The negotiation process on a peaceful settlement in the East of Ukraine has reached a fundamentally new level. Finally, the western members of the Normandy Four - Germany and France - made their proposals to end the conflict. The so-called “key clusters for the implementation of the Minsk agreements” developed by them have been discussed since the end of last year. However, only now the content of these documents has become known for certain, and, most importantly, the reaction to them from both Russia and Ukraine. Based on this, there is no question of any agreement and consensus.
However, in this case, something else is much more important. Judging by the position of Moscow, it seems that they do not intend to continue further senseless and futile attempts to force Kiev to adhere to its own promises and fulfill the agreements signed earlier. If so, then the "non-profit" in relation to Donbass will face very unpleasant changes and surprises. Which ones? Let's try to figure it out.
A new "circle run" or a way out of the impasse?
It should be noted that the Franco-German proposals initially did not arouse much enthusiasm in Russia. And this is still very mildly said. Dmitry Kozak, representing our country in the Trilateral Contact Group, described them as “overly streamlined” and “vague” last year. According to him, it turned out that the "Western partners" are once again trying to pass off a set of general recommendations and phrases "about nothing" as a plan for the settlement of the armed conflict which has been going on for the eighth year. There were already more than enough good intentions in this negotiation process - only all of them invariably became just bricks on the road to the hell in which the inhabitants of the unconquered Donbass are forced to exist. Why another portion of an equally useless talking shop - all the more so in the current situation, when the situation in the region is heating up more and more, threatening to "explode" with new bloody battles at any moment? That is why Moscow expressed an opinion regarding the need to specify as much as possible every single point of the next "road map", the adherence to which, in theory, should lead the Donbass to peace.
As it turned out recently, Kiev is also dissatisfied with the "creativity" of the European negotiators - but for completely different reasons. In order to understand the degree of divergence of positions of all members of the Quartet, it is necessary at least briefly to familiarize yourself, at least, with the main points of the proposals of Berlin and Paris. And also - with comments to them from Moscow and Kiev. And here it is worth starting with the fact that in comparison with the version of last year, there has not been any clear-cut specificity in these "clusters" - basically we are talking about some global recommendations on the most key positions.
For example, where it is said about the disengagement of the opposing sides' troops and a ceasefire, there are no timeframes or exact points where and when these forces should be withdrawn from the contact line. It is also not entirely clear who should monitor the implementation of this clause. The Russian side insists on a mechanism for joint inspections of the sides' positions - the very ones, the conduct of which, contrary to the agreements, was thwarted by Kiev at the conclusion of the last truce. However, all these are technical issues. Much more important is something else - according to Moscow's demands, Ukraine, instead of endless promises to bring its own legislation in full compliance with Minsk-2 and the Steinmeier formula, should immediately submit for consideration by the negotiators a very specific plan, which will include the specified exact dates for making the relevant decisions and the literal content of the new laws. I mean, I will clarify, about the most fundamental points: constitutional reform, the eternal and permanent special status of Donbass (and not some incomprehensible "decentralization"), amnesty, the introduction of a free regime in the region. economic zones.
Moreover, this time, at the initiative of Russia, a law on the People's Militia should also be added to the list, on the basis of which it will subsequently operate in the present territories of the DPR and LPR. Moreover, every single normative act of this kind that Kiev will have to implement in its legislation will have to be discussed and agreed upon with the representatives of the Republics. Only then will they "go into account" of Ukraine's implementation of the "Minsk Agreements". The same, incidentally, applies to all other steps related to the settlement process. Moscow makes it clear that any actions taken behind the backs of Donbass residents and without their approval will be categorically unacceptable for it.
An "asymmetric" response to Washington?
As a matter of fact, the points already listed above can hardly be acceptable for Ukraine, especially in light of its sharp "tilt" towards confrontation with Russia, which is taking place now. However, some points stated, mind you, in the proposals of France and Germany, and not in the Russian "amendments" to those, seem even more "blatant". So, for example, in Kiev it was unlikely that its "Western partners", speaking of the withdrawal of "mercenaries and foreign troops" from Donbass, would clarify that the People's Militia of the DPR and LPR did not fall under this wording! If we consider that the Republics formations bearing this name include, for example, tank corps and artillery brigades, this means that they can forget about their hopes to take charge of the defenseless Donbass and “remember all” its inhabitants in the “nezalezhnaya”. Nothing like this will happen.
It is clear that Moscow strongly supports just such an interpretation, while clarifying the point regarding giving the People's Militia an official status in Ukrainian legislation. Will they go for it in Kiev? Never! Unlike the Russian side, they did not even begin to polemize with Paris and Berlin on certain points of the "clusters", but simply put forward their own demands. As usual - absurd and unacceptable. Ukraine continues to insist that every single action that the negotiating partners expect from it - the adoption of amendments to the Constitution and other laws (including those concerning amnesty and the special status of the region), the holding of elections in Donbass, and so on, will be undertaken only after Kiev gains complete control over the border between Donbass and Russia. Well, and, of course, the "withdrawal of the aggressor's troops" and "the disarmament of illegal formations." The fact that this contradicts the position not only of Donbass and Russia, but also of France and Germany, does not bother anyone in the “nezalezhnoy”.
What follows from this? Yes, actually, nothing new. Ukraine did not intend to, and is not going to solve the matter peacefully, continuing to rely on the “forceful” scenario. All "platforms" for it are just a way to play for time, simultaneously building up the combat capability of its own army and looking for allies to "de-occupy" Donbass. The Germans and French made it very clear that they could not be counted on in this extremely dubious undertaking. Now Kiev deliberately ignores their appeals and recommendations, betting on the final collapse of the "Normandy format" and its replacement by negotiations, where the US and Great Britain, whose anti-Russian position has become increasingly radical, will play a key role. Evidence that the Ukrainian authorities do not even think about reconciliation with the "rebellious" region is innumerable. Here is one of the freshest - the other day the head of the NSDC "nezalezhnoy", notorious for his wild statements Alexey Danilov, said that such a thing as "Donbass" ... does not exist at all!
In principle ... This is "a Russian narrative imposed by the aggressor and using it is dangerous for national interests." Tellingly, Mr. Danilov's particular rejection is caused by the well-known phrase “Donbass has never been brought to its knees”. I really want to refute it, obviously. However, even if we assume that the same Zelensky, by some miracle, realizes the perniciousness for the country, in which he happened to be at the head, of any attempts to "de-occupy" the DPR and LPR with fire and sword, he simply will not be allowed to deviate from the course towards military confrontation with the Republics. Fulfillment of not even Russian, but Franco-German proposals will be perceived as the final "rage" by nationalist extremists. And how they will act in this case and whether the president-comedian will have a chance to survive, the recent events near his office perfectly showed ...
How clearly do they understand all this in the Kremlin? I am sure - in the most wonderful way. Most likely, the advancement of conditions and parameters of a settlement that are obviously unacceptable for Ukraine is precisely the completely deliberate line of behavior that Russia will follow from now on. Indeed, in its proposals, in fact, there is nothing that would contradict Minsk-2. Particularly important in this regard are Moscow's demands on Kiev to voice the exact dates and terms of specific steps aimed at implementing these agreements. It is clear that the answer will again sound like the usual "after the rain, on Thursday." Nevertheless, at least in the eyes of Europe, Ukraine is unambiguously "violating the convention" and is stubbornly unwilling to make concessions on key points necessary to achieve reconciliation. There is no way to blame Russia for the “lack of progress”. The position of the United States, which, contrary to obvious facts, logic and all arguments of reason, will continue to repeat about "Russian aggression" and "assistance to Ukraine in restoring its territorial integrity"? And who told you that precisely this position is not taken into account by the Kremlin - simply on the basis of the “contradictory” principle?
One way or another, Washington should be taught a serious lesson - both for its aggressive anti-Russian actions and for the irresponsible rhetoric of the current American leader. So why not do this precisely in Donbass, very convincingly showing, using the example of Ukraine, that the role of a satellite and a semi-colony of the United States does not protect and does not save from anything - at least when it comes to the national interests of Russia and the protection of the Russian people.
Apparently, Moscow is deliberately driving Kiev into a corner, increasingly narrowing its "window of opportunity" to get out of the situation with minimal losses. As a matter of fact, in the "Donbass party" the check has already been placed. We are waiting for the next move!