G20 Leaders Put Putin Under Pressure Over Ukraine

ausAs leaders in the G20 Summit  in Australia gather to discuss challenges to global growth, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the middle of the debate, facing growing alienation from western leaders at the economic summit over Russian foreign policies in eastern Ukraine and Crimea that are widely criticized.

When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shook hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit meeting, he told him that “he needed to get out of Ukraine.”

Earlier U.S. President Barack Obama admitted that “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a threat to the world” which comes at a time when EU nations are now considering to widen sanctions on Russia as fighting escalates in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine and the cease fire agreement between Ukrainian military forces and separatists is falling apart.

Russia stands accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with military columns of artillery, combat troops, and tanks in eastern Ukraine.

NATO claims to have satellite imagery and military intelligence that confirms Russia’s involvement supporting the armed separatists.

Russia denies any involvement in the months long conflict in eastern Ukraine that has taken over 4,000 lives, renewed cold war tensions with the West, and has moved Russia full speed into an economic recession with the Russian ruble slumping, investors pulling their money out of Russia, and sanctions threatening to hurt to a Russian economy that is heavily dependent on exporting oil.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the government in Kiev and compared them to “fascists” that are focused on weakening Russian influence across the region.

Putin portrays Russia as a victim of the West and has criticized western media for perpetuating the viewpoint of Russia playing an active role destabilizing Ukraine and supporting the armed separatists in Ukraine.

During the first two months of 2014, Putin also denied Russia’s role destabilizing Crimea and criticized western journalism for their bias against Russia while denying that Russian forces were involved in an incursion into Crimea before the region was eventually annexed into Russia in March.

However, as the weeks passed by it became crystal clear that Russian forces were inside Crimea before the annexation referendum vote and Moscow had difficult time denying that Russian forces had never infiltrated Crimea.

Now Putin wants the world to take him seriously and believe him that the West is ganging up on him while insisting that Russia has no direct involvement in aiding separatists in eastern Ukraine at a time when Russian bombers are flying closer to U.S. and NATO borders.

On Monday NATO’s relations with Georgia will be a topic of discussion once again.

The former Soviet  republic of Georgia has served as a flashpoint of heightened tensions between Russia and the West.

NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg will meet with Georgian President Garibashvili and conduct a press conference.

Georgia is aspiring for NATO membership and actively cooperates with NATO led operations.

On Saturday protestors in the capital Tbilisi rallied to protest a military agreement between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region.

Some of the protestors fear that Russia is planning to annex Abkhazia.

-Johnathan Schweitzer

 

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