Putin to Ukraine: We Will Accept the Legitimacy of Your Illegitimate Election

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a question during a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Investment Forum Friday, May 23, 2014.

RIA Novosti Kremlin

AA Font size + Print

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a question during a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Investment Forum Friday, May 23, 2014.

Putin sits down with Western media as Ukrainians go to the polls and troops mass in Moldova. By Patrick Tucker

Russia will accept the legitimacy of Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said in a CNBC interview on Friday.

 “I’m not kidding and I’m not being ironic,” Putin assured CNBC correspondent Geoff Cutmore. “What we want for Ukraine is peace and calm. We want this country to recover from crisis and conditions are to be created for that….It’s a sister nation and we want it to enjoy peace, order and we already cooperate with people that are in power. After the election, of course we will cooperate with the newly-elected head of state.”

But, in the same interview, Putin assailed the upcoming election as illegitimate because, at least according to the Ukrainian constitution, Viktor Yanukovch remains president. “The West supported [a] anti-constitutional coup d’état.” 

He also pointed to $3.5 billion in what Russia considers to be unpaid loans to Ukraine as a future obstacle to more normal relations. “Where is the money?” Putin asked rhetorically. “Give us our money back. You know that would create a very good environment for further discussions.”

Putin argued that the situation in Ukraine today does not provide the “proper environment” for an election, which he said was “not up to democratic standards,” because of ongoing violence. The Russian president put responsibility for ending the crisis squarely the shoulders of the government in Kiev.

“I hope that after the election all military action will stop and a national dialogue will begin….How can one engage in peaceful discussions while there are tanks shelling peaceful civilians or journalists being seized?”

The front-runner, Ukrainian billionaire and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, and other diplomatic voices from around the area, expressed skepticism that Russia would indeed cooperate with the new Ukrainian president after the election. “Russia is absolutely unpredictable,” Poroshenko said. The chocolate magnate predicted that turnout out for the election would  “for sure” rise above 50 percent, legitimizing the contest despite the turmoil in the Eastern portion of the country. A recent poll puts Poroshenko well in the lead, at above 50 percent, with his nearest rival, finance specialist Serhiy Leonidovych Tihipko, at around 9 percent.

“We as a state are undertaking enormous efforts,” to keep the election legitimate, Poroshenko told CNBC, sounding very much like a man already in charge. “Many people are risking their lives. Not only soldiers…you can imagine.  One of the members of the election commission was taken as a hostage….these people are risking their own lives just to deliver the rights to the people.”

Others from the region were similarly dubious of Putin’s assurances of better relations with a newly elected Ukrainian head of state. Igor Munteanu, Moldova’s ambassador to the United States and Canada, told Defense One “[Putin] also denied any plans as regards Crimea before, and repeatedly announced that Russian troops will be removed from the border with Ukraine, later unconfirmed by independent reports. And, it seems there is no push back on the separatists’ movement. So, let’s see first how elections will be implemented?”

Speculation has grown that the small nation of Moldova, located between Ukraine and Romania, could emerge as the next site of Russian-led violence over the breakaway area of Transnistria, where Russian troops are currently stationed. Munteanu estimated the number of Russian military in his country at 1,700 regular army primarily guarding stockpiles plus 700 peacekeepers. But he the pro-Russian militia group in the region, the so-called Transnistrian Army, is over 10,000 strong and heavily guided by Russian officers. “For instance, even their current intelligence chief is a former brigade commander of the 14 Russian Army,” he said.

“We try heavily to contest their presence in the region,” said Munteanu.

Russia recently announced moves to abandon some economic ties with the West, inking a 30-year, $400 billion dollar gas deal with China earlier this week. Munteanu said that Moldova in turn would be moving to decrease trade with Russia. He described Moldova’s dependence on Russia for gas resources as a particularly gaping vulnerability. “We import 100 percent of our gas from Russia,” he told a group at the Baltimore Council of Foreign Affairs on Thursday. By August, he said, Moldova would be importing 15 percent of its gas from Romania.

When asked if Moldova would accept the legitimacy of a Porshenko win, Munteanu answered with swift certainty. “Absolutely yes,” he told Defense One. “Mr. Poroshenko lived in Moldova and also is well-known to us. Legitimacy will be provided by Ukrainian citizens.”

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.