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During the Second World War, Normandy became the starting point for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi occupation by Allied forces. This operation is recognized as the largest joint landing operation in all of world history.
However, this fact did not bring tangible progress in resolving the military conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The theme of the “Norman format” remains the main one on the political agenda of Ukraine, especially after October 1, when the so-called “Steinmeier formula” was signed in Minsk.
Staying between conflicting geopolitical ambitions of Russia and the West, Ukraine is trying to defend its independence, while balancing competing external interests.
Without exaggeration, this summit is crucial for the future of our country, namely, its preservation of sovereignty and unitarity.
But today it is already possible to make certain predictions about how it will end and on the support of which international partners Kiev can count on.
What to expect from Germany and France.
Today, Berlin and Paris are well aware of the need for real participation in resolving conflicts against the background of the launch of the military operation “Source of Peace” by the Ankara on October 9 against the Syrian Kurds.
In this regard, in my opinion, the main thing is that Recep Erdogan has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the relationship with Brussels and the latter freezing the majority of the negotiation tracks. Namely – negotiations on EU membership (Ankara filed 32 years ago, since then 16 countries joined the EU), the imposition of sanctions for drilling wells in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, the permanent delay of visa-free travel for Turks and compensation of € 6 billion. for containing the flow of migrants to the EU. The accumulated baggage pushed Erdogan to independently and resolutely resolve his regional problems, despite the European integration ambitions and the country’s current NATO membership.
The negative example of Turkey is that there is another precedent for a military solution to the conflict from a position of strength, while the entire democratic world calls for action only within the framework of “diplomatic mechanisms”, of which sanctions are a part.
At the same time, do not panic that Vladimir Zelensky will be one against three.
The foreign ministries of Germany and France argue that the Minsk agreements “will not be considered implemented until the full territorial sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine is established in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.”
The President of France has consistently condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Emmanuel Macron said that the return of the Russian Federation to the G7 is inappropriate until the end of the aggression against the neighbor. At the same time, she can be invited to the summit as a guest.
Nevertheless, it takes bilateral relations with the Russian Federation beyond the framework of Ukrainian and Syrian issues. As a result, Paris facilitated the return of Russia to PACE during the period when France presided over the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
Contrary to the fact that German business has long advocated the lifting of sanctions against Russia, official Berlin has a clear position.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is outraged by the annexation of Crimea and the aggression in the Donbas, the support of Bashar al-Assad and the role in war crimes in Syria, hacker attacks on the government and the Bundestag, as well as the aggressive actions of Russian special services in Europe.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in June that European countries should maintain closer relations with Russia than before – hopes for a comprehensive partnership with Russia did not materialize. He also emphasized – “the conflict in the east of Ukraine, as well as the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea have a significant impact on relations between Europe and Russia. It is impossible to conduct business with Russia as usual. ”
In addition, Berlin, like no one else, understands the volume of difficulties in returning the ORLDO to the legal field of Ukraine, their economic recovery and reintegration into the Ukrainian economy.
On October 3, Germany celebrated the 29th anniversary of the restoration of unity. On that day, the GDR and West Berlin became part of the FRG, recognizing its constitution. On that day, the GDR ceased to exist, its state institutions were abolished, the army was disbanded, and the fleet was liquidated. But, despite almost thirty years, the country never became united, inequality and injustice continue to be observed to this day.
What to expect from other international partners.
The external situation is developing so that Vladimir Zelensky should not hope for a possible expansion of the “Norman format” with the involvement of the United States and Great Britain.
In London Brexit, in the USA impeachment. They are definitely not up to Ukraine.
And the involvement of Donald trump in the negotiation process is more likely to harm Kiev than help.
At the same time, the ex-special representative of the US State Department, Kurt Walker, assured that international partners will not push Ukraine to hold elections in the occupied territories while there remain troops controlled by Russia.
He also once emphasized that the Russian Federation would never recognize its responsibility for implementing the agreements, would not agree with proposals for UN peacekeepers in the Donbas, but would not offer other options.
What to expect from L / DPR.
After October 1, despite bold statements by Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik for the press regarding the “Steinmeier formula”, panic reigned in the corridors of the “L / DNR”.
The first thing that caused it was the prospect of holding elections according to Ukrainian laws with all preliminary measures.
The second is Kiev’s demand to dissolve L / DPR, since such formations are not mentioned in the Minsk agreements.
Further statements by the heads of the puppet regimes “on the right to full self-government and self-determination”, the need for direct dialogue and approval of the draft law can not be taken into account.
On the eve of the Normandy summit, it will be important that the unrecognized republics, following the instructions of the Russian curators, will become the main tool for disrupting the agreements, spreading Kremlin narratives, accusing Ukraine and promoting Russian options for resolving the conflict.
And this process is already being observed. Over the past week, the frequency and intensity of shelling by militants has increased significantly, including with the use of prohibited weapons. This frustrated the truce and the breeding of forces in Petrovsky and Zolotoy. In addition, accumulation of forces is recorded in these areas.
The second important point is the conduct of the census by the occupying “authorities” on October 1-14. It is known that scribes did not require any documents to collect data, and in the absence of tenants, concierges were interviewed. Also, in the mass media of the “people’s republics” there has been an active advertisement of economic and social successes recently, due to which refugees allegedly began to return to the Donbass en masse.
The purpose of this census is simple. According to insider information, the L / DPR leadership was instructed by Russian curators to “ensure” the maximum possible number of residents of the occupied territories to form “necessary” voter lists. Still not waiting for the final calculation of the results, the migration services reported that the figures received would not differ much from the pre-war ones. This means that instead of 1.5-1.7 million people actually living in ORDLO, lists for approximately 3.7 million people will be prepared for the elections. It should be recalled that it is Donbass that is the birthplace of bus excursions to polling stations in Ukraine.
“L / DPR” also sabotages the process of releasing all hostages and detainees, which has become one of the main issues of the new Ukrainian administration. Due to the fact that criminal authorities are included in the lists, which have nothing to do with the conflict, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry recognized the “all for all” formula as unsustainable.
What to expect from Russia.
Russia’s position in relation to the Donbass will not change. It will continue to consist in preserving the key influence there, and through special status, put pressure on Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy.
Frank lies, military expansion, and complete disregard for legal norms have long become a distinctive feature of Russia’s behavior in the international arena.
This means that Moscow, emphasizing each time that it is not a party to the conflict, will in every way sabotage the peace process, use puppet regimes and transfer blame to Ukraine.
As the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov emphasized, Moscow is the guarantor of the implementation of the Minsk agreements. However, she cannot be responsible for all the actions of L / DPR, although she is interested in establishing peace.
The Kremlin will also insist in every way on the transfer of the negotiation process into a bilateral format – Kiev with Donetsk and Lugansk.
What to hope for Ukraine.
Thawing a package of problems to resolve the situation in the Donbass, Kiev urgently needs allies in the West and the cohesion of society within the country. Unfortunately, the foreign policy situation and the weakened interest of European partners in Ukraine do not give much hope for optimism.
But, despite the difficult political weather on the eve of the Normandy Four summit, Ukraine’s position does not look losing.
Kiev clearly outlined its priorities for the upcoming summit, which significantly strengthened its subjectivity in the negotiations, strengthened its position in the international arena and introduced a noticeable dissonance in Russia’s plans. And the priorities of Ukraine are as follows:
1. Dissolution of quasi-formations “L / DPR”.
2. Complete ceasefire.
3. Ensuring effective monitoring of the OSCE SMM throughout Ukraine.
4. Withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine of armed groups of foreign troops and military equipment.
5. The withdrawal of forces and assets along the entire line of contact.
6. Support for the work of the CEC, Ukrainian political parties, the media and foreign observers.
7. Establishment of control over a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border beyond the control of Ukraine and the implementation of other points provided for by Ukrainian and international legislation and the Minsk agreements.
In addition, the first persons of our state previously voiced other problems that will be tabled in Paris. This is a question of the annexation of Crimea (since this issue is beyond the scope of any negotiations), as well as the possibility and mechanism of introducing the UN peacekeeping mission to Donbass.
In this regard, the following factors will influence the possibility and dynamics of conflict resolution:
Sensing increasing pressure, Vladimir Putin will offer new options and look for all sorts of reasons not to hold a meeting in the “Norman format” or to try not to participate in it.
In particular, the Kremlin will insist on securing the special status of Donbass in the Constitution of Ukraine, and will also strive to hold local elections before the implementation of the security component, in fact under its control. Thus, Putin plans to legitimize his puppets in the occupied territories with power in Ukraine.
Moscow will never agree to the elimination of fake republics. Putin’s goal is to introduce the cancer cells he has grown into the political, economic, and cultural body of Ukraine. Therefore, the process of seeking compromises can drag on indefinitely.
To achieve its goals, the Kremlin will continue its tactics of pressure and will further artificially aggravate the conflict by supplying militants with ammunition and military equipment. Already there is an increase in the armed formations of the Ordlo heavy armored vehicles.
Given the significant share of pro-Ukrainian residents of the ORDLO (recent studies by the German analytical center Bloomberg), Moscow is preparing a massive falsification of the will in the Donbas. The number of “dead souls” may even exceed the total population of the occupied territories.
The leaders of the quasi-republics will continue to rely on the help of the Kremlin and, unlike the population of the Ordlo, hope for full integration in the Russian Federation, following the example of the Crimea.
While the militants are financed by Moscow, they will not be interested in a ceasefire, nor in the special status of Donbass, nor in elections. They will not withdraw their strength. Aerial and photography of OSCE drones shows that militants are building additional engineering structures in Petrovsky.
Given the political tensions in the United States and Great Britain, you should not count on involving Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in the negotiation process. In addition, from the position of the White House, Ukraine currently looks quite toxic. Therefore, any talk of intensifying political, military and economic support from Washington is premature.
France and Germany are now distracted by Turkey’s military operations in Syria. But if the meeting itself takes place, and even in the predicted scenario, there are three against one, that is, there is a high probability that Vladimir Zelensky will not be in the minority.
In conclusion, I want to focus on two points.
Firstly. If the designated negotiating position of Kiev will be unambiguous and categorical, then we will not have to talk about any surrender. This should become a kind of immunity to the protest appeals of individual politicians, radicals and simply the mouthpieces of the Kremlin, no matter how they call for it.
We must remember that Ukraine is not a “failed state”.
Secondly. If the negotiations in the “Norman format” do not bring tangible successes or do not take place at all, the lack of alternatives to the Minsk agreements will not be considered as the only plan.
Ukraine does not exclude Minsk agreements. But also does not exclude the Budapest memorandum.