russia, such as the $1.6 billion Mistral-class amphibious assault ship deal with France. The French intend to continue with the sale, according to sources.
With the Europeans saying they can’t afford to isolate Russia for economic and energy policy reasons, public comments from U.S. officials have become more strident in recent days.
Putin, however, realizes U.S. and European options are limited.
He also sees divisions even within the Kiev government on how to proceed. The Ukrainian parliament remains split among its nine different factions as the country faces rising economic problems and increasing pressure from Russia on the price for natural gas. The Russians have threatened to cut off Ukraine’s flow of natural gas if it doesn’t pay at least a portion of its multi-billion dollar debt for Russian energy.