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Andrey Kortunov

Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

The Kerch Strait was a perfect place for escalating the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. There are no ‘red lines’ in the Sea of Azov, no OSCE monitoring missions, no entranced and fortified defense infrastructure like in Donbas. It was also a win-win situation for the Kyiv leadership. In case the Ukrainian vessels had been let passing through Russian territorial waters without hindrance , President Poroshenko would have claimed announced a major political victory over President Putin. In case of Russia’s military reaction, Kyiv could have accused the Kremlin of an aggression. As we know, the latter happened.

The Kerch Strait was a perfect place for escalating the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. There are no ‘red lines’ in the Sea of Azov, no OSCE monitoring missions, no entranced and fortified defense infrastructure like in Donbas. It was also a win-win situation for the Kyiv leadership. In case the Ukrainian vessels had been let passing through Russian territorial waters without hindrance , President Poroshenko would have claimed announced a major political victory over President Putin. In case of Russia’s military reaction, Kyiv could have accused the Kremlin of an aggression. As we know, the latter happened.

However, many in the West and in Ukraine itself suspect the Ukrainian president of having tried to provoke this clash in order to boost his personal political positions in view of the forthcoming presidential elections. It took him a lot of effort to push the martial law through the parliament, and the political opposition was able to introduce a number of important amendments to the bill. The US and the EU reactions were relatively moderate, no immediate new sanctions against Russia are likely to be introduced. A lot will now depend on whether Ukraine has an appetite for any further escalation or not.

Source: Vision & Global Trends.

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