Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky who has proposed expanding the Normandy Four format is actually toeing the line of his predecessor Pyotr Poroshenko, Director of the Center for Current Policy Alexei Chesnakov told on Tuesday.
“Zelensky continues to take his cue from Poroshenko. Yesterday, he repeated his [Poroshenko’s] old idea about expanding the Normandy Four to six nations by involving the US and Britain. The aim is simple — to seek the revision of the Minsk agreements by altering the negotiations format,” the expert said. “The idea has been explicitly supported by US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker. Evidently, he is its author, while Poroshenko and Zelensky are just its advocates.”
In light of that, there are still some questions for Zelensky to answer, Chesnakov went on to say. “What did he mean by addressing [Russian President] Vladimir Putin? ‘We need to talk’ – what does that mean? What is the agenda? Who prepared it? Or does he just want to have a chat? Why the US and Britain? Why not China or, say, Venezuela, a country that is as distant from the Donbass problem and as divided as Britain?”
“Why does Zelensky call for talks in such a velvety, suave voice as if voicing over an erotic movie?” the expert added. “Does he think he sounds more convincing in such a way? All that looks pretty funny. Or maybe, Zelensky was just joking, just like about the gas tariffs for Ukraine’s population and many other times, waiting for the usual reaction from those he addressed, that is, laughter. Or at least a smile, and nothing more.”
In his video address posted on Facebook on Monday, Zelensky called on the Russian president to meet in Minsk through the mediation of the US, the UK, Germany and France. According to the Ukrainian president, “it is necessary to discuss to whom Crimea belongs and who is not there in Donbass.”
He suggested the following parties to the negotiations: US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Commenting on Zelensky’s statement, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that he was not ready yet to respond to the invitation to hold talks on the Donbass settlement with the involvement of Britain, the US, Germany and France, but would surely study this proposal. He stressed that it was “necessary to understand whether such a meeting has any prospects and what kind of a new format was being proposed.”
Peskov also recalled that the US was not a party to the Normandy Four. “And what about the Minsk agreements bearing the signatures of the Normandy process participants, which were not signed by any US representatives?” he pointed out.