October 21, 2016 – Fort Russ –
Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussia – translated by J. Arnoldski –
Sometimes one gets the impression that President Poroshenko only comes to negotiations to drink coffee (or something stronger) and eat sandwiches. Apparently they don’t feed him well in Kiev. Assuming this theory is true, then it turns out that the Normandy format negotiations were crowned with resounding success for him. For 5 hours, he was able to eat German hamburgers. But other than that, no other important and positive results were achieved. As sources from the Russian delegation have reported, the Ukrainian president desperately tried to achieve a revision of the Minsk Agreements, but this didn’t work out for him.
References to the complex foreign policy situation in Ukraine and Poroshenko’s personal difficulties did not impress the rest of the Normandy Format participants, especially since Hollande and Merkel themselves complained to the Ukrainian leader of their own domestic political difficulties. Merkel has lost several key regional elections and her party is already thinking about getting rid of her. Hollande is having a difficult time with the consequences of foreign policy humiliations and the scandal related to his revelations in a recently published biography.
Thus, Poroshenko found no sympathy, as is evidenced by the absence of any signed documents. This means that Kiev is once again faced with the impossible task of fulfilling the Minsk Agreements, which has long since been a thorn in the side of the Ukrainian leadership.
According to Russian media, the negotiations had a slightly comical tone caused by Merkel’s desire to achieve at least some progress so that the Berlin talks did not look like a “complete failure” compared to the negotiations in France.
The journalists who observed the talks from the side have noted that the talks periodically came to a standstill, and the German chancellor did everything so that they would not be disrupted entirely. Merkel apologized to Putin and Hollande several times and even took Poroshenko away from the negotiating table to stubbornly explain him something. Then they returned to the table, and the talks continued.
It is a pity that we will probably never know what words the German chancellor used to urge the Ukrainian president to behave, but there is suspicion that she used the same arguments that US Vice President Biden did when he recently explained to the Ukrainian establishment that there are countries in the EU that will lift the sanctions against Russia at the first opportunity, as they are tired of the Ukrainian crisis.
The only clear result of the negotiations was the decision to establish some kind of road map for implementing the Minsk Agreements. This result is clear but relatively meaningless since it can already be assumed that Poroshenko will try to write something contrary to the letters and spirit of the Minsk Agreement on this card and, if that does not work, then he will just simply not fulfill the road map, just like he doesn’t fulfill the Minsk Agreements. However, even an unfulfilled road map can be of use. If unfulfilled, it would serve as an additional problem for the EU and an additional irritation in relations between European countries and Ukraine.
But that’s not all. Our Ukrainian opponents are quite upset that, at the press conference following the negotiations, Merkel stated that Ukraine would gain control over the border with Russia only after the final realization of Minsk Agreements. I can only imagine what this is doing to Kovtun and other Ukrainian experts.
And discussing an armed OSCE mission only makes sense after Ukraine adopts a law on elections in Donbass. For some reason, Ukraine hoped that Germany would support Poroshenko’s demand to gain access to the border immediately, but another unplanned “betrayal” happened. Ukrainian politicians really want to retroactively rewrite the Minsk Agreements, but this just can’t be done. And they are being hampered not only by Putin, but also the leaders of France and Germany. Kiev journalists and politicians simply can’t understand such a betrayal of Ukrainian interests. Too bad – they should get used to this, because a lot of frustration still awaits them down the road.
And finally, at the negotiations, Poroshenko made a big and important step towards ensuring that Donbass will be integrated into the Russian sphere of influence. Yes, you heard me right. The Ukrainian president is literally pushing Donbass into the Russian sphere of influence, and he is doing this very efficiently. Well, what else can you call his statement that the Ukrainian authorities will not pay the pensions and benefits of the region’s residents? In fact, last night Poroshenko became the real separatist and the biggest threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It will be interesting to see if Kiev will find at least one politician capable of calling him out and starting impeachment proceedings. If they don’t find one, then they themselves are to blame for all the problems that Poroshenko will create in the future. And they can’t hide behind him.