REUTERS

Ukrainian interest. Kremlin pirouette, meeting of two Machos, and obnoxious Trump

Russia once again uses August to strengthen its position in the international arena. The meeting of Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in St. Petersburg resulted mostly in promises rather than concrete actions. The U.S. presidential campaign saw another scandal unfolding.

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August, the period of Summer Olympics and the holiday season, traditional for the West, seems to be perceived in Moscow as a signal to start strengthening its positions. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the farce regarding the "Ukrainian saboteurs" who allegedly plotted explosions at various sites across Crimea, which is being spun by the Russian media. Through this massive information attack, the Russian government seeks to prove to the world community that Ukraine engages in terrorist activity (a really serious accusation in modern politics). Besides, Russia claimed Ukraine attempted to disrupt the “holiday season” on the Crimean peninsula.

In the heat of the counter-subversive activities, its initiators somehow forgot that they had turned Crimea into an unsinkable “aircraft carrier” of the Russian military, which has long ceased to be deemed as a favorable tourist destination. Perhaps that is why no other state or international organizations could find any evidence backing the statements of Russian officials, who also decided not to deny access of the OSCE delegation to the territory of Crimea. There are internal political reasons to inflating the terrorist threat: the Duma elections are approaching, while the recent depriving of Crimea of its "federal district" status requires a certain political backing. Kremlin provides it by scaring the people with the “Ukrainian terror”. And these developments are actually rational for the Kremlin.

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Russia has refused from participating in talks in the Normandy format, announced just a day before the resonant FSB allegations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that they could be held during the G20 summit in September, although Ukraine is not a member of the organization. Now the Kremlin will be most probably blackmailing Ukraine and the world community not so much the invasion of Russian troops (this scenario is fraught with complexities within Russia), but the resumption of the active phase of the conflict in Donbas. By far, Dmitry Medvedev announced that he did not rule out a breach of diplomatic relations with Ukraine, to which Pavlo Klimkin responded with arguments about the possible introduction of a visa regime with Russia. The situation is still developing, and Kyiv should stay alert.

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The additional factor of pressure can be a symbolic thaw in Russian-Turkish relations. Erdogan is already used to calling Putin "my friend Vladimir", but their meeting in St. Petersburg was filled more with declarations than real agreements. Neither Turkey, nor Russia risked taking political decisions as an advance for the resumption of infrastructure projects (Turkish Stream and Akkuyu nuclear station). However, the two countries are indeed interested in restoring relations, which is evidenced by the anti-Western rhetoric of both presidents, but the demeanor of Putin and Erdogan should not be discounted. Both leaders are positioning themselves as a sort of global scale Machos, but the space is too cramped for the two in the same role. Even more so, if Turkey continues with its increasingly prominent course toward strengthening the position of Islam in its social and political life.

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Meanwhile, the presidential campaign in the United States was marked by a new scandal: Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of trying to abolish the Second Amendment, which gives the right to keep and bear arms. At this, he did not rule out that some of Hillary’s opponents will try to stop their Democratic nominee. This statement proved too much even for The Donald. It should be noted that the polls more often now favor Hillary Clinton. This means that the Republican candidate will become even more challenging in his behavior. With regard to the presidential race overseas, the opinion of Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly is interesting. He is convinced that there will be no major changes in Washington's foreign policy toward Ukraine. In fact, he believes that after the presidential race, not only will the dialogue on the supply of lethal weapons be able to start, but also the work of the Commission on strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States may be resumed.

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