Foreign media digest 13 August 2014

War between Russia and Ukraine could be imminent.
“Much as it would be foolish to expect anything of Putin, it can at least be hoped that he is once again playing a game of “armed politics” – seeking to destabilise Ukraine and support the rebels, without tipping in to a full-scale invasion. Still, the Russian President has placed the situation on a knife-edge and the diplomatic tables now tilt his way. Western leaders must offer all possible assistance to balance them back in favour of the Poroshenko government – close as it is to quelling the separatists”.

Ukrainian troops are retreating from the Russian border, leaving a 100-kilometer open to invasion.
The Daily Beast:
The newspaper said that Ukrainian forces located near Russian border in so-called “sector D” of ATO “had been completely encircled by hostile forces” for 22 days. “From the west and north, in Ukrainian territory, they were relentlessly harassed and shelled by separatist fighters, while they were shelled with rockets, mortars and artillery from across the Russian border to their east and south,” – reported the author. On August 6, Ukrainian forces broke out of their encirclement and linked up with the main body of the Ukrainian forces, the defenders of Sector D were evacuated. “Most worrying of course, is the possibility that, rather than passing covertly into Ukraine under the guise of a single ‘humanitarian convoy’ such as that which departed late on August 11 for the border, Russian ‘peacekeeping’ troops may just flood in across the wide stretch of unsecured border and make their presence an established fact before Ukraine can respond militarily or diplomatically. Shooing Russia away from crossing the border is one thing for the European Union and the United States, persuading them to remove their tanks is quite another, as the futility of so many statements of grave concern regarding Russia’s lightning-speed takeover of Crimea has shown,” – concluded the author.

“Putin is trying to make what a language of international law can call a legalization of aggression,” – Illarionov.
Der Spiegel:
“Putin is trying to make what a language of international law can call a legalization of aggression,” – says a former adviser to Russian president Andrey Illarionov. Sending “humanitarian convoys” and “Russian Emergencies Ministry units” is part of a strategy to “seize foreign territories,” – he said. This step is fully aligned with the Russian strategy during crises in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, – emphasized Illarionov.

“We must be extremely careful because this could be a cover for the Russians to install themselves near Luhansk and Donetsk,” – said the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.
The New York Times:
“That about summed up the latest, almost farcical encounter between Moscow and Kiev, as a mammoth convoy of some 260 trucks thundered across Russia on Tuesday bearing thousands of tons of humanitarian aid for the people of the besieged Ukrainian city of Luhansk,” – considers the author.

Ukrainian experts believe that Russian military invasion of Ukraine is becoming more likely.
According to Ukrainian sources, the so-called “humanitarian convoy” of 280 trucks of food and medical supplies “may be the first step of Russian President Putin to invade Ukraine.” “Now Putin watches the Western politicians who previously warned him about the danger of intervention and did not promise Kyiv any direct military support. Therefore the Russian leader knows that in case of war with Ukraine Russian soldiers do not have to fight with the United States and the EU, unprepared for global war for Ukraine.” And Putin’s army is certainly superior to Ukrainian, according to the article.

“The British Prime Minister shows a staggering arrogance and frightening lack of historical perspective in supporting the neo-Nazi regime of the Ukrainian government, and luring the Russian Federation into a conflict with the European Union and the West by blaming it for condoning the shooting down of Flight MH17 on 1 August over the disputed territory of eastern Ukraine,” – said former Russian prime-minister Stepashin.
The Independent:
According to Stepashin, Cameron’s article, published in July in The Sunday Times, “marked a high point in interventions by the West which fuel conflict in Ukraine and, eventually, could drag Russia into a war with the European Union.” “Finally, we agree with Mr Cameron that it is necessary to conduct a full investigation into the crash. Russia, as he requested, provided a detailed and comprehensive report on the incident, and facilitated the collection of evidence at the crash site,” – says Stepashin. He hopes that foreign experts will examine the situation objectively. “And perhaps they will also find out why the Ukrainian authorities are destroying all the data from their air-traffic radars. Perhaps they can take testimony from Ukrainian air traffic controllers, who have thus far been silenced by an order from the Security Services of Ukraine,” – concludes the author.

Donetsk: once beautiful city is no longer recognizable.
Der Spiegel:
Most of the stores in Donetsk are closed. Until the weekend people could withdraw cash from ATMs. Now to get cash in the city is impossible since the National Bank of Ukraine issued a decree according to which all banking operations in the east were stopped until the end of ATO. “Only places where you can buy food are “Brusnica” stores. However, people don’t have enough money to buy food. On Monday, the government of self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic had scheduled a meeting on the new school year starting on September 1, restoration of schools, victims of the shelling, pension provision and help to families of dead civilians.
Among other things, so-called ministers decided to freeze payments for municipal services and penalties for borrowers delaying payments on loans. However, as adds Der Spiegel, this meeting was redundant, because not many people have money anyway.

“At the moment big French projects in Russia remained untouched by Western sanctions” – Pavel Chinsky, CEO of Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce (CCIFR).
“At the moment Western sanctions have not touched any major project in France, no plants of “Air Liquide”, no assets of “Shneider Electric”, nor distributors of “Leroy – Merlin” and “Decathlon”, – he said. – The main risks are not of short or medium term, but they are significant in the long term. Finances will run out and investment decisions will be frozen”.

An important reading on the health of the eurozone economy is expected to show this week that growth stagnated in the most recent quarter as German output faltered, confirming the assessment of many analysts that a lasting recovery remains out of reach for the region.
The New York Times:
Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, acknowledged last week that the economic tensions from the Ukraine crisis would “have a greater impact on the euro area than they have on other parts of the world.”