Minsk 2: The big farce of Western policy on Russia

12 лютого, 2016

Публікація на EUobserver

The New Year began with optimism that the Ukraine crisis will be solved quickly. But the solution appears to be on Russia’s terms and at the cost of Ukraine’s national interests.

The problem goes back to the ceasefire accords endorsed by France and Germany in September 2014 (Minsk) and in February 2015 (Minsk 2), the latter precisely one year ago today.

On both occasions, Russia’s envoys sat at the table as observers, not as the representatives of an aggressor state.

The EU leaders and the US played along with the farce. It showed that their main objective was to avoid a large scale war in Europe at almost any cost to Ukraine.

They showed it again by doing nothing when Putin’s forces, a few days after Minsk 2, captured the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve amid a devastating artillery assault.

In the past 12 moths of “ceasefire” his hybrid forces have killed about 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

Nato and Ukrainian intelligence say there are still 8,500 regular Russian troops in east Ukraine and that Russia is preparing to escalate the war at any moment.

In fact, it hasn’t complied with a single point in the Minsk texts.

But the EU and the US are once again showing their true intentions.

The EU is instead piling pressure on Ukraine to fulfil its part of Minsk by devolving power to Russia-occupied Ukraine. US diplomats, as in Kaliningrad in January, are talking to Russia over Ukraine’s head.

It fills Ukrainian people with deep apprehension and mistrust.

Ukraine: holding its ground

2 червня, 2015

Публікація на EUobserver

There’s a Ukrainian proverb which says “it’s not the one who strikes the blow who’s stronger, but the one who stands his ground after being hit”.
Ukraine, in defiance of Russia’s assault, is holding its ground on pro-EU reforms.

Donbas refugees in Ukraine: starting from scratch (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)
It’s doing so despite the defunct security promises of the Budapest Memorandum guarantors, the UK and the US, who pledged, in 1994, to uphold its territorial integrity in return for nuclear disarmament. It’s doing so despite meagre financial support from the West and the EU’s lack of strategic vision for eastern Europe.

Today, as in February last year, when Russian spetznaz seized the parliament in Crimea, Moscow remains in full control of escalation or de-escalation.

Russian soldiers play hide and seek with the international community. It’s “volunteers” come to Ukraine in tanks, its soldiers become “demobilised” the minute they cross the border.

Report after report confirms Russia’s undeclared war.

But the UN has not designated it as an aggressor. Instead, the UN secretary general went to Moscow’s 9 May military parade, which contained military units involved in anti-Ukraine operations.

Neither has Russia been designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism” despite its attacks on Ukrainian civilians, or in the aftermath of the MH17 shoot-down, which took the lives of nationals not involved in the conflict.

Instead, Western leaders make pretend Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a neutral observer to the “Minsk” ceasefire agreement.

This is what happens when your country – unlike its adversary – has no nuclear arms; no oil and gas; no UN Security Council veto; no massive propaganda machine.