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Russia Needs a Plan B in Ukraine

Published: August 7, 2014 (Issue # 1823)




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"It would be good if we could learn to see at least one step ahead," President Vladimir Putin said recently in a speech on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. He could have said much the same thing about the current crisis in Ukraine.

It would, in fact, be interesting to know how many steps ahead both of the sides involved in this conflict have planned. Recklessly posturing, both parties in this game of brinksmanship seem to have lost control and are headed for the edge of the cliff. Do the two major players even have a Plan B, a backup option, if their initial plans fail or if their goal turns out to have been misguided?

For now, the West's main leverage against Moscow is tighter sanctions. Their goal? "The cessation of Russia's efforts to destabilize Ukraine." It is probable that a complete halt to any aid for separatists in the southeast would be considered a sufficient concession to prevent new sanctions.

But what would be the next step? If these demands are met, will the current sanctions be lifted? Most likely not, and then Crimea will be the next issue up for discussion. How does the West plan to carry out the return of the peninsula to Ukraine, on a purely practical level?

Should Moscow receive any security guarantees in return for handing back Crimea, or will its experience mirror that of Saddam Hussein in his exit from Kuwait? Where should Russia's Black Sea Fleet go? What should be done about the referendum that has already taken place in Crimea?

And of course the March referendum was just the latest: A vote in the early '90s produced very similar, pro-Russian results. Should both referendums be simply annulled as "illegitimate" and inconsistent with the Ukrainian constitution? Or should a new referendum be held in five years to test the validity of the previous one? Or 10 years? Or even right now, under the control of numerous international observers, as was done in Kosovo?

Of course such questions seem absurd today, but this is what a "situational analysis" is, when the consideration of even the most unlikely scenarios reveals both sides' potential, their resources, and their strengths and vulnerabilities. The ideal result is an appropriate evaluation of the current situation.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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