Ukrainian interest. Heated Donbas, transformation in PACE, and Brexit lessons for Ukraine
The subject of the Donbas conflict settlement remains on the agenda of world leaders; moreover, it finds new reflections in Ukraine’s internal politics. The Ukrainian delegation to PACE has faced some unexpected challenges. Ukraine will have to digest Brexit as rationally as possible and learn from its lessons for the sake of its own foreign policy.
Formal truce in Donbas is unlikely to deceive those who have been closely following the situation in the region. Provocations of the pro-Russian militants never stopped, and they continue with frightening persistence. Russia continues to amass military equipment and weapons in the Ukrainian east. Meanwhile, Kyiv’s Western partners are trying to find an algorithm to resolve the conflict, because the leaders of both Germany and France feel notable pressure of the upcoming elections that can seriously reshape the political landscape in these countries.
Therefore, it is no wonder that during the Paris talks with Petro Poroshenko, his French counterpart Francois Hollande did not rule out a gradual easing of sanctions against Russia given it fulfills the Minsk agreements. However, Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov has made it clear that the Kremlin is not going to do that. Is the West ready to keep a good face on a bad game? It’s unlikely so, at the moment, as the political situation is not in favor of the EU. This is evidenced by the actual accord reached among the EU member states to prolong sanctions against Russia for another six months. A telephone conversation between Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel most probably included this issue.
Meanwhile, the United States is trying to match the image of the world's only superpower and to keep abreast of the Minsk process. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has once again visited both Kyiv and Moscow, being one of the few officials possessing secret knowledge of the position of Ukrainian and Russian elite regarding Donbas. The lack of visible results of her diplomatic efforts does not mean that the situation is at a standstill. The change of the presidential administration in Washington is very likely to lead to a revitalization of the U.S. stance on this track of the negotiating process.
European politicians, in turn, show they are keen on reaching a compromise, as they see it. The PACE Bureau has passed a resolution that not only says about common values with Russia, it also states the will to restore relations. The Ukrainian Parliament was outraged with this change of rhetoric of the Old World. However, the interviews with Nadia Savchenko, who made her debut as Ukraine’s delegate to PACE in Strasbourg, suddenly reflected the Kremlin's ideological messages, highlighting the need for direct negotiations with the terrorist leaders, shift the nature of sanctions from the industrial scale to the individual plane, and a claim that granting Ukraine lethal weapons can “lead to World War III.”
The European Union in late June suffered a hit in the stomach: 52% of UK voters supported Brexit. In the stream of assessments and forecasts, it is not easy to catch that grain of truth, but there is one thing clear for Ukraine. The country shouldn’t harbor illusions of rapid European integration. It is time to realize that the world is changing dramatically, and Ukraine must respond to the new challenges by building an efficient and modern State.