Putin Storms Out of G-20 Summit
The crisis between Russia and the west escalates, which could have serious ramifications for the Middle East.
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Nov 16, 2014, 09:59AM | Rachel Avraham
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Putin and Obama
Putin and Obama Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in a plane this morning leaving Brisbane, Australia, the city hosting the G-20 Summit, shortly after Russia was harshly criticized for its involvement in the Eastern Ukraine.
Shortly before take-off, Putin praised the atmosphere at the summit, but announced his decision to leave nevertheless: “some of our opinions don’t match, but the discussions were complete, constructive, and helpful. The situation in the Ukraine is solvable in my opinion.” Putin thanked Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott for his cordial hospitality. Putin earlier on claimed that the economic separation of Eastern Ukraine would be a “big mistake.”
Among the leaders that harshly criticized Putin at the summit was British Prime Minister David Cameron. According to the British Prime Minister, Putin will sign a peace treaty in order to “reduce the flames surrounding the Ukraine crisis or future relations with the west will be under threat.”
Cameron called Putin’s conduct towards his neighbor “international machismo” and stressed that the Russian President’s actions cannot distract from the continued armed confrontations in the Ukraine: “We have reached a fateful intersection.” However, the Kremlin reported that Cameron and Putin spoke privately, stressing the need to fix bilateral relations.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper added when he met Putin: “It appears that I must shake your hand, but you must leave the Ukraine.” US President Barack Obama joined the criticism and mentioned the downing of a Malaysian Airplane by pro-Russian rebels, an incident that resulted in the death of 298 people: “I share the sorrow of the families and join them in calling for justice and responsibility.”
One of the already volatile regions that could be impacted by a further deterioration of relations between Russia and the west is the Middle East. One of the reasons Obama has so far given Assad a get out of jail card was because of Russia’s insistence that Assad remains in power. Obama may not be so eager to oblige Putin anymore. The White House has already indicated that they seek to change their Syrian policy, for they realize that enabling Assad to remain in power has hobbled their efforts against IS.
The Iran crisis could also escalate. One of the reasons Obama has been so indulgent of Russia’s bullying in the Ukraine is because he had been hoping all of the time to get Putin on board regarding Iran. Given Russia’s latest behavior and domestic political develops in the US, an agreement with Iran is looking much less likely. These developments increase the likelihood of war in the Middle East. Amir Rapaport, one of Israel’s most knowledgeable and respected military analysts, wrote in last week’s Israel Defense newsletter that there is increasing concern in Israel of an outbreak of violence on the northern front sometime during 2015, probably in the spring and early summer.