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Ukraine update: developments over the week-end

During this weekend we have seen things develop in the Ukraine, and have spent a lot of time talking to people in different positions and regions, below is some information and views that have come to us from the ground: Ukraine update Betsson Crimea Crimea is special, it has only been a part of Ukraine for 60 years, there are

 many Russians there and it is very important for Russia as it is the home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, they have their own parliament and are a “special case”.

What will happen here is naturally very unclear but it seems like both parties are intended to settle this peacefully; many Russian soldiers are walking around with unloaded weapons and both parties seem to talk things down. As long as this happens peacefully we believe that any outcome would work for the Ukraine.

The best case scenario we could hope for is that Russia, under international pressure, will agree to leave Ukraine, but many think that Crimea is lost already.

Other UA regions

We do not see Russian activity here right now, these other regions are generally not in favour of joining Russia, with the Ukrainian army stationed here (very little army is stationed in Crimea and most of this is loyal to the Russian oriented parliament of Crimea), for the Russians to go into other parts will be more difficult than walking into Crimea, and the political consequences in the international spheres would be greater for Russia. Therefore this doesn’t seem likely to happen.

Some of our team members have been driving around Kharkov this weekend and have seen nothing “unusual” there apart from some buildings guarded by police, police patrolling the city and a small peaceful demonstration against Putin. People feel safe enough to take their kids to the park.

 Work

All seems peaceful on this front, we expect our teams to work as “normal” meaning that a lot of people will be worried, but there is a general feeling that this will be worked out and therefore we expect that work will carry on fairly as normal. Many however worry that this will scare away foreign investment from the Ukraine, naturally it already has.

 

Political pressure

Few see this a realistic approach, although NATO  troops are on the ground. The best card to play seems to be sanctions against Russia, with a weakening economy sanctions will not go unnoticed. We see all G7 countries putting pressure on the planned G8 summit to be held in Russia soon, preparations for this meeting have therefore been stopped.  The arrival of the US foreign minister in Ukraine today, combined with possible further pressure/sanctions after the EU ministers’ meeting early this week will most likely put some pressure on Putin to de-escalate the situation.  The Russian stock market has lost more than 10% in the first hour this morning, which is a reminder of what happened during the Georgia conflict.

Rhetoric

Both sides are using very strong rhetoric, Ukrainian politicians want the international community to react and put pressure on Putin and they do this by using words like ”state of war”. On the ground, things are a bit more “normal” than pictured, people are going to work and generally think and hope the whole thing will soon be over.

The Russian rhetoric is very much about Ukrainian terrorists and there are many people here in Ukraine being contacted by Russian friends and family living in Russia who are scared as they understand from Russian TV that in Ukraine there is street fighting and also riots, in reality things are quite peaceful.

Russian Agenda

Putin has used many excuses for the steps he has taken, he says he must protect native Russians within the borders of Ukraine,it is clear to the world and to Ukrainians that this is nonsense, and that if that was the real issue there would be numerous other ways to go about things.

It is important to remember that the Russian agenda is possibly to contain what they call the “Ukrainian virus”, it is important for Putin to show strength and make what happens in Ukraine look worse than it is in order to avoid too many ideas spreading to Russia.