Russian President Vladimir Putin by his latest visit to Crimea, sent a special message to the West, pointing emphasis on the fact that Crimea belongs in Russia. On the other hand, as the situation in the Eastern part of Ukraine bloody deteriorates, Moscow is sending a special diplomatic call to Kiev on the need of a national dialogue with representatives in the Southeastern Ukrainian cities:
The US and EU have condemned President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March. The US state department said the trip was “provocative and unnecessary”. The Kiev government called it a “gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”. Mr Putin praised Crimea for joining Russia, as he marked the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War Two. As he visited, there were deadly new clashes in south-eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said at least 20 pro-Russian activists and a Ukrainian security officer died in the clashes in the port of Mariupol. The government said there was a gun battle when pro-Russian activists tried to storm a police HQ. However, some local witnesses accused the security forces of opening fire on unarmed protesters who had entered the building. Local officials put the casualties at seven dead and 39 injured. Crimea voted to join Russia in March – in a referendum dismissed by Kiev and the West as illegal. Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions are planning to hold secession referendums on Sunday. The separatists remain in control of many official buildings across the east despite a military operation by Kiev to remove them. Dozens have been killed in the unrest.
Prior to President’s Putin visit in Crimea, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the region on March 31:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev flaunted Russia’s grip on Crimea by flying to the region and holding a government meeting there on Monday, angering Ukraine and defying Western demands to hand the peninsula back to Kiev. But in a gesture that could ease tension in the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War, Russia pulled some troops back from near Ukraine’s eastern frontier – a move which the United States said would be a positive sign if it is confirmed as a withdrawal. At the Kadamovsky training ground, a Reuters reporter saw hundreds of troops pile into over 40 armored personnel carriers and a long line of military trucks. The convoy then headed off from the area, which lies in the Rostov border region. President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he had ordered a partial drawdown in the region, Merkel’s spokesman said.
More importantly, NATO is carefully watching President’s Putin moves in Crimea and the Southeastern Ukraine, as today’s situation is for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a post-Soviet reminder of the Cold War:
The head of NATO, locked in its gravest confrontation with Russia since the Cold War, condemned Putin’s visit to Crimea, whose annexation in March has not been recognized by Western powers. He also renewed doubts over an assurance by the Kremlin leader that he had pulled back troops from the Ukrainian border. The pro-Western government in Kiev, labeled “fascist” by Moscow, said Putin’s visit was intended to escalate the crisis. Watching a military parade in Sevastopol on the Black Sea, Putin said: “There is a lot of work ahead but we will overcome all difficulties because we are together, which means we have become stronger.” Earlier in the day, he had presided over the biggest Victory Day parade in Moscow for years. The passing tanks, aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles were a reminder to the world – and Russian voters – of Putin’s determination to revive Moscow’s global power, 23 years after the Soviet collapse. ”The iron will of the Soviet people, their fearlessness and stamina saved Europe from slavery,” Putin said in a speech to the military and war veterans gathered on Red Square. The United States said the trip to Crimea was provocative, the European Union said Putin should not have used the World War Two commemoration to showcase the annexation and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the visit “inappropriate”. The head of the U.S.-led defense pact was speaking in formerly Soviet Estonia, one of a host of east European nations that joined after the collapse of communism, seeking refuge from the power of Moscow, which many in the region regarded as having enslaved them following its victory in World War Two. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, in office since an uprising overthrew the Kremlin-backed elected president in Kiev in February, rejects Russian allegations that his power is the result of coup backed by neo-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists.
On the other hand, diplomatic channels between the U.S. and Russia remain open, as John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov had a new telephone conversation yesterday:
In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed the necessity of the soonest launch of a “comprehensive national dialogue between the current Kiev authorities and representatives of Ukraine’s southeastern regions through the intermediary of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), first of all, on issues of the constitutional reform in line with the proposals that were discussed at the May 7 meeting between the Russian and Swiss presidents in Moscow,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday. The Russian foreign minister expressed the hope that taking into account the United States’ positive attitude towards the roadmap of the implementation of the Geneva statement of April 17 that had been worked out by the Swiss presidency in the OSCE, Washington would work closely with Kiev to have it stop its combat operations in Ukraine’s southeast, release political prisoners and amnesty participants in protests. Lavrov and Kerry agreed to continue contacts in the interests of deescalating the situation in Ukrainian southeastern regions, stopping bloodshed there and launching direct negotiations between the conflicting parties. The two ministers also discussed the situation with the process of Syria’s chemical disarmament. The telephone conversation was initiated by the U.S. side…
Finally, President Putin retains the leading role in the making of strategic moves as his yesterday’s visit in Crimea, once again proved. The strategic objective for Moscow was the annexation of Crimea. The situation in Southeastern Ukrainian cities, just offers another diplomatic opportunity to Russia for enhancing its position on the negotiation table. As the referendums in the region are scheduled for tomorrow, Kremlin has the diplomatic opportunity to be the “good guy” in Southeastern cities in Ukraine and the “bad guy” in Crimea. The West has its interests in the region. Russia has its strategic interests too. Putin is here…