What benefits can be derived from disrupting negotiations on Donbass

In connection with the scandal surrounding the arrest of Roman Protasevich, the Ukrainian side refused to use Minsk as a negotiating platform for a settlement in Donbass

What benefits can be derived from disrupting negotiations on Donbass

Sergei Lavrov sharply “besieged” Kiev, they say, this issue is not for him to decide, but it is unlikely that the issue will be closed on this – Ukraine deliberately drags out the negotiations and makes them fruitless. Moscow, Donetsk and Luhansk can benefit from this.

“We will no longer have flights to Belarus, we will not even be able to get there. Thus, given the current situation, the dictatorial behavior demonstrated by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Lukashenko, it is clear that we cannot even consider the issue of the point of discussion – the Minsk platform. We will definitely look for a new platform”, – said the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the contact group Leonid Kravchuk.

This is far from the first (but the tenth or so) statement of the Ukrainian side that Minsk is no longer suitable for negotiations on Donbass. Moreover, this is not the first statement made specifically by Kravchuk. But if earlier this remained information noise, this time the reaction of the Russian side was not long in coming, and it was not the structures of the Russian Foreign Ministry or representatives of the Russian delegation that answered Kravchuk, but Minister Sergei Lavrov personally:

“As for the statement of Mr. Kravchuk, in principle, he is, of course, the head of the delegation, but it is not up to him to decide how the Contact Group will continue to work. The contact group was created in the context of a package of documents that was approved at the summit in Minsk in February 2015 and then approved by the UN Security Council resolution”.

Presumably, Lavrov’s extremely harsh tone is explained by the fact that right now, in connection with everything that is happening around Belarus, Kravchuk can be heard in Europe – both in the OSCE as a participant in the negotiations, and in Berlin with Paris, who act as guarantors of the Minsk agreements.

Right now, his demand may be considered justified, joining the discussion that Belarus should be “demoted” as a negotiating platform.

Therefore, the Russian minister decided to “close the topic” immediately. Which, however, does not negate the fact that the Ukrainian delegation will certainly continue its whining and may receive some kind of support from the Europeans.

It should be understood that from a practical point of view, the question raised is absolutely irrelevant. Kravchuk now does not need to physically “get” to Belarus. In connection with the coronavirus pandemic, all negotiations and consultations are carried out via video link, so the Minsk site is, consider one name, and not a geographical location.

For Russia, by and large, it is not so important where exactly the meetings take place. Kravchuk mentioned Finland and Switzerland as possible candidates – these countries have repeatedly hosted various kinds of negotiations with the participation of Russia, we did not dispute their neutral status, although they are perceived as part of the West in a political sense. The same Switzerland accepts (more precisely, hosted earlier) more or less regular consultations between Russia and Georgia, but Serbia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia can also become a platform. In Minsk, the light did not converge like a wedge.

Another thing is that it makes no sense to change the site. The only motive of the Ukrainian caprice is the caprice itself. This is another reason to drag out the negotiations and gain some more time while the new site is being coordinated.

“Official Kiev continues to play the role of a victim of Russian aggression, sabotaging the peace process by making statements about the parties to the conflict in Donbass out of touch with reality and strange proposals to change the negotiating platform that are devoid of meaning and real expediency”, – the DPR Foreign Ministry said, commenting on Kravchuk.

This is the main, one might even say, the fundamental tactic of Kiev in conducting negotiations – to discuss anything except the implementation of the Minsk agreements, because it does not want to fulfill them, and cannot withdraw from them – Berlin and Paris are forbidden. In addition, de jure, this means the resumption of hostilities: the Minsk agreements are, first of all, agreements on an armistice.

To put it simply, Kravchuk is deliberately playing the fool, and before each new round of negotiations he thinks what kind of fool to dump. As a consequence, all arguments about why abandoning Minsk as a symbolic negotiating platform is a stupid idea can be omitted. For the same purpose – to crush water in a mortar – the Ukrainian side from time to time puts forward and much more absurd claims. As in an old military joke – “why in a hat, why without a hat.”

In general, everything in order not to move a single step.

What the Ukrainians want in the end and what they hope for is a philosophical question. Maybe they don’t hope for Joe Biden, maybe they don’t rely on anyone in particular – they just wait for a suitable political conjuncture in order to resolve the conflict by military means. They sit on the banks of the river, waiting for the corpse of the enemy to swim along it. Ukraine does not lose anything from these expectations, but Russia, which has been imposed by sanctions, loses, and the Donbass, which is frozen in timelessness, loses.

Another thing is that most of the anti-Russian sanctions can be viewed as “eternal” regardless of progress in the negotiations. And the unrecognized republics of Donbass, although they participate in the Minsk process at the request of Moscow, do not expect any special progress on this path, moreover, they do not want to.

The idea of ​​implementing the Minsk agreements is extremely unpopular in Ukraine, but it is also unpopular in Donetsk and Luhansk. They also hope for changes in the situation (but already in their favor) and in private conversations recognize the “Minsk Way” as hopeless – not so much because of the position of the Ukrainians, but because some of the provisions of Minsk-2 are impracticable for the DPR themselves. and LPR. It’s just that the matter has not yet reached the discussion of these provisions (for example, on holding elections in accordance with Ukrainian laws) – and is unlikely to come, given the dynamics of the process.

The question is, what should Russia do in such conditions? Theoretically, over time, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky can be persuaded into direct negotiations with the leadership of the LPNR (which, by the way, are supported by 52.9% of Ukrainians, and only 39% are categorically opposed). It is possible (but unlikely), then the process can get off the ground. But this is all the more distant and, frankly, an unlikely prospect.

Therefore, since we are forced to waste time, it is worth considering how not to waste it. How to devote it to the further integration of Donbass – albeit not yet into the political, but into the social and economic space of the Russian Federation.
For example, we have already recognized local educational documents. An equally significant step would be the recognition of customs documents, because at the moment supplies of goods from Donbass enterprises to Russia are carried out through Ukrainian gasket firms, which have a margin from this (yes, a lot can still be solved for money in Ukraine, including so painful questions on the verge of treason).

These businesses should have been included in Russian “production chains”, up to and including their connection to the public procurement system. For its part, the DPR and LPR are high time to switch to the technical regulations adopted in the Eurasian Economic Union, and in general – to achieve maximum uniformity of their laws with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Donbass is the richest region, but now its opportunities for development are as limited as possible. The gradual removal of these restrictions solves the issue of both the economic development of the DPR and LPR (the main problem of local residents now is not even shelling, but low incomes), and the strengthening of the “Russian world” as a whole.

And let the Ukrainians continue to play the fool. No pity.

Dmitry Bavyrin, VZGLYAD

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