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Ukrainian interest. Prospects at UN Security Council, Dutch report and Kremlin’s revelations

Ukraine has become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The Netherlands released a report on the causes of an MH17 crash in the skies over the Donbas. Russian officials flaunt their unwillingness to fulfill the Minsk agreements.

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Ukraine has expectedly scaled the heights of diplomacy becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. For the next two years the country will be able to actively articulate its position in the United Nations. Russia has not been fighting against Ukraine’s promotion (as it was actually uncontested in the regional group), but for decreasing the number of countries ready to support Ukraine. This idea failed, and now the Ukrainian delegation will have to go on an offensive. It is possible that Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN will be changed.

The Ukrainian diplomats definitely face a lot more work on the international arena. The report released by the Dutch Safety Board on the causes of an MH17 crash has hardly left anyone doubting that the murderers of 298 passengers and crew members on board were those who had deployed Buk missile launcher in Donbas – although the report didn’t directly name the responsible individuals. I believe that the findings would not look so unambiguous, had Russia not tried its best to cover them with “information smoke curtain.” Excessive zeal of the Russians led to Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders saying Russia deliberately tried to confuse the world about the circumstances of the tragedy. So the Netherlands’ refusal from setting up an international tribunal with the UN involvement only means the country is aware of the real state of things.

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Russia is neither going to plead guilty of the downing of the passenger liner, nor to fulfill the Minsk agreements. Vladimir Putin argues that it is "absurd to demand from Russia to fulfill the Minsk accords." Obviously, this rhetoric is largely for domestic consumption, but there is another question which is really important: whether the West is ready for a new round of sanctions if Russia continues to trail its coat. Angela Merkel stressed that the sanctions will remain in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented, which implies withdrawal of foreign troops from Donbas and the restoration of Ukraine's control over the Russian-Ukrainian border. For his part, Sergei Lavrov made it clear that Moscow does not intend to fulfill the "border-related" provision of the Minsk agreements until its plan regarding the fate of Donbas is implemented.

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Meanwhile, Ukraine resumed gas purchases from Russia. The position of the European Union, willing to prevent any energy threats in winter, largely contributed to these developments. And I must say, it’s not only declarations from Brussels that contribute to enhancing EU’s energy independence. Poland and the Baltic states have signed an agreement on construction of a gas pipeline, designed to relieve the Baltics from dependence on Russian gas. With the launch of the Saudi oil supplies to Poland, we can talk about gradual strengthening of this country’s position as a potential Central European energy hub. It makes sense for Kyiv to start a more active dialogue with Warsaw on energy cooperation.

Yevgeny Magda

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