Ukrainian interest. NY confrontation, assimetric Kremlin, and Paris talks
UN General Assembly became the scene of a diplomatic confrontation. Tripartite Liaison Group in Minsk and representatives of the pro-Russian militants signed an agreement on the withdrawal of small-caliber weapons. Normandy Four meeting was no sensation and saw no breakthrough.
Although the United Nations is by no means a world government, the world leaders gather in New York each fall to discuss global issues. This time, besides sustainable development, the Syrian and Donbas crises were on top agenda. Not only have Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin exchanged harsh addresses at the UN, but they have also they have held a bilateral meeting, the first in two years. Fortunately, it had no special outcome for Ukraine, so Russia decided to raise the geopolitical stakes dramatically by launching its first air strikes in Syria. The manner of Russian warfare is strongly reminiscent of the tradition of undeclared wars. Besides, it would be much more difficult for the Kremlin to call for establishing an antiterrorist coalition.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also gave an address in New York. The president’s busy schedule of his U.S. visit should be particularly noted, as he used every opportunity not to let the issue of Donbas crisis be left by the wayside. It seems that the Ukrainian leader succeded. At least, his speech at the Sustainable Development Summit and at the general debate have left no one in doubting as to the nature of Russia's actions. Poroshenko mainly addressed the members of the General Assembly, many of whom are representatives of the third world countries, and therefore he was speaking English. He managed to weave the Ukrainian issues into the fabric of global agenda, which suggests that the situation in Donbas remains in spotlight.
A few hours of Normandy Four talks in Paris involving leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France saw no breakthrough. Poroshenko and Putin left the Elysee palace without comment, leaving Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande to talk to the press. The German Chancellor and the French President tried to convince the reporters of positive dynamics in the issue of resolving the Donbas conflict, but failed to present enough arguments to back this claim.
The search for the ways to break out of the crisis in Donbas continues, but there are fewer chances left to cope with full implementation of the Minsk agreements before the end of 2015. Negotiations with the leaders of the western powers allowed the Ukrainian president to enlist their support regarding Ukraine’s position on Donbas settlement. Quite unexpectedly, this resulted in Tripartite Liaison Group reaching an agreement in Minsk on the withdrawal of weapons under 100mm in caliber, and the representatives of the pro-Russian militants signed this deal quite promptly. However, a statement by Denis Pushylin, a new-sprung “leader” of the self-proclaimed “DPR,” claiming that the agreement reached in Minsk means “the end of war” is no more than wishful thinking. The ceasefire alone doesn’t end wars. It’s just a pause in fighting which may drag for years.