Ukraine's withdrawal from Minsk Agreements. Statement of intent is not enough

Oleksandr Donii
21:00, 15 November 2019
Politics
1347 0
Opinion

The possibility of Ukraine withdrawing from the Minsk agreements is now being publicly discussed in the country. The Voice party advocated Ukraine's exit from the talks and the "freezing" of the status quo in order for the state to initially strengthen its negotiating positions. Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko has said that in the event of a failure of the Normandy Four summit, Ukraine is ready to consider pulling out of the Minsk process.

It is important to note that the Minsk Agreements were unconstitutional from the start. Ukraine had no formal obligations under these agreements. They were signed by President Poroshenko's personal representative, Leonid Kuchma, who had no authority whatsoever. After all, the president, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, has no right to delegate his powers to anyone. Therefore, we should not take responsibility for the agreement with the aggressor state Russia and the "LPR/DPR" terrorists, which involves agreeing with them the likely amendment of the Constitution or the procedure for the possible local elections. Only the Verkhovna Rada has such powers, and it has not approved the Minsk agreements to this day.

Therefore, there is a general question as to how legitimate these agreements are, given that they are beyond the constitutional field of Ukraine.

Another important point is whether Ukraine can offer an alternative vision of a way out of the conflict, an alternative platform. Well, Ukraine could, and should!

To this end, the Verkhovna Rada of the previous convocation would have had to form a group that would have been authorized to negotiate with the allies, the aggressor or, if they wanted, with the "LPR/DPR" terrorists. However, neither the previous Verkhovna Rada nor the sitting MPs did so.

Another important point is whether Ukraine can offer an alternative vision of a way out of the conflict, an alternative platform. Well, Ukraine could, and should!

It is unfortunate that the new government didn't and doesn't have alternative projects, so they also appointed Leonid Kuchma as the representative of Ukraine in the Minsk negotiation process. Accordingly, this means that there is no alternative plan in Ukraine yet.

But in order to get out of the illegitimate process, one needs to have own vision of how to get out of this. It is not enough to say that we are leaving the Minsk process – it is also necessary to outline our own proposals for how to act without Minsk.

President Zelensky made one of these suggestions. He spoke of the need to expand the "Normandy format" and to involve the United States and UK in negotiations. The proposal was publicly announced, but as you know, these countries weren't too enthusiastic about it (expectedly, indeed). However, this does not mean that if the Ukrainian side insisted on this option for some time, there would be no further chance of such expansion of the range of negotiators. They just need to work harder.

At the moment, unfortunately, the rhetoric of the Ukrainian authorities has changed, and the authorities have taken up the introduction of the Steinmeier formula, which is a logical continuation of the Minsk negotiation process.

Therefore, we see that the new authorities put forward no own proposals for alternatives to Minsk. Therefore, before talking about exiting the Minsk process, Ukraine must first formulate its own proposals. Then it will be possible to insist on non-compliance with the Minsk Agreements and to ally France, Germany and probably Britain, the USA and Poland, or, based on new Ukrainian requirements, come to another compromise option (that's, of course, if we are looking for a compromise).

At present, such Ukrainian requirements have not been formulated. And until they are, these suggestions and terms are formulated for us by Steinmeier. So far there is no Ukrainian option that could be taken as a basis.

However, the so-called Zelensky formula is gradually being spun into the information space. Obviously, it should be more clearly outlined – just a name is not enough. It should be explained to the public what the formula is and what will happen if it is not adopted. And simply leaving the Minsk process is not a project. Our proposals should be clearly outlined: whether it is a wall between the "LPR/DPR" and us, or the termination of all humanitarian and economic relations, or the removal of the population from this territory, or the provision of accommodation and jobs for IDPs. All of these proposals should be outlined and formalized in a specific document.

In order for Zelensky's offer to expand the format to be implemented, at least the U.S. and the UK must agree, as Zelensky appealed to them precisely. And Russia must, too, however unpleasant it may sound to us. But if we are talking about the occupation of these territories, we are also talking about Russia's responsibility for what is happening there.

Another thing is that Ukraine has never explicitly stated what to do outside Minsk…

One way or another, we will have to have all parties involved agree to the format, otherwise we will be sitting at the table alone. And we may need to look for touch points that would be unpleasant to many, after being drawn to this format. This is a difficult process. And the boundary of compromise may be unacceptable for the Ukrainian state, and then another Ukrainian position must be voiced. After all, if Russia's proposals are unacceptable to Ukraine, then what? We cannot just leave Minsk and "continue the war, but disband the troops," as Trotsky's formula stated. It is about realizing another vision of the way out of the conflict in Donbas. What is this vision now? Do we want to maintain the status quo with corruption, smuggling, shelling, or do we have a different vision? If the government has this "other vision", we must hear about it.

By the way, many say that the rejection of Minsk will lead to the lifting of the sanctions off Russia. However, this isn't true. The sanctions are not tied to the Minsk agreements. They primarily concern Russian aggression. And they don't say that Ukraine must surrender or go against its sovereignty or national interests.

Another thing is that Ukraine has never explicitly stated what to do outside Minsk…

I have repeatedly voiced my own vision of what to do in order to avoid shelling and suffering of the civilian population. In my opinion, it is necessary to minimize economic relations and remove the entire population from the occupied territories with the mandatory provision of accommodation, jobs, and social guarantees for IDPs. And to this end, we need to involve both European and American aid, because in previous periods it was simply being utilized inefficiently.

But Ukraine remains silent and offers nothing. And if we don't voice our scenario, sooner or later we will have to execute someone else's.

Oleksandr Doniy is a political analyst, chair of the Center for the Study of Political Values

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