In Depth: No End in Sight, can Ukraine’s war on the Donbass be Settled?
By Yuri Apukhtin
By Yuri Apukhtin – At the last meeting of Putin and Merkel in Germany, the issue of Ukraine was also discussed. According to the results of the meeting, there were no statements, but the spokesman of Putin Peskov said that “the issue of the special status of Donbass was affected ” and ” concern was expressed about the vague prospects of extending the expiring law on the special status of Donbass, which is quite an important element of the Minsk accords ” .
This question was probably raised by Merkel, not Putin. Of the whole complex of problems in Ukraine, the German Chancellor is concerned only with the issue of the special status of Donbass, since in the near future it can seriously affect the sluggish process of the Minsk talks. In addition, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made a statement that he sees no reason to meet the “Normandy four”, since the previous decision was not carried out and the Ukrainian military did not leave the settlements occupied by them in the “gray” zone.
Merkel, of course, does not care about the fate of people in the Donbass, but purely mercantile interests related to her leadership in the European Union and the catastrophically falling ratings in Germany. Merkel is concerned about the fate of the Minsk accords, since her role there is one of the key and she does not want to lose her leadership.
One of the main elements of the Minsk agreements is the Ukrainian law “On provisional order of local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” adopted in September 2014 immediately after the signing of the Minsk Protocol and the defeat of the Ukrainian army in the Donbass in August 2014. The law expires in October this year, and it worries Ms. Merkel.
The law envisaged the introduction of a temporary, for a period of three years, special order of local self-government in the Donbass and a special procedure for the appointment of heads of prosecutors and courts with the participation of local authorities, as well as the creation of these units by the people’s militia. The same law appointed local elections on December 7, 2014, which were to be conducted under the laws of Ukraine.
Of course, the elections did not take place, they were not going to be held. In September 2017, the law expired, nothing was done, and the question arose what to do with this law. Germany and France insisted on extending the term of the law, since without the declared principles of resolving the crisis, the entire construction of the Minsk agreements collapsed. Russia did not particularly insist, but did not object.
Poroshenko was pressed, and he had to submit to the Verkhovna Rada a draft law on the extension of the law for one year. Radicals have done everything possible to ensure that this law was not adopted. They made absurd amendments to the law, made scandals and fights at the meeting, threw a smoke bomb into the courtroom. Nevertheless, the law still was adopted with a preponderance of only three votes, and it made a significant amendment.
According to this amendment, the condition under which elections in the Donbas are possible was “the withdrawal of illegal armed formations and military equipment from the Donbas.” That is, the army of the militia had to leave the Donbass or disarm. What will follow, it is not difficult to guess. Naturally, such demands were not met in the Donbass. The law exists formally, none of the parties implement it and does not intend to carry it out, but the European Union is happy with this, as the reconciliation process seems to be proceeding.
The point on the withdrawal of illegal armed groups in the Minsk agreements was, but it was in no way connected with the holding of local elections. Having linked these two moments, on the one hand, the Kiev authorities satisfied the European Union, on the other hand, they can drag along with the elections, while there are no “illegal armed formations” in the Donbass.
The Kiev authorities initially made every effort to ensure that there were no elections in the Donbass, and there are several reasons. Firstly, it is absolutely clear to everyone that only representatives of the People’s Republics will win a victory in elections in the Donbass by any laws. The ruling regime is incapable of holding any of its representatives to the authorities of the Donbass, and it is unlikely that any of them will dare to come to the Donbas.
Secondly, in accordance with the Minsk agreements, all actions related to the elections, the definition of the special status of Donbass after the elections, and the implementation of the constitutional reform are ” … in consultation and in agreement with representatives of certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk region … “. This means that in carrying out these actions, a delayed-action mine is laid under the ruling regime, which at any time can sweep it away.
Strictly speaking, who needs a special status of the Donbass? For the Kiev regime, the emergence of an enclave with a “special status” is simply out of the question, it does not allow even the slightest deviation from the general line of building a nationalist state. Especially in the Donbass, according to their understanding, enemies have been entrenched, with which it is not only impossible to negotiate, they must simply be destroyed. In August 2014, there was nowhere to go, so I had to sign an agreement and pretend that they were going to fulfill it.
For the US, standing behind the Kiev regime and making it a scarecrow to irritate Russia, the appearance of an enclave oriented toward Russia in Ukraine contradicts their interests in drawing the latter into a military conflict on its borders and weakening in a global confrontation. Naturally, no “special status” for the region where the United States hates and organized resistance against the power of their proteges is not needed. It is in their interests to cleanse this region of “sedition” and contribute to the expansion of the conflict.
For Russia, the special status of Donbass does not solve anything, today the Donbass acts as a splinter in the body of Ukraine and does not allow the ruling regime and the US to triumph over the complete conquest of this premature state. Russia needs cardinal decisions on Ukraine, so it is necessary to maneuver and claim the need to implement the Minsk agreements and act on splitting the united front of the West.
For Germany, the “locomotive” of Europe, the initiator of the creation of the “Normandy Quartet” and the signing of the Minsk Agreements, this had and does matter. Suffice it to recall that the reason for the coup in Kiev was the refusal of Yanukovych to sign the Euro-association. The ruling regime in Ukraine after the coup opened wide the Ukrainian markets, and the war in the Donbass now does not really need the European Union. The special status of the Donbass quite suits them, what will happen to people in such an unnatural state, they do not care.
All this shows that for the special status of the Donbass the Kiev regime, the United States and Russia will not fight. They are forced, for various reasons, to declare their support for such a status, knowing full well that under the circumstances, it can not be realized. Minsk agreements for all – a fig leaf, which they cover their true goals.
For four years, the “Normandy Quartet” has not solved a single issue on the conflict in the Donbass and has virtually no effect on the processes taking place in Ukraine. The ball in Ukraine is ruled by the United States, it controls and directs everything in the right direction for itself. Especially for the European Union hard times have come, the economic war with the United States has further pushed the EU leaders away from influence in Ukraine.
Merkel does not like this situation, and she is taking steps to preserve her leadership as the leader of the European Union. The Normandy Quartet and the Minsk Agreements are a platform through which it promotes its interests and takes steps in advance to preserve the law on the special status of the Donbass. The expiration date of the law is approaching, and the options for its extension are very illusory.
Of the whole range of issues on the Minsk agreements, only the special status of the Donbass was singled out. According to the European Union, this is the basis for a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, and if Ukraine withdraws from this process, the entire construction collapses and the Minsk agreements lose their significance. In this case, we will have to look for other mechanisms for resolving the Ukrainian crisis and new areas where more influential figures will operate.
For Poroshenko to hold this law through the Verkhovna Rada this year will be very difficult, he has weak support in the parliament. A presidential campaign is being promoted, and many are working against the incumbent president. Radicals will try to fail their bill to raise the bill and will shout about another “treason” of the president.
Attempts to tilt the ruling regime to extend the law on the special status of the Donbass, of course, will be taken from different sides, but to collect for this vote 226 deputies will be difficult, and very few people are interested in this.
In the Verkhovna Rada there are no forces capable of carrying out such a law. The Poroshenko faction is demoralized, and the Donbas with a special status within Ukraine does not see an ally in the coalition “Popular Front” under any pretext. Merkel certainly knows about this and takes steps in advance to promote this law. If in October it will not be extended, the question of the fate of the Minsk Agreements, which could not stop the war in the Donbass, will arise.
The fate of Donbass and Ukraine is not in the hands of Germany, it will be decided by Trump and Putin, they have the keys to this crisis. Obviously, after losing in 2014, Russia has not yet developed its strategic line towards Ukraine and adheres to the Minsk agreements.
The US decided to launch a civil war in Ukraine, and they are all happy, especially since they have developed a serious internal war between Trump and globalists, and now it is not up to Ukraine. So far, the main players are not ready to solve the problems of the Ukrainian crisis, the time for this has not yet come. The struggle for Ukraine is unfolding on other venues, and the future of Ukraine will depend on how the alignment of forces is there.