by Rostislav Ischenko
translation: Alena Scarecrow
On July 21st in Minsk there was held another regular meeting of the contact group devoted to settling the Ukrainian conflict. It resulted in reaching an agreement on the withdrawal of tanks and weapons of up to 100 mm caliber from the delimitation line.
The corresponding document was drawn out – however, not signed. As for the political issues, the parties once again failed to come to the mutual understanding.
Rostislav Ischenko, the President of the System Analysis and Forecasting Centre, is sharing his estimation of the current situation.
“The negotiations on withdrawing weapons were actually being run back during finalizing the Minsk-2 Agreement. Finally putting them in black and white is undoubtedly good, but as long as they are not signed we cannot regard it as any real breakthrough. Practice shows that signed and put in action are not necessarily synonyms, so it is early times yet to express excessive optimism.
From my point of view, this contact group meeting is nonetheless highly significant. Moreover, it can be considered to be a major milestone in a certain respect. For quite a while Russia used to be a solitary fighter struggling for truth under joint attacks of France, Germany, OSCE and the Ukraine.
Now after an OSCE representative’s statement that the agreement on the withdrawal of up to 100mm caliber weapons has fallen through – with the transparent implication that it is Kiev to blame – the situation has taken an abrupt turn. It is Kiev now opposing the others’ unified position – the document would have been signed had it not been for the Ukraine’s disagreement on it.
Unless the parties’ unified position changes, the Ukraine risks to get into complete isolation sooner or later – probably, even in the course of the ongoing negotiations. The country under the current circumstances will barely benefit from finding herself devoid of allies, partners and support. Now the Ukrainian authorities certainly have things to ponder.
In the political regard there are two major issues, in my view – Kiev’s foreign and domestic policy positions. In the light of the former, the Ukraine could just have made immediate concessions, acting in full accordance with her American teachers’ lessons, – to agree to something but never actually put it into life, – had it not been for the latter.
The bottom line is that Kiev’s domestic policy is deprived of flexibility or constructivism. Rada found it extremely hard to accept even most meaningless amendments to the Constitution Poroshenko had put forward.
Petr Alekseevich (Poroshenko) overtly declared that Donbass was never going to be given a special status. The corresponding law would never come into force as it presumed that first Donbass should surrender and only after that any such questions could be raised. Despite of all the forceful arguments, Rada refused to vote.
Now all sorts of Nazi battalions, Right Sector being the most vigorous of all, put enormous pressure on Poroshenko hysterically demanding that he denounces “Minsk”.
He is actually caught in the crossfire, having to choose whether to give in to the external pressure and comply with “Minsk” or to go along with the internal forces and disregard it.
He has no means that would enable him to either withstand or effectively maneuver.
So actually Kiev has faced a stalemate. Poroshenko would probably not mind implementing all the Minsk provisions but he cannot, due to his domestic opponents and his own inability to suppress them.
It seems to me that the present situation has all the makings of ending in new internal conflicts in the Ukraine rather than any radical change in her position in the negotiations. The international pressure is likely to increase, but Kiev’s constructivism – hardly”.