Monday, November 24, 2014


The Power Vertical

Slobodan's Ghost

Similar tactics. Similar myths. Similar futures?
Similar tactics. Similar myths. Similar futures?

There's a specter haunting Vladimir Putin -- the specter of Slobodan Milosevic.

As the Ukraine crisis has unfolded, it has become fashionable -- and even a bit of a fetish -- to compare the Kremlin leader to the late Serbian dictator.

Writing recently in "The New Republic," Vera Mironova and Maria Snegovaya noted how Milosevic and Putin "fueled intense nationalism...against Croats and Ukrainians through mass media propaganda" and how each "empowered the uprising of ethnic minorities."

Both also used the pretext of protecting minorities to "engage the military" and "established self-proclaimed, semi-independent republics in both Croatia and Ukraine" that were under the de facto control of Belgrade and Moscow respectively.

"But the resemblance between Putin and Milosevic’s cases is more than just a similarity in tactics -- it embraces the fundamental myths and historical clashes between Serbs and Croats, and Russians and Ukrainians," they wrote.

And it isn't just Putin's critics who are dredging up the Milosevic comparisons. So are his erstwhile allies -- as a cautionary tale.

Angry about the Kremlin's apparent decision not to use overt military force in eastern Ukraine to support pro-Moscow militants, separatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, recently warned Putin against "an irreversible step down 'Milosevic's path.'"

Writing on his VKontakte page, Girkin went on to explain that Putin's apparent abandonment of armed groups seeking to form "Novorossia," or "New Russia," in Ukraine, resembled Milosevic's "surrendering" of paramilitaries fighting for a "Greater Serbia" in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in the 1990s.

Milosevic, Girkin wrote, "was later finished off in Kosovo, and finally 'expired' naturally, and tellingly, in The Hague."

The subtext, of course, was that if nationalists turned against Putin over his "betrayal" in Donbas, he would be dangerously vulnerable at home.

LIkewise, the nationalist Mikhail Kalashnikov recently argued that “the Kremlin has lost control over the process” in eastern Ukraine and that as a result, “the uprising in the Donbas could turn into an uprising in Russia."

The meme of the potential for an angry backlash against the Kremlin from jilted nationalists has also been picked up by the mainstream Russian media.

"The Russian authorities have learned how to suppress liberal protests but they are far worse at coping with nationalist and left-wing protests when they are confronted by resolute, desperate people who are prepared for a strong-arm confrontation," the daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" wrote in a July 11 editorial. 

"The state has not resolved the migration question and this means that Kondopoga, Manezh Square, or Biryulevo could be repeated at any moment.... The Kremlin has absolutely no interest in a left-wing or nationalist protest in Russia being headed by experienced militants."

So how relevant is the Milosevic experience to Putin's fate?

A couple things here. First, the line between Milosevic's abandonment of the "Greater Serbia" project and his fall from power was not a direct one.

Nearly four years passed from the signing of the Dayton Accords, which ended hostilities in Bosnia in December 1995, until Milosevic's fall in October 1999 -- a period in which he weathered the loss of nationalist support, a series of noisy street protests in Belgrade, another war, in Kosovo, and a NATO bombing campaign.

And second, when Milosevic finally went down it was by no means preordained.

Pro-Western liberals and student activists were the most visible participants in the massive demonstrations that followed the flawed 1999 presidential election, and those demonstrations certainly played a role in the Serbian strongman's downfall.

But the death blow was actually dealt behind the scenes and away from the crowds, in the back seat of a Mercedes SUV cruising Belgrade's backstreets.

It was there, according to media reports, where Milorad Lukovic, one of Milosevic's most brutal henchmen, cut a deal with opposition leader Zoran Djindjic, the German-educated darling of the liberals who would later go on to serve as prime minister until his assassination in 2003.

Milosevic had ordered the paramilitary police unit Lukovic commanded, the Red Berets, to open fire on the demonstrators swarming Belgrade's streets and squares. Djindjic reportedly convinced him not to do so, persuading him that Milosevic was finished.

"The hidden power structures in Serbia understood that they could not go any further with Milosevic, so they gave him up, but they wanted certain payoffs," Bratislav Grubacic, a Belgrade-based political analyst, told me back in 2003.

So in the end, it was a combination of a liberal uprising, nationalist disillusionment, and security-service disloyalty that ended the Milosevic era.

Putin could go the same way sometime in the future. But it is just as easy to imagine him hanging on to power -- provided the elite and the security services remain loyal.

And provided he's willing to spill blood.

A 260-page report issued earlier this month  -- edited by Kirill Rogov and titled "The Crisis and Transformation of Russian Electoral Authoritarianism" -- argues that the Ukraine crisis was "beyond doubt" a turning point in Russian history. (A big h/t to Paul Goble for flagging it.)

The report's authors argue that “the level of political repressions will only grow,” become more intense, and increasingly become “an inseparable part” of “the political culture” of the Putin regime.

The true Milosevic scenario for Putin could, in fact, turn out to be one in which he managed to hang on to power -- and became even more brutal.

-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: Vladimir Putin,Power Vertical blog,Slobodan Milosevic

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by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 14, 2014 18:28
VIDEO: Russia to reestablish its military base in Cuba - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEh1SirQf2Y
In Response

by: Bill
July 16, 2014 07:56
Dishonest journalism on the part of Whitmore. No surprise to see him and his employer coverup the hypocritical bigotry behind that historically challenged New Republic article.

by: Idrian from: Surrey
July 14, 2014 18:46
This gives the opposition all the more responsibility and necessity to survive and thrive and create a better post-Putin alternative.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 15, 2014 10:37
"A post-Putin alternative" :-)). It's like in Syria where the US and the "opposition" organized a "post-Baschar al-Assad alternative" :-)).
In Response

by: Not a Kremlin apologist
July 16, 2014 06:25
Eugene, you really don't have the ability to contribute to a conversation, do you? What kind of a comment is that? It's just plain rubbish speak. This article is not about the US or Syria, and no one is interested in reading your deflective-debate ideas where you bring up the subject of something irrelevant to what is being discussed.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 16, 2014 07:12
Not a Kremlin apologist, if you dislike plain rubbish speak, what are you doing on this web-site? You will not find anything other than that here.
And then, why not give your smart advice on cutting rubbish speak to such "people" as Hillary, Tony Blair or George W Obama - plain rubbish speak is the only thing one hears from those losers.
So, reflect on all those issues before you waste people's time the next time you post something. And if you are not interested - then get out here, go back to your native Detroit to look for food in the garbage.

by: Anonymous
July 14, 2014 22:37
Maybe you should call your column the powder vertical?
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 15, 2014 22:15
Good , this is good !

by: Jack from: US
July 14, 2014 23:05
Brien Whitmore, wisely forgot to mention under Putin Russian economy grew 20 times (i.e. 2000%), and under Putin it continues to grow even under sanctions, while US economy under "democratically selected" B.Hussein Obama contracted at 2.9% annual rate in 2014. It looks like evil Putin has all the reason to laugh: he is winning in Syria, he is winning in Ukraine, he is winning in Europe
In Response

by: Milosevic from: Baltimore
July 15, 2014 08:37
I'm afraid that Mr. Brian Whitmore had a wrong comparison and many wrong conclusion about Mr. Milosevic too. Mr. Milosevic is not responsible fir the war in firmer Yugoslavia. War has been planned, created and managed by Western countries begin of 1974. Milosevic get in power 1990, I new that a civil war in Yugoslavia is going to happen already 1986.
In Response

by: Brian Whitmore from: Prague
July 15, 2014 13:38
Holy cow! Keep on commenting "Jack" from US, "Milosevic" from Baltimore, and "Eugenio" from Vienna! With critics like you all, who needs supporters! Yikes! Is this the best the Главное управление троллей can come up with?
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 15, 2014 15:37
The comment of Milosevic made me go to look for some additional info and here is what I found in Youtube: an interview of Marshall Tito filmed in 1978 (!!!) in which he talks about the danger of seeing Yugoslavia desintegrated after his would-be death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cCxrBkzoak
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 15, 2014 22:23
Remember that in a first time
Milosevic was "the good boy" that USA need
in this corner of world

And than , only than .....

Remember that during the Dayton Accords
Milosevich was defined by the international community
and by the U.S. administration
as a "man bearer of peace "

And than, than only .....
In Response

by: Bill
July 16, 2014 07:58
Holy cow Whitmore, you're llike empty calories.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Losd Angeles
July 17, 2014 20:56
1947 - Stalin under house arrest by "Stervyatnik",
because he vas indignant when learned Russia
plagiarize us all and to prevent CIS restoration.
"Stervyatnik" offered USA and British plagiarize all of us,
including me, I and my mother were sentenced to death.
_______________________________________________
1949 - "Stervyatnik" reversed CIS restoration, started influx,
overturned E. Europe governments, in Poland three times.
Churchill and USA confirmed "Cold War" was on.
Queen Mother wasn't please.
_______________________________________________
1953 - Stalin killed, "Stervyatnik" re-shifted ruling apparatus.
1954 - "Stervyatnik" lured into plot to resurrect empires the
Queen Mother and "Bechtel", receiving Bechtel’s blueprints
and technical assistance - build for Ru-"Stervyatnik"
Nazi arsenal of many small A-bombs - to use in republics that
would resist grab by Russian genocidal breeders.
(pro-Russians on this Forum, like Eugenio, might be there too)
___________________________________________
1955 - secret killings of 150,000, mainly Georgians, by
"Stervyatnik" - to be sure no word about the "secret pact"
to destroy non-Russian nations, restore empires, divide Europe with Germany-Austria and the World with British.
1956 - Khrushchev started lie about Stalin, first use of USSR
army to provoke and crush Hungary, E. Europe, Georgia
Civil protests.
"Stervyatnik" and British move into USA armies of "experts"
to find "Stalinist agents" (just people of non-Russian extraction)
and destroy them - effectively taking control of brainwashing
and destroying USA minds by inserts of British and Russian
imperial spies, homosexuals, degenerates and clipping female
parts sadomasochists.
Turned into hundreds of trillions of dollars, plagiarized property
corrupted the World ruling races and classes.
Up to hundred trillions from my brake-through alone...
Rule of Antichrist began since 1947, becoming apparent...
Russia bring hundreds thousands of slave prostitutes to USA...
Russia expanding again, USA deteriorating...
____________________________________________
1954-56 pact continuation also demanded many nations
agree with new Imperial World of "Stervyatnik" and his
Cousins, that included Arabs, Serbians and many others.
The refusing or ignored nations would be exterminated.
Some like Georgians and Ukrainians didn't follow orders,
"Stervyatnik" destroying them - pay for resistance.
USA trying to help - "Stervyatnik" hate USA!
Arabs and Serbs went alone - pay for non-resistance.
Serbians and Russians were ordered train Special force
instructors by Germans and British, to bestialize and mortify
populations.
Serbs had look evil, to prove that Nazi Germany was not so bad, do not offer Yugoslavia CIS and challenge "Mashtrih",
let Germany-Austria take over most of Yugoslavia.
________________________________________________
Milosovich tried explain it in EU court - they silenced him and
murdered by NLW devices and Lemurs - they mocked his
health complains - so he would be squashed in small space
of murdering sell.
_____________________________________________
Serbia lost its industries and economy - UGO bombed by
order of Germans of S. California and Germany-Austria.
ONE PAY IF HE STANDS - ANOTHER PAY IF CRAWLS.
___________________________________________
Putin is part of the "Srtervyatnik" plot, but sometime he
hold his horses and reminded who is the boss:
"Nash Ataman nas na babu promenyal!"
World can remind him and his "Stervyatnik" too,
if USA is not totally under voodoo spell...

by: Throwdown
July 15, 2014 07:50
Actually, this article looks quite one-sided, also because the two figures cannot be compared either now or never, as the two situations (former Yugoslavia - Ukraine) are dramatically different. Clashes between croats and serbs (I personally do not consider bosnians, whilst the sultanate was a mere invention to justify economical and strategical help to mujaheddin needed then in Cecenia and other "ad hoc" war scenarios) always existed, and cultural differences among them were always strong and kept united only by the personality of the Marshal, whilst can we tell the same about Russians and Ukrainians (otherwise in West part of the Country, where actually for a long time they didn't consider themselves Ukrainians either)? I generally appreciate the contents and the general framework of the website, but I guess that "to promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established" is to provide exactly news and not to spread and push on propagandistic views...in my humile opinion, of course...then, both situations can't be relegated to few lines or quotes, but could/should take several years of discussions and debates.

ps: sorry for being so long-winded! :)
In Response

by: Simon from: Belgrade, Serbia
July 16, 2014 13:58
Please, take it easy.
This article is pure propaganda, not just one-sided.
Name RADIO FREE EUROPE is total failure as there is no freedom in reporting at all.
In Response

by: throwdown
July 19, 2014 12:03
…yep, I wanted just to understand which was the spirit here…the most crap I heard about Serbs being "evil" is the same crap I must hear now on Russians and Putin…I see US gov and EU have a desire to mess up with historical places for slavian though, Kosovo for Serbs (…just to be clear, to me NO INDEPENDENT KOSOVO EXISTS, it was, is and always will be Srbjia) and Ukraine for Russians…almost funny, if it didn't mean they are playing with the lives of million people...

by: rkka from: usa
July 15, 2014 09:23
"There's a specter haunting Vladimir Putin -- the specter of Slobodan Milosevic."

Um, Brian, you misspelled "Poroshenko", who after all is the one directing the aerial and artillery bombardment of cities, something no court proved Milosevich ever did..
In Response

by: Sam
July 17, 2014 03:48
A superior piece:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/twisted-history-against-russia-and-serbia/5390154

by: Milosevic from: Baltimore
July 15, 2014 13:24
I'm afraid that we have so many 'expert' today like Mr . -- Brian Whitmore which creates their conclusion based on wrong comparison.
In Response

by: Bill
July 16, 2014 07:59
He's a paid hack, much like how his favorite RFe/RL Podcast guests are prone to carrying on.

by: Sey from: World
July 15, 2014 15:04
This is getting ridiculous already. Media has become so powerless at seeking to destabilize and attack governments their owners can't stand they get a hold of the silliest and lamest stories lately...

I'll have to count just how many articles I've read throughout the course of the past 15 years heralding the imminent fall of the Putin regime.

They said Putin'd fall when the war in Chechnya broke out and that submarine sunk, then when the Moscow attacks and the Beslan tragedy took place, then when the war with Georgia was all the rage, then with the 2012 election protests, and now with the Crimea issue. And he didn't fell, and what's more... he grew more powerful everytime.

And now they are liking him to Milosevic when the situation in Russia today and the Balkans in the 1990s has got nothing to do with each other mind the fact both involved Slavs.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 15, 2014 19:36
Guys, while you were comparing Putin to Slobodan, Russia, China, India, Brasil and S. Africa at their summit in Brasil created a bank of their own which will challenge the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF, WB). If you were not so busy with empty talk, you would have reported on this event yourselves, given that the event is likely to influence international finance significantly.
VIDEO: BRICS new joint bank to influence global development - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmmbfZDYwZg

by: Anonymous
July 15, 2014 22:14
Really
more i read what is written in this article
more i think that the real Milosevich in this situation
is Ukrainian Poroshenko .
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The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

19:16 November 21, 2014

POWER VERTICAL PODCAST: A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

09:14 November 21, 2014
09:11 November 21, 2014

AND AS TENSIONS RISE IN THE BALTICS...

09:09 November 21, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINE MARKS START OF EUROMAIDAN PROTESTS WITH NEW HOLIDAY
By RFE/RL
Ukrainians are marking a new national holiday on November 21 -- the anniversary of the start of Kyiv’s Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of the country’s former pro-Kremlin regime.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed decree on November 13 that declared the holiday for annual “Day of Dignity and Freedom” celebrations.
The protests began with a few hundred people who met spontaneously on a vast square in central Kyiv of November 21, 2013 – disappointed by then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a landmark deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
After that first night, as the protests quickly swelled to tens of thousands of demonstrators, brutal police efforts to disperse the crowds with batons and teargas backfired.
As the crowds got bigger, the protesters began to call for Yanukovych’s ouster – which came in February 2014 after more than 100 people were killed in clashes with police that failed to end the demonstrations.

BIDEN TO MEET UKRAINIAN LEADERS, ANNOUNCE NONLETHAL U.S. AID
By RFE/RL
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was expected to announce an increase in nonlethal U.S. military assistance to Ukraine on November 21 as he meets in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The talks come on the first anniversary of the start of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that toppled Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin regime.
As Biden arrived in Kyiv on the evening of November 20, U.S. officials told reporters that he will announce the delivery of Humvee transport vehicles that are now in the Pentagon’s inventory of excess supplies.
They said Biden also would announce the delivery of previously promised radar units that can detect the location of enemy mortars.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not specify a dollar value for the assistance. 
Russia on November 20 warned the United States not to supply weapons to Ukrainian forces.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the (U.S.) administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine. 
He was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, who told a congressional hearing on November 19 that lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at."
The U.S. State Department's Director of Press Relations Jeffrey Rathke on November 20 told reporters that "our position on lethal aid hasn't changed. Nothing is off the table and we continue to believe there's no military solution."
He added, "But, in light of Russia's actions as the nominee mentioned [on November 19] in his testimony, as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at."
The aid expected to be announced by Biden on November 20 falls short of what the Ukrainian president requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid - a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.
In September, Washington promised Ukraine $53 million in aid for military gear that includes the mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats, and other nonlethal equipment for Ukrainian security forces and border guards in the east.
The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.
(With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and TASS)

RUSSIAN OLYMPIAN CHARGED WITH SPOUSAL ABUSE IN UNITED STATES
Russian Olympian hockey player Slava Voynov – who plays with the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team – has been charged with felony domestic violence against his wife.
Voynov faces one felony count of spouse abuse with a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. If convicted, he also could be deported.
Prosecutors say Voynov “caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, check, and neck” during an argument at their home in October.
Voynov has been suspended from the NHL since his arrest early on October 20 at a California hospital where he took his wife for treatment.
Voynov’s attorney, Craig Renetzky, says his client didn’t hit his wife.
Renetzky blames the charges on a misunderstanding between police and Voynov’s wife, who speaks very little English.
Voynov – who played on Russia’s team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- faces arraignment on December 1.
(Based on reporting by AP and Reuters)

NATO: RUSSIAN ACTIVITY IN BALTICS POSES RISK
NATO says Russia's growing military presence in the skies above the Baltic region is unjustified and poses a risk to civil aviation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Tallinn on November 20 that the aircraft regularly fail to file flight plans or communicate with air controllers and also fly with their transponders off.
Speaking at the Amari air base, he said alliance fighters have intercepted planes more than 100 times in the Baltic region alone so far this year, a threefold increase over 2013. 
He did not say how many of the intercepted aircraft were Russian.
Stoltenberg also said that, overall, NATO aircraft have conducted 400 intercepts to protect the airspace of its European alliance members in 2014 -- an increase of 50 percent over last year.
(Based on reporting by AP and AFP)

 

16:55 November 19, 2014

MORE ON THE SOURCES OF RUSSIAN ANTI-AMERICANISM

Konstantin Eggert has a commentary in "Kommersant" on Russia's anti-Americanism. He opens like this:

"Sometimes I have this feeling that there are only two countries in the world - Russia and the United States. Of course, there is Ukraine, but it either to join us or the Americas. Russian politicians and state television are constantly in search of the 'American hand' in all spheres of our life. In Soviet times, the United States was formally considered to be our number one military and ideological enemy. But even then it didn't occupy such a large space in the minds of the political leadership and citizens. And the paradox is that, on one hand, officials and the media regularly talk about the decline of America as a great power, and on the other declare it to be the source of all evil in the world. This contradiction does not seem to disturb anybody."

And closes like this:

We still have not been able to use the opportunity that we were given with the collapse of the communist regime - to arrange our lives based on liberty and civic virtue. And today, we, as a people, want to go back to the starting point, to beat everyone. And the Soviet Union, with its absence of sausage and freedom, again suddenly seems sweet and dear. But it won't happen. I will put it banally: you can't go into the same river twice.

Read the whole thing here (in Russian, with audio)

15:53 November 19, 2014

UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION WAR

MIchael Weiss, editor-in-chief of The Interpreter magazine, appearing on Hromadske TV to talk about Russia's information war.

Michael and Peter Pomarantsev recently co-authored an excellent report "The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money." Both also appeared recently on The Power Vertical Podcast to discuss the report.

15:42 November 19, 2014

WHY IS PUTIN PICKING A FIGHT WITH THE U.S.?

Oleg Kosyrev has a snarky and clever blog post on the subject up on the Ekho Moskvy website. 

1) The United States is the ideal opponent. "It is big and strong and your self-esteem increases when you fight somebody really influential."

2) The United States is not fighting with Russia. "They aren't really interested. They have enough of their own problems and dreams. It's nice to fight somebody who is not fighting you."

3) It is a substitute for the authorities' inability to benefit Russians. "How convenient. Who is to blame for rising food and gas prices? The U.S.A.. Who is to blame for the fact that Russian has political prisoners? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for people demonstrating on the streets? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for the fact that independent international courts denounce the Russian court system? The U.S.A. You can even blame the U.S. for the fact that the light doesn't work in the entrance to your apartment building."

Read it all (in Russian) here.

15:23 November 19, 2014

UKRAINE SAYS MHI7 SHOT DOWN BY RUSSIAN CREW

14:47 November 19, 2014

AFTERNOON NEWS ROUNDUP: THE SEQUEL

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

KYIV, WEST SAY RUSSIA CANNOT BAR UKRAINE FROM NATO

Ukraine says it will not tolerate pressure from any other country over whether or not it seeks to join NATO.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyynis spoke made the remark to reporters in Kyiv on November 19, after the BBC quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying in an interview that Moscow wants "a 100 percent guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining NATO."

Hitting back with a reference to Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Perebyynis said Kyiv would like guarantees that Moscow will not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs, send in troops, or annex Ukrainian territories. 

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, told journalists on November 19 that any decision on seeking to join NATO could be made only by the Ukrainian people, not by Russia, Europe, ar the United States.

The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, made a similar statement on November 19.

(Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax)

PUTIN TELLS U.S. ENVOY TIES MUST BE BASED ON EQUALITY

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready for cooperation with the United States as long as Washington treats Moscow as an equal, respect its interests, and refrains from interfering in its affairs.

Putin spoke November 19 at a Kremlin ceremony during which he received the credentials of foreign envoys including John Tefft, the new U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.

Putin said, "We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in various fields, based on the principles of respect for each other's interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters." 

The remark echoed a formula Putin set out in a foreign policy decree at the start of his third term in 2012.

Tefft, 64, is a career diplomat who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. 

His posting starts at a time when ties are badly strained over the Ukraine crisis. 

Tefft replaces Michael McFaul, who was ambassador from January 2012 until February 2014. 

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

RUSSIA SAYS 2010 NUCLEAR ARMS PACT STILL IN RUSSIA'S INTERESTS

By RFE/RL

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has signaled that a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States is not in jeopardy despite severe tension over Ukraine.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers on November 19, Lavrov said the 2010 New START treaty "meets our basic strategic interests and, on condition of its observance by the United States, we are interested in its full implementation."

The treaty, one of the main products of President Barack Obama's first-term "reset" of ties with Russia, requires Russia and the United States to have their long-range nuclear arsenals under specific ceilings by 2018.

But Lavrov said the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which President Vladimir Putin suspended in 2007, is "dead" for Moscow. 

NATO has refused to ratify a revised version of the CFE treaty without a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or