AMANDA – ‘Pariah’ Putin?

‘Pariah’ Putin?Despite the fact that the international investigation into the cause of the tragic MH17 plane crash in Ukraine that has left nearly 300 people dead has not yet properly begun, the conclusion already seems to have been decided — Russia is guilty.This tragedy came after months of demands for Russia to take steps to deescalate its efforts to destabilize Ukraine, following its occupation and annexation of Crimea This event seems to be a turning point in the conflict.

In the first place, it has brought home the seriousness of the situation. Up until this point, for the majority of EU citizens, it was just another war in their neighborhood that was sad but not really their concern.

There had been little realization of the impact of the crisis on European security. Only in countries such as Poland and the three Baltic states — countries that were once under the yoke of the former Soviet Union — was there a real understanding of how serious it was and how far Russia could go.

This situation has now changed. This is no longer a crisis just between Russia and Ukraine.

It is no longer about the deaths of Russians and Ukrainians. With many EU citizens among the dead, the eyes of the world — both those of politicians and ordinary citizens — are on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This time, his efforts to explain how Russia had nothing to do with the crash have not been bought by anybody. In my country, the UK, there is an outpouring of anger toward Russia that did not exist previously.

Several British citizens died on that plane, and people want answers.Over the last seven months, Russia has annexed Crimea used propaganda to spread lies about a fascist and anti-Russian leadership in Kyiv to purposely provoke tensions amongst the predominantly Russia-speaking east of Ukraine supported the separatists in the east, including providing them with military assistance failed to close its side of the Russia-Ukraine border to prevent vigilantes crossing over to support the separatists and failed to support the peace plan of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Now, Russia has failed to pressure the separatists to cooperate properly with the international investigators, including allowing proper access to the crash site. A recent article published in the Guardian newspaper writes: “.

the large grey door to one of five train carriages was levered open. A ghoulish stench poured out inside the glint of shiny black body bags piled in a heap was visible.

A group of international monitors from the OSCE peered in briefly, and then the door was swung shut again.” This paints a very bad picture, indeed.

The US is now threatening to turn Russia into a pariah state unless the Kremlin ends all support for the separatists holed up in the Donbass region. Furthermore, with so many lives lost, the EU must move to a much tougher level of sanctions which, up until now, it has been reluctant to do due to a number of member states fearing the impact on economies which are just starting to recover from the Eurozone crisis.

If the EU had taken tougher action earlier, perhaps we could have avoided this incident. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of EU politicians still do not understand Putin and how far he is willing to go to get what he wants.

However, if Putin does not pull back now he will be foolish indeed. With the likely increased sanctions, the economic pressure on Russia will probably be too much for Moscow to bear Furthermore, he risks his country being branded a backer of terrorism Unfortunately, there is still the possibility that Putin will not back off but will rather continue to declare that Russia is totally innocent and insist that a full investigation is carried out.

He will use the fact that the West — and particularly the United States — has branded Russia guilty as evidence of a biased, anti-Russian West to justify his claims to the Russian people that the sanctions are aimed at stopping the rise of Russia Many will believe him, and it will likely increase support for him and animosity toward the West. Yet if Putin takes this path, he is going to push Russia farther and farther into international isolation.

Hence, while Putin may have put Russia back on the international stage during his time in office, it seems that he is now set to remove Russia from it again.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman