There’s a new anecdote getting popular in Moscow's political circles. People say, Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov was asked informally what the Kremlin wants to achieve in Ukraine. The answer was very succinct: Russia wants to turn Ukraine into another Bosnia. It’s impossible to know for sure, whether the conversation actually happened, but anyway, while distracting global attention from the seizure of Crimea, Moscow is doing everything possible to create an enclave in Ukraine, which would not be subordinate to the central government. The role of the “Republika Srpska” should be played by the caricature “DPR-LPR,” according to Moscow puppeteers. With the help of these two breakaway areas, Russia is planning to block Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, require non-aligned status and try to push some other unrealistic motions from its "wish list": federalization and granting the Russian language an official status.

To achieve its goals, Moscow uses military means only. The functions of the Russian diplomats and the Kremlin experts boil down to the justification of rightfulness of hostilities or masking military intervention under the guise of some uprising of "miners and farmers."

To achieve its goals, Moscow uses military means only. The functions of the Russian diplomats and the Kremlin experts boil down to the justification of rightfulness of hostilities or masking military intervention under the guise of some uprising of "miners and farmers."

Exactly one year ago, an agreement was signed in Belarusian capital Minsk was signed, aimed at stopping the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine. However, the signatories are pursuing different, even diametrically opposed, goals. While Putin is set to achieve what was described above, Merkel and Hollande wish to put an end to the artillery fire in the center of Europe. Poroshenko’s task is to preserve the Ukrainian state and somehow extinguish the napalm of the "Russian world."

The so-called Minsk-2 deal was drafted in a very peculiar way, so that the Russian and the Ukrainian sides interpret it differently. For the Kremlin, it is important to simulate Donbas settlement, that is to preserve the real military and political control over the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, while handing back to Ukraine destroyed, looted infrastructure and millions in social payments to be disbursed. Kyiv’s goal is very simple and logical: to regain control over the border and to restore order in its own home.

Minsk agreements hardly play in the best interests of Ukraine. But there’s no need to run criticizing the Ukrainian authorities. To get the peace document on one’s own terms, it is first necessary to win a war or battle ahead of the signing. It’s clear that when a horde of Russian troops [many of them were in fact of Buryat origin or other minorities populating the vast Russian Federation] were surrounding the strategic eastern Ukrainian railway hub of Debaltseve, and there were signs of a larger-scale invasion looming, any document had to be signed to win some time, keep the troops alive and regroup the defenses.

Russia did not to and does not intend to implement Minsk-2. Just like Minsk-1. Just like any agreement on Donbas.

Russia did not to and does not intend to implement Minsk-2. Just like Minsk-1. Just like any agreement on Donbas. Immediately after the signing, on February 12 last year, the Russian army has continued its offensive on Debaltseve for another four days. The "liberators" have almost burned the Ukrainian town to the ground: some buildings were completely destroyed, almost all the houses were damaged. Putin demanded the town be taken at any cost. Enemy losses are classified, and it’s unlikely that we’ll know in the near future how many fighters for the "Russian world" were left lying in Ukraine’s black soil. In the first place, that’s because the Russian themselves don’t seem to really care. Rumor has it that the commander of the Russian group was even secretly awarded the star of a Hero of Russia for “successful operation."

To the music of gunfire and shelling of the Ukrainian positions, the Kremlin continued its song of "political settlement." The first point of this “settlement” was supposed to be recognition of militant leaders – mainly, the Russian citizens – and local collaborators as parties to the conflict.

Moscow enjoys drawing parallels between the invasion of Donbas and the suppression of the Chechen rebellion, which they called "the restoration of constitutional order." A simple algorithm is suggested: for the sake of the "national unity," the Russians went for a compromise, recognizing (i.e., bought out) former Chechen field commanders. The not-so-long-ago militants (or maybe, a softer term “fighters”) were made the legal owners of Chechnya. Kadyrov has legalized his own army and police, which allowed, in his own words, to shoot at the federal law enforcers who dare come on missions to Chechnya without an invitation...

Now the Kremlin is pushing for the similar scenario in Ukraine. Moscow wants the people who killed the Ukrainian defenders to walk freely in the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv and recite excerpts from the Russian propaganda workbook about the “Ukrainian junta.”

Well, Ukraine is not Russia. Any president of Ukraine who will agree to such a scenario can just book a one-way ticket to Rostov (or Lipetsk). The Ukrainians will never understand it. It will be seen by all as a betrayal, and it will be very difficult to hold on to the president’s seat after that.

As a result, the Minsk process has come to a deadlock. They make no secret of this in Moscow.

As a result, the Minsk process has come to a deadlock. They make no secret of this in Moscow. Of course, there will be many more meetings in this format, perhaps they will last for years, but they will yield no result. Too different are the goals.

Moscow has no plans of returning the seized land. Russian strategists think about haggling. At this stage, it was decided to take a break and leave everything as it is, at least until the next elections in Ukraine. And then, the Kremlin will try to push its agenda through the new president or the new composition of the Ukrainian parliament. Intransigence threatens with the intensification of hostilities and a new batch of Russian "volunteer fighters." The fate of the Ukrainian citizens gullible and greedy for the charms of the "Russian world" who remained in the ruined Donbas is not of the Kremlin’s interest.

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow