Can there be peace in the Donbas to the end of the year: the survey of Ukrainian and American experts

Experts believe that peace in the Donbass in Ukraine until the end of the year unrealistic and suggest to raise the issue of the peacekeepers

Today, April 30, held a virtual meeting of foreign Ministers “Channel four”. By the way, this will be the first meeting of such level after the summit of leaders of the Normandy format in Paris on 9 December last year. According to the Ukrainian foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, the purpose of today’s online negotiations – to assess what has been done just after the Paris summit to give an impetus to the Trilateral contact group (TAG) that she was responsible for development and implementation issues.

Earlier Vladimir Zelensky said that gives the “channel format” year. “I am confident that during my term we will end this war. Sure personally. I said that I’m willing to wait one year, ready to work one year. If the Minsk process will not work, we will change tactics. We are ready for it. The year has not ended yet”, – said the President of Ukraine in the film, the anniversary of his election victory.

With the Paris summit hosted the first stage of prisoner exchange. Returned home 96 Ukrainians. But bezopasnostyu conditions for the cease – fire, the withdrawal of Russian mercenaries and equipment from the occupied Donbass – Moscow continues to sabotage. In addition, ambiguously in the Ukrainian society accepted the decision of the TKG dated 11 March, which, in particular, was signed by the Chairman of the office of the President of Ukraine Andrey Ermak, on the establishment of an Advisory Board. Finally the decision was finalized at a meeting of the TAG at the end of March, having signed the corresponding document. But the pandemic is in the early stages of the meeting, the TAG was moved to online.

However, in an interview with the “Today” Deputy Prime Minister for reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories and a representative of Ukraine in the political subgroup of the TAG Oleksii Reznikov hinted, “that, in fact, this solution does not provide for any mandatory signatures, this vision of one of the parties, they would like to sign it in view of some decisions.” What Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Alexey Reznikov to block and sabotage the work of the TAG.

Today’s virtual meeting of foreign Ministers Channel four website “Today” asked the Ukrainian and American experts, is it possible to achieve peace in the Donbas in the Ukrainian conditions until the end of the year, and whether to force Russia’s economic problems and low oil prices to make concessions.

Elena Snigir, expert of the Centre for global studies “Strategy XXI”

“There is a danger that today’s virtual meeting of foreign Ministers “Channel four”, to the obligations Ukraine may be added the establishment of an Advisory Council. Russia will try somehow to register it in any final communiqué. The French demonstrated that they do not care what formats will be created to have the appearance of some movement. With a sharp reaction were only the Germans, whose position is in this case more rational and Pro-Ukrainian than the Ukrainian. Ukraine, for its part, would at this meeting to raise humanitarian issues in connection with epidemic of coronavirus in the occupied territories and the way in which Russia is going to provide epidemiological protection of the population of the occupied territories. This theme also includes the issue of preventing red cross representatives to the Ukrainian prisoners.

If to speak about possibility of the end of the war in the Donbas to the end of this year, in the Ukrainian conditions, it is unlikely to do. Unless interfering with any other factor. For example, the pandemic coronavirus. Or will the cumulative effect of the pandemic, the global economic crisis and falling oil prices, with the result that we will see the exhaustion of the Russian economy, and Moscow will decide for themselves to withdraw from the war with Ukraine to offset some of his losses.

Zelensky desire to end this war in a year can understand. He realizes that he must show some results to his electorate. The end of the war in the Donbas was the priorities of his election program. If he had, he said, “plan B” and what it is is unknown. I am concerned that the desire to end the war may encourage the President to make concessions to Russia, we are already seeing this with the example of the Advisory Council and the diplomatic tandem Ermak-Kozak (Dmitry Kozak, the Deputy head of the Russian presidential Administration – Ed.). Thus our diplomatic position is now quite strong. Russia is still all meeting formats and venues both sides of the conflict. From Russia require the fulfilment of certain commitments. Therefore, to make concessions to Russia and to remove from it the status of the parties to the conflict – not rational, not logical and contradicts the interests of Ukraine. It will not end the conflict if the only goal is not to end the conflict on terms of the Kremlin.”

Mike carpenter, former Deputy Minister of defense, Advisor to former Vice-President of the USA

“I’ve always been skeptical that the “Normandy format” in its current composition could lead to decisive changes in the war in the Donbass. The President of France Emmanuel macron has repeatedly expressed a desire for rapprochement with Russia, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was focused on the construction of the pipeline “Nord stream-2″. Therefore, none of them actually there was no political will to use the levers of pressure on the Kremlin. The result is predictable – the status quo. I think there will come a time when Ukraine’s leadership is ready for a new approach, ideally with the United States and major European powers to increase pressure on Russia. I think that the issue of deployment of peacekeeping forces in the Donbas should appear on the agenda in the future. Now, however, it would be useless to do so in the UN Security Council, since Russia is likely to veto”.

In the trend
Razumkov told, when will the next session of Parliament

Steven Pifer, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, senior researcher at Stanford University

“It is necessary to see how deeply the economic slowdown associated with COVID-19, and the fall in world energy prices affect Russia. The question is whether this will lead to a change in the calculations of the Kremlin gains and losses for the continuation of the conflict in the Donbas. The settlement in the Donbass will lead to a significant easing of sanctions (against Russia – Ed.) it would be good for the Russian economy. If Moscow will continue to regard the expenses as reasonable, it is unclear what would be good options could involve the President Zelensky until the end of the year. Peacekeeping forces in the Donbass earned only if the Russians agree to their placement. And for this it is necessary that Moscow was ready to settle”.

Serhiy SOLODKY, first Deputy Director of the Center “new Europe”together

“Unfortunately, the Russian policy to support the separatist regimes does not allow any optimistic scenario. Russia occupied the region is important primarily as a tool to influence decision-making in Ukraine as a lever that will block the advance of the state on the path to EU and NATO will serve as a factor of political instability. Moscow can achieve this in two ways – or support the status quo (without changing anything), or by implantation into Ukraine territory with enhanced skills (in fact, autonomy). Therefore, the world, if possible, that only on condition of Russia.

The deadline in the negotiations – not always the best helper. Therefore, the promulgation of the authorities of any of the terms for the negotiations weakened the Ukrainian position. “You promised to resolve the conflict before the end of the year, so you should show a greater tendency towards concessions,” Russia can always resort to this trick in the negotiations. Not to mention the fact that Moscow, in principle, does not want to go on any compromises, appealing to the argument “we are not a party to the conflict”. Kremlin-controlled modes of separatists in Moldova, Georgia had a long time to open all eyes – Russia is able to wait, able to play for a long time. This ability must demonstrate and Ukraine.

Our Center has analyzed the main scenarios as to how this can develop the situation around the Donbass in the coming year – in addition, we conducted a survey among 65 Ukrainian and foreign experts. Our conclusion – there will be no change (unless, of course, Ukraine itself will not hand over their positions). Some experts allow the freezing of the conflict (on the Transnistrian sample). But in General, the probability of this scenario is estimated at 5.6 points out of 10. The probability of reintegration of the occupied territories based on total decentralization up to the end of the year, according to analysts, are tiny – just 3.7 points.”

Mikhail Samus, Deputy Director for international Affairs of the research Center for army, conversion and disarmament

“In the course of this year Russia will be more aggressive towards the Ukraine and the Black sea and in the Baltic States, Poland, Moldova and Belarus. The effect of coronavirus and economic problems for the current regime in the Kremlin in the course of this year also will not achieve a sufficient effect. Russian military activity will continue to grow. The climax will be the strategic exercises “Caucasus-2020” and the active phase in September-October, when it will involve the Black sea, which will be filled by the Russian ships from the North and the Baltic fleet, the direction of Donbass, where the Russians will concentrate up to 150 thousand troops, and the entire southern strategic flank of Russia.

During these exercises possible training scenarios. For example, punching a land corridor to the Crimea, because this year there will be a tragic situation with water. Can also work out the elements of a blockade of Ukraine from the Black sea. For example, creating a corridor between gas platforms in the Black sea, which Russia stole from us, between snake island and the Romanian energy fields. It turns out “perfect” 50-kilometer corridor to block Ukrainian navigation in the Kerch scenario.

That is why I do not see any prerequisites to achieve peace in the Donbas during the period set Zelensky. Not time, determines the settlement of the military, military-political conflict or crisis, and the balance of power, interests, and military instruments. Besides, I do not see the changes of the motivation of Putin’s policy regarding Ukraine, and some radical changes in the balance of power. Russia, as was a destruction of the Ukrainian state, so this task is worth it. As Russia dominated the Black sea and on our East direction in General, and dominates.

Summing up, now there are three scenarios of development of events. The first to succumb to the algorithm of Putin to implement the Minsk agreements, to start our “Transnistria” in the political body of Ukraine and to destroy Ukraine from within, but peace will be achieved. The second exit from the Minsk agreements, but it can create a vacuum of structured support from the West that can be leveraged by Russia to carry out military action. Third – the continuation of freezing of the Minsk agreements with the aim of their change and implementation in Ukraine”.

All the details in the special topic of the Settlement in the Donbass