A meeting of leaders of states in the “Normandy format without Putin” took place in Brussels yesterday evening. In any case, the Ukrainian media dubbed the conversation of the presidents of Ukraine and France with the new German chancellor in advance. The dream of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which he persistently repeated in recent days, has come true : “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” Finally, at least someone met with the leader of the Ukrainian state in order to discuss the fate of this country and with him too.
Otherwise, it really looked very strange that US President Joe Biden discussed the upcoming ” Russian invasion of Ukraine” with Vladimir Putin, twice – with the leaders of the states of old Europe (before and immediately after the call to Sochi ), and with Zelensky he then two days there was no time to talk. Of course, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba tried to pass off wishful thinking, saying that the US Secretary of State called Zelensky the day before, which means that the formula “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine” worked here as well. However, the office of the President of Ukraine, even a day after the virtual Putin-Biden summit, publicly admitted that information about this call in Kiev was drawnexclusively from the official communiqués of both sides and from the media. That is, before Biden’s call to Zelensky, not a single American department – neither the State Department, nor the US Embassy, nor the White House – bothered to at least briefly convey the main messages to Kiev.
After talking with Biden, the President of Ukraine announced the upcoming “Normandy summit without Putin” at the site of the meeting of the leaders of the states of Europe and the Eastern Partnership. Judging by the surroundings and timing of this fleeting conversation, they did not really discuss anything. Kuleba summed up the short result of this meeting: “By joint efforts we are returning the Russian Federation to the negotiating table.” This summary testifies to the fact that the three leaders only stated the impossibility of holding a constructive dialogue in the absence of the Russian side.
At the same time, the position of Russia is well known to everyone: Moscow is ready to resume the work of the summit in the “Normandy format”, but, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly said, holding a “summit for the sake of a summit” is meaningless. This is what he said in 2019 as well. And now he says : “We do not need a meeting for the sake of a meeting.”
It is all the more surprising that following the “non-Normandy” meeting in Brussels, Zelensky suddenly repeated Lavrov’s words word for word that the meeting of the leaders of the “Normandy format” should not be “a summit for the sake of a summit.” True, he immediately tried to shift responsibility for the failure to comply with the decisions of the last, Paris, summit, held in December 2019, onto Russia. Which, of course, is an outright lie. Moreover, the lie is easily verifiable. It is enough to open the document signed in Paris (by the way, rather laconic) to make sure: among the three paragraphs of this paper there is a commitment of Ukraine, certified personally by Zelensky, to implement the “Steinmeier formula” into its legislation…. When the president of Ukraine accuses Russia of non-compliance with the Paris agreements, one would like to ask: is it Moscow that should introduce this formula into the Ukrainian constitution?
Russia’s position is well known and has been articulated more than once at the highest level: according to the Minsk agreements, issues related to the maintenance of peace in Donbass, Kiev should directly resolve with “representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” That is, those very DPR and LPR – as Vladimir Putin recently emphasized, “not yet recognized republics.” Already in the republics of Donbass themselves, this word “so far” in the mouth of the Russian president immediately drew attention to, taking it as an encouraging signal for themselves.
But Kiev has consistently denied the possibility of direct dialogue with representatives of the rebellious region. Moreover, the argumentation of his position is amazing. Zelensky the other day in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica commented on Moscow ‘s position: “One small paragraph is enough to retell Russia’s answers, because they all boil down to the unwillingness to recognize itself as a party to this war. Her role at the negotiating table is to insist that you need to talk to the separatists in Donbass. And who are these separatists? In the occupied territory, everything is led by Russian officers and representatives of the Russian authorities. “
But excuse me, even if you really believe that representatives of Russia are in charge of the DPR and LPR on the ground, then come to an agreement with them – after all, it is Zelensky himself who constantly insists on negotiations with Moscow. And now in Brussels, he said : “Ukraine is ready for any format of negotiations with the Russian Federation to resolve this process.” So what prevents you from starting a dialogue with those whom the president of Ukraine himself considers “Russian officers”? The leaders of the DPR and LPR have repeatedly expressed their readiness to meet with their Ukrainian counterpart and finally reach peace agreements. It is worth recalling that Zelensky himself, being a presidential candidate, stated: “Though I am ready to agree with the bald devil, if only not a single person dies.” And now he himself rejects calls to sit down at the negotiating table not even with the devil, but with the real side of the conflict.
And then, as a candidate, he promised that war was not an option for him and that the conflict in Donbass could be resolved only through negotiations. And now in Brussels, commenting on some five scenarios of Europe’s response to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine, Zelensky says : “We said that our state does not have five reactions, we will have only one reaction. And we demonstrated it in 2014, when we defended their territory in arms. ” So much for the “president of the world.”
His most curious statement during the Brussels meetings was his appeal to the Europeans to impose sanctions on Russia without waiting for the “invasion” promised by the Americans long ago. Zelensky said : “Some leaders are proposing a response format: after a likely escalation from the Russian Federation, introduce a powerful sanctions policy. Here, it seems to me that we were able to explain to our European colleagues that no one is interested in the sanctions policy afterwards. Our state is interested in a powerful sanctions policy before likely escalation. “
It is difficult to say whether the president of Ukraine himself thinks about his brilliant ideas. Because otherwise he would have thought about what should keep Russia from “invasion” if sanctions were introduced for him in advance. We did not want and do not want to invade anywhere, which has been said more than once. But if they are punished for this anyway, then what could be worse? After all, they themselves asked to “invade” somewhere.
Not surprisingly, with the growth of aggressive rhetoric, Zelenskiy turned to Croatia for the experience of “reintegrating the occupied territories”. They really have experience of bloody ethnic cleansing there. Operation “Tempest” to “de-occupy” Serbian Krajina in 1995 resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and hundreds of thousands of refugees. True, it is not clear who Zelensky now considers to be “occupiers” – apparently, the very local residents who have lived in this region for centuries. It is not surprising that Putin, speaking of the methods used by Ukraine in the Donbass, said that it “is very reminiscent of genocide” – Kiev has someone to learn from.
It is not surprising that Russia, realizing the unwillingness and inability of the Kiev authorities to end the military conflict, switched to a direct dialogue with the “shareholders” of this very government – the Americans. And in this regard, Zelensky’s extraordinary nervousness is felt. In an interview with 1 + 1 TV channel, he said that a “new platform” in the Russia-US format was emerging, and expressed concern about how, under these conditions, “not to lose the“ Normandy format. ”However, after thinking for a couple of days, the former comedian in Brussels declared a “trilateral” with the addition of these negotiations Ukraine’s because the same:. “It is impossible without Ukraine to decide anything about Ukraine,” He several times. repeatedone and the same mantra: “Nothing can be behind the back of Ukraine.” It can be seen that after humiliation with a belated phone call from Biden, Zelensky was seriously afraid of deciding his fate without his own participation.
But, in the end, it was Ukraine itself that surrendered its subjectivity after the 2014 Maidan. And after she once again showed complete incapacity for negotiation, the point in direct negotiations with her is lost. Moreover, this is not only and not so much about the fate of this territory, but about the system of national defense and security of Russia itself.
And while Kiev is expressing its readiness to join NATO, which is an unconditional red line for us, it makes sense to talk only with those who can really prevent the embodiment of this adventurous scenario.