Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Russian Vladimir Putin takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Moscow's Kremlin Wall, in Moscow on Sunday. Mr. Putin has asked parliament to cancel a resolution that sanctions the use of military force in Ukraine.

No more little green men? Putin takes military option in Ukraine off table.

Vladimir Putin today asked Russia's parliament to repeal the March 1 resolution that allowed him to send troops to Ukraine, as peace talks continue in the troubled country.

For Ukraine, it now looks official. The Russians aren't coming.

Almost four months after Russia's upper house of parliament granted Vladimir Putin blanket permission to use military force in Ukraine, Mr. Putin on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers to rescind that resolution.

The Kremlin typically goes to great lengths to clad everything it does in an outward appearance of strict legality. Analysts agree it is signalling that despite months of tension over its military buildup, and many false alarms, the Russian army will probably not be marching into Ukraine.

Putin did use his military powers once, to seize control of the Russian-majority Crimean peninsula, which was annexed to Russia after a hasty referendum.

The Kremlin said only that it was asking parliament to revoke Putin's special powers in connection with the "tripartite talks" that have begun between Kiev, the armed rebels, and Russia-connected mediators on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's peace plan.

Mr. Poroshenko welcomed the move as "the first tangible step" after Putin surprised many by offering verbal declarations of support for the initiative on Monday.

Until Putin's change of tune, Ukrainian rebels had refused to abide by the "unilateral cease-fire" ordered by Poroshenko last Friday, insisting that all Ukrainian troops must be withdrawn from the restive regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as a precondition for peace.

But on Monday the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, announced that the insurgents would abide by the cease-fire until it expires Friday. He told journalists he hoped the joint cease-fire would lead to negotiations toward a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Though Poroshenko has vowed not to talk directly with the armed rebels, Ukrainian media report that he has empowered former President Leonid Kuchma to speak to them on behalf of Kiev.

Initial talks in Donetsk on Monday between Mr. Kuchma, rebel leaders, Russian ambassador Mikhail Zurabov, Ukrainian pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, and a European envoy reportedly yielded preliminary agreements on sensitive issues such as monitoring the cease-fire and releasing hostages.

Road map for Ukraine

Russia has been insisting all along that Kiev needs to agree on a "road map" of changes that would include protected status for the Russian language, significant autonomy for eastern Ukraine, and guarantees that Ukraine would never join NATO.

"These talks may or may not go anywhere. But Putin is making it very clear that Russia is not going to interfere directly in Ukraine," says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow.

"Hopefully that will end all the claims that 'Russian aggression' is the root cause of Ukraine's problems. The fact is that these insurgents are composed of the private armies of oligarchs, professional adventurers, wayward idiots, all sorts of people that Putin cannot control," Mr. Muhkin adds. "It was the collapse of the legal central state in Kiev that brought this on, and hopefully that's the issue that will be addressed now."

Other analysts suggest that eastern Ukraine's rebels, in holding off the Ukrainian army for months, have made Moscow's point without any need to risk direct Russian intervention.

"Putin has plenty of options to destabilize Ukraine. It's clear now that doesn't need to face the wrath of the West, and ramped up sanctions, in order to get what he wants," says Sergei Strokan, foreign affairs columnist with the Moscow daily Kommersant. "It's very unlikely that peace will take hold in eastern Ukraine. These insurgents have already done the job of making sure Russia will have lots of leverage there, so why would Putin need to use the Russian army?"

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to No more little green men? Putin takes military option in Ukraine off table.
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today