Borysfen Intel

Germany — a Stabilizing Factor and a Driving Force in the Development of a European Democratic Ukraine — 3

March 15, 2016
<p>Germany — a Stabilizing Factor and a Driving Force in the Development of a European Democratic Ukraine — 3</p>

Yuriy Radkovets

Germany's Role in the Minsk Negotiation Process within the Framework of “Norman” Format: the Hopes, Failures and Prospects


A Short Course of Events within the Framework of the “Minsk-1”

Despite the Putin regime's declarations on the “Russia's aspirations towards peace”, Moscow's role in the events in the East of Ukraine was becoming greater and was taking new forms. Thus, the Russian Federation had expanded significantly the volumes of weapons deliveries to the Donbas, heavy military equipment included, and had started forming regular groups of the Armed Forces in the occupied Ukrainian territory with a view to their deployment permanently.

Besides, Russian troops and pro-Russian militias continued systematic shelling of positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and also conducted local offensive actions in certain areas. After a short break, they also restarted fire strikes on the border areas of Ukraine, adjacent to the conflict zone.

In order to conceal violations of the Minsk Agreements (within the framework of the Minsk-1) and aggressive actions against Ukraine, the leadership of the Russian Federation started creating complications in the work of the OSCE Mission in the conflict zone in the Donbas. In particular, during the second half of October 2014 Moscow blocked the OSCE's decision to extend the mandate of the Mission on the Ukrainian-Russian border. As a result, the OSCE Council had to continue the mandate of the existing mission, only for one more month in a number of 16 observers only at two checkpoints and that actually left the eastern border of Ukraine open to Russia.

In such a situation, in accordance with its international obligations, the Federal Republic of Germany had assumed a major role in coordinating the pressure on Russia to make it implement the Minsk Agreements. Besides, the FRG became the main moderator of the economic and political aid to Ukraine, as well as of the consolidation of the EU's efforts to resolve the situation around our country. At this, Germany was using the entire spectrum of its capacity of influence on the Russian Federation, both, on its own, and with the involvement of the whole of the European Union's potential.

Thus, according to Germany's demand, October 6, 2014 the situation in the East of Ukraine was discussed at the special meeting of the European Parliament. During the hearing, Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy F. Mogherini admitted Russia’s failure to implement the Minsk Agreements and Moscow’s continuing the military aggression against Ukraine. According to F. Mogherini, since the conclusion of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, de facto only Ukraine was working on their implementation, while the top leaders of the Russian Federation and controlled by them militants were demonstrating blunt sabotage of their commitments.

This conclusion was confirmed by the Special Coordinator of the Government of Germany for cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the countries of the “Eastern Partnership” G. Erler. On a visit to Moscow in October 2014, he confirmed “the Kremlin's complete disregard for its obligations to influence the people who control Donetsk and Luhansk, for the purpose of actual implementation of the Minsk peace agreements”.

In these circumstances, Germany and France spoke about the need to strengthen the international monitoring of developments in the Donbas, first of all in the context of Moscow's compliance with ceasefire in the conflict zone. In particular, in this regard, Berlin demanded the number of international OSCE observers in the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine to be increased.

According to international experts, since that moment Germany and France had completely changed their attitude towards Russia and turned to firm and uncompromising policy towards V. Putin's regime. Berlin and Paris' firmness and negative character of positions against the Russian Federation were confirmed during the second meeting of the “Norman Four” on 16-17 October, 2014 in the Italian city of Milan. No specific agreement was reached, but Moscow was once again told that all its hopes to get away with its actions against Ukraine are vain.


Russia's Attempts to “Legitimize” the Self-Proclaimed DPR and LPR

In this situation, V. Putin's regime also resorted to a number of changes in the implementation of the tactics and strategy of its actions at the Ukrainian direction, namely — it focused on “legitimization” of the DNR and LNR through their formal remaining part of Ukraine, but under Moscow’s full control. At the same time Russia and the terrorists of the DPR/LPR kept maintaining the permanent military tension in the Donbas by continuing local military operations on the line of contact.

That way the Kremlin was trying to get a strong and long-term leverage over Ukraine (first of all, to prevent Ukraine's joining NATO and the EU), to drain the military and economic resources of Ukraine, to destabilize the internal situation in the country and, in the end — to create preconditions for restoration of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

After Russia's demand of Ukrainian and international recognition of the DPR and LPR, another Putin's regime’s step in this direction was the holding on 2 November 2014 of the so-called “presidential and parliamentary elections” in the breakaway republics. The “elections” were held by their “laws” without taking into consideration the electoral legislation of Ukraine, which was Russia's another violation of the Minsk Agreements. According to the results of “voting”, completely predictable was winning by the current “leaders” of the DPR and LPR — puppets of the Russian Federation. By this Russia was turning the conflict in the East of Ukraine into protracted and long form of struggle, in fact — into struggle of resources and capabilities of the parties.

Changes in Russia's policy towards Ukraine caused an immediate and adequate response by the allies and partners of our State. Thus, a political assessment of the “elections” in the Donbas was given by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the very next day after the elections. On behalf of the European Union, she recognized the illegality and illegitimacy of “voting” in the DPR and LPR, and called them a significant additional obstacle on the way to   restoration of peace in the region. According to Merkel, the EU will never recognize the results of these “elections”. The illegitimacy of “voting” in the Donbas was also acknowledged by the PACE and the EU Council.

At the same time Germany had significantly expanded the volume of economic support for Ukraine. In particular, the Federal Government of Germany gave Ukraine 25 million Euros for accommodation during the autumn-winter period of temporarily displaced citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Crimea. In October-December 2014 into Ukraine were sent prefabricated modular homes, suitable for use in winter conditions. German towns of housing for refugees have been deployed in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv and several other regions and towns of Ukraine. Besides, at A. Merkel's initiative, Germany sent a humanitarian convoy worth 10 million Euros to provide assistance to the population of the affected areas of the Donbas.

The German government also provided state guarantees worth more than 500 million Euros on loans for the resumption of economic and social infrastructure of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Additional grant funds in the amount of 500 million Euros were allocated to the Foreign Ministry of Germany to meet social needs of refugees and internally displaced persons.

At the same time, Ukraine's allies and partners continued strengthening of sanctions against Russia. November 12, 2014 Switzerland joined the European Union's sanctions against Moscow. November 24 — sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation were introduced by New Zealand. In particular, were closed the accounts of “Gazprombank” and several other Russian financial institutions, first of all of the oil and gas industry. November 27, the US State Department banned the supply to Russia of materials used in electronic and military sectors of the industry.

However, the West's actions constrained Moscow only partially, and the latter was not going to give up its plans for Ukraine. Thus, Russia only simulated execution of the Minsk Agreements within the framework of Minsk-1, and actually used them only in order to obtain additional time to regroup its forces and replenish the armed groups of terrorists.

At this, Russia kept maintaining the tension in the Donbas, and in the middle of January 2015 resumed active hostilities in the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine. This time the main lines of action were the Donetsk airport and the area of ​​the city of Debaltsevo. Besides, the Russian side had stepped up its military activity near Mariupol, Volnovakha and Horlivka, in the northern outskirts of Luhansk, as well as in a number of other areas.

At the expense of another escalation of the armed conflict in the Donbas, the Russian leadership sought to achieve several strategic and tactical goals, which were of great importance for Putin's regime. First of all, to put pressure on Ukraine to make it fulfill Russian terms of “settlement” of the conflict in the Donbas. By this Russia hoped to create pre-conditions for lifting of the West's sanctions on the grounds of “resolving the Ukrainian issue” and, at the same time, to maintain its positions in Ukraine.

At the same time Moscow intended to improve the positions of the DPR and LPR by capturing additional territories and important economic facilities. In this regard, the main efforts of the Russian-terrorist units were aimed at establishing control over the Donetsk airport, which is actually located within the city of Donetsk, and over the city of Debaltsevo — the main transport hub between the two self-proclaimed republics.

Such actions of the Russian Federation completely destroyed the entire system of the Minsk negotiations, based at the leading participation of Germany, and created a direct threat to the emergence of large-scale armed conflict in the East of Ukraine, with unpredictable consequences. Thus, quite clear became Moscow's attempts to implement its  plans to create a land corridor to the Crimea and Trans-Dniester by capturing the southern (coastal) regions of Ukraine.

Russia's disruption of the Minsk Agreements within the framework of the Minsk-1 was a direct challenge to the Federal Republic of Germany and France, which began taking urgent measures in response. 5-6 February 2015, German Chancellor A. Merkel and French President F. Hollande visited Kyiv and Moscow, where they presented their proposals to end the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine. On the night of February 10, the proposals were discussed and agreed upon during the emergency meeting in Berlin of Deputy Foreign Ministers of countries of the “Norman Four”.

Minsk-2: Groundless Expectations and the Hopeless Reality

All this allowed to hold negotiations at the highest political level, which took place February 11-12, 2015 in Minsk with the participation of A. Merkel, F. Holland, P. Poroshenko and V. Putin. All in all, the negotiations in the format of the Heads of States of the “Norman Four” lasted for about 17 hours. At this, the leaders of Germany and France tried to persuade V. Putin that Moscow needed to return to peace in the Donbas. In his turn, Putin kept denying Russia’s involvement in the conflict in the region and demanded recognition of the breakaway republics by Ukraine.

Nevertheless, based on the results of the meeting, the leaders of the “Norman Four” agreed on a Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements in order to de-escalate the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine, and adopted the “Declaration in Support of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, including 13 points and comprising: immediate and comprehensive cease-fire in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, and its strict fulfilling from 00:00 February 15, 2015 Kyiv time; withdrawal of heavy weapons by both parties on the set distance in order to create a security zone, as well as monitoring and verification of the ceasefire by the OSCE using all the necessary technical systems, including satellites, UAVs and radar systems.

Later the  Package  of  Measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements to de-escalate the armed conflict in the East of  Ukraine, as well as the “Declaration in Support of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” received the informal name: the Minsk Agreements — Minsk-2.

However, due to V. Putin's refusal, the agreements did not find official confirmation at the highest state level of the “Norman” format. Instead of the leaders of the four countries, the new Minsk Agreements were signed within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group, with the participation of Ukraine, Russia, OSCE and the DNR and LNR. Thus, Putin's regime made another attempt to legitimize representatives of the self-proclaimed DPR/LPR, and to get rid of the legal responsibility for resolving of the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine with preservation of all possibilities for interfering into it.

Especially since Russia was not going to stop its interference and continued fighting in the Donbas, openly showing contempt for its Western partners in the negotiating process. Thus, even during the meeting of the “Norman Four” in Minsk, the Russian-terrorist formations of the self-proclaimed DPR/LPR, with the support of Russian troops, activated their attack at the city of Debaltsevo which continued even after the official armistice.

At this, both, the Russian leadership and the leaders of the DPR/LPR kept cynically stating that they had “no opportunity to influence the armed groups involved in the fighting at Debaltsevo direction”. At the same time, Russia and its puppets in the Donbas kept accusing Ukraine of “violation of the Minsk Agreements”. Based on these “charges”, the pro-Russian terrorists openly threatened to capture the city of Mariupol, as well as the entire territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russia's another demonstration of its open disregard for its international obligations, as well as a direct disrespect to the leaders of the leading EU countries and in the whole of the European Union and the OSCE, had caused a new wave of indignation throughout the civilized world. From that moment on, the USA and the EU realized that it was impossible to make any agreements with Putin's regime and actually supported the policy of changing the Russian authorities by targeting the collapse of the Russian economy within the framework of international political and economic sanctions and other restrictive measures.

Thus, already February 18, 2015, almost immediately after the capture by the Russian-terrorist forces of Debaltsevo, A. Merkel's Speaker — S. Seibert expressed the EU's intentions to impose new sanctions against V. Putin's regime. However, Germany and other major European Union's countries were still hoping to persuade the Russian leadership to implement the peace plan within the framework of the Minsk Agreements.

February 19, 2015, at A. Merkel's initiative, the situation in the Donbas was discussed in a telephone conversation of the Heads of the States of the “Norman Four”. No concrete results were achieved. As before, Russia and the terrorists continued hostilities in the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine. At this, they captured more of the  Ukrainian territory behind the contact line determined in Minsk.

At the same time, like in the situation of the end of August and beginning of September 2014, their losses forced Russia and terrorists to reduce the intensity of the attacks on the positions of the Ukrainian troops and to temporarily suspend the offensive in all directions.

Besides, under the West's pressure, Putin's regime made certain concessions regarding the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, or, at least, demonstrated such intentions. During another telephone conversation of the “Norman Four” at the highest level on the night of March 2 to 3, 2015 an agreement was achieved to increase the number of OSCE observers and to deploy them in areas of ceasefire violation.

At the same time, Russia continued avoiding real implementation of key provisions of the Minsk Agreements (“Minsk-1” and “Minsk-2”). This issue was the main topic of the telephone conversation of the Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel and the President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko March 6, 2015. Merkel confirmed the immutability of the EU's position on maintaining and strengthening of sanctions against Russia if the Kremlin kept delaying implementation of the Minsk Peace Plan.

In this regard, A. Merkel and F. Hollande, with the participation of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, began to negotiate a new package of sanctions against Russia, directly related to the Kremlin's failure to fulfill the Minsk Agreements. The sanctions were to be introduced during the EU summit on 19-20 March 2015 with their further revision at the end of the same year.

At the same time, as part of a demonstration of support of the international isolation of Russia, A. Merkel declined V. Putin's invitation to the event on the occasion of the Victory Parade on May 9 in Moscow, and the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Kremlin’s invitations were declined by most of other leaders of the leading countries of the world, and that had become a painful blow to the international image of V. Putin, who was building his foreign and domestic policies on the thesis of “Russia's decisive role in the victory over fascism”.

Great attention to the situation around Ukraine was paid by the United States of America. For example, March 18, 2015 US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor A. Merkel held special talks on the events at the Donbas. The parties agreed on the need to maintain sanctions against Russia to the full implementation of the peace agreements, including the return of Ukraine's control over its eastern border.

The clear position of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as support from A. Merkel,  B. Obama, F. Hollande, D. Tusk and leaders of other major EU countries allowed to keep the unity of the European Union's sanctions policy towards Russia, despite the appeals of certain European countries to resume economic cooperation with the Russian Federation. March 20, 2015 the EU Council unanimously adopted a decision to introduce a new package of political and economic sanctions against Russia.


The First Signs of Germany and France's Helplessness before Russia

However, like a year before, after some break for the renewal of its forces, Russia again resumed intensification of   the armed conflict in the Donbas. During April 2015 the fighting in the East of Ukraine was growing in scale with the signs of Russia's preparations to conduct a comprehensive offensive into the territory of Ukraine, including in order to capture the city of Mariupol, and to get to the administrative boundaries of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In response, the Federal Republic of Germany, France and in the whole European Union stepped up pressure on Russia. Thus, April 27, 2015 German Chancellor A.  Merkel expressed a direct warning to the Kremlin about the EU's intentions to impose new sanctions against Russia in June-July of the same year.

At the same time, Germany and the United States tried to take more drastic measures sufficient in terms of the direct pressure directly on Putin. In this context, the most resonant character had A. Merkel's personal meeting with Russian President May 10, 2015 in Moscow, and US Secretary of State J. Kerry's meeting with Putin on May 12, 2015 in Sochi.

The leaders of Germany and the United States for the first time directly and openly defined Putin’s actions against Ukraine as a crime against humanity and a threat to global and European security. Besides, the Russian President was delivered an ultimatum for use against Russia of measures of “critical effect” if Moscow resumed full-scale offensive in the East of Ukraine. Among such measures were mentioned: providing Ukraine with lethal weapons (especially antitank and air defence means); blocking of personal accounts of  Putin and his associates abroad, as well as publication of the facts of the Kremlin's elite's involvement in corrupt practices.

Contrary to the real facts, A. Merkel and J. Kerry's visits to Russia were presented by the Russian media as “Moscow's diplomatic victory” in terms of “breaking Russia's international isolation”. At this, V. Putin himself resorted to openly provocative and indecent steps to publicly justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (provided for the  occupation and called for the partition of Poland between Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany), as well as to demonstrate contempt for J. Kerry.

The efforts taken by Germany and the United States helped keep Russia from launching a strategic offensive in the East of Ukraine, but could not stop Moscow in  implementation of its plans for our State. Within three weeks — June 3, 2015 Russian-terrorist formations of the DPR, supported by units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, made an attempt to capture the city of Maryinka in order to create preconditions for encircling Mariupol.

The attack on Maryinka was successfully countered by Ukraine, which indicated an increase in combat capability and the level of preparation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as the ability to resist attacks of Russian troops while causing tangible and unacceptable for them losses.

Besides, at the strategic level more and more negative for Russia were the effects of Western sanctions against the Russian Federation, which had actually put the Russian economy on the brink of a major crisis and inevitable collapse.

In this situation, Putin's regime made new adjustments to the strategy and tactics of its actions in the Donbas in terms of the transition to a cyclic (controlled) aggravation of the situation in the conflict zone with a further resumption of peace talks. Due to this, Russia imitated “execution” of the provisions of the Minsk Agreements, and made attempts to “buy time” and to drain Ukraine and its allies.

In their turn, the Federal Republic of Germany and France, as countries who actually took the responsibility for the security of Ukraine, continued to increase pressure on the Putin regime. Thus, each new fact of Russia's provoking an exacerbation of the situation in the Donbas, was followed  by meetings and negotiations at different levels, both within the “Norman Four”, and in other formats, which were initiated mainly by Germany. Besides, Germany remained one of the principal conductors of Ukrainian interests in the European Union.

In particular, because of another escalation of the armed conflict in the Donbas, on the initiative of the German side, August 24, 2015 in Berlin, there was a meeting of A. Merkel, F. Hollande and P. Poroshenko, without Putin. Apart from the situation in the Donbas and joint actions by the parties to ensure the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the parties also discussed the issue of the implementation of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, as well as strengthening of Ukraine’s energy security. At the same time, Ukraine’s Western partners rejected the idea of ​​expanding the “Normandy Format” by including other countries and international organizations.

The next act of the FRG's demonstration of support for Ukraine was A. Merkel's meeting with P. Poroshenko August 27, 2015 in New York on the sidelines of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly. At the same time the Federal Chancellor of Germany refused to meet with V. Putin, and this once again demonstrated her attitude. At the same time A. Merkel accused Moscow of violating the Minsk Agreements and confirmed the EU's intention to maintain sanctions against Russia.

However, neither Germany nor France, nor Ukraine refused to continue the dialogue with the Kremlin, with a view to resolving the situation in the Donbas. In this regard, Germany was invited to hold the next meeting of the “Norman Four”, already with the participation of Russia, to address the fundamental issues relating to the Minsk Process.

The Russian Federation's leadership also knew that such a dialogue was needed, and tried to use it to its advantage in terms of proving Russia's “constructive” position and of further delaying the process of settlement of the conflict in the East of Ukraine.

To this end, Russia used another “foreign policy technique” — namely, — direct intervention into the armed conflict in Syria. Through such actions V. Putin's regime hoped to divert the West's attention from the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine, as well as to create conditions for the resumption of “equal” relationship with the United States and the European Union on the basis of “joint fight against international terrorism”.

Taking into consideration the commonality of interests of the parties in the Middle East, the US and the EU went to some cooperation with Russia on Syria. At the same time, Western countries completely discarded the possibility of exchanging their interests in Syria for Russia's interests in Ukraine, forcing Moscow to demonstrate the next concessions to the USA and EU.

October 2, 2015 in Paris, there was a regular meeting of the “Norman Four” in the full-scale format, with the participation of A. Merkel, F. Hollande, P. Poroshenko and V. Putin, which formally became the most significant event in the settlement of the situation around Ukraine for the period of time. Thus, in the course of negotiations was adopted a number of important decisions that seemed to guarantee peace in the Donbas.

In particular, the decisions included an agreement on a ceasefire,  taking troops and heavy weapons away from the contact line (caliber over 100 mm), exchange of prisoners, empowerment of the OSCE Observation Mission, as well as holding of elections in the occupied territories in 2016 according to the Ukrainian Law. Besides, once again was confirmed the need to restore Ukraine's control over its eastern border. According to the established practice, the implementation of such decisions was laid on the Tripartite Contact Group, which at that time was actually working in a non-stop mode.


The Actual Failure of the Minsk Agreements. What Now?

However, none of the Minsk Agreements and arrangements has been implemented by Russia. Moscow used them exclusively in its own interests. Evidence of this is the continued deterioration of the situation in the Donbas, which has been observed lately.

Unfortunately, German Chancellor A.  Merkel's quite declarative statements at the beginning of 2016 on the possibility of decisive progress in the settlement of the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine have not been realized.

The latest list of events, practical steps and publications in Ukrainian and Western media outlines the parameters of the choice, responsibility for which rests largely on the shoulders of the Ukrainian political elite. It will be very difficult and almost impossible to backtrack.

These facts confirm the inefficiency of the existing mechanism to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, which provides for making fundamental political decisions within the framework of the “Norman Four” and their further adoption in the format of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.

This approach allows Russia to continue to avoid taking on responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine, while maintaining the ability to influence the situation in the East of our country. At the same time, Western sanctions though do cause Russia's economic losses, so far are not critical for V. Putin's regime.

Moreover, one can see some signs of Russia's achieving its goals in the context of  the West's gradual “fatigue” from the Ukrainian issue. Evidence of this is the proposals of some European politicians to resolve the situation around Ukraine actually on Russia's terms (in particular regarding the “elections” in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions before resuming security of the situation in them and restoring Ukraine's control over the eastern border of the State).

I mean Germany's and France's, and in general, Brussels' attempts to talk Ukraine into the shameful capitulation to Putin, as well as the dangerous prospects that loom before our country in the next 10 months, during which B. Obama will still be in the White House.

In fact, today, both, Paris, and Berlin, and in general, Brussels demand from Ukraine to simply agree to conduct the so-called “presidential and parliamentary elections” in the self-proclaimed “autonomous” state  entities (that will be conducted by Moscow and militias), and then to provide full support  for  these moral degenerates-terrorists. Europeans actually do not care about quality and the legitimacy of these “elections”, as well as about the exchange of prisoners or transfer of the control over the eastern border of Ukraine —“... All this later, maybe someday”.  The main thing is the ritual, after which Germans and the French will “wash their hands”, having declared, at last, their political and diplomatic victory, and having got rid of the annoying “Ukrainian issue”. Otherwise — Ukraine is threatened with the lifting of sanctions against Russia, and what is most likely, “freezing” of the programs of investment and financial and logistical assistance to our country.

And in fact, this can be easily explained. Blackmailing Ukraine with cancellation of sanctions against Russia, both, Berlin and Paris as well as Brussels are based on today's realities, namely: the crisis in the European Union; certain degradation of European elites and Moscow's active information and propaganda work — gradually accelerate in the very different EU countries coming to power of the political forces that are candid friends of the Kremlin, or at least are not friends of Kyiv.

So, to the “elections” in the uncontrolled territories of the Donbas, Ukrainian authorities are being pushed by Europeans much tougher today than before. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier demonstrates his irritation most openly: “One thing is clear: these elections cannot be further postponed... The security situation should not be an excuse for our not working on the electoral law”. That is, the adoption of the law on elections in some regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) was called “top priority” by the Head of the German Foreign Ministry.

As for B. Obama, his vision of the international agenda is as follows: as a whole, “the world is in the environment of evil”, B. Obama's USA is not going to oppose this evil more than it is necessary to eliminate the direct vital threats to themselves. The United States in the development are so far ahead of all other countries, that their power cannot be “shaken” by the same inadequate Putin.

At this, according to B. Obama, the USA cannot defend Ukraine, since it is not a member of NATO, and Russia will always have the opportunity to increase the pressure, because Ukraine (“the country-Russia's client”) is in the sphere of its vital interests. Although “in general” Obama has won Putin with the help of his inaction — and Putin, though “is not completely stupid”, is destroying Russia by internal and external conflicts, raw material economy and international isolation. Therefore, with Obama in the White House (with whom on the “Ukrainian issue” debate his own State Department and the Pentagon), the current level of support to Ukraine is the highest. The main thing for us is its remaining high.

All this, of course, on the basis of objective realities, requires a change of the international community’s approaches to solving the whole complex of problems related to Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine. First of all, the “Normandy format” should be changed and include  other leading countries, having real levers of influence on  Moscow, in the first place, the signatory countries of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty  — the USA and the UK. Besides, the international negotiations on Ukraine can be joined also by other countries, in particular — Poland, which is a persistent and consistent lobbyist for Ukrainian interests in the EU and NATO, and which has the most intransigent attitude towards  the Russian Federation.

At this, unlike the present, actually, “recommendatory” status of the “Norman Four”, a new format of international negotiations should be able to impose legal obligations on Russia for unconditional implementation of decisions regarding Ukraine. In this context, Moscow's attempts to evade its obligations or their regular violations should cause immediate and severe sanctions of other participants in the negotiating process in the most sensitive for the Russian Federation spheres (energy, finance and the military-industrial complex).

Resolving this issue will also allow to change the current situation of the Minsk Contact Group, limiting its functions to organization of practical implementation of decisions taken at the highest level. Thus, Russia and the DPR/LPR will be deprived of opportunities to manipulate the situation for their own purposes.

At the same time, really strategically important for Ukraine, for the long term future would be the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the East of our State under the aegis of NATO, the most powerful world organization in the sphere of ​​collective security. This would not only make impossible Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, but would create real prerequisites for the integration of our State into the Alliance.

The consistent and purposeful implementation of the above-mentioned approaches could allow to radically change the situation, thereby ensuring both security of Ukraine and security of the European Union and NATO at the Eastern strategic direction (from Russia).

All this requires understanding of fundamental political decisions of the leaders of major Western countries, especially of Germany and the United States as countries, which took the primary responsibility to contain Russia and to settle the conflict around Ukraine. Experience has shown that none of the agreements (or arrangements) with Russia is implemented by Moscow, if it does not meet its interests.

In the context of any regime in Russia, containment of Moscow's neo-imperial ambitions is possible only by the armed forces or their equivalents in the form of political and economic actions to destroy (destruct) the Russian economy, as it happened to the former Soviet Union.

Under these circumstances, Ukraine should position itself based on its national interests and national security, and not on a desire to be praised B. Obama, A. Merkel or F. Hollande, who are actually powerless and helpless (as the experience of the past two years shows!) before Putin's thugs, and before the internal problems of their own countries, the main of which are — verbal “concern”, subjectivism and well-fed burghers (the petty bourgeoisie).

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