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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

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburg’s answer to the United States’ popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genre’s authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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