When Crimea’s new premier traveled down the Black Sea coast for unscheduled talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi this month, he was accompanied by a man described by one Kremlin insider as Russia’s George Soros.
As Europe takes the lead in trying to end the bloodshed in the Ukrainian capital, Vladimir Putin is running out of options to shape events in a country that he sees as firmly within Russia’s sphere of influence.
Western leaders from President Barack Obama to Chancellor Angela Merkel are telling Russia not to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty. Vladimir Putin’s response as he prepares for military conflict: What about ours?
Western leaders are counting on the threat of wide-ranging sanctions to make Vladimir Putin pause for breath after swallowing Crimea. If they can’t, the Russian president may opt to move deeper into Ukraine.
Russia cast doubt that Ukraine may soon join its customs bloc, a plan that has sparked the ex- Soviet republic’s biggest protests in almost a decade and fueled calls for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign.