Kiev is sabotaging the negotiation process for a peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbass. First, the Ukrainian authorities announced that they would not gather at the negotiating platform in Minsk, because Belarus is “under the thumb” of Russia. Then they completely refused to participate in the TCG, while Maya Pirogova, a representative from the DPR, is listed there. Then they decided to put forward one more condition – now the Minsk contact group should meet in Poland. These statements are being made against the background of the aggravation of the situation in the conflict zone.
It has long been known that the negotiation process on the peaceful resolution of the military conflict in the South-East of Ukraine has reached a dead end. Over the seven years of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) operation, two documents have been signed. At the same time, the Second Minsk Agreement was agreed at the beginning of 2015. Over the years, none of its points have been fully implemented. Russia insists on the implementation of the points on the adoption on a permanent basis of the special status of certain regions of the DPR and LPR, enshrining it in the Constitution and holding local elections. After that, Ukraine regains control over the entire Russian-Ukrainian border. In Kiev, they consider it a priority to first take control of the border, and then everything else. These are the insoluble contradictions.
Now that the OSCE mission reports renewed shelling from both sides of the conflict, the negotiators could discuss new terms of the armistice. The last such agreement broke all performance records – the parties observed the silence regime for six months. At the same time, since the beginning of the pandemic, TCG meetings have been held in the format of a videoconference, so there is no talk of a new gathering place yet. And nevertheless, the head of the contact group from Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, decided now to focus on this very aspect, as if there were no other topics for discussion.
Moreover, Leonid Kravchuk announced that the Ukrainian delegation would no longer go to Minsk. Now he says that you only need to go to Poland. He justifies his choice by the fact that Ukraine and Poland have not always been friends, therefore it is a “neutral, democratic country.”
“It sounds like information stuffing against the background of the paralysis of the work of the Minsk contact group. Meetings have been held recently, to put it mildly, unproductive. And now the statements from the representatives from Ukraine have begun to sound that let’s not return to Minsk any more. It feels like an attempt to create an additional informational occasion to close other issues related to non-constructive work against the background of the escalation in the conflict zone, which we are now observing, ”said Ukrainian political scientist Oleksiy Yakubin.
Assessing the very idea of changing the location of the site, the expert emphasized that in principle it is difficult to implement it, since it is necessary to obtain the consent of all representatives of the trilateral contact group. “And in general, what does Belarus have to do with it? Officially, Minsk does not take part in the negotiations and does not influence this process. It only provides a platform. Even if we consider other options, then Poland is a member of NATO, and this is no longer a priori a neutral state. Whether we consider Austria or Switzerland, any other country – wherever the meetings are held, this does not compensate for their unproductiveness and non-constructiveness. In addition, the idea has not been calculated financially, the sums for travel to Vienna or Geneva will increase significantly, ”Yakubin said.
Kiev political scientist Kirill Molchanov emphasizes that initially the idea to hold meetings in Minsk appeared not by chance. From a logistics point of view? it was the most convenient country where representatives from the self-proclaimed republics could come, since there are virtually no borders between the countries, and flights can be carried out using internal passports. DPR negotiators simply will not have access to any other country.
“Moreover, Ukraine has put many LPR representatives on the wanted list and in Poland they can easily be arrested. These statements finally torpedo the Minsk agreements. The very fact of the absence of the Minsk site raises the question of the negotiation process in the new city and the search for new agreements. But I doubt that someone from the countries participating in the group will physically agree to another site. Most likely, the negotiations will continue, but in a remote format, as has been the case for the last year due to the pandemic, ”Molchanov concluded.
According to him, one should not expect great achievements in resolving this conflict under the administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky: “The positions of the parties on the implementation of the Minsk agreements are diametrically opposed. The same group was also on Karabakh in 1992. They sat for 30 years and never agreed on anything. A similar situation may exist now. The TCG will be meeting for decades, but so far, most likely, it will be online. ”
The Belarusian authorities have not yet commented on the statements of the Ukrainian side. However, the official Minsk has invested a lot of political capital in the image of the moderator of the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, so these statements can be perceived there painfully, believes the Belarusian political scientist Valery Karbalevich. In November, when representatives of Ukraine had already sounded statements about the need to move the site, President Alexander Lukashenko asked to leave everything as it is. First, even if we take Kazakhstan as an alternative, it is far away. “And here is the triangle Kiev – Moscow – Minsk. An hour – and you are here, talked, scattered, ”explained the Belarusian president.
According to Karbalevich, now Belarus has too many other more unpleasant questions: “Now the Belarusian leadership has nothing to lose. One more loss, one less. Moreover, the day before Lukashenka held a meeting, where he raised the issue of closing a number of embassies in other countries as unnecessary. We can talk about the default of the foreign policy of Belarus and one of the touches of this is Ukraine’s statement that the negotiations on the Donbass in Belarus are no longer interesting. “