When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


For Russia, It's Washington Still Playing Cold War Politics

Kerry has been talking tough
Kerry has been talking tough
Kirill Belyaninov and Galina Dudina

MOSCOW — The U.S. government seems to believe that Russia has already established “complete operational control of the Crimean Peninsula.”

American intelligence sources have cited no fewer than 6,000 Russian soldiers who were used to achieve this goal. (In a press conference Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied his country’s troops were currently occupying Crimea, or that Moscow had any plans to annex it.)

A U.S. State Department representative confirmed that Washington has been given the authority to act against Russia by all members of the “Group of Seven” — G8 minus Russia — and all of the members of NATO.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel held a series of telephone conversations last weekend with European leaders aimed at getting their support for pressure against Russia. The result was a joint announcement by all of the G7 members and the leaders of the European Union announcing that they would stop preparations for the summer G8 summit that had been planned in Sochi.

The only person who spoke out against a possible exclusion of Russia from the G8 was German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who followed up on Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal of creating an investigation of the Crimean situation under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Anticipating the Kremlin’s reaction to what is being seen here as an ultimatum, the U.S. has moved quickly from words to actions. Washington canceled the visit of an American trade delegation to Moscow and refused to accept a trade delegation from Moscow that was supposed to discuss an energy partnership. On Tuesday, Washington also indicated plans for a $1 billion economic aid package for the new government in Kiev, as Kerry said that Russia was "creating pretext" for an invasion of Ukraine.

Incredibly moving visit to Shrine of the Fallen.Courageous,proud people.We stand w/ Ukrainians for self-determination pic.twitter.com/N6klo1LanK

— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 4, 2014

In addition, Congress is expected to vote on expanding the so-called “Magnitsky List,” a U.S. black list of sorts, to include any Russian officials who participated in the decision for military intervention in Ukraine. “Now we’re re-evaluating all agreements on economic and trade partnerships with Russia,” said the State Department representative, adding that all of the NATO countries were prepared to implement visa and economic sanctions.

In solidarity with the United States, 28 countries released a statement condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine and calling on Russia to “reduce the tension level.” The European Union went one step further and threatened to freeze negotiations regarding the simplification of the visa regime between Russia and the European Union.

But for the moment, these threats of sanctions are little more than an annoyance for Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the West’s decision to stop preparations for the G8 in Sochi “politically counterproductive” and “not motivated by anything.” They also had harsh words for John Kerry and his threats of excluding Russia from the G8 and starting economic sanctions on Russia.

“The Secretary of State is operating as if it were the Cold War, and trying to punish not those who had perpetrated a coup d’étatin Kiev but the Russian Federation.”

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest