The future of the Minsk agreements: how the document is read in the US and the Kremlin
The interview that US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland gave to Radio Liberty became a new serious reason to talk about the Minsk agreements and the attitude of the States towards this document.
At the same time, Victoria Nuland is often quoted as saying that “if we really feel that there are grounds to see the implementation of the Minsk agreements in a safe and acceptable way for Ukraine – in a way that will restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity in Donbass – instead of some kind of political autonomy for Donbass and this will lead to the withdrawal of Russian forces and the puppets it supports – we would be ready to work on it, “Vitaliy Portnikov wrote for Radio Svoboda.
Although, of course, the most important thing in this text is that there are serious doubts that there are serious grounds for this. “Perhaps this is just a protective shield for the current conflict in the eyes of Moscow?” – the Deputy State Secretary asks.
We can say that now there are three attitudes to the Minsk agreements. In Kyiv, they are talking, first of all, about the implementation of those points of the document, which are about the withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of Donbass and the need to seriously modernize the agreements themselves. In particular, President Volodymyr Zelensky and other representatives of the Ukrainian leadership have repeatedly spoken about this.
In the West, the Minsk agreements are seen primarily as a chance to resolve the conflict. This was recently said by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, who worked with Presidents Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin to agree on the text of the document.
And in Russia, the Minsk agreements are spoken of, first of all, as a document that will create a ” state within a state” over the occupied territory of Donbass , over which Ukraine will have conditional sovereignty. Vladislav Surkov, a former aide to Vladimir Putin, who was the architect of the so-called ” people’s republics” and remains a lobbyist for their interests in the Kremlin, spoke openly about this .
And Vladimir Putin himself advised Vladimir Zelensky to talk about the conflict in the Donbass with the leaders of the ” people’s republics.” And this despite the fact that there are no such ” people’s republics” in the text of the Minsk agreements. And there are separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts ( ORDLO), in which a special management procedure for the transition period should be established. But it seems that the Kremlin prefers not to mention it.
That is why it is not necessary to talk about the possibility of implementing the Minsk agreements in the near future. And not at all because Ukraine cannot adopt legislation on a special order of government – the relevant decisions have been repeatedly adopted and continued by the Ukrainian parliament. And because the Kremlin is aware that military force is needed to preserve a “state within a state” on foreign soil. Russian troops and mercenaries will leave – who in Donetsk and Luhansk will remember the special order of management the next day? So how will Putin do without military force in Donbass?
All this does not mean that the conflict in Donbass has no solution. It has – and even more – than other conflicts in the post-Soviet space. Because only the occupation of Crimea and the war in Donbass led to sanctions against Russia.
But this decision must be considered realistically – that is, in historical perspective. All other post-Soviet conflicts have been going on for three decades – and are far from being finally resolved. Will Ukraine need the same amount of time to get closer to restoring its territorial integrity? No politician or diplomat knows the answer to this question today. However, it is clear that it is because of the pressure of sanctions that the solution to the Donbass problem – no matter how many years or decades it takes place – will bring the solution of other post-Soviet conflicts closer.
Published with permission from Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe, 2101 Connecticut Avenue, Washington 20036, USA