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Experts Say Russia Unlikely to Ease Up on Ukraine After Vote

Published: May 26, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • A voter showing off his passport before he casts a ballot in the Ukrainian presidential election in Moscow on Sunday.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

As Ukrainians cast their votes for a new president on Sunday, analysts said the election was unlikely to fully stabilize the situation in the strife-ridden nation partly because it would be in Moscow's best interest to keep its smaller neighbor mired in conflict.

"Instability in Ukraine is a very handy tool for Russia, and I do not think Moscow will give it up," Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank told The St. Petersburg Times.

Moscow's tentative acknowledgement of Sunday's snap presidential vote in Ukraine is a tactical move and not a shift toward long-term deescalation, analysts said ahead of Sunday's vote.

Last week, Russia shifted inland the troops it had previously amassed on its border with Ukraine.

The move was partially confirmed by the Pentagon, unlike previous reports of a pullout.

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the withdrawal was intended to create "favorable conditions for Ukraine's presidential vote," an apparent indication that Moscow wanted the elections to go smoothly.

He tapered his words, however, adding that "it will be very hard for us to work with people who come to power against the backdrop of a punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine."

On Friday, he said Russia was nevertheless ready to work with newly elected Ukrainian authorities.

Experts agreed that the Kremlin's softened policy was simply a reaction to the West's direct threat to ramp up economic sanctions if Russia disrupted the Ukrainian polls.

The Russian government will continue to stir up trouble in Ukraine in order to prevent the weakened country from turning to the West, analysts said.

Twenty-one candidates competed in the Ukrainian vote, but there are no pro-Russian candidates among the favorites.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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