04/24/2021, 11.42
RUSSIA
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An uncertain Putin withdraws Russian troops from Ukrainian borders

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Fresh attempts at dialogue, but there is fear of the Ukrainian armed forces, ready for anything. The Navalnyj case - and Western sanctions – augment the fragility of the Russian system. In recent days, an attempted coup d'état in Belarus against Lukashenko, a faithful dauphin.

Fresh attempts at dialogue, but there is fear of the Ukrainian armed forces, ready for anything. The Navalnyj case - and Western sanctions – augment the fragility of the Russian system. In recent days, an attempted coup d'état in Belarus against Lukashenko, a faithful dauphin.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Vladimir Putin has decided, together with Defense Minister Sergej Shoigu, to withdraw part of the troops deployed in recent weeks in Crimea, near the breakaway regions of Donbass.

Right up until the moment of yesterday’s decision there was fear of the rekindling of the conflict between the two ex-brother countries. Either way the Kremlin guarantees it will "preserve its war potential" around the Donbass, winking at possible negotiations with Volodymyr Zelenskii's Ukraine. For his part, the Ukrainian president invited Putin to negotiations, to be held "anywhere in the Donbass".

According to observers, the Russian retreat could be due to the fear of a response from the Ukrainian armed forces, which have shown that they have no fear of the Russians: this is the opinion of Sergej Garmash, a publicist and representative of Ukraine in the "group of three-way contact with Russia and the OECD, who spoke on the Obozrevatel television channel.

According to Garmash, Biden’s phone call and rigid positions from the United States and Europe would also have an effect, deflating Putin’s desire to show his strength.

This explains why during Putin's "speech to the nation" last April 21, all reference to the conflict in the Donbass was absent, disappointing the expectations of pro-Russian separatists in the areas concerned.

The "Navalnyj case" also helped push the Russian leadership towards milder tones, both due to the threats of further Western sanctions, which would bring the economy to its knees, and to the internal pressure of public opinion, manifested in the demonstrations of 21 April for the release of the opponent imprisoned in Vladimir. The statistics released after the actions of the navalists speak of about 150 thousand participants in the marches, with almost 2 thousand arrests. The police acted in moderation everywhere, except in St. Petersburg, where 800 people were arrested.

Russia fears the Ukrainian army's operations in the Donbass, aimed at regaining full control of the territory, in imitation of the Azeris in Nagorno Karabakh, when the Russians were forced to take note of the situation and cede the main role in the area to Turkey caucasian. For this reason, the tension will remain high for a while, and Putin nevertheless spoke of a "red line" not to be crossed.

Moreover, even the Ukrainians have no intention of undertaking risky attacks that would lead to heavy losses in terms of life. Garmash states: "We need to start over from the Minsk agreements of 2014, and get the people of Donbass to express themselves with a real referendum under the guarantee of all, not as happened in Crimea ... Russia must stop presenting itself as mediator, and agree to be a party to the confrontation ".

Among the events that have fueled Putin's fears is the dark story of the "attempted coup" against Belarusian President Lukashenko in recent days. So far, four people have been arrested accused of plotting to assassinate the Belarusian batka [father]. In his speech on April 21, Putin complained that "the West has not condemned this very serious fact, regardless of what is happening in our countries, unlike those that interest them".

Lukashenko himself visited Moscow yesterday to ask for more support and protection from Russia, in view of a de facto merger that would be the only possible way out for him. Both neighboring and "related" countries - Belarus and Ukraine - contribute to creating an atmosphere of great uncertainty for Putinian Russia.

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