Putin at a crossroads? Hmm…

Russian President Putin left the G20 summit early. British PM Cameron e. g. said that he thinks President Putin can see he is at a crossroads regarding Ukraine. But on the other hand not tougher sanctions against Russian are expected. So it seems it is simply a continuing stalemate. What’s your view on situation?

Patricia Herlihy, Professor Emerita, History, Adjunct Professor, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University

What you say is true, that is, in the sense that Cameron did say what you report. But he also mentioned more sanctions and so did Obama. That is not to say that I think that sanctions will be forthcoming unless the war in Eastern Ukraine escalates, as it appears it might with the latest Russian supplies of men and material.

I do not agree with Cameron that Putin realizes he is at a crossroads. In my view, he will continue to put pressure on Ukraine one way or another and is not about to back down, sanctions or no sanctions.

Stephen BittnerProfessor of History, Sonoma State University

I don’t think Putin left Brisbane because of the threat or non-threat of further sanctions. Putin left because he’s not well-liked among world leaders–chiefly because of the situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea–and because he grew weary of their chastisements. This is an unusual situation for him, far different from home. There he is feted as a man of the people, a lover of nature, the great protector of Russia. His domestic critics–Russia’s most threatened minority–find themselves harassed or worse. It is important for Russians to see how their leader is received outside of Russia. Perhaps then they will ask why the outside world sees Putin differently, and whether Russians’ image of Putin is distorted by the state-controlled media.

Emilian KavalskiAssociate Professor of Global Studies, Institute for Social Justice. Australian Catholic University

I do share your sentiment about the stalemate with Russia – indeed, the G20 at Brisbane wasn’t short on robust rhetoric (the statement by the Canadian PM Harper on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was probably one of the strongest to have come thus far), but such rhetoric is yet to produce a more tangible policy-action. While there are many reasons for such a stalemate, one needs to acknowledge that at least in the present context, Ukraine is not really the central concern for the G20 (and not only). In this respect, no one seems willing to push for change in the current situation as the current scenario seems to offer short-term benefits to almost all parties involved.

Benjamin Reilly, Professor, Dean, School of Public Policy and International Affairs, Murdoch University

I think the G20 summit was quite uncomfortable for Putin. He left early while other leaders were still having lunch and also came under consistent pressure while he was there.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reacted to an offer of a handshake from Mr Putin by responding: “I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”


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