By Andreas Umland. Published Dec. 9 at 7:12 pm
Kyiv’s dilemma, at today’s Normandy Summit meeting, is that Vladimir Putin is not so much interested in the Donbas as he is in obtaining some degree of control or, at least, of instability in Ukraine, in general.
What Russia’s strategy in its Donbas policy in general and the current negotiations in Paris, in particular, comes down to is to replace the current pseudo-civil war in eastern Ukraine, orchestrated by Moscow, with a real civil war in central and western Ukraine, coming from inside Ukrainian society.
The ceasefire that President Volodymyr Zelensky manifestly aspires for may be provided by Moscow only in exchange for so far-reaching concessions by Kyiv that they will come close to a Ukrainian capitulation.
Zelensky is facing the dilemma to either continue the current fragile situation and low-intensity, but still bloody conflict, in the Donets Basin indefinitely, or to embark on a domestically risky path of succumbing to Putin’s demands.
The Kremlin’s aim is to finally trigger not only peaceful but also violent or even armed political conflict in Kyiv and in Ukrainian society at large, between hawkish and dovish citizens.
It is unclear whether Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and their teams fully comprehend the depth of many Russian nationalists’ psycho-pathological attitude towards Ukraine, and the magnitude of the Kremlin’s fear of a successful Ukrainian socioeconomic development.
Many Western diplomats and politicians may think of the current Paris talks as a sort of generic conflict resolution process.