Bad news hit the Kremlin thick and fast last week, but on Friday evening (August 1), President Vladimir Putin answered a phone call from US President Barack Obama, who again stressed that the Kremlin’s mounting problems can be resolved diplomatically (whitehouse.gov, August 1). Putin’s personal responsibility for the war in eastern Ukraine is apparently no longer up for discussion. Meanwhile, the West—after having vigorously mobilized a political effort to enforce far tougher sanctions than Moscow had budgeted for—is seemingly granting him an “honorable” way out. In Washington, and even more so in Berlin, there is understandable reluctance to heighten Putin’s desperation and to push him into a corner where further domestic mobilization against the “hostile” North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would be his only choice (Gazeta.ru, July 28). And yet, risk remains that Putin may be interpreting every offer for a compromise solution as a sign of weakness or as a trap aimed at undermining his credibility. Therefore, Obama did not hide his doubts about his irrationally thinking counterpart’s response to the West’s diplomatic message (RIA Novosti, August 1).
More in Eurasia Daily Monitor, 4 August 2014