“The beginning of hostilities will be the beginning of the end of Ukraine.” This frank statement about the aggravation of the situation in Donbass was made by the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Russia Dmitry Kozak. An unequivocal signal was sent by Moscow not only to Kiev, but also to two groups of Western countries, which clearly differed in their assessments of Ukraine’s actions in Donbass.
Ukraine continues to prepare (or demonstrate readiness) to conduct a military operation in the Donbass. On April 8, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the zone of future hostilities – according to him, it was a working trip to cheer up the soldiers and communicate with them, to raise morale.
It is difficult to say how the image of Zelensky in an oversized body armor can raise morale, but the Ukrainian leader is understandable. He wants to talk to someone, but serious people for the most part refuse to talk to him.
For example, judging by a number of signals from Moscow, the Ukrainian leader is clearly unable to negotiate in the eyes of the Russian president. In particular, a number of media outlets and experts asserted that the master of the Kremlin insisted that the negotiations within the “Normandy Four” (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) become a top three, without a Ukrainian representative.
However, much more unpleasant for Kiev from the image point of view is the behavior of Ukraine’s European partners. They not only agreed with the proposal of Vladimir Putin and began to talk with him within the framework of the troika, but (again, due to a number of leaks) they do not even want to communicate with Zelensky in a bilateral format. But they are discussing what is happening in Ukraine directly with the President of Russia – in particular, on Thursday the Russian leader had a conversation with the Chancellor of Germany. As reported on the Kremlin’s website, “the Russian President and the German Chancellor have expressed concern over the escalation of tensions in southeastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev, which has recently been purposefully exacerbating the situation on the contact line. “
Why did this happen? A number of experts believe that a sharp exacerbation of the situation in Donbass has led to a split in the Western bloc into those who blame Moscow for this exacerbation, and those who sensibly assess reality and blame Kiev for what is happening.
In the ranks of the Kiev support group, Americans, Canadians and British are those who are conventionally called “Anglo-Saxons”. Those who either support Ukrainian radicals for internal political reasons, or those who intend to contain Russia on all fronts. Including, when the opportunity arises, organizing a war on the periphery – in Ukraine, and then initiating a new round of sanctions and attempts to isolate Moscow as an “aggressor”.
Also, an important goal for London and Washington is to weaken the European Union and disrupt Nord Stream 2. Not only as an economic project, but also as an important symbol of Europe’s successful separate policy in establishing mutually beneficial cooperation with Moscow.
A sign of the consolidation of this group of countries appears to be carried out by and. on US Under Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs Amanda Dory interstate meeting. During the virtual meeting, a representative of the US Department of Defense discussed with colleagues from Canada, Lithuania, Poland and Great Britain the situation around Ukraine. As a result of the talks, Dory said that all participants “reaffirmed their strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” and also discussed issues of concern to them regarding the strengthening of Russia’s military activity in the region.
Against the background of emergency meetings of representatives of the defense ministries of NATO member states, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau went to Ukraine. One of his reasons on Twitter of the department is called “a threat to peace on the borders of Ukraine.” “Probably, the US instructed Warsaw to convey to Kiev a certain consolidated position of the five countries that had discussed the problem of Donbass the day before,” political scientist Andrei Kortunov suggested the real reason for the diplomat’s urgent visit.
It is unlikely that these countries are directly pushing Kiev to aggravate the conflict in the Donbass, but such their support may well be interpreted by Ukraine in this way. As in his time, Saakashvili in 2008 expected the direct intervention of the United States during the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia and Russia’s response.
Another group of Western countries, from which signals of dissatisfaction with Kiev and Zelensky have been clearly coming lately, are, first of all, Germany and France (and the European Union as a whole). Berlin (like Paris) has made a lot of efforts to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. Germany is interested in the real implementation of the points of the Minsk agreements and the transformation of Ukraine into a neutral, not pro-Russian, but at the same time not aggressive towards Russia state. That is, in fact, to the attention of the Russian-Western party for Ukraine in a draw.
Berlin, like Paris, may still understand Zelenskiy’s unwillingness and inability to implement the Minsk agreements. However, they are categorically opposed to his disruption of the shaky status quo that has established in the Donbass, and Kiev’s beginning of a new stage of the war. From which Germany will suffer serious political and economic losses.
It would seem that Ukraine needs to balance in this situation. Try to establish a dialogue with Europe, to which it is so demonstratively striving, to take into account some of its wishes and requirements. Diversify your ties within the collective West. However, instead of this, Kiev, confident of the omnipotence of the American “roof”, has lately been engaged in insulting Germany.
And it’s not even about the ongoing attempts to disrupt Nord Stream 2 (after Merkel knocked out an agreement on the transit of Russian gas that was beneficial for Ukraine, and also guaranteed that even after the launch of the SP-2 gas would flow through Ukraine), but about games in memory of the Second World War. About the boorish article of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andriy Melnyk, in which he not only accuses the West of weakness and inability to return Crimea to Ukraine, but also writes that “the moral duty of the Federal Republic of Germany to put an end to the illegal occupation of Crimea stems primarily from the continuing historical responsibility of Germany in front of Ukraine for Nazi tyranny, the victims of which were more than eight million Ukrainians. ” It’s like a physically healthy beggar, to whom a passer-by is tired of giving money for a Maidan drunkard, starts in response to insult the giver with the most offensive words for him.
Apparently, the Ukrainian authorities will have to pay for these mistakes. Kiev’s relations with leading European countries have been spoiled, regardless of whether Kiev starts a new war in Donbass or not.
Of course, we are not talking about the fact that the same Merkel will give the Ukrainian state project to Russia on a silver platter. Nor will it lift the anti-Russian sanctions (which are an important sign of the EU’s unity and therefore must be lifted also by a collective decision). However, Berlin will be much more rational in assessing various Russian proposals to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, as well as to transfer symbolic personal sanctions to economic projects.
In turn, Zelensky will not receive any real compensation for this from the Americans. In Washington, they say in plain text that they will confine themselves to only moral support and will not give either NATO membership or a membership action plan (the so-called MAP) that could somehow raise the rating of the Ukrainian leader.
“We strongly support them, we interact with them, we work to resist destabilizing actions, but this decision must be made by NATO,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki poured a tub of cold vodka on Zelensky’s head. And this is against the background of the words of the deputy head of the administration of Vladimir Putin Dmitry Kozak that “the beginning of hostilities will be the beginning of the end of Ukraine – a cross-fire, a shot not in the leg, but in the temple.” For the slow-witted, it was added that if, during the outbreak of the war in Donbass by Ukraine, “Srebrenitsa is set up there, as our president says, apparently we will have to defend ourselves.”
In other words, neither the West (despite the clear split in its position over Kiev), much less Russia, strongly advises Ukraine to make unnecessary aggressive gestures in Donbass. It will soon become clear whether Zelenskiy understood all these signals correctly.