REUTERS

Ukrainian interest. Donbas in search of peace, PACE gets a Ukrainian accent, and NATO is supportive.

Upcoming holidays for politicans in both the Old World and the New prompt a search for new ways to resolve the Donbas conflict. The latest PACE session can be seen as quite successful for the Ukrainian delegation, and NATO continues to support Ukraine in the country’s conflict with Russia.

REUTERS

The situation in the Donbas continues to teeter between peace and war. The constant provocations by militants seem to cause no surprise any more, and nor does Russia's desire at any cost to “return” to Ukraine the now occupied territories - on Moscow’s own terms. To do this, the Kremlin even let Viktor Yanukovych graze for a little while in the information field. The disgraced ex-president diligently duplicated in his interview with the BBC Russia’s freshest messages on the prospects of settlement the Donbas crisis and the return of Crimea.

It is no wonder that a meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk, and the summit of the Foreign Ministers' Normandy Quartet in Paris ended with no results. The only interesting thing that happened in the capital of Belarus was the debut of a new OSCE representative from Austria, Martin Sajdik, who replaced his Swiss colleague Heidi Tagliavini. The foreign ministers agreed to negotiate. Reports that the European Union is putting pressure on Ukraine to ensure the unilateral implementation of the Minsk Agreement regarding the holding of elections in the occupied areas of Donbas were not confirmed. However it should be understood that the EU is concerned about the current situation, while Ukraine is a member of the international community, and it is actually convenient to put pressure on it, especially now, when the state looks weak as never before. The best response for Kyiv would be to provide a sensible policy for the Donbas and implement reforms as soon as possible.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama had a telephone conversation on the Donbas conflict. This conversation is believed to have been rather frosty, considering accusations against the United States made earlier by the Russian president and the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev. Allegedly, the Americans destabilized the situation in the Donbas to their advantage. If we follow the logic of the Kremlin, the military equipment and the militants in eastern Ukraine have also been coming from overseas. Russia is seeking to achieve an imbalance of the U.S. and European positions toward Moscow, so there was no problem at all for Putin to adjust to Obama’s schedule to speak on telephone.

However, Russia still lacks consistency in its actions. Trying to portray itself as a civilized member of the international community, Putin's regime fails in important details. A good example was the Kremlin’s negative reaction toward the idea of establishing a special UN tribunal to investigate the MH17 case.

No less interesting is to see how the Russian media try to convince their viewers that the mass protests in Yerevan are due to Ukraine’s influence. They seem to have forgotten that Armenia’s foreign policy has always been and still remains Moscow-oriented. But any “Maidan” is regarded by the Kremlin as a threat.

The Russian delegation to the PACE will be deprived of voting powers until January 2016, so the representatives of the Russian Federation do not personally visit Strasbourg but use their various agents of influence, among them the leader of Ukrainian Communists Petro Symonenko. However, this did not save Russia from the the first mentioning of the term “Russian aggression” in the official documents of the PACE. There is no need to exaggerate, but it really is a milestone on the path of changes in the European attitude toward the Donbas conflict.

Meanwhile, NATO support for Ukraine has been felt almost throughout the whole period of conflict. Today, there is consistent political and financial support through trust funds, but Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak says the supply of lethal weapons is also possible in the event of an escalation in the Donbas. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that NATO would never recognize the annexation of Crimea and will intensify its efforts to support Ukraine.

Yevgeny Magda

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