Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
16th January, 2016
In relation to the questions about the conversations of Gryzlov and Poroshenko and their consequences:
1) There are those who have found the meeting between Nuland and Surkov surprising. It is not. As I have already mentioned on previous occasions, it makes more sense to discuss the fundamental aspects directly with the United States, since the board, like the DPR and LPR, does not have the political independence necessary. So the visit of Gryzlov, delivering a certain message, was followed by talks on the situation directly with the real owners of Ukraine. Lavrov and Kerry discussed first what happened in a telephone conversation after Nuland and Surkov addressed the situation in the Kaliningrad region. In the fall, the team of Surkov was removed from the issues related to the economic processes in the DPR and the LPR, but is still involved in the process of Minsk.
2) The context in which these movements occur have already been explained on other occasions. As of late, the intensity of the shelling in the DPR continues to increase, the weaponry has not been removed, and the exchange of prisoners has not taken place. It is not a coincidence that Nuland has come to insist that a ceasefire is necessary, to proceed to implement the political aspects of the agreement of Minsk.
Almost a year already has passed since the signing of the Minsk agreements (February 12, 2015) and the parties have returned to the beginning: the issue of the ceasefire, that the Minsk agreement is unable to guarantee. But since “there is no alternative to Minsk,” our song is good, so you have to sing it again. The Ukrainian side is still trying to rename the current comedy of Minsk-2 to Minsk-3, but in reality the process does not change. It is a joke that is repeated.
3) In this context, the DPR says that it will begin distributing its own passports in the near future. One of the members of the board delegation in Minsk said that the board is pressed to force the presence of political parties and Ukrainian media on the elections of the DPR and LPR, but the position of the Russian Federation has not changed, nor with Gryzlov or without him.
In general, the round of talks in Minsk was held in the usual way, without any significant progress, so the attention has focused on the “message of Gryzlov”, and in the sudden interest of the United States to hold direct talks with Russia. The reasons for this precipitation is obvious: the approaching deadline dates for the elections and the reform of the Constitution of Ukraine. The Kremlin had already made concessions last fall to postpone the elections of the DPR and LPR until the spring and are now waiting for any reciprocity, as it is not intended to give more gifts unilaterally. The consequence is that there is a problem for the board and its promoters and if you continue to deliberately ignore its obligation to amend the Constitution, the format of Minsk will be increasingly difficult to defend, even to its most fervent defenders. And so, the risk of military escalation increases, something that the residents of the cities close to the front of the DPR have the “pleasure” of listening to on an almost daily basis.
When the time comes to vote on the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, the intensity of the information war and the rounds of political consultations will increase significantly. One cannot rule out the possibility of seeing direct negotiations at the highest diplomatic levels, or hearing stories about interesting conversations between Putin and Obama.