December 9, 2016

Time to Dot the “i”s and Cross the “t”s

Yuriy Radkovets

The key event of 2016, which will have a decisive influence on the development of the situation in the world, Europe and around Ukraine, at least for the next four years, was the victory of the representative of the US Republican Party — billionaire Donald Trump in the presidential election in the United States. D. Trump's having been elected the President of the USA has caused extremely mixed reaction in most of the United States and around the world, which was a consequence of the odious nature of the new leader of the American state and his behavior during the election campaign.

 

When two Sundays Come Together

For example, on the one hand, Donald Trump is an open supporter of pretty tough and pragmatic methods of politics and business, and applies them in practice, and on the other — he is known as a creative businessman, capable of unpredictable steps, and is ready to use new forms and methods of actions for the sake of reaching his own goals, including tax optimization in the implementation of his business schemes.

The Illustration of this was D. Trump's campaign, which was fairly populist in nature and was aimed at average citizens and businessmen, mostly interested in pursuing personal interests. In particular, D. Trump's promises in the inner sphere included: tax cuts, reform of the healthcare system, increasing support for domestic producers by restricting the access of foreign goods and services to the US market, as well as the tightening of immigration legislation.

Mainly populist and rather contradictory approaches were demonstrated by D. Trump in his vision of the future of US policy in the external sphere. Thus, D. Trump positioned himself as a supporter of strengthening the USA's role and international positions and declared his intention to increase military spending. However, he spoke in favor of resumption of relations between the USA and Russia and lifting the sanctions, agreed that “the Crimea historically belongs to Russia”, questioned the expediency of NATO and the plans to strengthen the US military presence in Europe, and argued about the need to reduce the support for the USA's allies which “...should take care of their own security themselves”. He criticized the USA's actions aimed at removing from power B. Assad's regime in Syria, as well as the lifting of sanctions from Iran regarding its nuclear program.

At the same time, after Moscow's having breached the Armistice Agreements in Syria and Ukraine in September-October 2016, which caused considerable negative reaction in the United States and in Europe, D. Trump to some extent has changed his public statements and turned to certain condemnation of the Kremlin's actions, but also recognized the need to strengthen the Alliance and to enhance its role and place in ensuring the security of the countries of Central-Eastern Europe and the Baltic States.

That is why, in view of the above-mentioned circumstances, the vast majority of both foreign and domestic political and economic experts believe that US policy and practices, at least at the beginning of D. Trump's presidency, will be quite populist, “chaotic” and even completely unpredictable.

Thus, a number of independent Western and Russian experts believe that on the Russian direction D. Trump can choose a course to “another reset” of the USA's relations with Russia, the aim of which will be to ensure the interests of American business in the Russian Federation. It is this step that Barack Obama took in his time — after he was elected US President in November 2008. That is, by that time, Obama had actually given up the policy of pressure on Russia (which caused euphoria in Moscow, like the one that swept the Russian leadership after D. Trump's victory in the elections), started by the previous US President George W. Bush in in respond to Moscow's armed aggression against Georgia in August 2008. But later, B. Obama became the world's major opponent of V. Putin's regime.

As of today, D. Trump has spoken against using the term “reset” in regard to future relations between the United States and Russia. According to him, “...H. Clinton as US Secretary of State failed the attempt to reset relations between the two countries, though it would be “not bad” if Putin were ready for dialogue with the United States”. I.e., in his view, a normal dialogue with Russia does not mean the “reset” of relations between the two countries.

In particular, this approach of D. Trump may include steps aimed at achieving a number of compromises with V. Putin's regime on the most problematic issues between the two countries, especially with regard to Ukraine and Syria.

The results of such trade-offs regarding Ukraine could be: D. Trump's agreeing to Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea; initiating the issue of lifting sanctions from Russia, and the United States and Russia's joint pressure on Ukraine in order to accelerate the process of “settling” the situation in the Donbas on Russia's terms. In addition, based on D. Trump's pre-election positions, we can also expect the United States' reducing its financial support to Ukraine and strengthening control over the expenditure of funds allocated to the Ukrainian authorities.

As for the compromise over Syria, it could be Washington's abandoning the plan to remove B. al-Assad's regime from power in exchange for deepening cooperation between the USA and Russia in the fight against the IS and Islamist terrorism.

Within the framework of this approach, on 14 November 2016, D. Trump in a telephone conversation with V. Putin expressed hope for an early resumption of full-fledged dialogue between the USA and Russia. They also discussed the challenges and threats facing the two countries, and strategic economic issues of their relationship. Besides, on the eve of the conversation, D. Trump publicly denied the US intelligence's states about Moscow's attempts to influence the results of the US Presidential elections.

In turn, on the European and Euro-Atlantic directions, D. Trump is believed to be able to turn to some limiting of the USA's participation in ensuring European coalition security, to give up deepening the US-EU trade and economic cooperation and, in general, to weaken attention to Europe (including on the EU's unity issues). In this regard, some experts do not rule out cancellation by Washington of its previous decisions aimed at strengthening the US military presence in Europe, suspension of negotiations on a free trade zone between the USA and the EU, as well as reducing the level of the USA's strategic partnership with leading countries of the European Union.

All this will inevitably lead to weakening of the NATO and EU's capabilities to counter threats from Russia, stagnation of transatlantic relations and deepening of disagreements in the European Union, which to date have been largely refrained by Washington's influence. Such differences will also be in the EU's attitude to Ukraine and Russia. In view of the above-said, we should not exclude problems when it comes to continuing the European Union's sanctions against Putin's regime in January 2017.

Tangible changes may occur in the USA's policy toward the Asia-Pacific region, especially in its relations with China and Japan. At this, we should not rule out the new US President's return to an active confrontation with China. According to leading experts, the above–mentioned — including D. Trump's intention to strengthen the barriers in the PRC's access to the US market, as well as his own vision of the “Taiwanese” issue — can lead to an aggravation of the USA-China relations, which will be an additional factor of distraction of Washington's attention from European affairs and the situation around Ukraine.

At the same time, despite the tough election campaign rhetoric, on 13th November 2016, D. Trump suddenly telephoned President Xi Jinping and had with him, according to the American side's statement, a very sincere conversation. According to the CNN agency, the leaders, during their first conversation “...established a clear and obvious mutual respect for each other”. The telephone conversation was confirmed by other sources, who, first of all, paid attention to the words of the US President-Elect about the importance of China: “China is a great and important country. The pace of its development is impressive”. But on 3rd December, 2016, D. Trump held a telephone conversation with President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen, and thus actually galvanized the international community, as that phone conversation was the first in 27 years official contact between the authorities of the USA and Taiwan. The parties discussed the contacts between Taiwan and Washington in the spheres of economy, politics and security. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called D. Trump and Tsai Ing-wen's conversation “Taiwan's small trick”. At the same time, Beijing's official reaction to Trump's contact with Ing-wen was rather cautious.

The special attention to this region is confirmed by the fact that the first world leader, with whom D. Trump met in in New York on 18 November 2016, was Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Despite the fact that the content of their hour and a half dialog has not been disclosed, the two sides have stated they were happy with the results of the meeting. Among other things, in a certain sense, it may indicate a preservation of allied political and economic commitments between the USA and Japan.

But will the principles of the American policy remain unchanged regarding other countries in the Asia-Pacific region? This will mainly depend on the people in D. Trump's administration.

 

To Promise Does Not Mean to Marry

We would like to focus on some of the changes in the Kremlin's behavior after the elections in the USA. Just a week after the elections, Moscow rather hastily, to some extent, even provocatively began to “push” D. Trump to making a number of adventurous decisions based on his “pre-election promises”.

Thus, the “mouthpiece of the Kremlin” — the Russian President's Press-Secretary D. Peskov in the series of his recent categorical statements and comments very “democratically” and quite frivolously stated that “...no one in Russia will ever be ready to discuss the Crimea” and that Russia is ready to wait till the West recognizes that the Crimea is “a part of Russia”. “We understand that it takes time for our partners in Europe and in the USA to realize this. We are patient enough and can wait until this understanding happens here in Washington, in the USA, in Europe”, — said D. Peskov, in an interview with The Associated Press. In this context, special attention should be paid to the fact that the Kremlin's rhetoric on the issue of the Crimean Tatar population in the Crimea lately has been gradually changing and in fact is becoming similar to the rhetoric of some political leaders of Western countries, including D. Trump, about the threat of Islamic illegal migrants' extremist activities in those countries and the intentions to deport them.

At the same time, in his statements, D. Peskov does not rule out that D. Trump could persuade NATO (in his words, “an instrument of confrontation”) to slow down its expansion, or even to withdraw its troops from Russia's borders. It “...would lead to a kind of detente in Europe”. According to D. Peskov, Russia does not feel safe when “NATO's forces are becoming greater and are closer to Russia's borders”.

D. Peskov also said that if Russian and US leaders are able to communicate without the language of sanctions, then they will have a chance to solve a number of problems. “No one expects that relations between Moscow and Washington will improve in a couple of weeks, there is the load of contradictions on our shoulders. Nevertheless, if the two leaders, I mean the current Russian leader, President V. Putin and US President-Elect D. Trump, are wise enough to have the political will to talk to each other, to try to solve the problems not by the use of, say, the language of sanctions or other illogical things, then we will have a chance to talk and try to solve problems in a constructive way”, — said D. Peskov.

It is clear that behind all these innovations, “unobtrusive” initiatives and proposals there is V. Putin and his regime, which had and still have high hopes for D. Trump's future policy and practice towards Russia.

 

Who Knows what Tomorrow Holds

Will everything happen the way V. Putin would like it to? Hardly. But first, it would be appropriate to explain the features of the “American phenomenon” of the latest US Presidential elections and D. Trump's victory in them.

The matter is that, unlike the campaign of his main rival from the Democratic Party H. Clinton, who was focused mainly (and so typical of the USA!) on the electorate of major metropolises of the country, D. Trump's campaign, perhaps for the first time in a long time in US history, was focused on the average citizens of the “heartland” of the country — and, first of all, on the working population, representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, that is, on the main production stratum of the American society, whose point of view and the problems had been hardly ever and by anybody taken into consideration.

Thus, “for” H. Clinton were the votes of inhabitants of large cities — more than 26 % of the population. In turn, 53 % live in suburbs and 21 % — in the province, on farms and ranches. And this, so-called “middle class”, was D. Trump's main electorate, whose problems and hopes he used in his election program and promised to resolve them in case of his winning the elections. And this is exactly where lies the phenomenon of D. Trump's victory in the latest presidential elections in the United States.

November 22, 2016, President-Elect Donald Trump unveiled the Plan for his first 100 days in office. It does not include scandalous proposals (like a wall along the Mexican border!) at all, and the main provisions of the Plan are focused on the reforms, which almost fully repeat the points of his election program, and mainly deal with economic and trade agreements, energy, public administration, as well as migration and national security. That is, the “Plan-100” is mainly focused on domestic problems and expectations of the “middle class” of the country.

The main principle, by which, according to D. Trump, his advisers were guided, while working on “Plan-100” — was “America — above all!”. “Whether it's producing steel, building cars, or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, in our great homeland: America — creating wealth and jobs for American workers”, — stressed D. Trump.

Regarding the planned reforms in the energy sector, D. Trump said he intended to cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, “…including shale energy and clean coal, that will create many millions of high-paying jobs. This is what we want, what we have long hoped and waited for.” According to independent experts, the implementation of such plans to increase energy carriers production in the United States — is a blow to prices for them, and therefore a devastating blow, first of all, on Russia's economy.

Is Russia already aware of this? It seems to be. For example, Russian President V. Putin at the press conference after the APEC summit in Peru commented on the election of Donald Trump the new President of the USA. He pointed out that there is a great difference between the pre-election campaign and the policy after it. “We are all well aware, everyone knows that there is a great difference between the pre-election rhetoric and the real policy: always and almost in all countries...”

Besides, according to most of the leading domestic and foreign experts, the current political system of the USA would not allow D. Trump to radically change the country's policy, especially in favor of Russia and to the detriment of the USA's allies and partners in Europe. D. Trump is a representative of the US Republican Party, which won a majority in both Houses of the US Congress in the parliamentary elections (held simultaneously with the presidential ones on 8 November 2016) and is in favor of maintaining a tough stance against Russia, Washington's fulfillment of its obligations to NATO, continuation of close cooperation with the European Union, as well as increasing assistance to Ukraine in the confrontation with the Kremlin.

In this situation, D. Trump will have to follow in line with the general policy of the US Republican Party, because otherwise he might lose support in the US Congress.

In this context, D. Trump has already appointed or intends to appoint exactly the Republicans for key posts in the new US leadership. In particular, clear and consistent supporters of the US Republican Party's policy are future US Vice President Michael Pence, candidate for the post of White House Chief of Staff in the coming administration of the President Reince Priebus (Chairman of the US Republican National Committee).

At this, the Republicans' positions in relation to Russia and Ukraine are much more drastic and radical than the Democrats', whose representatives are B. Obama and H. Clinton. In particular, one of the main candidates for the post of US Secretary of State John Bolton has called on the new US administration to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons and other assistance, and to revive the former US President George W. Bush's plan for early granting NATO membership to our country.

Along with this, there may also remain and even grow certain internal problems in the USA due to some political and business circles', and a number of American citizens' being not happy with Donald Trump's being US President-Elect. Evidence of this is the massive protests of representatives of D. Trump's opponents' electorate, which, according to some estimates, were allegedly organized by his rivals. In particular, there were even allegations that another American billionaire — philanthropist, philosopher and investor George Soros was guilty of them, as well as hints on his involvement in the “overthrow of the democratically elected government in Ukraine”.

Besides, according to a number of American experts' forecasts, D. Trump's implementation of the economic block of his election program may lead to a complication of the USA's financial problems due to a certain reduction of the federal budget and increasing social inequality. In turn, this would create preconditions for a growth of economic and social tension in the country, which would be even worse as a result of D. Trump's plans for deportation of migrants.

So, Russia will hardly be able to implement its plans in full. No matter to what extant pro-Russian are the views demonstrated by D. Trump, the USA will never betray its interests and will not give up its position of the world leader.

At this, we should not exclude the possibility of further deterioration of relations between the USA and Russia as a result of a collision of D. Trump's and V. Putin's personal ambitions. In this context, a catalyst for the American-Russian disagreements can become the Kremlin's traditional practice of not fulfilling its obligations and showing disregard for the partners, as well as differences between the parties on a number of issues of international security policy.

In particular, in this context, exemplary is the statement of one of the closest assistants of the US President-Elect — R. Giuliani about “...D. Trump's being ready to resume cooperation with Russia exclusively from a position of force, and only on those issues that would meet the interests of both the countries”.

 

Baba Yaga Is Against

Nevertheless, despite everything, Russia today is already using the post-election situation in the United States for its own selfish purposes. Also, the Russian Federation's leadership is intensifying a wide range of activities for the final solution of the “Ukrainian” issue in Moscow's favor.

Within the framework of this approach, the Kremlin increases pressure on Ukraine in all areas in order to make our state agree to making favorable for Russia decisions which would “freeze” the conflict in the Donbas and allow to lift/ease the West's sanctions against Russia. In particular, in the above-mentioned context, Russia's demands include forcing Ukraine to agree the so-called “Steinmeier's formula”, which provides for the granting “special statuses”, to the “DPR” and “LPR” for the period of the elections in the breakaway republics. By this, Moscow is trying to create preconditions for the official recognition of the “DPR” and “LPR” and their formal returning into Ukraine, while maintaining Russia's de facto control over them, and the Russian military presence in the occupied territories.

Moscow also is intensifying activities to restore the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, including destabilization of the situation in our country and undermining the positions of the current leadership of Ukraine on the ground of sharpening socio-economic problems in the country, as well as providing general support for pro-Russian political forces and movements, controlled by Moscow. Through these forces the Kremlin initiates the question of holding early parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine already in 2017 with hope for Russia's supporters' winning.

The destabilization of the internal situation in Ukraine is used by Russia to demonstrate in front of D. Trump “the Ukrainian leadership's inability to ensure stability in the country” and “the Ukrainian authorities' losing the population's support”. It is exactly on this that the protests (inspired recently by Russia) in Ukraine are focused on. At this, we should not exclude the possibility of provocations against the participants of meetings and demonstrations (including shooting and terrorist attacks) as the reason for the unrest, clashes with the police and attempts to capture state institutions in order to create chaos in the country.

In order to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the new US leadership as the country, which “conducts the policy of state terrorism” and “is responsible for the continuation of the conflict in the Donbas”, Russia can carry out a number of resonant provocations (such as terrorist attacks and shelling of residential areas and places of gatherings of people) in the “DPR “and” LPR”, in the Crimea, as well as in its own (Russian) and in Belarus (!) territories with further accusing Ukraine of them and drawing in other CIS countries into the orbit of confrontation with Ukraine. Actually, the Putin regime has already started this kind of actions, the evidence of which has been the series of Russia's provocations (since August of this year) in the Crimea, connected with the “disclosure and retention by FSB of Ukrainian saboteurs and spies”, which were organized during the US election campaign and intensified after the election of D. Trump US President.

Besides, after the failure of the theme of “Ukrainian saboteurs in the Crimea”, Russia has tried to sharpen the situation around the planned missile tests by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on 1-2 December 2016 in Kherson region with launching anti-aircraft missiles. In this context, Moscow pursued an active information campaign with allegations about “Ukraine's intention to apply missile attacks on the Crimea” and “Ukraine's creation of threats to air traffic”.

To make the situation look sharper, November 25, 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense warned Ukraine that Moscow intended “to provide an adequate response in case of threats to the security of the Crimea”. In this context, the Kremlin stressed the possibility of destroying Ukrainian missiles in the air and attacking their launchers in the territory of Ukraine. To reinforce these threats, they increased the degree of alert and reinforced the system of air defense of the RF Armed Forces in the Crimea. In particular, on 30th November, 2016, Russia additionally deployed in the Crimea the S-300VM air defense missile system. Besides, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet were brought to combat positions off the Crimean Peninsula. At the same time, the Russians intensified their air reconnaissance of the southern regions of Ukraine.

Within the framework of such a treacherous policy, Moscow can resort to intensifying its military pressure on Ukraine by escalating the armed conflict in the Donbas, especially on the Prymorskyi (Mariupol) direction. At this, we should not exclude Russia's resumption and intensifying offensive actions, including offensive operations, — from local (in terms of expanding the controlled area) to larger-scaled ones. Evidence of this is the permanent continuation of the Russian side's activities to build up the troops, weapons and ammunition in the occupied territories of the Donbas and the Crimea, as well as the intensified shelling of the ATO forces' positions and civilian settlements.

Even more disturbing and threatening are the ongoing and planned for 2017 military preparations of the Kremlin in Belarus, next to the northern borders of Ukraine and on Belarus' western borders with the EU and NATO (Poland and the Baltic states). We are talking about the RF Defence Ministry's applications for transportation by railway of military supplies to Belarus for 2017, which are significantly higher than the applications of 2015 (33 times) and 2016 (83 times), respectively. Experts see this as Russia's preparations for Russian-Belarusian “Zapad-2017” SCPE (Strategic Command Post Exercises). Similar SCPE “Zapad-2013” (in 2013) were conducted by Russia before its armed aggression against Ukraine. At this, the scale, and other specifications of “Zapad-2013”, including the operational order of battle of the forces, were exactly like real actions of the Russian troops in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine in the spring of 2014.

However, taking into consideration the scale of Russia's military transportations, it can be the relocation to the territory of Belarus of the vast majority of units and groups of the newly created (with the achievement of operational readiness in 2016) 1st Guards Tank Army (interestingly, the previous 1st Guards Tank Army in 1945 was taking Berlin, and after the war was part of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany until 1992). At this, we can't exclude the Kremlin's plans to attack Ukraine from the north, or its aggression against the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states on the Suwalki direction.

The Russian Federation's intensifying military activities on the Ukrainian and European directions is possible also within the framework of the new training year in the Russian Armed Forces from December 1, 2016. In particular, as of today, they have already announced the plans for the trainings of the 1st Guards Tank Army of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces consisting of new forces (two newly formed Regiments as part of the 4th Guards Kantemir Tank Division and the 2nd Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division).

 

Hand of Moscow

Based on the changes expected by Russia in D. Trump's future policy regarding the EU and NATO, Moscow is stepping up measures to undermine the transatlantic relationship and the unity of the European Union. In this context, the Kremlin's main efforts include increasing influence on the EU and NATO individual Member States, interested in the resumption of cooperation with Russia, by “blind use” for their own purposes of pro-Russian, nationalist, various right-wing and left-wing forces in Europe, as well as ensuring profitable for Moscow results of parliamentary and presidential elections in a number of European countries.

Pro-Kremlin Political Parties in Europe

Pro-Kremlin Political Parties in Europe

In particular, in a proximity of the presidential elections in France (April-May 2017) and parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic of Germany (August-September 2017), Moscow intensifies measures to undermine the French President F. Hollande's and German Chancellor A. Merkel's positions. According to a number of leading independent experts, Russia was behind the initiative of the deputies of the French Parliament to prepare the French President F. Hollande's impeachment on charges of “serious violations of his duties, particularly in the defense sphere”. It is possible that this was one of the reasons for Francois Hollande's becoming the first president in the history of the Fifth Republic, who refused to go for elections for a second term.

Let's be honest, today Russia's massive influence has caused the victories of pro-Russian forces' leaders in the presidential elections in Bulgaria and Moldova in November, 2016. For example, even during the election campaign, the presidential candidate of Bulgaria Rumen Radev, who won the elections, expressed the intention to raise in the European Union the question of lifting sanctions against Russia. The new President of Moldova I. Dodon also confirmed his plans for the country's rapprochement with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EurAsEC). According to him, at the first stage, a memorandum of cooperation with the EurAsEC is expected to be signed. However, despite his previous statements, I. Dodon has spoken for the continuation of cooperation between Moldova and the European Union within the framework of the Association Agreement with the EU. Thus, he has actually announced his intention to lead the so-called multi-vector policy, which was attributed to sharp differences in political views of the population of different regions of the country.

In line with this policy of Moscow there were Putin's regime's attempts to organize a coup in Montenegro in October 2016 (on the day of parliamentary elections) in favor of Montenegrin political forces of pro-Russian orientation. The Kremlin has been supporting pro-Russian forces (from the opposition Social Democratic Union) in Macedonia, where for December this year are scheduled early parliamentary elections, as well as in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Besides, Russia has intensified significantly its interference into electoral processes in other European countries and in former Soviet republics, first of all during the re-run of presidential elections in Austria and the early presidential elections in Uzbekistan. A proof of this was Russia's information support to the presidential candidate from the far-right Austrian Freedom Party Norbert Hofer (December 4, 2016 he lost the election) and the candidate for the post of president of Uzbekistan, Prime Minister since December 2003 Shavkat Mirzijaev (December 4, 2016, he expectedly won the election).

I would like to think that the defeat in the presidential election of the candidate from the founded by former Nazi Freedom Party will allow the leaders of the European Union to sigh with relief, as they really feared that in the wake of Brexit and D. Trump's victory in the United States, the victory of the Austrian far-right would trigger a “domino effect” in the elections in 2017 in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Along with this, Russia activates its actions to make a split between Ukraine and its European partners that support our state in the confrontation with Russia, as well as are de facto lobbyists of Ukrainian interests in the EU and NATO. The above-said is true first of all about Germany, France, Poland, Romania and the Baltic countries.

So, Russia has actually confirmed its policy of making the split between Ukraine and Poland: the Russian State Duma adopted a resolution condemning the joint Declaration of Remembrance and Solidarity, adopted by the Parliaments of Ukraine and Poland (on October 20, 2016). The State Duma of the Russian Federation calls the document “the attempts of politicians of Ukraine and Poland to rewrite the history of World War II”. According to the Russian side, “...this way Ukraine and Poland not only cause irreparable damage to relations with Russia, but also undermine the inviolability of their own borders”.

Against the background of the above-mentioned developments, V. Putin's regime kept making efforts to intimidate European countries by demonstrating Russia's military capabilities and preparations. According to the Russian Federation Defence Ministry's official reports, since the beginning of 2016, the military formations and units of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces have received more than 1.5 thousand test pieces of weapons and military equipment, including tanks and armored combat vehicles, missile and artillery systems, aircraft and helicopters.

Among the main ones were mentioned infantry fighting vehicles BMP-3, BTR-82A armored vehicles, “Tiger” vehicles, “Typhoon” armored vehicles, Su-35 fighters, attack helicopters Mi-28N “Night Hunter”, Mi-35 “Crocodile” and Ka-52 “Alligator”, Mi-8AMTSh “Terminator” transport-attack helicopters, and also UAVs. In turn, in 2016, the “Almaz-Antey” concern of aerospace defense has supplied the troops with five regimental anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 “Triumph”, as well as with the air defense system of medium-range “Buk-M2” and “Buk-M3” and of short range — “Tor-M2”.

 

Pardon Impossible to Execute

And what should Ukraine do under such circumstances?

Firstly, we need to clearly and unequivocally acknowledge that the results of the US Presidential election should be seen as yet another signal that the international situation is becoming more and more unfavorable for Ukraine.

That is, the election of an extraordinary businessman and billionaire Donald Trump the new US President, in addition to Europe's “fatigue syndrome” from Ukraine, namely: the results of the referendum in the Netherlands (6 April 2016) against the ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU; the results of the Brexit referendum (23 June 2016) about the UK's leaving the European Union; overall growth of Euroskeptic and anti-sanctions sentiments in the united Europe; the European Union's postponing on various pretexts the “visa free regime” for Ukraine, as well as shelving and decreasing the amount of the IMF's regular tranches to Ukraine is another (would to God that the last!) challenge (risk) to the preservation of the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and in general of Ukraine's statehood. In other words, now we in no case should let Ukraine lose the constant attention to itself of the main world center of power — the United States.

Secondly, in these circumstances, there is one and only way out for our country — in any civilized (!) way to strengthen D. Trump's attention and, most importantly, genuine interest to Ukraine.

We should not forget that any new president in any country (in the USA included!) who had just come to power, the next day with his team begins to work on how to stay in power for a second term — and this is not subject to discussion, because it is an axiom! That is, the newly elected president and his team will work hard and continuously and exclusively for his electorate (D. Trump's team is no exception). But then what does Ukraine have to do with D. Trump's ambitious plans?

According to the vast majority of leading Ukrainian and foreign experts in foreign and security policy, drawing special attention to Ukraine is the only way to preserve US President-Elect D. Trump's interest to Ukraine.

It is hard to tell now — where and in which areas of international security, foreign or domestic policy, or economy could Ukraine be of a serious geopolitical interest for the US President-Elect? Possibly, it could be: the expansion of Ukraine's participation in international projects in security sphere (in international peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN, NATO, EU, OSCE); active involvement of the scientific-technical and production potential of Ukraine in the implementation of joint space-rocket or aviation, fuel and energy (including nuclear technologies) and military-technical projects with the United States, NATO countries and the European Union; irrefutable results of internal political and economic reforms in Ukraine (including in the fight against corruption), as well as an attractive environment for foreign investments, etc.

Some independent experts believe that the most appropriately this could be done through the implementation of joint with Ukraine (this is the best option!) business projects in different spheres of production or services. In this context, creative enough sounds the State Enterprise “Antonov”'s proposal to provide the new president of the United States Donald Trump with a plane for the presidential aircraft fleet.

Generally speaking, Ukraine could make D. Trump interested by a creative business-model of development of the country following the example of Singapore Taiwan, etc. Are there no creative ideas in our country at all?

In my opinion, our specialists (economists, financial experts, scientists, analysts, top managers, and so on) should have started thinking over such promising projects at the beginning D. Trump's campaign, not after the elections. This issue should be the main constant leitmotif of Ukraine's foreign economic policy, science and practice on the American direction. At this, the foreign policy, international security and diplomacy of Ukraine should be compulsory accompanying components of all these processes. I mean, today Donald Trump should have known exactly what and who is worth being protected and supported by him in Ukraine!

Thirdly, Ukraine needs to develop as soon as possible and to legally adopt the Concept (and better and more accurately — Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine. What for?

Honestly, I cannot explain even to myself or to my friends and colleagues, or to my opponents and enemies — why for more than two and a half years of the war with Russia, our legislative and executive authorities have not managed (...were not able to, as they were very busy counting the profits to fill the e-declarations; ...did not want to, because “that's below”; just were afraid to, because it entails a responsibility before the people of Ukraine — dear readers, choose the appropriate phrase yourself and put it into the sentence) to develop and adopt a Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine?

And when some statesmen, MPs (“people's representatives”) and politicians of various stripes say that on the 31st of August the Government of Ukraine approved the Concept of de-occupation of Ukraine (advertized on the eve on the ICTV TV channel by Deputy Minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons Heorhiy Tuka as the “Strategy of de-occupation of the Crimea and Donbas”), they either do not understand the question, or simply “cheat us”, or are cunning, not to show their helplessness and inaction on this issue.

The matter is that the document with loud advertising — “Strategy of De-occupation of the Crimea and Donbas” — is nothing more than the Concept of the State Target Program (STP) “Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine”, which was presented by the Ministry for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons. The purpose of the STP is to restore peace and development in the East of Ukraine, which provides for promoting social and economic development to improve the quality of life of the population by strengthening their capacity and social sustainability, as well as stimulating economic activity. According to statements by the Minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons V. Chernysh, the Concept of the GPC “Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine” refers only to the areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.

The main content of the STP — is, in fact, two analytical assessments: assessment of the ways to restore and develop peace in the East of Ukraine — developed by the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and the Government of Ukraine, and the typical assessment of the post-conflict needs (PCNA — Post Conflict Needs Assessment) — developed by the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank in 2008. That is, in this document (STP) there is not a word about the Crimea, or de-occupation of the Crimea and Donbas.

The Concept of the State Target Program “Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine”

The Concept of the State Target Program “Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine”

So, today we desperately need a Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine as a national idea for the near future as part of the general national idea — preservation and assertion of the European state system of Ukraine. Nobody says that this Concept (Strategy) should disclose detailed plans, programs and specific measures and actions, as well as all the mechanisms and tools of de-occupation of the Crimea and Donbas. The secret component of the Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine also needs to be, but it is purely for direct executors and purely in the form of individual appendixes. But the essence, strategic direction, possible ways to achieve and the ultimate aim of the Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine has to be known to the whole Ukrainian people, and to all the countries of the CIS, the EU, to the United States, NATO, the UN, other international and regional organizations and in general, to the entire civilized world.

In the same context of transparency and publicity of the Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine it would be extremely important to attract to its development both, the state authorities and local self-government, and international partners, the scientific community, independent public (non-governmental) organizations and representatives of media. Besides, its draft must go through the procedure of public discussion and mandatory approval by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

We must not forget that Donald Trump — is, above all, the highest level businessman who created himself, and now also defeated an experienced politician — H. Clinton — in the presidential race. He is very well versed in all sorts of business documents (business plans, business projects, business programs, feasibility studies, investments, stock contracts and agreements, and so on), in their necessity and importance in the practical implementation of this or that idea. He subtly and professionally feels false and subterfuges. He has no respect for outsiders and losers. Therefore the Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine — as a kind of basic business plan — should be clear and understandable, well-calculated, i.e., real, and all its annexes (in particular in business-investments, agreements, etc.) should be deeply grounded.

Only under such conditions, as well as in relation to the previous point about drawing D. Trump's attention to Ukraine, after the publication of our Concept (Strategy) of de-occupation of Ukraine, he and his team will know, and in eventually understand: what is happening in Ukraine and around it in terms of security; what and how does Ukraine want from the civilized world; what he as the President and his country (the United States) as the main political center of power and the main driving force of world development should uphold and defend in Ukraine, and whether it is necessary to give Ukraine lethal weapons and what kind of weapons, or would it be better to focus solely on political and diplomatic, financial and economic measures, etc.?

Fourthly, It is appropriate and absolutely necessary for Ukraine in the near future to approach international and regional organizations (especially the UN, the EU, NATO and the OSCE, as well as GUAM, BSEC and the “Visegrad Four”) with a new initiative in the security sphere, namely, — about the need to develop and adopt separate international legal mechanisms and tools for urgent resolution of conflicts, where one of the parties to the conflict is the Russian Federation.

As you know, today a number of independent countries, mainly those of the CIS, are witnesses and direct participants of the conflicts (in the vast majority — of “frozen” ones), where one of the parties to the conflict is the Russian Federation, namely: in the territory of Armenia and Azerbaijan — Nagornyi Karabakh; on the territory of Moldova — Trans-Dniester; on the territory of Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia; in Ukraine — the Crimea and Donbas.

Close to European borders conflicts with the Russian Federation’s participation

Close to European borders conflicts with the Russian Federation’s participation

Besides, on 22 November, 2016, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the meeting in Berlin with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that the multipolar armed conflict in Syria, which lasts from the beginning of the “Arab Spring” of 2011, as of the end of 2016 is not a civil war. Now it is an international conflict.

Note:

In the conflict in Syria, apart from the IS forces, government troops and armed opposition groups and their allies, in particular, participate Russia, Iran, USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Russia, Bashar al-Assad's regime's long-time sister-in-arms, has repeatedly been accused of war crimes in Syria. After meeting with Staffan de Mistura, the faction of the “Green” in the Bundestag has called on the EU to impose sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Syria.

This will probably be enough for the international community to support this kind of initiative of Ukraine, especially given Russia's recent aggressive threats and ambitions in respect of a number of European countries (in particular Finland, Poland and the Baltic countries).

 

Conclusion.

In the near future — in January-February 2017, the main significant events which will dot the “i”s will be the USA's decisions on maintaining or lifting the sanctions against the Russian Federation, as well as on fulfilling or giving up the commitments to NATO and the European Union on strengthening the US military presence in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.