Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 1 July 2021
Putin’s Ukraine Complex Again Makes Itself Felt
The Russian president once again confirmed how painful it is for him to see Ukraine decide for itself and not yield to Moscow’s pressure. Addressing the nation during an annual televised call-in show, Putin came back to an old rhetoric that Ukrainians were not a separate nation, attacking the pro-Western government in Kyiv and claiming the country was “managed from the outside”.
“It is just a propaganda mantra for internal consumers in Russia”, Zelensky told journalists, commenting on Putin’s statements on Ukraine. During an annual televised call-in show on June 30, the Russian leader spared no words that must have caused outrage in Ukraine. The Ukrainian president commented on Putin’s remarks the next day in an interview with the Interfax-Ukraine press agency. One example was that Zelensky allegedly had “entrusted Ukraine to full external management” while officials in Washington, Berlin, and Paris decide on the country’s affairs. Zelensky ridiculed these claims, saying that, as the Geneva meeting has shown recently, the U.S. and Russian leaders cannot make any decisions on Ukraine in their bilateral talks. Zelensky added he would be meeting Joe Biden in Washington and Angela Merkel in Berlin in the next month. The Ukrainian president also referred to Putin’s claim that Russians and Ukrainians “are the same people.” “If Ukrainians and Russians were one people, then hryvnia, most likely, would circulate in Moscow, and a yellow-blue flag would fly over the State Duma,” Zelensky was quoted as saying. In turn, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Putin’s claims on “external management” mean just one: the Russian leader wishes Russian officials would decide on Ukrainian affairs in Moscow. During the call-in show, Putin mentioned an incident involving the HMS Defender, a Royal Navy destroyer that approached territorial waters off Crimea on June 23. The Russian leader said there was some evidence that outside countries “exploited the Ukrainian territory militarily.” He said this was a provocative action. Issues related to Ukraine were probably the most discussed ones during the show of other foreign-related topics though domestic matters dominated the call-in program. This confirms that Putin cannot accept Russia has lost control of Ukraine and treats the whole matter ambitiously. Nor will he lay down his arms––there will probably be more tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, with the latter’s further war threats.
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