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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

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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