Russian Scholar: Putin Needs to Protect Ukraine Oil and Gas

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 07:48 PM

By Cathy Burke

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While America and Europe consider what will likely be "biting" sanctions against Russia for the Malaysian airline missile strike, Russia's Vladimir Putin is probably considering talks to ensure "the blood line of the Russian economy" – oil and gas from Ukraine – isn't jeopardized, Russian studies scholar Leon Aron said Friday.

Aron, of the American Enterprise Institute, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV the United States and Europeans "even as we speak, are talking about new sanctions."

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"And in the wake of this truly international outrage, those are going to be very strong, very painful sanctions," Aron said. "I don't think we really need to catch Putin with a smoking gun on this. Nobody's going to find the tape of him ordering the strike or anybody from the Kremlin. … The tragedy of it is that nobody in the Kremlin may have even ordered it. ... The next steps maybe as early as next week are going to be more sanctions and probably truly biting sanctions on Russia."

But Russia has concerns at home, as well, Aron said.

"Given the domestic political stakes, he is not going to abandon the [separatist] rebels" in Ukraine suspected to have been behind the attack, Aron said. "He may … show who is the boss and in fact maybe even move Russian troops across the border despite the sanctions. Or, he may listen to some of his advisers … telling him to cool it because if it starts really hitting the blood line of the Russian economy, which is oil and gas, then it truly will deprive the state of money."

Aron also believes Putin will begin negotiations in Ukraine.

"This would be for Putin an ideal solution because it saves his face domestically – which is the most important thing for him because he's heading for presidency for life – and it keeps the international community sort of at bay," he said.

As for culpability, Aron said "it doesn't really matter" who ordered the tragic missile strike.

If "it was a shot from the rebel-held territory, it doesn't really matter whether it was ordered by Russia or it was done by the rebels themselves, bottom line is that Russia is responsible for recklessly giving the rebels this type of equipment, truly sophisticated, extremely powerful, and extremely lethal and for supporting them in this whole war," he said.

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