Russia and Ukraine

俄罗斯和乌克兰

Putin's Ukrainian U-turn

普京对乌克兰问题的态度转变

How to treat signs that Russia at last wants to lower tensions

如何看待俄罗斯最终想要缓和局势的迹象

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A DEFINING feature in the diplomacy of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is to keep everyone guessing—because he can use doubt to magnify his threats, conceal his weaknesses and gain the initiative. That was the effect of his words on May 7th, one of the few public occasions he has spoken formally about the crisis in Ukraine. Mr Putin urged the pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country to postpone the referendums they planned for this weekend. He said that he saw Ukraine's presidential election due on May 25th as a “step in the right direction”, contradicting his own foreign minister, who has repeatedly called it absurd. And he reported that he had ordered Russian troops to pull back from the border.

俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔·普京的一个典型外交特征是让所有人都猜不透。因为他可以利用疑惑来放大他的威胁、掩饰自己的缺点并获得主动权。作为他为数不多的在公共场合正式讨论乌克兰危机的谈话,他在5月7日发表的言论正是起到了这样的作用。普京敦促在该国东部的亲俄分裂分子推迟原定于本周末的公投。他表示,他认为5月25日的乌克兰总统大选是“朝着正确方向迈出的一步”,这一说法与俄罗斯外交部长的说法相矛盾,该部长曾多次称之为荒谬的。同时普京还报告说,他已下令俄罗斯军队撤出边境。

A few welcomed this as the turning-point in a crisis that has now escalated into a low-intensity war. It is to be hoped that they are right. But many more, including this newspaper, will greet Mr Putin's words with due scepticism. Throughout the crisis, Russia has said one thing and done another. Even as the diplomacy takes its course, the West must sustain its pressure on Russia and its support for Ukraine.

一些人乐观地认为这是这场已然升级为低强度战争的危机的转折点。希望他们是对的。但包括本刊在内的更多的人抱着怀疑的态度将会迎合普京的话。在这场危机中,俄罗斯说一套做一套。即便是出于外交需要,西方也必须维持其对俄罗斯施加的压力和对乌克兰的支持。

Bait and bait again

兵不厌诈

The starting point is to gauge whether Mr Putin means what he says. He has promised Russian troop withdrawals before only to fall short: this time the retreat will need to be unambiguous. Actions in Ukraine count, too. Rather than continuing to incite the pro-Russian separatists, Mr Putin must be seen to use his influence to broker peace. But the most revealing test of his sincerity will be Russia's media, which have been doing their bit for the Kremlin by pouring out anti-Ukrainian propaganda. They must now cease their relentless warmongering.

出发点在于衡量普京能否说到做到。他曾承诺在功亏一篑前撤走俄罗斯军队,这一次的撤军需要更加明确。在乌克兰的行动同样也需如此。与其继续煽动亲俄分裂分子,普京更应该利用其影响力去促成和平。俄罗斯媒体最能真实地考验他的真诚,他们已经通过宣传反乌克兰为克里姆林宫做出了自己的贡献。现在,他们必须停止无休止的挑衅行为。

Suppose that the Kremlin passes these tests, what then? Until now, Mr Putin seemed bent on fomenting confrontation in Ukraine—with the threat of Russian invasion kept in reserve. He has two reasons to step back. One is the increasingly burdensome sanctions that are beginning to damage the Russian economy. Possibly even more troubling for him is the mounting death toll in eastern Ukraine. The fighting is taking on a hideous momentum, sapping Mr Putin's ability to use his influence over eastern Ukraine to wreck the government in Kiev. Instead, Russia risks being sucked in to the conflict, in order to honour the guarantees of protection that it has given its supporters. Although the threat of invasion is useful for him, actual occupation would involve huge costs. The sight of Russian and Ukrainian troops slaughtering each other would puncture Mr Putin's popularity at home. Much better to keep Ukraine smouldering than to have it burst into flame.

假设克里姆林宫通过这些了这些考验,接下来又会怎样呢?直到现在,普京似乎仍更倾向于在乌克兰煽动对抗,并同俄罗斯入侵的威胁一同准备。他有两个理由撤退。一个是西方国家越来越繁重的制裁已经开始损坏俄罗斯的经济。或许更令他不安的是有越来越多的人在乌克兰东部丧命。这场战争正朝着一个可怕的方向发展,削弱了普京利用他在乌克兰东部的影响力来破坏基辅政府的能力。相反,为了兑现对支持者承诺过的保护,俄罗斯有可能会卷入到战争中。尽管威胁入侵对他而言十分有效,但实行起来却耗费巨大。俄罗斯和乌克兰军队的相互屠杀将削弱普京在国内的受欢迎度。因此,抑制乌克兰远比消灭它要好得多。

Mr Putin seems to be hoping that a grateful world, desperate to avoid conflict, will agree to what he has sought all along: a federation of Ukraine that blocks it from moving towards the European Union and NATO, as well as the uncontested annexation of Crimea. The world should not oblige. Ukraine will need to give more autonomy to its regions—but not such power that they can veto foreign policy. The West must give Ukraine aid and as much advice as its government will take.

普京似乎希望有一个感恩的世界,竭力避免冲突,认可他寻求已久的:乌克兰联邦妨碍它加入欧盟和北约以及对克里米亚的吞并。但这并不是一个感激的世界。乌克兰需要得到更多自治权,但它并没有这样可以否决外交政策的权力。因此西方国家必须给乌克兰以援助以及尽可能多的建议。

This crisis is far from over. Mr Putin can turn the pressure on Ukraine back up just as easily as he seems to have turned it down. He has not relinquished Crimea, and his treatment of Ukraine has betrayed the nature of his regime (see article). Therefore, the West should maintain today's sanctions — and the threat of more. It should strive to lessen its dependence on Russian energy and face up to the fact that, while Mr Putin is in power, doing business with Russia will be perilous. After all, would you trust the man who started a fire next door merely because he has suddenly offered you a bucket of water?

这场危机还远未结束。普京可以轻易地将压力转嫁到乌克兰身上,就像他似乎已经拒绝的那样。他没有放弃克里米亚,他对待乌克兰的方式已经同他的政权性质相背离(另见文)。因此,西方应保留现有的对俄罗斯的制裁并给以更多的威胁。它应该努力减少对俄罗斯能源的依赖,并认清这样的现实—在普京掌权期间,同俄罗斯做生意是危险的。难道你会相信仅仅因为邻居突然泼了一桶水就要开战的人么?