What Putin said to Obama

In the course of its excellent editorial on Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula, the Wall Street Journal’s editorialists draw on the readout of Obama’s 90-minute telephone conversation with Barack Obama over the weekend. We posted the White House readout of Obama’s side of the conversation yesterday and linked to the Kremlin readout of its side of the conversation in Russian. The Kremlin readout is posted in English here. This is the Kremlin readout in English:

The two presidents discussed in detail various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine.

In reply to Mr Obama’s concern over the possibility of the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew his attention to the provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultranationalists who are in fact being supported by the current authorities in Kiev.

The Russian President spoke of a real threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots who are currently on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.

The Journal editorial notes that Putin “was bluntly honest for a change” and quotes the telling sentence from the Kremlin readout in English: “In case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.” Consistent with Paul Mirengoff’s gloss, implicit in the Kremlin’s assertion is the proposition that Putin has Obama’s number.

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