Stratfor: Grand Bargain still elusive in Ukraine
Indications of an improving relationship between Kyiv and Moscow have given rise to speculation that a grand bargain may be taking shape to bring stability after a year of slow-burning conflict in eastern Ukraine. But despite the gains made in the past month, a broader settlement likely will not be reached before the end of the year for several reasons, according to Stratfor, U.S.-based geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm.
First of all, there is no clear definition of what the "special status" the Minsk protocols give to the separatist territories actually is, as the path outlined by the Minsk agreements is open to interpretation, according to the report.
“Second, the issue of amnesty for separatist fighters has not been settled, Stratfor experts say. “Militants are calling for a blanket amnesty, while the Ukrainian government insists amnesty should only be granted on an individual and selective basis.”
Third, even if some agreement with separatists is reached, Ukraine’s inner political contradictions may cause problems as ultranationalist groups, particularly Right Sector and Svoboda, have pushed in the opposite direction from granting any concessions to militants. As a violent September rally in Kyiv outside Rada against constitutional amendments showed, these forces are able to destabilize the political system. “This leaves Kyiv in a difficult position — favorable moves toward either side could lead to blowback by the other,” reads the report.
Finally, the U.S. “could pose another obstacle to resolution” due to Washington keeping an aggressive posture toward Russia while certain European powers, including Germany and France, are interested in deescalating the conflict.
Read alsoStratfor analytics tell why Mistrals sold to EgyptThe U.S. “has increased financial assistance, held more frequent military trainings and mulled an increase in defensive weapon supplies to Ukraine” as it has “less to lose by maintaining sanctions against Russia and has less of an interest in easing them than does the European Union.”
“A grand bargain would need to include the United States, but Washington is uninterested in a deal that does not include a complete pullout of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine,” Stratfor says.
The analysts conclude: “These obstacles do not preclude progress in negotiations between Russia, Ukraine and the West, and all of them are subject to change. But though talks may well create more room for compromise over certain military, political and economic issues, a comprehensive settlement will be elusive for the near future.”