"Putin just can't seem to lose on the international stage in recent months. His tactics may be rough and his sarcastic voice may grate on Western ears, but he gets results. Ukrainians may wish he wouldn't, but though polls show the country is split roughly 60-40 in favor of the EU, mass protests are unlikely. The majority of Ukrainians are much more given to political apathy than in 2004, and the possibility of economic collapse engineered by the Kremlin shouldn't be discounted," writes Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg.
"Ukraine is one nation, and even those citizens who speak Russian want an independent Ukraine and identify themselves as Ukrainian. In a recent poll by the market research firm GfK, 45 percent of Ukrainians supported integration with Europe, while only 15 percent favored integration with Russia. Even Ukraine's oligarchs support the association agreement, and they are taking in stride the current losses in trade with Russia," writes Slawomir Sierakowski in the New York Times.
"It isn't just nostalgia that draws Russia to Ukraine. It's also about power and security. With Ukraine back in the fold, Russia has the potential to become the kind of great European power whose interests the EU cannot disregard. Recovering Ukraine is how Vladimir Putin can become Vladimir the Great, ranking with Peter, Catherine and Alexander I as a dominant figure in Russian history," writes Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal.
Iran has reached out to Western oil companies such as Chevron, Total, and Royal Dutch Shell, in anticipation of easing sanctions on the country if nuclear talks in Geneva are successful (WSJ). Contacts between Iran and Total have chilled after Tehran accused Paris of trying to scuttle the nuclear deal.