Peter Zalmayev: Russia trying to keep Ukraine from drifting closer to Europe

NEWS 05.04.2021 14:23
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Source: N1

Russia is trying to use the breakaway republics in Ukraine to keep the country from moving closer towards the EU, but also to divert attention from internal issues, the director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative, Peter Zalmayev, told N1.

“There are a lot of problems Vladimir Putin is facing at home. The standards of living have continued to decline, he’s facing another round of sanctions from the Americans, Alexey Navalny is stirring up trouble again, while in prison – he went on a hunger strike and he called for a new wave of protests around the country,” Zalmayev listed.

So Ukraine is, once again, being used to divert attention from this, he argued.

“The Russians are claiming that the Ukrainians are making all sorts of violations, that's not the case,” he said, adding that the OSCE in the country has also denied this.

He said that “there have been more than 500 provocations just in the month of March” and that the vast majority, some 90 percent of them, “came from Russia.”

“This is clearly a tactic to try to intimidate the Ukrainians into concessions,” he said, explaining that Putin is trying to use the breakaway republics in Ukraine to prevent the country from drifting closer to Europe.

He also commented on the issue of the 300-year-old gilded icon which Bosnia’s Presidency member from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Milorad Dodik, had gifted to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.

According to Ukrainian institutions, the icon is part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage and was likely stolen. Russia meanwhile returned the artifact to Bosnia.

The issue “caused a minor scandal” in Ukraine and the government is asking for it to be returned, Zalmayev said.

“It just goes to show, that’s just how the Kremlin operates,” he said, adding that he suspects the scandal was created on purpose to serve as another distraction.
The full interview can be seen in the video above.

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