Saturday, August 23, 2014

Putin's Customs Union is crumbling

President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko are attending a summit together with top European Union officials in Belarus's capital of Minsk on 26th August.  Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko and Kazkahstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose countries belong to the Russia-led Customs Union, will also be present.

Vitaliy Portnikov makes the following observations in his article "Meeting in Minsk - an important stage toward divorce".

No major break-throughs can be expected. Even if Putin does give any undertakings, he will most likely break them. [There is a 'shed-load' of evidence that Russian regular armed forces have been active in eastern Ukraine. E.g. captured prisoners, captured equipment, scattered iron rations, military equipment packaging, intercepted sig-int.. video evidence, etc. etc. Despite this Russian spokesmen continue to deny any involvement of their troops. So why should Putin be trusted in the future?]

Portnikov says the summit is an opportunity for Lukashenko to at least partially rehabilitate himself with Europeans.

Lukashenko and Nazarbayev can also use next week's meeting to distance themselves a bit from Putin because the current Russia/Ukraine crisis is harming their countries' interests. They are fearful of an aggressive Putin and will try to delicately persuade him to come to his senses. They feel that by his unilateral declaration of sanctions against EU countries, Putin has 'dissed' Customs Union members Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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