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A police officer escorts a wounded participant of an anti-war rally during clashes with pro-Russian demonstrators in Donetsk March 13, 2014. One person was killed and several were treated for injuries in hospital on Thursday when hundreds of Ukrainian demonstrators clashed in the eastern city of Donetsk, the local health authority said. (Stringer/Reuters)
Indeed, on the pretext of humanitarian intervention to defend “oppressed” Russian-speakers in Crimea, Putin’s shadowy troops without insignia roam the region. They are blocking Ukrainian military installations, though there is no evidence of any abuse from the Ukrainians.
This is the key to understanding the Russian mind: We are a hypothetical culture. Ruled by despots for most of our history, we are used to living in fiction rather than reality.
The enduring myth of a caring and benevolent czar — be it Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great or Joseph Stalin — who punishes his subjects for their own good and the good of the nation, helps explain the current Russian support for Putin and his actions in Ukraine. Putin’s approval rating now stands at almost 70 percent.
To withstand constant oppression, the Russian people have learned to justify it. The easiest approach is to accept the Kremlin stance that the state, whether czarist or Soviet, always comes first. Individual hard work and international competition in gross domestic product numbers or quality of life are far less significant than the belief that the government is seeking to secure Russia as a glorious nation that is both feared and respected.
Putin’s indiscriminate jailing of those who speak out against the Kremlin control, his clamping down on any remnants of free press in Russia and his promotion of a dictatorship of order over transparent laws are declared necessary given the grandiosity of his agenda.
It is for Russia’s greater glory that many people seem ready to accept individual debasement. With us, progress is rarely considered a means of improving daily lives. It is more about helping the state prove itself superior to everyone else.
This is why so many Muscovites support Putin’s “Ukrainian policy” – despite the pending international sanctions against the Kremlin elite and the Russian economy’s current nose dive. Consider, since the start of the Crimean crisis, that the ruble has fallen more than 2 percent against the dollar
Senators will call for blocking assets and revoking visas of officials responsible for disrupting Ukraine’s sovereignty and those who perpetrated “gross human rights abuses” against anti-government protesters in the eastern European country.
The 10-page bill drafted by top senators from both parties, which has not been publicly released, was obtained by POLITICO on Wednesday morning. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to mark up the legislation later Wednesday.
The package combines assistance to Ukraine, as well as sanctions against officials responsible for the “violence or undermining the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to the legislation.
Also among the people who would be sanctioned are Russian officials determined to be responsible for “ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing acts of significant corruption in Ukraine.”
It also includes the changes to the International Monetary Fund called for by the Obama administration and Democrats – a move that is opposed by some congressional Republicans.
The legislation is still in draft form and could be changed before the committee vote. It’s far more comprehensive than the legislation that cleared the House last week, which simply provided loan guarantees for Ukraine.