Ukrainian interest. No indulgence for Nadia, blow to Europe, and Putin's tricks
A verdict of Nadia Savchenko was an expected manifestation of the Kremlin’s arbitrariness. The terrorist attacks in Brussels will require major changes in the EU security policy. Vladimir Putin is trying to fish in troubled waters.
The court in Donetsk (Rostov region) ignored common sense and the arguments of Nadia Savchenko’s defense team, having sentenced the Ukrainian female pilot and MP to 22 years in prison. Such a severe punishment looked like the Kremlin’s reaction to the refusal of the courageous detainee to participate in propaganda games and Savchenko’s defiant stance in the courtroom. Savchenko forbade her lawyers to appeal the notoriously unjust sentence and assured that she is ready to resume hunger strike as soon as it enters into force. Meanwhile her lawyers are positive that Savchenko will soon return to Ukraine. An indirect confirmation of these assumptions is the chorus of influential Western politicians demanding that the Russian authorities release the Ukrainian pilot.
Russia seems to have a different opinion, and it will try to exploit the fact of a murder of Yuriy Hrabovskiy, the lawyer who defended in the Ukrainian court one of the two GRU officers detained in Donbas – Aleksandr Aleksandrov. However, the fate of the captured Russian soldiers is hardly of any interest for Putin who is much more eager to return to the big league of international politics. One of his latest statements voiced at a meeting with top Russia’s businessmen is worth particular attention. He advised the representatives of the Russian business elite not to leave the Ukrainian market, hinting at a possible change of the political regime and the public attitudes.
This week also gave Moscow more opportunities to demonstrate "good will" in relations with the West. Brussels attacks were a powerful blow to the security systems of NATO and EU, both of which have their headquarters in the Belgian capital. Safety measures in Zaventem airport were clearly insufficient, and played in the hands of terrorists, who also organized the explosions in the Brussels subway the same day. While ISIL took responsibility for the attacks, Russia is a player who will be able to gain certain benefits from this situation.
As we know, The Kremlin, has initiated a show pullback of its air forces from Syria, while it is likely more about the reduction of military presence than about the actual wrap up of the Syrian campaign aimed to rescue President al Assad. Terrorist attacks in Brussels created for Vladimir Putin a platform for dialogue with the West on the top issue of combating terrorism. In this context, it would have been be logical to show some good will, for example, in the Savchenko case. But nothing happened. Neither were there any Russian concessions in the work of the Trilateral contact group in Minsk. Russia continues to dialogue with the West in a "What can you do about it?" format
However, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier couldn’t think of anything better than to demand, while in Moscow, a "decisive progress" in the Donbas settlement. A statement rather strange for a chief diplomat of the state that is currently chairing the OSCE. It should be reminded that OSCE SMM representative in Donbas Alexander Hug was almost ever too blunt confirming the presence of Russian troops in the east of Ukraine. However, there is nothing surprising in Steinmeier's position: he is one of the pillars of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), competing more intensely with the CDU/CSU ( Union parties), headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the run-up to Germany’s parliamentary elections.
The Kremlin can hardly take any credit for a long Moscow visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry because Washington’s top diplomat reiterated: the United States will only be ready to lift anti-Russian sanctions if the Minsk agreements are fully implemented. However, it is also unlikely that Washington is gaining pace on the Ukrainian issue considering overall anticipation of a new White House chief.