(Europe Online) Russia is withdrawing support for the conflict in eastern Ukraine and redirecting its attention toward Syria in an effort to resuscitate its economy and rebuild ties with the West on its own terms, experts say.
Russia‘s rouble is weak. The country‘s main export, oil, is worth less than half what it was two years ago. State companies and banks continue to bear the burden of Western sanctions imposed as punishment for Russia‘s role in the Ukraine crisis.
Now in a move that could resuscitate Russia‘s economy, the country appears to have redirected attention away from Ukraine and towards Syria, where it has an opportunity to build ties with the West. […]
"A sustained depressed oil price will take a greater toll on Russia‘s finances than Western sanctions," said Alexander Cooley, head of Columbia University‘s Eurasia-focused Harriman Institute.
"The Kremlin has used Western sanctions as a domestic rallying point," Cooley told dpa. "The Russian public appears willing to accept economic hardship as a cost of a more assertive foreign policy and Russia‘s self-defined role as an influential global player."
Cooley predicted that the Ukraine conflict will become frozen as the central government refuses to give the separatist regions the autonomy that Moscow demands.
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