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Military intervention, diplomatic escalation or cyberattack: Putin’s options in Ukraine – Le Monde

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The Russian public space, willingly hysterical when it comes to relations with the West, tenses up as the crisis with the West intensifies. In recent days, we have been able to hear on television a host wondering how a nuclear confrontation with the United States would be evil, and a deputy responding by boasting that his ” nephew “ was ready to take up arms. On the official side, the Minister of Foreign Affairs “does not exclude” the opening of military bases in Cuba and Venezuela, and his defense counterpart warns of the imminence of a “massive provocation” of Ukraine to start hostilities, once the failure of negotiations with Washington is confirmed – the United States must provide a formal response by the end of the week to Russian demands concerning NATO and security in Europe) .

The vagueness is part of Moscow’s tools in the negotiation, but this uncertainty as to the result is also due to another element: everything is in the hands of one man. In the study of Russian politics, the extreme personalization of Vladimir Putin, the extreme importance given to his wishes, real or supposed, is often a bias. In this specific case, no. “We are not even talking about the close entouragespecifies Fiodor Loukianov, director of a think tank close to the government, Russia in Global Affairs. It’s Putin alone. »

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However, no one knows the price that the Russian president is ready to pay to achieve his objectives, nor the compromises that are acceptable to him. Mr. Putin contented himself with vague formulas on this subject, and his most precise evocation of a possible failure of the negotiations was to warn that Russia would bring “a military-technical response”defined after consulting the “military experts”.

Settle the file “permanently”

The only certainty: the status quo is not an option, unlike the previous show of force, in the spring of 2021, when Russia only intended to reaffirm its status vis-à-vis Washington. The Russian side has said quite clearly, since December, that it expects precise answers to demands that are also precise.

Moscow also has every reason to believe that time is not on its side. For Vladimir Putin, it is a question of settling ” definitively “ a file he sees as essential for the legacy he will leave. Above all, concerning Ukraine, a subject which crystallizes tensions, the cost of inaction appears higher than an escalation.

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