While the analogy of Vladimir Putin playing geopolitical chess (while the rest of the world plays checkers) has been a popular one, the French ambassador Gerard Araud has a different - somewhat stunningly honest - persepctive: Putin "is more a poker player really, putting all the money on the table; saying, 'Do the same' and of course we blink. We don't do the same." As Bloomberg reports, Araud goes on to express entirely un-Juncker-like, how Putin has outmaneuvered his opponents and humiliated Ukraine. Simply put, he adds, the Russian president "has won because we were not ready to die for Ukraine, while apparently he was," leaving the ominous question, "when is Putin going to stop? Whatever we decide is a disaster for us."
Vladimir Putin has outmaneuvered his opponents and humiliated Ukraine by continuing to back pro-Russian separatists and flouting a cease-fire, making it crucial that sanctions on Russia remain firm, France’s ambassador to the U.S. said.
The Russian president “has won because we were not ready to die for Ukraine, while apparently he was,” Ambassador Gerard Araud said yesterday at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington... Echoing the view of other European envoys in Washington, Araud expressed concern that the Ukraine conflict has hit an impasse, leaving Putin the winner by default.
Poroshenko is “kneeling in front of Putin with the cord around his neck and saying, ‘You know, you have won,’” and Putin is still not backing down, Araud said.
While many observers have called Putin a geopolitical chess player, he said, the Russian leader is more a “poker player really, putting all the money on the table, saying, ‘Do the same,’ and of course we blink. We don’t do the same.”
The economic sanctions against Russia must stay in place to prevent Putin from going further, said Araud, who moved to Washington in September after serving as the French ambassador to the United Nations.
“Whatever we decide is a disaster for us,” Araud said, again expressing his personal view. On one side, he said, lies France’s credibility as an arms supplier who delivers on contracts, and on the other, the difficulty of delivering a weapons system to Putin, who might use it against Ukraine or a European ally.
Araud concludes - rather ominously - and far too honestly for a paid-up member of the European elite:
“The question is there on the table: When is Putin going to stop?” Araud said. “That’s the reason that we need to keep the sanctions” because, “let’s be frank, it’s more or less the only weapon that we have. We are not going to send our soldiers in Ukraine. It does not make sense to send weapons to the Ukrainians, because the Ukrainians would be defeated real easily, so it will only prolong the war” and lead to a “still bigger Russian victory.”
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