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Sep 3, 2021
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Is Minsk dead?

Is Minsk dead?

Photo: Mikhail Sokolov / TASS.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for Reintegration of Non-Controlled Territories Alexey Reznikov considers the work of the Minsk trilateral contact group on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass “dead”.

“Absolutely. Null. Four to five hours – about nothing. These online negotiations are taking place in my office. This is a dead story. But there is an important point here. We must keep this track, this communication channel, albeit weak. “– he declared.

The official believes that the Ukrainian side will be able to use this channel, “When the moment is right”

The Minsk format of negotiations, he said, is being preserved for the sake of the Ukrainians who are being held in prisons in the occupied territories of Donbass.

“We are trying to take more than 200 people from there”, – said the Deputy Prime Minister.

When asked by a journalist whether the United States could become participants in the Normandy format of negotiations, Reznikov replied: “The question is not in the format. And in what to talk about. Well, the USA will be the fifth leader in Normandy – what’s next? There must be some kind of fulfillment. So far, the Russians have not fulfilled even those promises that Putin gave at the 2019 summit in Paris. We also have the Budapest Memorandum. And just the United States and Britain are participants there. Why not start consulting there? By inviting Germany and France there “

He also expressed the opinion that if the Russian Federation realizes that Donbass “Very expensive to hold”, she will look for options, “How to get out of this”

“We need to be ready for the introduction of some kind of international peacekeeping mission that will provide a transitional period. Otherwise, the Russians simply will not agree to leave our territories. “– added the Ukrainian official.

Recall that the republics of Donbass have already accused Kiev many times of blocking the negotiations of the contact group and its working subgroups, the last time this process was actually blocked for several months. So in August, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation in the contact group Boris Gryzlov stated that Kiev blocked the planned face-to-face meeting, for which the republics and the OSCE were ready.

Now Kiev accuses Russia of sabotaging the Minsk agreements by refusing to extend the OSCE mandate in order to supply weapons to Donbass.

“On September 2, at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, the Russian Federation pronounced the decision taken by the President of the Russian Federation not to support the broad consensus existing within the OSCE on the extension of the mandate of the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian checkpoints at the Gukovo and Donetsk state border after September 30, 2021”, – said the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

According to diplomats, Russia is deliberately sabotaging the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which provide for constant monitoring by the OSCE of the state border between the two countries.

“We consider such a decision of the Russian Federation as evidence of its plans to continue and increase the supply of weapons, military equipment, ammunition, regular troops and mercenaries to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which may lead to further escalation in the zone of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.”, – said the Foreign Ministry.

In addition, the Ukrainian side called on Moscow “Immediately stop destructive actions against the OSCE observation mission” and fulfill all the obligations assumed under the Minsk agreements.

That is, Ukraine cannot imagine anything other than the old logic “we do not carry out ourselves, but we blame Moscow”? Then this is a real dead end. And Reznikov is right: the work of the contact group is virtually dead …

– Who killed her? Kiev has been sabotaging the implementation of the Minsk agreements from the moment they are signed. And the TCG in Kiev has the same position, – considers political scientist Alexander Dudchak… – They work according to all the same training manuals – from the time YushchenkoTymoshenko… They are accused of not doing it themselves, swapping the cause and effect, pretending that they do not understand what was the cause of the events. They accuse Russia of intending to supply weapons to Donbass, while receiving weapons from the United States, Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic and demanding arms supplies from Germany.

“SP”: – And how can one really understand the objection of the Russian Federation to the extension of the mandate of the OSCE border observers mission? Nobody believes in the OSCE anymore? And in “Minsk”? Russian officials continue to insist that there is no alternative to him. Do they really believe this in Moscow?

– The OSCE has failed to establish itself as an impartial arbiter. She spoke on the side of Kiev, distorted the facts. What’s the point in it? With regard to Minsk, one should not confuse “no alternative” and “inability to fulfill”. If Kiev is unable and unwilling to implement the Minsk agreements, this does not mean that they need to be changed. They could have been abandoned, but for this Kiev must declare its refusal to comply with the Minsk agreements. If they had been fulfilled, it would have been a completely different Ukraine.

“SP”: – Is it possible to say that the West and Russia are less concerned with Donbass. There is no full-scale war – and okay …

– For Russia, this is not a way out. This is a border conflict, where people are constantly dying without a “full-scale” war. The deaths of people are not statistics, but tragedies with specific names, specific families. And for the West, the situation is quite suitable.

“SP”: – Will Kiev try to take advantage of the calm for a surprise attack? What do you think Zelenskiy might be up to, or is he unable to think strategically? Will the rate of Ukraine change? In Kiev, they are increasingly talking about the need to abandon the “Minsk”. So what?

– A surprise attack is hardly possible now. Both Kiev and Washington understand the consequences of the attack. Zelensky can only conceive of corporate events, strategic thinking is not his strong point, and not his competence. He will simply not be admitted to the strategy. And they talk about the refusal of “Minsk” because they are trying to find a way to put an end to them, but so that Kiev is not to blame for this.

– Almost any Ukrainian official or politician periodically makes some loud statements about Donbass or Crimea, – notes political scientist, head of the Open Analytics project Roman Travin… – But for Reznikov, this is actually a significant, if not the main part of his official duties. Therefore, it is not surprising that he regularly becomes a newsmaker. On this particular issue, he is partly right, the group, if not dead, is in the deepest impasse. And the more time passes, the more obvious it is.

“SP”: – Is there a feeling that the world is tired of Donbass? In addition, completely different problems are now on the international agenda …

– I do not think so. It is clear that a certain status quo has now been established, which, although the most convenient for the United States, to a lesser extent for the EU, and even less so for Russia, is still more or less acceptable to all parties. New challenges appear and the Donbass issue does not occupy the first places in the media and political agenda. But the situation is closely monitored by all participants. Any unilateral attempt to change this status quo can be fraught with very serious consequences. At the same time, the Ukrainian crisis remains the basic issue that determined the current configuration of relations between Russia and the West. Yes, probably, if not for Ukraine, there would have been something different, because the situation in Ukraine is still not a reason, but an excuse. But the fact remains.

“SP”: – Reznikov believes that it is necessary “to keep this track, this communication channel, albeit weak.” Why does Ukraine need it? Moreover, in recent years in Kiev they are increasingly talking about the need to revise the “Minsk” …

– Including, with its help, to achieve the revision of the Minsk agreements. Or by demonstrating its collapse, get an additional argument in favor of such a revision. On the other hand, when it is necessary for domestic politics, for example, before the elections, it is possible to show the Ukrainian society some success in the negotiations on this platform.

“SP”: – Reznikov also argues that Ukraine needs to be ready for the introduction of some kind of international peacekeeping mission that will ensure a transitional period. Does Ukraine still need Donbass? Maybe she herself will simply decide that it is easier to refuse him?

– Maybe not really needed, but he will not directly refuse.

“SP”: – Does Minsk still have a future? Politicians constantly insist that there is no alternative. Seven years have passed. And all the alternatives are no and no. How much longer to wait?

– Good question. When I hear the phrase about “Minsk has no alternative,” I remember textbooks on political theory, which say that one of the properties of politics is alternativeness. That is, there is always an alternative to any decision in the political sphere. Failure to comply with the Minsk agreements is also an alternative. And there are dozens of possible solutions and ways of developing events. Words about no alternative – they are about the fact that no one wants to open Pandora’s box yet. And especially about the fact that no one wants to be accused of this. But, probably, sooner or later it will have to be done.

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