August 14, 2016

Ukraine's Current Foreign Policy Initiatives for a Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict in the Donbas

As you know, on July 9, 2016 in Warsaw, in the format of the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, with the participation of the President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko, US President B. Obama, French President F. Hollande, German Chancellor A. Merkel, British Prime Minister D. Cameron and Italian Prime Minister M. Renzi, there was achieved a strategically important agreement, providing for intensification of the Minsk negotiation process on peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas.

The essence of this agreement is that the Advisers on Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the USA, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy, from July 2016 start holding informal consultations and negotiations in order to de-escalate the military-political situation in the Donbas and to develop joint political and diplomatic mechanisms of coercion Russia and the leaders of the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR” to strict fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements.

 

Analysis of the current military situation in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) gives reason to state that there is actually no substantial progress in resolving the military conflict in the Donbas.

Most experts say that today the Minsk negotiation process, aimed at de-escalation of the military confrontation in the Donbas, is almost blocked by the Russian Federation and its supporters- separatists.

Thus, Russia and the supported by it illegal armed formations (IAF) in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) violate the provisions of the first paragraph of the Package of Measures for Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015, providing for the immediate and general cease-fire in the conflict region.

De facto, since May and June 2016 we have been observing a sharp aggravation of the military situation in the Donbas, which leads to deaths of civilians and Ukrainian military servicemen, as well as massive destruction of civilian objects and industrial infrastructure.

The Ukrainian side says that without the proper level of security in the zone of the military conflict, successful implementation of a number of other strategically important political, socio-economic, legal, humanitarian and other important objectives of the Minsk negotiation process is impossible.

It should be noted that the signed by the leaders of Ukraine, France, Germany and the Russian Federation on the 12th of February, 2015 Package of Measures for Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, is not an effective tool to force Russia and leaders of illegal armed groups of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” to peace.

The independent experts' analysis gives reason to state that the strategic foreign policy goal for Ukraine is to expand the format of the participants of the negotiation process on peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas. Thus, the Ukrainian side believes that the involvement in the “Normandy Format” of the USA, Great Britain and Italy would enhance political and diplomatic efforts to ensure security in the Donbas.

The experts also point out “a positive political signal”, given to Ukraine in Warsaw, on the 9th of July, 2016 about the readiness of the leading world powers to take an active part in the negotiation process over the Donbas.

At this, the analysis also gives reason to believe that the Ukrainian side may soon come up with the following three foreign-policy initiatives aimed at a peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas. We can expect that these initiatives will be supported by both, Ukraine's partner countries in the “Normandy Format” (Germany and France), and by the leaders of the USA, the UK and Italy.

 

The first foreign policy initiative provides for: all parties to the conflict sticking to “sustainable and inclusive ceasefire”; withdrawal of arms and military equipment from the line of contact; creation of demilitarized zones (security zones) in the conflict region. A key component of the process is to ensure the conditions for the control and verification of “ceasefire” by observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM).

The most important condition for this process is to provide the SMM's easy access to the temporarily uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border.

 

The second foreign policy initiative provides for the immediate withdrawal of Russian regular forces and illegal armed groups from the Ukrainian territory. An essential component of the process is to end the Russian Federation's military, financial, logistical, resource and other types of support for the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR”.

As part of implementation of this foreign policy initiative, it is necessary to provide for the following measures: to release all hostages and illegally detained persons, including in the territory of the Russian Federation; to grant amnesty to members of illegal armed groups that have not been involved in committing grave and especially grave crimes; to resume the activity of state power bodies of Ukraine in the ORDLO.

 

The third foreign policy initiative provides for organization of international control to stabilize the situation in the Donbas. To this end, we need a political decision on organizing the work of the OSCE Armed Police Mission.

At this, the key provision for Ukraine will be the requirement for deployment of the personnel of the OSCE Armed Police Mission both, on the demarcation line between the warring parties, and on the temporarily uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border.

In case of stabilization of the situation in the conflict region, experts believe it possible to arrange the electoral process in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in accordance with the national legislation of Ukraine and the OSCE standards.

An integral component of the process should be legislative changes and additions to the Constitution of Ukraine in terms of decentralization and granting special status to the ORDLO that is subject to separate political and legal discussions.

 

In confirmation of the relevance of the Minsk negotiation process for the peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas, on August 12, 2016 the US Vice President J. Biden and President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko had a telephone conversation, in which they discussed the implementation of the provisions of the “Minsk-2” and the situation in the Crimea. Both leaders stressed their strong support for political and diplomatic means to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular through full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

 

So:

1. Within the format of the held on July 9, 2016 in Warsaw meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission a strategically important agreement was achieved, providing for intensification of the Minsk negotiation process on the peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas. This agreement provides for participation in the “Normandy negotiation format” of the United States, Great Britain and Italy, which would significantly strengthen the political and diplomatic efforts to ensure security in the conflict region.

2. As a result of the meeting of NATO-Ukraine Commission, Ukraine has received a significant “political and diplomatic signal” from the United States and other leading countries about their supporting our country in protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity — in the face of the continued Russian military aggression against our Country.

3. The analysis gives reason to believe that the Ukrainian side may soon come up with a number of foreign policy initiatives aimed at a peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas. At this, these initiatives will be predictably supported by both, Ukraine's partner-countries in the “Normandy Format” (Germany and France), and by the leaders of the USA, the UK and Italy.

 

 

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