US ultimatum to Russia in Donbass

Yesterday, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker met with Vladislav Surkov, the Russian President’s Assistant for Ukraine. The meeting caused a lot of comments in Ukraine and in Russia. According to Surkov, although formally America does not participate in the Minsk talks, Volker had proposals on the implementation of agreements already reached. Their content is not yet announced. But probably in order for the Minsk agreements to be fulfilled faster, Kurt Volker previously stated in the Ukrainian press that the US is considering the possibility of supplying Ukraine with American lethal weapons.

Such statements did not come only from Volker. American general Paul Selva spoke about the Pentagon studying the question of the supply of lethal weapons to Kiev. On August 24, Pentagon chief James Mattis is scheduled to visit Ukraine, where he will attend a parade dedicated to Independence Day. Kiev political scientist Ruslan Bortnik believes that Mattis will visit Ukraine for inspections of American investments in the Ukrainian army and demonstration of support. A joint statement between Mattis and Poroshenko is expected after the meeting.

In my opinion, these statements and visits make it possible to reconstruct the content of the conversation between Volker and Surkov, hidden from the general public. And although there are no shortcomings in optimistic statements in the Russian and some moderate Ukrainian media (“Poroshenko is obliged to implement the Minsk agreements, since this fits into the strategy of Americans in Ukraine”), the actual result of the meeting seems to me far less positive. The visit of the head of the US military department to Kiev, regardless of what joint statement he and Poroshenko will make, is a fairly clear hint. Supported by statements about the high probability of deliveries of US arms to Ukraine, it testifies to the tactics of forceful extrusion of Russia.

I repeat my conclusion in yesterday’s commentary: at the meeting of Volker and Surkov the demands of the American side (in fact an ultimatum) for Russia were discussed. Depending on what position Russia chooses, the weapons will be delivered to Ukraine in any case. And , there will be an invasion by Ukraine in the Donbass. But Russia’s withdrawal will be spared by Moscow’s pride in political decorations (the appearance of a compromise achieved).

I am very doubtful about the possibility of just such an outcome of the “dialogue” (ultimatum). For at least, the reason that Washington and Kiev demand from Russia the implementation of the impossible. First of all, the withdrawal of troops from the Donbass … which are not there.

Political or expert statements claiming the opposite happen either from an inadequate understanding of the situation, or are dictated by propaganda purposes. Russia really has helped greatly, or rather, hugely, the republics of Donbass.

And I myself wrote about this on the pages of Fort-Russ. And stopping this assistance will put the DPR and the LPR in a very difficult situation – although it will untie Russia’s hands from their obligations. The help of Russia is the incurring of colossal expenditures on social security of Donbass. But how will they react to the withdrawal of Russia from the Donbass in Kiev? Behind the first euphoria comes a frightening reality: the need to shoulder the cost of maintaining several million of “their own” foreigners. Are Ukraine ready to return to fulfilling social obligations to the inhabitants of the Donbass, which is their constitutional duty? No, no and NO.

Literally today, the message came: Ukraine is preparing a decision – to deprive the settlers from the Donbass of Ukrainian pensions. In Kiev, they do not seriously consider the probability of “reintegration” of the Donbass territories. Otherwise, they would not be there to introduce such a law in the spirit of social Nazism. The Ukrainian government is interested in repeating the Croatian scenario and turning the Donbass into a likeness of the Serbian Krajina: the outcome of the overwhelming majority of the surviving population of Donbass in Russia. Therefore, the Poroshenko regime urgently needs Russia’s non-interference (which they want to achieve under Washington’s pressure) and in large-scale US military assistance.

I repeat: the second will be provided, the first one causes me doubt. Since it will lead to the exodus of millions of inhabitants of Donbass to Russia. I was most directly involved in helping refugees from the Donbass during the most difficult months (May-June) of 2014. The new offensive of the Ukrainian army will be much more bloody and total.

I’ll quote the words I heard in June this year in Lugansk: Ukrainians will destroy all the inhabitants of Donbass. And everyone understands this. Is Russia ready to relive the horror of the humanitarian catastrophe organized by Ukraine and host 2-3 million refugees from the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk with all the accompanying economic, social and, most likely, political costs? I will leave this rhetorical question unanswered.

I summarize. Yesterday’s meeting was one of the important battles of the positional diplomatic war around Donbass and the former Ukraine. Without being, like all of us, dedicated to the circumstances of these negotiations, I do not see the prospects for any major changes in either direction. Therefore, the US is likely to continue the line of political and military pressure (through Kiev) on the republics of Donbass (constant bombardment, the arming of the Ukrainian army with American weapons, preparation of a full-scale offensive) and Russia (creating a network of military bases along the perimeter of its borders), which is forced to cut the Gordian knot with one blow of the sword.

Originally published on fort-russ.com