Rapidly aggravating situation around Ukraine is seriously troubling the international community. This was the primary reason for keen interest to the meeting between the representatives of the U.S., EU, Russia and Ukraine in Geneva, raising hopes for agreements to be reached on certain issues. Nevertheless, there is no clear picture as to what needs to be done in the direction of real actions. Some make pessimistic forecasts. On top of that, groups in opposition to the official Kiev forward new demands. They are attempting to use the “ambiguity” in the terminology of the document. Thus, uncertain situation is at hand, and it appears to be indefinite.
Signed Document: Hopes Are Fading?
So, Geneva has once again become a center of international politics. Delegates from the U.S., Russia, EU and Ukraine have engaged in deliberations here on 17 April. The topic was a search for solutions to the conflict situation around Ukraine. In general, several notable decisions were made from the aspect of global geopolitics. Experts differ in their opinions on this issue. And diplomats too, fail to express unequivocal position.
The parties have agreed on a document called for de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine (see: U.S., EU, Russia strike a balance on Ukraine / ”The Washington Post”, 18 April 2014). It states that Ukraine crisis can be resolved on a phase-by-phase basis. For that to happen, illegal armed groups must be disarmed, seized administrative buildings vacated, arrested activists freed and constitutional reforms pursued. That being said, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov did warn that should Ukraine’s non-allied status change, the rest of the provisions would be doomed (see: Украинский кризис до Женевы довел / ”Коммерсантъ”, 17 April, 2014).
Analysts have fascinating opinions regarding the Geneva arrangements. Almost none of them appreciate the document as positive. Russian expert F. Lukyanov described the Geneva meeting as “the beginning of confrontation” (see: Федор Лукьянов. Встреча в Женеве как начало противостояния / ”Forbes”, 19 April 2014). Nonetheless, he also admitted that “the outcome of the meeting was somewhat of a surprise for many”.
Interestingly, some Russian journalists were also skeptical of the document and urged not ”to trust Moscow” (for example: independent Ukraine-based journalist Vladimir Fedorin. See: Julia Ioffe. What Does the Geneva Agreement Mean for Ukraine? / ”The New Republic”, 17 April 2014). According to Fedorin, Kremlin is buying time to consolidate its power and is readying to strike once the moment is right. Russian journalist refers to the document as a ”dead piece of paper”.
It has to be stressed that official Washington similarly views the very document as a ”piece of paper”. President Obama expressed his doubts about implementation of the provisions of the document. Although he said that this development might provide hope, he nonetheless reiterated that in event of noncompliance, Russia was to face new sanctions (see: Обама напомнил России об угрозе новых санкций / ”Коммерсантъ”, 19 April, 2014). In the meantime, one senior American diplomat was explicit in saying that Putin would try to derail presidential elections in Ukraine. Taking this into account the U.S. is envisaging counter measures (see: Julia Ioffe. Same article).
It is noteworthy that many Western experts disagree. German political scientist A. Rar believes that, ”Putin does not want to deepen the confrontation”. Official Moscow has also spoken several times on this subject. In the meantime, Russian officials are emphasizing insincerity of the West because the objective is not to resolve the issue. The use of the phrase – ”to reduce the tensions” – by Barack Obama attests to this. That is to say, the West aims to shape the situation in Ukraine to best conform to its plans. The main aim here is to preserve the balance of power in Eurasia (see: Федор Лукьянов: Article referred to above).
What if Objective is Insincere: Source of Mutual Accusations
If Washington and Brussels indeed have such an intention, then problem of Ukraine will not be resolved. Surely, the other side of the issue has to with Russia’s behavior. Analysis of the post-Geneva events demonstrates that the parties are not sufficiently genuine in their conduct. They have already started with mutual accusations.
The key stumbling block is the term ”illegal armed groups”. America assumes the term refers to the rebel groups in the Eastern Ukraine, while Russia means the incumbent authorities in Kiev and the “Right Sector”. Moscow already had its message delivered through its proponents in Donetsk. During the press conference called by the leader of the pro-Russian group D. Pushilin the former said that unless seized buildings in Kiev are vacated (referring to new authorities in Kiev – Newtimes.az), Ukrainian troops are pulled out of Donetsk and arrested activists are released, they refuse to disarm their armed groups (see: Митингующие в Донецке отказались признать Женевские договоренности / ”ИТАР-ТАСС”, 18 April 2014).
The West views things completely differently. By saying ”illegal armed groups” Washington and Brussels assumes only the pro-Russians in the East of the country and Crimea. Both sides are currently “gathering facts” for mutual accusations. Rebels are insisting that it was the ”Right Sector” that has used force against them. Donetsk was the recent place where armed clashes occurred. Moscow immediately blamed official Kiev and the ”Right Sector”. Ukrainian authorities’ response was that Russia’s assessment of the events prior to any investigation into the matter was the sign of Kremlin pulling the strings in this process.
That being said, official Kiev expressed its readiness for certain concessions for the Eastern regions. Acting President A.Turchinov announced that government was ready to grant a special status to the Russian language and to release the activists (see: Киев готов пойти на встречу восточным регионам Украины / ”BBC”, 18 April 2014). In exchange, the protesters are taking no positive steps, and only make new demands.
This signifies formality of the agreement on Ukraine reached in Geneva. In fact, there is no progress whatsoever. Apparently, the signed document really was a ”dead piece of paper”. F.Lukyanov is sure that more of such agreements will be signed and new arrangements made (see: Федор Лукьянов. Abovementioned article).
If that was the case, then situation similar to that in Nagorno Karabakh would emerge. West’s reaction to this would be interesting. But we have to admit that if the aim is to put Russia and Ukraine in a protractedly intense situation, there is not much to expect. All in all, it is extremely alarming that peoples throughout a vast region are suffering and lives are lost. How much longer will it last?