KIEV – Candidate for the presidency of Ukraine and present sitting Rada MP, Yuriy Boyko, said that there is a need for direct negotiations with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) if Kiev wants to return the Donbass. The reality though is that Kiev does not want the Donbass returned.
What does presidential candidate Yuriy Boyko say?
In his opinion, the Minsk Agreement needs to be adhered to by the Ukrainian side, if anything is ever going to be resolved. The problem is that in Ukraine’s media-political culture, it’s impossible to make reference to the only international and binding agreement that Ukraine has entered into, surrounding the conflict.
So he’s been careful with his words, stating both the obvious and stating what’s already enshrined in the agreement. Rather than referring to the agreement, then, he simply explains why the essence of the agreement – as if it hasn’t already been made – is so important.
The parties to the conflict, as he explains, should make compromises and develop a proposal to resolve the situation, which will be submitted to a referendum, after which it will be possible to talk about signing a peace treaty and returning the republics.
“The world is not aware of other methods of non-military conflict resolution — positively, with the return of territories, people — without negotiations between the conflicting parties,” Boyko says, quoted by the Federal News Agency .
The deputy notes that in order for the Donbass to return, the Ukrainian authorities, first of all, should give the DPR and LNR territories a special status and an amnesty for the conflict participants. In his opinion, this will contribute to the restoration of peaceful life and the infrastructure of the region.
For those familiar with the actual unfulfilled commitments that Ukraine has literally already made, in the form of the Minsk II Agreement, this will resonate.
Poroshenko’s desperate and cynical moves
The presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for March 31, 44 candidates will fight for the highest state post , which is a record number in the country’s modern history.
On March 2nd, it became known that the current president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, had decided to increase the wages of the military in the area of the operation of the combined forces in the Donbass. In addition, he instructed to increase the performance bonus for specific combat tasks on the contact line, and also for the sailors on the Azov coast when they are done with their tour of combat operations. Critics see this as two things: too little too late, and an obviously cynical election cycle ploy to win the vote for soldiers’ families, whom in many ways despise Poroshenko the most. So that move, in electioneering language, is not meant to reinforce his base, but in fact to neutralize and minimize his detractors.
The armed conflict in the south-east of Ukraine has been continuing since the spring of 2014. Residents of the region refused to recognize the new government, which changed in the country in February of the same year, and announced the creation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). In response, Kiev began the so-called anti-terrorist operation against them, changing its name in April 2018 to the operation of the combined forces.
Boyko simply re-proposes the Minsk Agreement
In June 2014, the tripartite contact group was formed, which included representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE with the participation of representatives of the DPR and the LPR. It deals only with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, but not with its underlying concept. The contact group is divided into the following subgroups: humanitarian, political, security and socio-economic.
In 2015, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France agreed on a set of measures to implement the Minsk agreements of September 2014. The document provides for a comprehensive ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the parties to the conflict from the line of contact, the exchange of prisoners, Kiev constitutional reform and dialogue with representatives of the DPR and the LPR about elections in the territories of the self-proclaimed republics.
However, Boyko is considered to be a ‘Pro-Russian’ politician, having come out of the now destroyed coalition, that big tent, which previously was the ‘Party of Regions’ – Yanukovych’s old party.
NATO’s political-media wing, the Atlantic Council, explains quite well why Boyko’s chances aren’t good – and it’s also clear that the Atlantic Council (also at war with Fort Russ News) doesn’t want anyone resembling Boyko to have a shot.
But the Atlantic Council also reveals a very important truth
In explaining why Boyko’s chances are admittedly so slim, they point to the fact that the voter base that saw a politics similar to his own possible in the past, is now no longer possible due to the absence of Crimea and due to the rebellion in the east. Citizens of the DPR and LPR no longer can participate in Ukrainian elections.
What’s truly incredible here is that we realize that a reversal has been in place all along. Ukraine wants the DPR and LPR out of Ukraine, at least if those people were to be in any way politically enfranchised, and Russia – if it wanted to influence Ukraine through grass roots electoral politicking, would want the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to be a part of Ukraine.
That Russia has, so far, in some minimal and what critics call a ‘half-hearted’ way, supported the DPR and LPR at least economically if not militarily, is significant. It means that a calculation has been carried out, that democracy in Ukraine is impossible and therefore, the inclusion of a pro-Russian voter base in Ukraine, entirely irrelevant to Ukraine’s internal processes.
Here, in closing, is the most relevant part of the Atlantic Council piece – remember at all times that their words are not only descriptive, but prescriptive:
First, the pro-Russian vote lost a huge number of voters after 2014. With 16 percent of voters and twenty-seven election districts located in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea, it was always going to be difficult for a pro-Russian candidate to reach the second round of the presidential race (no candidate is projected to win outright). Their only chance would have been to unite around one candidate who had some level of popularity with many competing pro-Western candidates.
This will not happen.
Second, the split of the Opposition Bloc, successor to the Party of Regions, means no pro-Russian candidate will enter the second round.
The ejection of Serhiy Lyovochkin and Yuriy Boyko from the Opposition Bloc has put an end to what had been a powerful coalition of oligarchs with finances and media resources. The new leader of the Opposition Bloc is Vadym Novinsky and his deputy Oleksandr Vilkul. Those ejected from the Opposition Bloc have created the opposition platform “For Life,” which is led by Vadym Rabinovych and Viktor Medvedchuk.
The split has two important consequences. First, there are three declared presidential candidates from the former Opposition Bloc, but more are likely to emerge: Yuriy Boyko, who is backed by Rabinovych and Medvedchuk; Vadym Novinsky, leader of the For Peace political party and backed by Donetsk oligarchs; and Yevhen Murayev, leader of the Nashi (Ours) party. All three will play on anti-war populism, which will face Ukrainian skepticism because their plans are vague and the elections are being held at a time of heightened Russia aggression.