Ukrainian interest. Kremlin’s cynicism, PACE without Russia, and political mazurka
Russian officials showed some extraordinary cynicism toward Ukraine at the international level. Boris Gryzlov tried unsuccessfully to impose new rules of the game during the Minsk talks. PACE had a rather productive session without the Russian delegation. Poland heard a number of unexpected political statements.
Russia is trying to do a geopolitical split, convincing the international community that it seeks to promote Donbas settlement and and issuing threatening statements against Ukraine at the same time. Actually, Vladimir Putin’s escapade on Donbas which had been “given to Ukraine in vain” casts doubt on all European borders as such. And the Russian president surely understands this. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has devoted so much time to Ukraine during his press conference, as if he is, in fact, a “minister of Ukrainian affairs.” A statement of the top Russian diplomat that Moscow had never violated the Budapest Memorandum is a striking example of unbridled cynicism, which even overshadowed his numerous appeals to the official Kyiv to “implement the Minsk agreements.” Lavrov’s press conference resulted in demarches from several foreign ministries, while Ukraine’s FM Pavlo Klimkin proposed to hold a meeting of the Budapest Memorandum’s signatories in order to update some participant states’ knowledge of the document’s text.
It appears that this verbal barrage was only a prelude to the attempt by Russia’s representative to the Tripartite Liaison Group Boris Gryzlov to impose his own vision of the prospects for Donbas settlement during negotiations in Minsk. The Ukrainian delegation did not succumb to the blackmail and persuasion, although the authorities in Kyiv are well aware that it’s not really about the implementation of the Minsk agreements today, but about preventing their complete failure.
The winter session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was held without the Russian delegation. This time, the Russians chose not to come to Strasbourg at all. However, the lobbyists of a “two-headed eagle” tried to probe the soil on the session’s sidelines, yet without much success. The newly elected President of the PACE Pedro Agramunt urged Russia to abandon armed support for the Donbas separatists.
Interesting statements were voiced in Poland, while Warsaw’s political developments draw attention of the whole European Union. During the Ninth Europe-Ukraine Forum in Lodz, the Russian deputies and experts enjoyed a privileged position, while those European experts who promoted the Kremlin’s line also seemed rather comfortable. Calling for the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty during the Forum, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski later blew to smithereens the Eastern Partnership program, subject of particular pride of the opponents of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party – the Civic Platform.
An interesting statement came from the leadership of the Union of Polish Entrepreneurs, who expressed their willingness to legalize a million of Ukrainian migrants working in Poland. But the Ukrainians should refrain from euphoria. On the one hand, the figure reminds the one voiced by Prime Minister Beata Szydlow in her report to the European Parliament, which was refuted by Ukraine’s Ambassador Andriy Deshchytsya. On the other hand, it is only about the Ukrainians who are now in Poland, which confirms the commitment of the Polish authorities to avoid welcoming more migrants.