On the eve of telephone conversations of the participating countries “Channel four”, the US President Donald trump was on an official visit to France on July 13-14. In addition to issues of bilateral relations and international security, presidents Donald trump and Emmanuel macron discussed the situation in Ukraine.
The similarity of the positions on the Ukrainian question
Donald trump and Emmanuel macron said that specifically discussed on the Ukrainian question. In his early statements, the two leaders expressed a similar opinion on the question of peaceful settlement in the East of Ukraine. Both the President does not intend to repeal the anti-Russian sanctions as long as Russia continues its aggression in Ukraine. According to the publication Politico, Donald trump stated that it will not cancel the anti-Russian sanctions not going to do that until, while in Ukraine and Syria doesn’t change that meets the interests of the United States. Emmanuel macron during the last summit “Big seven” stated that France and other countries agreed that economic sanctions against Russia should remain in force as long as Vladimir Putin will not stop the war in the East of Ukraine.
Trump and macron do not think that the Minsk agreements are the only way to resolve the conflict in the Donbass. According to the newspaper Liga.net the American President is preparing his own plan of settlement of the conflict and believes that the Minsk agreements are the only option for a peaceful resolution for Ukraine and Russia. Opinion trump echoes the position of US special envoy in Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who has a reputation for anti-Kremlin “hawks”. According to him, Minsk agreements are not full-fledged peace Treaty, which could provide a settlement of the conflict in Ukraine. First you need to achieve a ceasefire and to solve the whole set of questions on the security of the Minsk agreements, because without it will not work to resolve political and other issues.
Emmanuel macron has refined and supplemented the provisions of the Minsk agreements. In his opinion, the parties to the conflict to cease fire, withdraw heavy weapons from the contact line. In areas where most clashes, there should be complete disarmament (demilitarization). Then the parties to the conflict must grant OSCE monitors access to the conflict zone and to release the hostages. Russia should cancel the decree on the issuance of documents to residents ORDO and return to Ukraine control over all occupied businesses. In the Ukrainian press this approach is known as “formula Rules” or “plan Rules”. It is an alternative to the “formula Steinmeier” (in honor of the former Minister of foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier), which implies the simultaneous adoption of the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on the special status of Donbass and local elections and the withdrawal of Russian troops and armaments from the territory ORDO.
On the eve of the meeting, trump and the Macron was made public the text of the bill “On peculiarities of state policy on restoration of state sovereignty of Ukraine on the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk and Lugansk region”. The bill produced in Parliament and in the Council of national security and defense Council (NSDC). The document proposes to fix on the legislative level the responsibility of Russia for the occupation of certain territories of Donbass, it is emphasized that the Kremlin is violating international norms, the Minsk agreement. As reported Liga.net “allies” Ukraine “know the details” of the bill.
Franco-American tandem in the “channel format”
The impression that presidents Donald trump and Emmanuel macron could agree on cooperation in the Normandy format to discuss strategy for the upcoming talks with Vladimir Putin in the “channel format”. The United States are not members of the “Normandy four”. At the same time, Donald trump is interested to restore confidence among European partners with whom there is disagreement on climate change and the transatlantic slave trade. This applies primarily to Germany, which in previous years played the role of first violin in the “Normandy format” was unable to persuade Russia to fulfill the Minsk agreements. German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that the EU does not make sense to rely on the U.S., while Donald trump will be in power. Europe is dissatisfied with the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement, protectionist measures of the American authorities and demanding trump to increase defense spending by 2%. More active US involvement in the conflict settlement in the Donbass will allow Donald Trump to show the EU that the US continues to guarantee security in Europe and contribute to the resolution of local conflicts at the borders of the EU.
Since Donald trump has concentrated on settling the Syrian conflict and the North Korean problem, he decided to share the responsibility for maintaining security in Europe with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Makron is suitable to the current leadership of the United States on the role of a partner on the Ukrainian question. The French President believes that despite the existing disagreements on trade issues and climate, the US and the EU can cooperate on security issues. Position trump and Macron converge on Syria (against ISIS, countering chemical attacks). Emmanuel macron criticized Russia for cyber-attacks and interference in political processes of the countries-EU members. For the French President’s participation in the conflict settlement in the Donbass — this is a test of the role of the EU leader who is capable of solving problems of regional security.
Historically, the Americans and French had helped each other in the war for the independence of the United States in the First world war. This time Washington and Paris decided to help each other in resolving the conflict in the Donbas. Emmanuel macron and Donald trump will try to revive the “Normandy format”, where the role will move from Germany, which has no influence on the Kremlin, France, backed by the White house.
The United States and France do not go to a frontal attack by Russia on the peaceful settlement in Ukraine. At the talks with Vladimir Putin at the summit of “Big twenty”, Donald trump not draw attention to the Ukrainian question. The Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov said that the settlement of the conflict in the Donbass will continue in the framework of the Minsk agreements and any alternative scenario, the United States did not offer. On the sidelines of the summit of “Big twenty” Donald trump checked out Vladimir Putin on the ability to negotiate. The US expects a “gentleman’s agreement” with Russia over Ukraine. Donald trump has taken into account the interests of the Kremlin during the negotiations in Hamburg, agreeing to establish a security zone in southern Syria, which will patrulirovanie Russian military police and actually be in the sphere of influence of the Kremlin. As a reciprocal gesture, Russia should agree to a settlement of the military conflict in the Donbass, to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and the return of Kiev control over the border.
Information in mass media about the plans of the trump and the Macron, the bill on the national security Council on the Donbass, it is purposeful to prepare the ground for the upcoming telephone conversations in the Normandy format. Ukraine, USA and France made it clear in advance to the Russian leadership that it is useless to slow down the process of peaceful settlement in the Donbas and try to dictate their will, to deny the presence of Russian troops and terrorists on the Ukrainian land. Ukraine has the full right to restore the territorial integrity and the abolition of the illegitimate authorities “DNR” and “LNR” because the performances of the Donbass separatists in the spring of 2014 is simply a planned provocation of Russia. Russia is the aggressor and can not be a mediator in the conflict in the Donbas, which itself kindled.
From defeat, no one is immune
It is not excluded that following the results of negotiations in “Norman format” with the participation of Emmanuel Macron Russia will not change its tactics in the Donbas. The Kremlin deliberately does not perform the Minsk agreement and continued attacks in the Donbas in order to provoke socio-political instability in Ukraine. The lack of progress in resolving the conflict in the Donbas is one of the reasons for discontent with the current government in separate layers of the Ukrainian society. Vladimir Putin, has hope for restoration in Ukraine of a political regime oriented towards the accession to the Eurasian economic Union (EEU) and the rapprochement with Russia.
At a press conference following the summit of “Big twenty” Russian President in a frivolous form stated that the current Ukrainian government “sells Russophobia”, and Russia and Ukrainian companies allegedly common interests in many areas. “The master of the Kremlin” is interested in the implementation in Ukraine of Moldovan scenario that the Ukrainians have elected a Pro-Russian politicians in the backdrop of the inability of Pro-European coalition to solve urgent economic problems and to achieve the restoration of territorial integrity. The newly elected President of Moldova, Igor Dodon, backed the country’s membership in the EEU. He is skeptical of the Association Agreement with the EU and interested to spend the federalization of Moldova, to provide broad autonomy to the separatist formation of Transnistria, where, as in the Donbas, Russian troops are placed.
Vladimir Putin is not profitable to withdraw Russian troops from the Donbass before the occupied territories will be held local elections, and to the Constitution of Ukraine amended “special status” of the region. A significant part of Russian society will perceive such a move as a military and political defeat of Russia. In the minds of the uncritical thinking of the Russians sat down the stereotype that allegedly Ukraine must first fulfill the political part of Minsk agreements itself violates them. On the eve of presidential elections in Russia in 2018, Vladimir Putin will continue to play the performance with the protection of the Russian speaking population of Donbass, Zakharchenko Carpenter from evil “some”.
If Vladimir Putin will not be tractable on the Ukrainian question, Donald trump and Emmanuel macron will be faced with a choice. They may repeat the fate of former presidents françois Hollande and Barack Obama to “Express concern” about the lack of progress in the “channel format”. Or to act in the spirit of the hawks-Atlanticist era of the cold war. Donald trump may tighten anti-Russian sanctions in accordance with the draft law “On countering Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia”, which was approved in the U.S. Senate. The bill provides for the proliferation of restrictive measures in the oil and gas sector, the prohibition of foreign financing of construction of new Russian pipelines. Donald trump and Emmanuel macron should be ready to tighten the pressure on Russia in case of failure of negotiations in the “Norman format.”