As soon as the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak refused to agree on a working document on the mechanism, sequence and procedure for implementing the political part of the set of measures for the execution of the Minsk agreements, the American side predictably continued to inflate the information space. Ukraine has refused to play its role as a compromise figure, and the big deal between the US and the Russian Federation is under threat.
The West is preparing a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine on February 15, according to the American press. Their German colleagues from Spiegel corrected them and postponed the attack to February 16 (apparently because Olaf Scholz will be visiting Russia on February 15 and it’s not good if the invasion starts on that day). Not surprisingly, the next unfounded forecasts cause distrust.
And if you look closely in general, you can see an attempt by world leaders to get ahead of each other in saving Ukraine, Europe and the world from a big war. Joe Biden started the theater of diplomacy. In the first act, he skillfully created an escalation effect in the spring to justify a meeting with Putin in June, but the second act - the successful conclusion of the drama behind the scenes - has not yet succeeded.
Emmanuel Macron immediately joined the game, being offended by the Americans for the scam contracts for the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia, against the background of the presidential elections in April, where he had to fight against pro-Russian candidates and the desire to become the leader of a big Europe, he decided to quickly save what wants to lead. He came to Vladimir Putin with his creative ideas about security guarantees, but did he manage shouting (literally and figuratively) the Russian president? And most importantly, to see who is sitting on the other side of the table (without irony): an ally or an enemy?
Macron thought he was a friend. At least for the period of the election campaign. It is possible that under the "creative ideas" Putin was offered the development of economic cooperation after the Macron's victory, as well as a diplomatic stunt with the Belarusian exercises: if nothing works out with Ukraine, at least in the Belarusian direction, Putin will be "forced" to retreat, which he basically planned himself.
The Russian president listened to everything, and in some places supported, but hinted that he was set to negotiate with Washington, and Macron was useful and important, but they would call him back or let him call back, which, in fact, will happen soon.
Joe Biden, realizing that he almost "overslept the moment" (again without irony) and without it in any way (on February 10, Ukraine was not persuaded), held consultations with all the leaders - Canada, NATO, the EU and is already ready to dial Putin for a conversation. The threat is maximum - it is necessary to save Europe (but did Macron fail his victorious trip?)
While Biden is competing with Macron, Olaf Scholz is coming to Ukraine for Valentine's Day. It is doubtful that Vladimir Zelensky would like to celebrate this bright holiday in the company of such an attractive politician, from the point of view of the electoral preferences of German voters, but the conversation promises to be heated.
Scholz is very annoyed. While the United States is playing its game, Germany cannot complete the certification of Nord Stream 2, and Biden is forcing him to impose sanctions against the pipeline in the event of a Russian invasion. While Scholz is trying to remove this issue from the agenda, it is becoming increasingly difficult for him to keep in control the fragile coalition, where the “greens”, albeit cautiously, bend their line, and then there is Ukraine with its position across the throat.
We must look for a way out. Apparently Scholz is coming with microfinance assistance in exchange for the adoption of the Minsk agreements. And of course the laurels of the savior of Europe. And then Scholz is waiting for the negotiation process with the Russian leader.
Putin himself is reaping the fruits of a successful market situation and is welcoming dear guests. Although he himself does not seem to be preparing to attack, synchronous actions in the Black Sea and exercises on the territory of Belarus, so to speak, “indicate potential rape”, if the situation enters an active phase of escalation, which no one wants. Apparently, the Russian side is experiencing a certain sense of deja vu, in February 2015 the tragic events of the “Debaltsevo cauldron” determined the text of the Minsk agreements, and in February 2022 a virtual “cauldron” along the southeastern and northern borders of Ukraine may push official Kyiv to implement them.
The weekend and next week promise to be hot, and maybe decisive (Macron did not lie). Will there be a war? Once again, there are more doubts than threats. But it is quite possible to expect a local confrontation or provocation, which should push the Ukrainian side to a compromise.
And what is happening in Ukraine?
If you watch the latest broadcasts of big political talk shows, listen to the narratives of individual politicians and watch the actions of Bankova, a certain plan of the Ukrainian authorities and approaches to its implementation are directly suggested.
Approach 1. " While the diplomats are talking, the guns are silent." This principle underlies Ukraine's negotiating position in the Normandy format. In Paris, we managed to agree on a truce and a ceasefire - this is the minimum program. In Berlin, it was not possible to agree on humanitarian issues, namely the exchange of prisoners - this is the maximum.
The main thing is the very fact that negotiations continue and security is observed, then you can talk about the political component for a very long time, and with whom and how - this is another topic for discussion.
Approach 2. “The main side of the Minsk agreements is the Ukrainian people.” The Ukrainian government reserves the opportunity to "play the card" of holding a referendum on the fate of the occupied territories - as an argument in a conversation with Western partners. The only question is: will they manage to use this technology and will the West agree?
At least the preparation of public opinion, apparently, is underway. On the first buttons of the country - “Right to Power”, “Freedom of Speech” - the Minsk agreements are actively “bombed”, for this, the political old school Oleg Tyagnybok was taken out of the deep trousers and he is dreaming of leading the negotiating group of Ukraine in the TCG ( Trilateral Contact Group - editor's note).
It is important to note that even without this, the sequence of implementation of a set of measures, and in some moments their content, causes, to put it mildly, great concern in citizens reading the contents of the document.
Approach 3 "Deprive the hetman from his mace". There are attempts to intensify the investigation against Petro Poroshenko. Although in legal terms, the "brothers and sisters" of Petro Alekseevich can stay calm, political subtext is the main.
There is a desire to link the signing of the Minsk agreements with the "Debaltsevo Cauldron" (where there are also huge questions about the actions of the country's political and military leadership during Poroshenko's presidency, therefore, attempts are being made to declassify data about those events), as well as to link here a deliberate break in contacts with South Africa for further purchases of coal from the Donbas.
What is the point? If this case is successfully promoted in the media , Poroshenko can be portrayed as a traitor who signed the Minsk agreements - a document that was approved under Russian military pressure, and taking into account all these circumstances - unnecessary for Zelensky to implement.
Approach 4. “Make Russia responsible for the failure of the Minsk agreements.” Does the political part of the document threaten national interests and everything needs to be done by Kyiv? Then let Moscow be the one to blame for the disruption. This approach of the Ukrainian leadership is based on the actions of the Russian side: certification of the local population, certification of products manufactured in the occupied territories with the possibility of selling on the Russian market, allocation of funds for the maintenance of the administrations of pseudo-republics , appointment of Russian citizens to senior positions, control over all processes of the Russian special services, the existence of a separate interdepartmental group in the Russian government, which coordinates economic processes in the region. In principle, this is enough to accuse the Kremlin of "playing by the rules." The point is for our Western partners to understand this.
Approach 5. "Creating electoral soil for a second term." Against the backdrop of previous steps, the Office of the President is prudently preparing for future elections, and the development of the situation around the Minsk agreements will play an important role in this: whether it succeeds or not.
On the right flank, Poroshenko’s rating is being “inflated” so far, in order to hit him with the case of the “Debaltsevo cauldron” and “occupied coal”. Tyagnybok is already being tested as a potential torpedo against the ex-president. Yulia Tymoshenko has nationalized her rhetoric very much and strives to recapture a couple of percent from Petro Alekseevich in his field, with the prospect of negotiating a coalition with the “Zelensky party” after the parliamentary elections, if circumstances are successful.
In southeastern Ukraine, they managed to pin down Viktor Medvedchuk. Now it's up to the creation of a loyal project, and to some extent it is visible. Lyovochkin and Firtash are pushing the idea of "Finnishization" of Ukraine in the international information space in order to look like a handshake in front of Western elites. Yuriy Boyko can successfully act as the flagship of a political force - like a "pro-Russian", but at the same time able to negotiate with the Office of the President. Everything looks as if the electoral field is being cleared under them, even the Nash TV channel of Yevgeny Muraev has been affected.
Apparently, the Office of the President believes that, having placed loyal figures on all flanks, it is possible to engage in intra-party reform.
The contours of the strategy of power look clear, but will it be possible to implement all this?
The pressure of the "wild collective West". There was probably no such consolidation of Western partners regarding the need to adopt the Minsk agreements in 2015. They will put pressure on Ukraine, and this, to put it mildly, is noticeable, but they demand a compromise here and now.
Biden has little time, because in November there is a by-election to the Congress, where the Republicans can take revenge. It is necessary to block the “Afghan escape” with a “Ukrainian triumph”. In addition, there is a need to quickly resolve the issue with Russia over Ukraine in order to free one's hands in politics in the Chinese direction. France and Germany also do not want conflict. Britain is not interested in this either, despite the support of Ukraine (the difficult energy situation also affects their economy).
The Ukrainian leadership is being forced to make concessions, and either Zelensky’s team will find arguments to “persuade partners,” or the consequences can be critical, including with the threat of a change in the political regime in the country.
Are there safe alternative solutions? At a minimum, if we are required to take practical steps, we have the right to demand economic preferences.
Scholz is going to Ukraine on February 14, let him give specifics. For example, when German business will start investing in Ukrainian sources of renewable energy. How many billion euros they are ready to pay Ukraine for peace? In which segments of the economy are you ready to invest? Is Germany ready to write off Ukraine's debts, as the West did to Poland in the early 90s?
During a meeting in Paris, the German side raised the issue of demining on the demarcation line. Fine. Then let the OSCE control this process, and the German side allocate funds (in principle, Berlin is ready for this).
If Ukraine integrates the territories, both our Western partners and the party that started the war, the Russian Federation, should invest in the restoration of infrastructure.
If the elections are to be held according to Ukrainian law, then Kyiv should determine the conditions under which the voting will take place.
If we are talking about the withdrawal of weapons, then we follow the Minsk protocols to the end - Debaltseve passes under Ukrainian control.
If we implement the Minsk agreements in full, then paragraph 6 "exchange of all for all" and paragraph 10 "withdrawal of all illegal formations under the control of the OSCE."
Ukraine needs to conduct a sound and rational dialogue, and where it is not possible to defend the initial negotiating positions, it is necessary to compensate for this with equivalent achievements on other tracks.
The inconsistency of actions and constant attempts to sit on two chairs have led to the fact that both chairs are taken away from Ukraine, but whether we will fall into the same place without these chairs or stand on our feet is a very complex issue and requires a deliberate, pragmatic policy.