Friday, September 19, 2014

Minsk talks mirror "more secretive decisions taken in Kiev and Moscow”

19 September 2014, 21:05

From left: former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma; Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic; Heidi Tagliavini, representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office on Ukraine; Mikhail Zurabov, Russian ambassador in Ukraine; Igor Plotnitsky, representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, during the September 5 meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation in Minsk, Belarus at which the current ceasefire was agreed.

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The opposing sides in the conflict in Ukraine met in the Belarussian capital of Minsk today with the aim of find a lasting solution to the conflict that has killed around 3,000 people. A European-brokered ceasefire has scaled back the fighting across eastern Ukraine although the talks in Belarus are not expected to yield any breakthrough. VoR's political commentator Dmitry Babich explains the latest developments.

“Both sides in Minsk are represented by controversial and minor figures," he says. "Ukraine is represented by Leonid Kuchma (former Ukrainian president, who is unpopular among the nationalists and pro-Russian population) and Russia is represented by its very quiet and secretive ambassador in Kiev Mr Zurabov. What we see in Minsk are manifestations of much deeper processes, much more secretive decisions taken in Kiev and Moscow.”

The truce has been holding for two weeks now – that is something of a positive note for the talks in Minsk…

“The fact that there is less violence in eastern Ukraine is positive, although unfortunately every day there are skirmishes, and three or four people are killed. This is terrible for Ukraine, which was the most peaceful part of the Soviet Union for decades.

“Basically, my impression is that (Ukrainian President Petro) Poroshenko has reconciled himself to the fact that eastern Ukraine will sooner or later become an independent state. He quietly reconciled to himself that the Party of the Regions and the Communist Party won’t be running at elections for the Ukrainian parliament due to take place on the 26th of October.

“If Poroshenko allows the east not to be represented in the parliament and the Party of the Regions and the Communist party control about 90 percent of the vote in eastern Ukraine – I don’t think Poroshenko realistically expects the east to stay inside the country."

Russia is a country that President Poroshenko will have to foster some kind of a relationship with, when this is all over…

“It looks like Mr Poroshenko is very short-sighted because of his statements in the US about the battle of ‘civilisation with barbarity’. He basically considers Russia a barbaric country. Of course, these statements were not commented on by Moscow because it is trying not to respond to every aggressive outburst from Kiev. But they were noticed here. I think Poroshenko understands that he is burning bridges with these statements. The Kiev regime is not making any long-term plans. It is not yet clear how Ukraine will survive the winter without Russian gas. Ukraine is not buying Russian gas.

“In the nearest future Mr Poroshenko will become very unpopular because he won’t be able to rejoin the east of the country back to Ukraine peacefully. He won’t be able to provide Ukraine with energy this winter because he didn’t make any moves to restart gas supplied from Russia. And he is going to face some opposition from the nationalist parties if he doesn’t restart the war.”

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