In Background, Ukraine

By Tamara Zamyatina , TASS, May 14, 2015

MOSCOW –At a meeting in Antalya, Turkey onm May 13, 14, 2015, NATO’s foreign ministers followed in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s footsteps to call for a negotiated settlement of the Ukrainian crisis on the basis of the Minsk Accords. Experts in Russia polled by TASS suspect that these statements are not quite sincere, not backed up by real action and targeted at attaining long-term geopolitical aims.

NATO meeting in Antalya, Turkey May 13, 14, 2015

NATO meeting in Antalya, Turkey May 13, 14, 2015

“We reaffirm our strong support for the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine by diplomatic means and by dialogue,” NATO foreign ministers said in a news release on Wednesday. For his part, John Kerry, after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 12, said, “If, indeed, President Poroshenko is advocating a forceful engagement at this time, we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in this kind of activity. That would put Minsk in serious jeopardy and we would be very, very concerned of the consequences of what that kind of action would be.”

The president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, believes the United States and NATO countries are afraid another round of war in Donbas may have a very deplorable outcome for the Ukrainian army, too, just as all of the previous ones. “The West has made a decision to start a long big game, paying lip service to a political settlement of the crisis, but in reality bolstering the institutions of power in Kiev and building up the combat potential of the Ukrainian army. The ultimate aim of the United States and other NATO countries remains the same: winning Ukraine in the long term,” Remizov told TASS.

“Russia’s relations with the United States and NATO over the crisis in Ukraine are a zero sum game. Anything that spells a gain for the West is a loss for Russia, and the other way round. So this game is going to last a while,” the analyst said.

The director of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergey Markov, has no certainty the West is really committed to the idea of settling the Ukrainian crisis through negotiations by the conflicting parties. “Statements by Kerry and NATO’s other foreign ministers in support of the Minsk Accords are nothing but a fine declaration with no real action to rely on,” Markov, a member of the Civic Chamber, told TASS. Influential Western politicians have issued no calls to Kiev for ending the blockade of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics or the observance of human rights in Donbass. In fact, they hope for the economic strangulation of Donbass after the attempts at subjugation by military force has failed,” Markov said.

“Federalization should be the watchword of the day for those politicians who really wish to see peace in Ukraine,” Markov believes.

Deputy Director of the CIS Countries Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, has a different point of view. “I have studied the Minsk Accords closely enough, and I have arrived at the following conclusion: the agreements are a compromise between Russia and the European Union letting Ukraine move towards euro-integration without the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics, which would remain a buffer zone. Possibly, with this scheme in mind, the West is urging Kiev to see a political settlement of the crisis in the southeast of Ukraine, and not a military one,” Zharikhin said.

Nor does he rule out that the West may have developed the awareness the unabated criticism of Moscow for its stance over Ukraine and the regimen of sanctions both encourage Russia to seek closer relations with China in politics, the economy and military cooperation. “Russia’s rapprochement with China and India makes quite real, albeit in the long-term perspective, a Global East project, possibly opposing the Global West. This may explain to an extent why the United States and NATO countries, while keeping up pressures on Moscow over Ukraine, have decided to backtrack from their unconditional support for Kiev and began to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to opt for a political settlement of the conflict,” Zharikhin said.

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