Putin: Success of Minsk Deal Key to Avoid "Apocalyptic" War in Ukraine
As crisis stews in Ukraine, large majority of Russians point finger at U.S. government for persistent nature of conflict
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking with state television, has warned that if the deal reached in Minsk less than two weeks ago does not soon take hold in Ukraine, a war of "apocalyptic" proportions remains a possibility on the horizon.
Asked about the likelihood of all-out war in Ukraine, Putin said "such an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely and I hope that it will never happen."
As the deal brokered by France and Germany in the Belarusian capital—referred to as the Minsk 2 agreement—has failed to result in the end of gunfire since it was reached on February 13, each side has blamed the other for breaches of a cease-fire repeatedly broken.
"If the Minsk accords are complied with," Putin said, "then I am sure that the situation will gradually get back to normal... No one needs a conflict, moreover an armed one, on the periphery of Europe."
Foreign ministers from the relevant countries are meeting in Paris on Tuesday to attempt to get the agreement back on track.
Despite the existence of the cease-fire agreement, fighting has continued—at least in isolated areas—since it went into effect at midnight on February 15.
According to Reuters on Tuesday:
Since taking the railway hub of Debaltseve in one of the worst defeats for Kiev of the war, the Moscow-backed rebels have indicated they want the truce to take effect. But Kiev says the rebels are still shooting, which the rebels deny.
Western countries have not given up on the ceasefire deal to end fighting that has killed more than 5,600 people, but have made clear they are suspicious of the rebels and their presumed patron, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
European countries have warned of new economic sanctions against Moscow if the rebels advance deeper into territory the Kremlin calls "New Russia". Washington says it could arm Kiev.
As the U.S. goverment and NATO—with more than a helping hand from mainstream western news outlets—have continued to point the finger at Moscow over the crisis, the notion of blame is reversed among the Russian population.
According to recent polling within Russia, more than eight out of ten people are critical of the role played by the U.S., which has given strong backing and assistance—both financial and military—to the Kiev government. According to CNN on Tuesday:
On the streets of Moscow, many Russian point their fingers at the United States for the Ukraine crisis.
The latest polls show 81% of Russians have a negative view of the U.S. -- the highest number since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
State-run media reports the United States wants to encroach on Russia.
Meanwhile, despite the prevalence of anti-Russian sentiment among the Beltway Establishment and the steady stream of anti-Putin news coverage in the U.S., a new poll by Pew Research released Monday shows that a majority of Americans still think sending additional weapons and military support to the Kiev government is a bad idea. One caveat, however, is that the 53 percent of respondents who now think such a move is ill-advised, is up from just 30 percent who backed such a plan less than a year ago.