Interesting story in today’s Times of London, which alleges, citing Western diplomats, that Putin refused Yanukovych’s request to send troops and convinced him to limit his stay in office, therefore removing the obstacle for signing of the deal with the opposition.
While Putin’s role in convincing Yanukovych to limit stay in office has been reported before in New York Times, his alleged refusal to send troops has not been reported. I'd note that a efusal to send troops would not necessarily contradict an earlier statement by a senior Russian official that Russia can send troops to Crimea to defend ethnic Russians if the latter are threatened. Russia has in the past sent troops to protect Russian citizens abroad, but has chosen not to intervene militarily when the rule of friendly leader was threatened.
Russia cited the need to protect Russian citizens in S. Ossetia when intervening in August 2008 to rout Georgian troops, but it refused to send troops to Kyrgyzstan even when pro-Russian president Bakiyev requested assistance as riots gripped his country, citing Russia’s Collective Security Treaty organization in spring 2010. Bakiyev was eventually ousted in a revolution.
I'd also note that Putin may have been counting that even if Yanukovuch is ousted, then Russia's interests would still be honored if his ach-foe Tymoshenko becomes next leader of Ukraine. After all, she is the one who agreed to buy gas from Russia at exorbitant prices when still a premier in 2009. No wonder that Putin spoke well of Tymoshenko as recently as in December even though she was still in prison at that time, serving time for abuse of office committed by signing the contract that left Ukraine paying more for Russian gas than some of Western European countries. “We also actively worked with the previous government of Ukraine, which was headed by Tymoshenko. We worked very intensively in all areas,” Putin said while attending a EU-Russia summit in Brussels.
Saradzhyan: View from Global Tank
- Putin's Rejection of Yanukovych's Plea fr Troops Doesnt Contradict Kremlin's Vow to Send'em 2 Crimea
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