In his strongest message yet to Ukraine, the EU, and US, Putin says Russia ready to act in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of his readiness to deploy troops in eastern Ukraine if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the escalating crisis there.

The threat came as foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, the US and EU were meeting in Geneva to find ways to ease the tension.

Speaking in a live television phone-in hours after the first deadly clash between pro-Russia protesters in the eastern region and Kiev’s security forces, Mr Putin said he hoped for a political resolution to the crisis but warned that the campaign for Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election was “being run in an absolutely unacceptable way”.

“The Federation Council granted the president the right to use military force in Ukraine,” he said in response to one of 2m questions submitted to him. “I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that we are able to solve all of today’s pressing issues with political and diplomatic means.”

But he added: “If everything continues like this, then of course we cannot recognise as legitimate what is happening and what will happen after May 25.”

Mr Putin called on Kiev to withdraw its forces from southeastern Ukraine and engage in dialogue on the country’s future with pro-Russia protesters in the region.

Mr Putin signalled that he might be ready for a pragmatic solution. Despite repeating Moscow’s scathing rejection of Ukraine’s interim government as illegitimate, he said: “We need to come to agreement with those who view themselves as the authorities in Ukraine. But they need to behave reasonably.”

US President Barack Obama said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr Putin was supporting “at minimum, non-state militias” in Ukraine.

Obama’s Hypocrisy 

Two wrongs don’t make a right but it’s certainly fair to point out the “US is supporting, at minimum, non-state militias in Syria“. How many other places?

We only like intervention when we do it.

Assuming one believes that Russia is indeed directly supporting militias in Ukraine (something that is arguably debatable), at least Russia has a vested interest given that it borders Ukraine.

Russia fears US missiles and military buildups in Eastern Europe, as well it should. After all, the US did renege on promises not to expand NATO into Eastern Europe.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock