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Putins Pyrrhic Victory in Ukraine

Published: December 4, 2013 (Issue # 1789)

Russias battle for Ukraine has topped headlines in recent weeks and months, and that struggle now nears an end. Kiev did not sign an association agreement with the European Union at its summit in Vilnius last week. That means President Vladimir Putin has scored a huge victory against the West.

It remains unclear exactly which magic words Putin used to convince Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych not to sign the EU agreement, but he apparently promised Yanukovych billions of dollars in low-interest loans that he desperately needs to improve Ukraines economy and strengthen his own chances for re-election in 16 months.

Moscow has taken a strong lead in this years geopolitical game of Russia vs. the U.S. Here are the highlights of the match so far:

Washington fails to prevent Russia from granting asylum to U.S. National Security Agency intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Score: Russia 1, USA 0. Russia all but forces the U.S., Britain and France to abandon plans for military action against Syria. Russia 2, USA 0.

Russia disrupts plans by the EU to sign the Association Agreement with Armenia, while convincing Yerevan to join the Customs Union with Russia instead. Russia 3, USA 0. The U.S. edition of Forbes magazine names Putin the most influential politician in the world, surpassing U.S. President Barack Obama. Russia 4, USA 0.

Finally, Moscow wages an unprecedented campaign of pressure against Ukraine, ultimately persuading Yanukovych to cancel plans to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Russia 5, USA 0. If this were a soccer match, it would be a complete rout.

As Putin likes to say, The weak get beaten. U.S. President Barack Obama, as many had long suspected, turned out to be weak, and he was beaten. Europe has taken a licking as well. The EU was weakened by the economic crisis and became torn by divisions within the union. Brussels revealed its weakness during the Snowden incident, the showdown over Syria, and now in the situation with Ukraine.

The EU never had proper tactics, much less a strategy concerning Ukraine. One of the European leaders tried to convince the others to remove the requirement that Yanukovych release his arch-rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as a precondition for signing the Association Agreement with Brussels. Meanwhile, an opposing camp of EU leaders adamantly insisted that no further progress with Ukraine was possible until Tymoshenko was freed.

In public, Western diplomats in Kiev expressed concern about the selective justice applied in the Tymoshenko case, but in confidential talks they cynically argued that, for example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel could not afford to risk raising Putins ire over her attempts to facilitate closer relations between Brussels and Kiev. She understood all too well that Putin could create serious problems for German businesses that have billions of dollars invested in Russia.

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Wednesday, Apr. 23

Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of societys most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.

Thursday, Apr. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

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Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

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Tuesday, Apr. 29

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