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Putin PR

Many journalists, like Mary Dejevsky in The Independent, are calling for spectators to take a balanced view of the Ukraine-Russia gas dispute and insisting that Ukraine is as much to blame for Europe’s crisis as any other party.  But today’s Washington Post’s editorial is unflinchingly scathing about the Kremlin’s management of Vladimir Putin’s decision to cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine – not only due to the disastrous effects the cuts are having on the population of Europe, but to its ‘ludicrous’ PR effort to stage the decision:

Mr. Putin’s televised “working sessions” with Alexei Miller, the chairman of the state gas monopoly Gazprom, were scripted with ludicrous heavy-handedness. In each, Mr. Putin disingenuously inquired about details of Russia’s dispute with Ukraine, and Mr. Miller replied by portraying the Ukrainian government as thieving, deceptive and unreliable. On Monday, Mr. Putin cynically sympathized with the consumers of Ukraine, then ordered a reduction in the gas that transits Ukraine to other European countries. On Tuesday, he decreed that the pipeline be shut down altogether — a measure that left not just Ukraine but a dozen other countries without energy deliveries.

millerputin.jpgThe BBC also commented on the meeting between Miller and Putin, suggesting that ‘Vladimir Putin being shown on state television sanctioning Gazprom’s decision will have fueled the belief by some observers that the dispute is politically motivated.’  The BBC has some video of the meeting, in which Putin responds to Miller thus: ‘Yes, cut it from today.  And please inform the European partners about the situation we are facing with Ukraine in the gas field and the measures we are taking.’