Group Of Seven Leaders Gather As World Tries To Determine Putin’s Next Actions

NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove told a conference in Brussels that the Russian military is behaving “much more like an adversary than a partner,” particularly concerning the breakaway Moldovan region of Trans-Dniester.

The region, writes Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor, could become a potential target for Russia as separatists in the region “have said they’d welcome union with the country, much as Russian-speaking Crimeans favored the annexation that took place last week.”

Oleg Shynkarenko, The Daily Beast, also believes that Putin may not halt at Crimea if he believes further annexations will serve to bolster his political standing.

“If we ask ourselves at the end of the day, ‘What does Putin want?’ the simplest answer would be ‘to keep 75 per cent of the Russian people behind him.’ And the only way to do that is to foster and preserve the myth of the Russians’ innate superiority. Military adventures work. So do hypnotic diatribes on television. Put the two together and we are where we are today,” he contends.

The uncertainty about Russia – and, more importantly, Putin’s – desires is one reason why today’s meeting of American and European leaders is especially critical, says Gavin Hewitt of BBC News.

“So at the meeting in The Hague the first task for President Obama will be to preserve allied unity. He will urge a stiffer response particularly against President Putin’s inner circle.

“Ultimately Russia’s weakness is its economy. European officials point out that since the crisis began the Russian stock market has fallen sharply and the value of the ruble has declined. Europe has the means to turn the screw, to isolate Russian financial institutions from the markets and to freeze assets,” he notes.

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