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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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