Come after the elections. Walker on the Donbass

Приходите после выборов. Волкер о Донбассе

Special envoy of the US state Department on Ukraine Kurt Volker, during his visit to Kyiv have discussed the possible scenarios of development of situation in the Donbas and gave some advice to the Ukrainian authorities.

On the weekend the entire domestic political elite strolled to the traditional forum of Yalta European Strategy. One of the main guests of the event was the special representative of the US State Department on Affairs Kurt Volker.

Walker, unlike most of the participants is not only talks, but is responsible for certain actions. So his message particularly interesting. gathered the main ones.

About the prospects of Donbass

Walker believes that progress in the negotiations with Russia will not be at least until the elections in Ukraine. In his opinion, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want to negotiate on any issues related to the conflict in Ukraine, at least until the presidential elections in Ukraine in March 2019 or “while (President Petro) Poroshenko in power”.

The special representative of state Department noted that nominated Putin aide Vladislav Surkov, several initiatives after their last meeting in Dubai in January, but got no response.

According to Volcker, in January marmots showed interest in the idea of a phased deployment of peacekeepers in the Donbass, however, since the Russians “retreated and had some objections”.

A new meeting is possible, but “right now, nothing is scheduled,” he added.

Separately, Walker said that in the Donbass in 2014 as a result of armed conflict killed more people than the Bosnian Srebrenica in the mid 1990-ies.

Walker stressed that in the East of Ukraine proceeds “hot war” that leads to “disastrous consequences for the local population.”

“More than 10,000 people were killed – more than in Srebrenica. More than 1.5 million people were displaced. This is probably the biggest move of the European population since the Second world war,” said Walker.

“And this conflict is not over, it is not frozen, it lasts for four years and continues every day, every night,” added the special representative of the United States.

He also noted that, on average, every three days in the Donbas killed one Ukrainian soldier.

As you know, the massacre in Srebrenica occurred in 1995, as a result of this war crime was killed about 8000 Bosnian Muslims.

On Zakharchenko

The murder of the leader “DNR” Alexander Zakharchenko has not significantly changed the situation in the occupied territory of the Donetsk region, said Walker.

“Since Russia controls the territory, regardless of him (Zakharchenko) murder, there is no change in the situation. They control the military forces continue pressure on Ukraine and continue the hot phase of the conflict,” said Walker.

He added that Russia insists on direct negotiations with the “people’s republics” “L/DNR” in the Donbass, but it’s impossible.

“Russia insists that it (the peacekeeping mission under the UN auspices) was restricted only in order to protect the OSCE observers, and not in order to guarantee security in the region. Russia also insists that the negotiations were conducted directly with the so-called “people’s republics,” not Russia itself … Impossible to do anything,” said Walker.

He noted that Russia “continues to insist on the fulfillment of political conditions of the Minsk process”.

Thus, according to Volker, the only place that suffers from the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine – is the territory of Donbass, where Russia carries out aggression.

“The only place where Russian-speaking population of Ukraine suffers, is where Russia intervened, where the Russian Federation carried out the occupation … If Russia wants to improve the lives of Russian-speaking population in the Donbas, it must withdraw its troops”, – said the representative of the United States.

About Russia

Russia should agree to be a good and peaceful neighbor for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, said Walker.

Commenting on the chances of de-escalation of the conflict in the Donbas and the ways of its decision, Walker said: “This is an artificial conflict created and provoked by Russia.”

“(The situation in the occupied Donbas) is a military formation under the leadership of Russia, with two political organizations created by Russia, (the”L/DNR”), which are designed to change the political solitaire of Ukraine … “, – said Walker.

“… We got stuck in the Minsk process, where one side is talking about the steps that should make Ukraine (special status for Donbass, Amnesty, elections) …. But physically these steps cannot be carried out until there will be installed a certain level of security. Can’t be elections when it is occupied territory,” – said Walker.

He added that there is no indication that Russia took seriously the proposal to hold a “legitimate elections in Donbass, which will allow you to get out of the humanitarian crisis” if the introduction of the UN peacekeeping force that would replace the Russian forces in ORDA.

“But … we are ready to negotiate, but Russia should take part in them. We need to have Russia recognized that it would be to live peacefully with its neighbors, respecting their boundaries and adhere to the Helsinki principles,” said Walker.

He stressed that Russia is not “to decide the future of its neighbors – Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, or anyone else”.

“We believe that Ukraine should decide their future, choose your allies, your direction of motion … The same goes for Georgia, Moldova, and other countries. And Russia should agree to be a good peaceful neighbour for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova”, – said Walker, speaking about the security of countries which, like Ukraine, “not NATO members, and not friends of Russia.”

Advice to the authorities

The Ukrainian government is not doing enough to compatriots living in controlled groups “DNR” and “LNR” territories, said Walker.

He also claims that the Ukrainian authorities have no plan for the reintegration of the territories after the end of the armed conflict.

According to him, preliminary ideas for reintegration “do not have powerful political support, and few signs that this would be a priority for the Ukrainian government.”

“It’s a shame, because these people have been through a lot. This causes them to be very dissatisfied with the government of Ukraine”, – said the American diplomat.

He noted that Kiev needs to cooperate with the Red Cross, to help get the state pension for older people and people with limited mobility.

He also added that Ukraine should remind people remaining in the occupied part of the Donbass that “the government considers them citizens of the country.”

“Ukraine may need to consider in order to add employees at the checkpoints, to find new ways to access pensions for the most vulnerable population. People in the Donbas should know that the Ukrainian government believes that they (the inhabitants of the occupied territories) are citizens of the country,” said Walker.

In addition, Walker recommends that the Ukrainian authorities to extend the law on the special status individual regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

He recalled that key sanctions against Russia in force in the European Union, tied to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which, inter alia, refers to the need to preserve the special status of the uncontrolled part of Donbass.

The special representative of state Department has underlined that Russia consistently violates key requirements of the Minsk agreements, but at the same time, urged Ukraine not to allow claims in their favor.

“You know that the European Union has a lot of votes to lift sanctions even if Russia will not take one step. The non-renewal of the law on the special status of Donbass will give arguments to those who promote the idea of lifting the sanctions,” he said.

The validity of the rule on the special status ORDO expires in October 2018.