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Putin Pulls In Horns Over Ukraine

Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Putin, left, pictured Tuesday in Vienna with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, has moved to revoke a resolution allowing military force in Ukraine.
    Photo: Presidential Press Service / Kremlin.ru

In an ostentatious demonstration of goodwill after months of violent conflict in Ukraine for which the West has blamed Russia, President Vladimir Putin asked the parliament's upper chamber Tuesday to revoke a Mar. 1 resolution granting him the authority to use military force in Ukraine, the Kremlin said on its official website.

The move is largely symbolic, political analysts said, as Russia is believed to be acting in Ukraine through militant ragtag proxies rather than regular troops, but it is still a signal that Russia does not want a further escalation of the crisis.

"Putin is removing the sword of Damocles from over Ukraine, because the West was really concerned about the movement of Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders," said Alexei Makarkin, a researcher with the Center for Political Technologies think tank.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the move Tuesday, calling it "the first practical step toward the stabilization of the situation in [eastern Ukraine's] Donbass following the Russian president's official expression of support for Ukraine's peace plan," according to Poroshenko's website.

The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, will consider Putin's request Wednesday, when it is certain to be passed by an overwhelming majority.

"We believe that revoking approval for the use of military force will be a catalyst for peaceful negotiations," Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the upper chamber's defense and security committee, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Russian markets reacted positively to the news, with key indexes growing by up to 3.6 percent.

Putin's announcement came on the heels of a phone conversation Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama called upon Putin to put pressure on pro-Russian separatists to abide by the cease-fire announced by Poroshenko the day before and to halt the flow of weapons for the insurgents across the Russian border into Ukraine.

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