Russia Caucasus Ukraine

Crimea in Russia. It's done. Following !

PutinDuma@RUS140318(BRUSSELS2) Making a mockery of the first European measures and sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed this midday (13 p.m. Moscow) the decree “On Executing the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the Admission of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the Creation of New Constituent Entities within the Russian Federation“. This document aims to:

“1. To approve the draft Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the Admission of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the Creation of New Constituent Entities within the Russian Federation.

“2. To consider it expedient to sign the Agreement envisaged hereunder at the highest level. »

Flawed reasoning

Russia is not behaving as the Europeans would have hoped. Every time the Europeans expect appeasement, the Kremlin adds a ladle. All the arguments heard — the sanctions will force him to give in, Russia will be isolated internationally, it's bad for Russia's image, he won't go any further, Russia will suffer, etc. .— seem intended more for reassurance than for objective observation. Quite simply because the reasoning is flawed. It is based on a “Western” way of functioning that the Russian leader does not follow, not that he is entirely irrational. But it obeys another rationality.

All power engaged in one cause

For Moscow, rightly (or wrongly), Ukraine is a national cause. And to defend this cause, it commits its forces, all its forces: economic, military, political, diplomatic. It thus plays on all fronts: on the one hand, force (occupation on the ground, provocations, revelations of wiretapping, etc.); on the other, discussion, dialogue, diplomacy. Not in a fool's game (the fools are those who believe in it) but with a single objective: to recover Ukraine or, at least, everything that can be taken from it. Where Europeans believe, or hope, that there will be a dialogue, a respite in Russian advances, they are wrong. Now that Crimea has integrated (or rather reintegrated, seen from Moscow) the Russian fold, other maneuvers can begin in the southern border of the country (towards Odessa) or in the east of Ukraine, or even in the southwest (Transnistria).

An unequal fight

Russian power has a capacity for resilience greater than that of European states. Europeans are not ready to suffer for Ukraine. Their resilience is low. And their interests scattered. The fight is therefore unequal... Putin seeks the balance of power, confrontation. Where Europeans seek to avoid it. Result: the more the Europeans threaten, the more the Kremlin executes the conditions forcing the Europeans to carry out their threats or to withdraw. It is thus symptomatic that each time the Westerners set a deadline: Putin made a play before this deadline, thus forcing the Europeans to readjust their response, in disaster. If necessary, he sends one of his diplomats, S. Lavrov for example, to apply a little ointment, just to provide even more surprise at the next stage. The escalation will continue until one of the “players” says bench or withdraws. We are not very far from the breaking point today.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).