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Putin says he accepts to negotiate, but that his interests are non-negotiable


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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday (23) that he is willing to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the crisis with the West, as long as the “interests and security” of his country are respected. For him, “non-negotiable”.

“He says that because we’re holding up well,” says counter clerk Alexei [nome fictício], 28, after listening to Putin’s speech on a state TV video on his cell phone. The president celebrated, with a recorded message, the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland.

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Nemerov works on a symbol of this Russian resilience to economic sanctions, which have been increased for the umpteenth time by President Joe Biden, European leaders and even Japan and Australia over Putin’s decision to recognize the self-proclaimed Russian breakaway republics of eastern Ukraine.

It’s the ubiquitous Keks hipster bakery chain with 14 branches in Rostov-on-Don, the region’s capital that adjoins the rebellious areas to the west. It grew in the wake of the first Western sanctions in 2014, when Putin intervened in Ukraine’s westernization process by annexing Crimea and fomenting civil war in the east.

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“It was a very bad time, there were a lot of people coming here, and many here have relatives in Donetsk and Lugansk,” he says. Today, he still hasn’t seen any of the 60,000 refugees from Donbass. In any case, from then on, French cheese and other European products were no longer found on the Russian market, and local traders began to encourage local production.

Thus, the croissant with Russian Pacific salmon and Krasnodar cream cheese (R$30, as if it were on a street in Pinheiros, São Paulo) by Keks is the famous national product.

The extent of Biden’s proposed damage remains to be seen, particularly over what he said would be a stranglehold on long-term financing of Russian debt, with a ban on trading the country’s bonds on the secondary market for US traders.

For now, Putin maintains the initiative in the crisis, which he started with the deployment of perhaps 150,000 troops around Ukraine since November. In addition to wanting to resolve the status of the Russian-speaking areas of the east, which have 800,000 of its nearly 4 million inhabitants with Moscow passports, the president has laid his menu of demands before the United States.

The central ones: veto Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and other ex-Soviet countries in NATO (western military alliance) and, presumably, in the European Union; withdraw offensive forces in the 14 countries that have already been incorporated; negotiate security issues such as missile placement and transparency of war maneuvers.

Only the last topic was accepted by Biden and NATO, predictably, leading to the current impasse.

In the speech, Putin kept the tone of defiance mixed with openness, aiming to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky, who on Tuesday night (22) had done the same: promising to negotiate and at the same time mobilizing the population to the risk of an invasion. russian.

“Our country is always open to an open and honest dialogue to find diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems. Nevertheless, the interests and security of our citizens are non-negotiable,” he said.

In addition, Putin maintained the militaristic chant, noting that “we will continue to develop advanced defense systems, including the hypersonic type and based on new physical principles, and we will expand the use of digital technologies and artificial intelligence”.

“These are the weapons of the future,” he said, with good reason. Today, the Russian arsenal of hypersonic missiles (which fly at more than five times the speed of sound) is the most available in the world. China is well ahead in testing but lacks operating systems, and the US is far behind in the race.

Putin’s speech comes on one of the sacred holidays in the calendar of dates relating to the Soviet victory in World War II, which in Russia is called the Great Patriotic War and began with the Nazi invasion of the then-Allied Communists in 1941, two years later. from its beginnings in Europe.

The president rewrote this history in order to accommodate the aberrations of the Soviet dictatorship with the undeniable heroism of a people who lost 27 million people, almost 40% of the total fallen in the world, in the conflict. He did so with apparent success: for the young counter clerk, the war “made Russia what it is.”

He, however, is skeptical about the need for more bloodshed. He believes Putin will limit his action in the Donbass, not try to conquer Kiev as Western leaders trumpet every day. There is logic in this reasoning, but it depends on several factors: first, what the president really wants. Second, whether he will militarize Donbass, as seems predictable, up to what border.

If it is within the current ones, even the European Union has already signaled that life is like that. If he wants to recover the historic borders of the two Ukrainian provinces, he will have to eat territory today in Kiev’s hands. There, the invasion in fact becomes a legal action, violating the international in the case in a more atrocious way.

Putin, however, counts on the Western inappetence so far to go beyond economic sanctions. Perhaps fortunately, given that a war in which both sides have nuclear weapons is never a good idea, least of all for Ukraine.

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