Four scenarios for Donbass

Четыре сценария для Донбасса

Today none of the possible scenarios does not allow to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine Kiev on favorable terms

Today none of the possible scenarios of settlement of the military conflict on Donbass does not allow to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine on favorable terms in Kiev. This is only possible after a change of presidents in Washington and Kiev, says Irina Gasanova in No. 23 (767) magazine Correspondent.

“Without progress on Ukraine cannot improve relations with Russia, including the removal or easing of Western sanctions against Russia, which I wish both parties,” wrote the American newspaper Washington Post on the eve of the first meeting of the us President Donald trump and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 7 June during the summit of “Big twenty” (G20) in Hamburg. Ukraine became a subject of contention in relations between Russia and the West, and without it it is impossible to correct the situation. Whatever is written in the official announcements and statements, Ukraine – in the first paragraphs of the agenda of the G20 Summit, but this time it will be discussed without the participation of the Ukrainian leadership.

“In violation of international law, according to its own rules, but Putin has made itself the world leader. Ukraine has missed a historic opportunity to discredit Russia as a global player after 2014”, – said the Correspondent of the Deputy Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine in 2008-2011 Stepan Gavrish. In the fourth year of military conflict in the Donbas and the annexation of the Crimea, the West and Russia have already demonstrated a serious intent to resolve the “Ukrainian issue”, removing that obstacle to the development of relations between them.

The first meeting of the tramp with Putin in Hamburg can give a start to resolving the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and may on the contrary lead to the escalation of hostilities in the Donbass, and, accordingly, the further tension in relations between the West and Russia. Despite the fact that Ukraine is politically and economically dependent on the West, Kiev remains an opportunity to turn the tide in the right direction and not to accept peace terms imposed from the outside. Moreover, during the years of military conflict in the Donbas the current Ukrainian government is less interested in its completion. Algorithm for the management of the country outside the war from her yet.

Hostages “Minsk utopias”

Before the G20 summit parties included in the settlement of the armed conflict in the Donbass, confirmed the continued support of Ukraine in the bilateral summits, as well as the fact that the key remain the Minsk agreement. President Petro Poroshenko during his visits to Washington, 20 June, 21 June – in Brussels and in Paris on June 26 received the related official statements. Trump administration expanded sanctions against Russia. The white house said that sanctions will remain in place until the Russians will not go away from Eastern Ukraine. The European Union has extended sanctions for another six months. French President Emmanuel macron announced the intention to breathe new life in the Normandy format (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) and to develop albeit small, but concrete steps on implementation of the Minsk peace agreements. German Chancellor still remains the main defender of “Minsk” and President Putin is the main beneficiary of its implementation. In fact, the perfectly realized utopian Minsk agreements and that their implementation is fraught for Ukraine is a serious crisis of nationhood until the collapse.

Both times the peace agreement Kiev signed under military pressure Russia. Minsk-1 –after the Ilovaisk cauldron in August 2014, the Minsk-2 – during the battle for debaltseve in January-February 2015. “The first Minsk agreement Kiev signed in exchange for an unofficial agreement on the recognition of the legitimacy of Moscow elected after the Maidan of 2013-2014, the Ukrainian authorities”, – said Stepan Havrysh. According to him, after the signing of the first Minsk agreements, Kiev has turned to “terrorists” who seized power in the Donbas “separatists”, which, with Russian support, created the military and political infrastructure of the unrecognized States of the DNI and LC.

In the “Minsk 2” all obligations secured only for Ukraine. Obligations of Russia as peacemaker spelled out in the additional Protocol. A Declaration of their commitment to the implementation of the Minsk agreements the leaders of the countries – participants of the Normandy Quartet was never signed. “No item “Minsk”, which would violate Russia unilaterally. Everything that disturbed us in response to something that violates Ukraine”, – said the Correspondent of a lecturer of political science of the Financial University under the government of Russia Gevorg mirzayan.

All items of the Minsk agreements between Russia and Ukraine fundamental differences. For the Kremlin it is important first to legalize in Ukraine controlled by leaders ORDO (some regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions) through Amnesty and local elections and subsequent federalization of the whole country, and then to demilitarize the territory and to transfer control over the border to Kiev or the international mission. In fact, this procedure is spelled out in the Minsk agreements. “The Federal status of the Eastern regions need to balance the policy of the Western regions of Ukraine, – says mirzan, and there was no more bias in the West in the Ukrainian politics. Federalization and will guarantee Ukraine’s neutrality in Finland”. However, he notes that Kiev does not recognize the “young Republic”, as without it, Russia will not hand over control of border, and will keep ORDA armed forces and intelligence agencies.

“Russia wants us to “Minsk” suffered a cancerous tumor of the stomach in the head”, – said Stepan Havrysh. From Ukraine constantly is: first, the demilitarization, the withdrawal of foreign armed forces, because the Amnesty and the elections in ORDA under Ukrainian law. President Poroshenko insists on an international peacekeeping mission that would initially control the border with Russia, but without the participation of the Russian contingent. Russia – opposed. “We at the international mission on the border do not need any Polish peacekeepers, so we should remain there, our volunteers and weapons,” – said the Correspondent of the Russian analyst on condition of anonymity.

After about two years of advocacy work by Ukrainian diplomats managed to convey to Western leaders that the implementation in this order of the Minsk agreements is not acceptable, because it means the legitimization of Russian intervention in the internal or external Affairs of Ukraine. However, all participants in the negotiation process have become hostages of the Minsk agreements.

The Russian spit on the American stone

“The leaders of the States and Europe are not the same views on the military conflict in the East of Ukraine. For Europeans, the presence of outstanding conflict can lead to maturity, and swelling. But the administration trump – there is no sense that he is now very much hampered by Ukraine, – said the head of public organization “Ukrainian strategy” Anatoliy Pinchuk. – Moreover, it happens that because of the scandals around the investigation of the relations of the environment trump with Russia, the conflict in Ukraine gives the us President the reason to take at least some actions against Russia.”

The administration of President trump more inclined to think that Ukraine could be a good bargaining chip in negotiations with Russia on other international issues. But the Kremlin is confident that trump is considering our country as an unprofitable asset. According to the source Correspondent, while Putin is not ready “to sell at high prices Trump Ukraine” and to go on serious concessions in other regions for the sake of Ukraine. Between the States and Russia will remain a major contradiction in the middle East.

Putin’s trump card in negotiations with the trump of China. If Russia will not be able to normalize relations with the West, it will be forced to go into the orbit of China’s influence, playing on the escalation of confrontation between Beijing and Washington. For the administration of the trump location is very important. Trump all more aware that without China he did not tame North Korea, which seriously concerned the main American allies in the Asia-Pacific region – Japan and South Korea.

On the other hand, trump is also not a lot to offer to Putin. The American President was in the grip of the hawks of the Republican party, not only because of the scandal surrounding his entourage about the relations with Russia. Six months of his difficult presidency, he realized that the rating of trust of the population in 36-38%, a hostile media, the investigation against him and his associates, without Republicans in Congress cannot implement any decision. And while administration foreign policy trump remains under the control of hawks – Republicans from the wing neoconservatives. In his administration of their present Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of defense James Mattis, the national security adviser, General Herbert McMaster and head of Department Rex Tillerson. “Tillerson, though less tough stance towards Russia, but when the question arises squarely, he will stand on the side of Congress. Wanting to go on a sinking ship to captain Trump is not a lot, because so many vacant seats in the White House”, – told ex-employee unit of Congress on the condition of anonymity. “Trump’s little “sweets” that would be interested in Putin – said political analyst Vitaly Kulik. – In the dialogue on Syria, where the “neocons” took a tough stance “to oust Russia”, do not believe. For the lifting of sanctions, it has no support in Congress. In Eastern Europe, the Pentagon strengthens its NATO allies, and to stop this process is impossible”.

The administration of the trump and the Republicans, who accused President Obama of weakness in his foreign policy towards Russia has chosen the tactics of soft: first, to bolster its position in pain issues for Russia, then to concede a minor. The administration of the trump on the day of Poroshenko’s visit to Washington on June 20 expanded sanctions against Russia. They will apply to all companies and individuals involved in the projects of Russian energy imports. Among them – German and Austrian contractors on the construction of the pipeline “Nord stream 2”, to import Russian gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine. However, in the House of Representatives (the lower chamber of the us Congress) slowed down the consideration of the sanctions adopted by the Senate for the intervention of Russia in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. This allows the property trump to kill two birds with one stone. “Trump, on the one hand, shows Congress its strict attitude towards Russia. On the other hand, the sanction of the Senate can use as the ACE on the talks with Putin,” – says American political analyst Philip Griffin. All the experts interviewed by the Correspondent agreed that for Russia it is crucial to ensure, if not complete abolition, the weakening of the sectoral sanctions imposed for the outbreak of military conflict in the Donbass.

On the way to Hamburg to attend the G20 summit, the President of trump July 6, visited Poland, where he spoke at the summit “Initiative of the three seas” before the leaders of the ten EU countries from Eastern Europe. The main question of the summit was to reduce dependence on Russian gas by increasing imports of liquefied U.S. gas, which must go along the corridor “North-South” from the Baltics to the Balkan Peninsula, on the coasts of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas. It is planned to complete construction in two years.

Of course, at the summit of “Tremorfa” was discussed and the support of Ukraine in countering Russian aggression. The summit of the “three seas” in Poland – a country which, unlike in Western Europe, perceive Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a direct threat to its security. But the President, despite the efforts of the Ukrainian diplomats were not invited to it. The formal cause is only part of the EU, and in fact, didn’t want to tease President Putin and complicate the negotiations trump with him in Hamburg.

In the European Union less a dead-end supporters of the Minsk agreements. Even the President of the macron, which is now for the sake of strengthening of the Franco-German axis in the EU, supported Merkel does not want at the beginning of his ambitious presidency to pull the burden of failure in foreign policy because of a commitment initially failed agreements, and even economic losses for his country. The apparent lowering of the status of Ukraine in the international settlement of the conflict on its own territory pushing Kiev to start to take the initiative, offering their solutions.

Three scenarios for Donbass

Announced a bill to replace the anti-terrorist operation to another legal format and de-occupation ORDO, which is already two weeks develops security Council should create a flexible legal framework for maneuvering in Kiev: from tightening sluggish fruitless fighting before the military scenario. The uncertainty of the position of the Ukrainian leadership in choosing ways of resolving the conflict is due to conflicting statements about the bill. On the one hand the question of de-occupation ORDO, but at the same time, according to Vice-speaker Oksana Siroid, the concept of the bill is not called who – occupier. On the one hand, the statement that the new law only a political resolution of the conflict, and a greater freedom of action for the armed forces (APU) and the possibility of imposition of martial law in the combat zone and in the territories of border regions.

“Russia is waging a hybrid war, and we have to answer the same, that is, to create a hybrid legal structure that allow you to make decisions and to play them back, if need be”, – said Vitaly Kulik. This legal frame can be filled with laws passed by a simple majority, presidential decrees, orders of the General staff, government resolutions and other regulations. According to Kulik, about exactly what the status of the legal documents will fill this framework law, and arguing in the ruling coalition, because in any case he will expand the powers of the President and upset the balance of power.

The West also leaves himself room to maneuver. In the past Poroshenko’s visit to Washington was signed several cooperation agreements, which are of a framework character, and their content will be filled as needed. For example, a military agreement on military-technical cooperation is made so that it allows as to develop joint defense projects, and does not exclude the possibility of supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine. Despite the loud statements of the Ukrainian authorities, the probability of obtaining by Ukraine the American weapons is very low. “In Washington is dominated by the view that if Ukraine to supply lethal weapons, Russia will build there own weapons that nobody wants in the center of Europe, says Griffin. – Statements of the Ukrainian leadership about the likelihood of supply of such weapons – more equipment to political pressure on Washington, which in General, is right.”

It all depends on Russia’s behavior. Leverage the West has on her. “Russia can behave in two ways. She plays, and, depending on conditions, can behave peacefully and opportunistic, and aggressive”, – says Anatoly Pinchuk. The range of development of the situation remains very wide: from a military escalation to achieve a minimal settlement with the participation of the international mission. Each of the available scenarios for the resolution of the military conflict in the Donbas within this range carries its own risks for the Ukrainian statehood.

The first scenario is the preservation of the Norman format of negotiations, the Minsk agreements without any changes and further delay settlement.

It means the continuation of the artillery shelling from both sides. But in Kiev there are fewer opportunities to keep the situation unchanged. The level of confidence in the government plummeted, the probability of early parliamentary elections is increasing, and in a year of presidential elections. “The President has no scenario out of the crisis for the country, but he has his own personal script – elected for a second term,” said Gavrish. He is sure that this is the most likely scenario of the situation in the zone of military conflict. To realize his power will allow periodic escalation of hostilities in the conflict zone. And the ability to impose martial law for a new act to replace the format of the ATO allow the government to exclude from voting disloyal electorate of Eastern regions, and increase the chances to remain in power after the election. A barrier may be the position of the Western partners.

The second scenario involves the Western pressure on Kiev to implement the Minsk agreements.

President Poroshenko double-signed the Minsk agreement, and continues to declare that they have no alternative. For the West it is necessary to reduce the degree of global tension, which contributes to the intransigence of Russia. So far the only attractive for the Kremlin’s proposal may be the gradual easing of the sectoral sanctions imposed for the outbreak of military conflict in the East of Ukraine.

Perhaps with some modifications, but for the sake of the main requirements is to legitimize the authority of leaders of the militants ORDO, increased self-government in those territories. While the West is well aware of the consequences for Ukraine. “It’s his job as President, which for it nobody will do it, says Philip Griffin. – The President must be a leader and before making decisions to assure its citizens of their necessary. If the next square with the early presidential elections, then should come another President who can explain to Ukrainians how to move towards economic stability and end the war with Russia.”

The third scenario involves the “Balkanization” or section of our country

If not a separate state, Federation with broad autonomy from Kiev. An expert on international security of the public organization “Maidan of zakordonnih Ref” Alex Kuropyatnik believes that Western leaders have already prepared for the fact that from Kiev useprivate other regions of Ukraine: “After Maidan 2014, American politicians are becoming more aware that to change the current political class in Ukraine no one. The protege of the Kremlin, they do not agree. If in 25 years failed to reform the country as a whole, so it is necessary to reform the parts that actually already happens.” The expert adds that however, the Americans and Western Europeans have the experience of the former Yugoslavia, which split into separate States, and in each of them have carried out democratic reforms and further integration into NATO and the EU.

The fourth scenario – the return of the territories by military means ARDLE

Levers of pressure on Russia not because of the danger of its transition under the influence of China, and force Russia to abandon its plans for ORDO and especially some way to return to Kiev, the Crimea is impossible. To restore partially (without the Crimea) territorial integrity and to preserve the unity of Ukraine is possible only by military means. Today, it is unlikely. To do this, nor Kiev has no military resources nor the necessary conditions in Russia. Some experts argue that trying to hold the military liberation ORDA is probably closer to the presidential elections in Russia in March 2018, when Russia will start protest rallies. Against this background, the Kremlin is not profitable to strengthen the military operations in the East of Ukraine, because the Russians and the military don’t have the motivation that was three years ago. However, this scenario is excluded, because any of the opposition, which questioned the foreign policy of Russia towards its neighbors, runs the risk of abruptly losing its supporters. And after the murder of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, which was intended to expose the destructiveness of military aggression against Ukraine, who want to raise this question among Russian politicians left.

Ukrainian and American experts agree that the power scenario of the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine is possible, but only after the change of presidents in Kiev and Washington. In the United States with high probability the next President will be a political hawk, and regardless of Democrats or Republicans. Even if trump does not rule the entire presidential term, and the head of the White House will be Vice President Mike Pence, who is considered a follower of the policies of Ronald Reagan, Ukraine may get a more effective military support. But for this Ukraine needs to come to power is the President, not burdened the business interests of neither their personal nor their entourage.


Everyone wants something from trump

Jason Smart, Director of non-governmental organizations For a free Ukraine

Meeting Donald trump, Vladimir Putin, which will probably take place in July, has already created a lot of speculation not only in USA but also in international media. As is usually the case before such meetings, interest groups eager to see what will result from it. For example, Democrats in the U.S. Congress are wondering about what will be discussed from the point of view of Russian interference in presidential elections in the United States in 2016. Human rights groups are curious to see what will be said about the brutal violation of human rights in Russia, and the reporters are waiting for, will you discuss the issue of press freedom. Azerbaijanis and Armenians are interested in what is said about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; the NATO countries are interested to know, will discuss their priorities on a bilateral basis; the Japanese are concerned that the status of the Kuril Islands may be a topic of conversation; the middle East wants to know whether the agenda of the Syrian civil war; Latin American oil-producing OPEC and other Countries are most interested in whether oil production tense; and Ukraine is most concerned about what will be said about the war that Russia is waging in Donbas and will also raise the issue of the illegal occupation of Crimea.

But despite these expectations, the official information is still lacking both on American and on the Russian side. With confidence we can say that this meeting will set the tone for the next 3.5 years – the remaining part of the first presidency of the President of trump and U.S.-Russian relations.

Since history is the best indicator of future events, let us consider the nature of the us-Russian relations after the election of new US President since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 1993, bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin had warm relations until then, until 1999 NATO began the bombing of Yugoslavia, after that the relationship was ruined.

In the beginning of the term of George W. Bush in 2001, he enjoyed a very close personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin. It lasted until the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003. Similarly, from the beginning of Obama’s term in 2009 and implementation of the then Secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s “reset” policy, he had a strong relationship with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev until 2012, when President Putin returned to the Kremlin. All US presidents seem to believe that they can be the one, finally, will create a better Russian-American relations, and each of them disappointed.

Based on this historical precedent, the President is likely trump will tend to warm the Russian-American relations. There’s just a lot of issues that both countries must solve together around the world. However, this means that the world is still undecided. Although, given the clear support trump for Ukraine, we can hope that he will act in the interests of Ukraine. In addition, given the ongoing scandal in the United States regarding Russia’s role in US elections, it seems unlikely that either party will want to do something too extreme, because it can cause a reaction from the media.

We can also be sure that it will not be too big reunion, but of course it will be longer than Poroshenko’s meeting with trump this month, which may be one of the shortest official meetings with the US President and a foreign President.

Probably in the center of her attention will be more personal acquaintance with each other than discussing too many features of the bilateral relationship.

Usually after such meetings should be an invitation to another, more important meeting in one of the two countries. As you approach the forthcoming meeting of the foreign observers will have a much better idea of how events will unfold.