Tatiana Ivzhenko

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 07, 2016, p. 1

Ukraine is not going to give up the idea of membership in NATO and views Russia as an enemy and at the current stage it stakes at its own defense capabilities.


Ukraine is not going to give up the idea of membership in NATO and views Russia as an enemy and at the current stage it stakes at its own defense capabilities. These are the statements of the annual message of the President of Ukraine to the parliament. The speech of Petr Poroshenko convinced with the statement of Vladimir Putin published by mass media. The President of Russia admitted a possibility of a meeting of the Normandy four but only if the conversation would be constructive.

As it was known, since the beginning of summer the Ukrainian party insisted on negotiations of Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Petr Poroshenko. The group of four countries did not meet since the last year. It was presumed that this year conversation might take place at the margin of the G20 summit in China.

However, the provocation at the border of Crimea with Ukraine in August did not let Vladimir Putin sit down at the same table with Poroshenko.

Only bilateral meetings of the Russian President with the President of France and Chancellor of Germany took place in China. The situation in Ukraine became one of the central issues at them. However, after the meeting Merkel announced that no decisions were made, “For this purpose, we need Ukraine (at negotiations).”

The President of France reported that meeting of the Normandy four might take place in the next few weeks but did not explain on which level: the level of foreign ministers or the level of the heads of the state. Finally, answering question of journalists after the summit, Putin confirmed that he talked to Merkel and Hollande about the Ukrainian crisis, “With regard to the Normandy format, no matter if this is good or bad, there is no other option at least to try regulation. That is why, of course, Russia will support this format.”

Along with this, Putin made some emotional corrections, “I have had an impression that nobody wants to meet for the sake of a meeting, probably except for Poroshenko. I do not know. I have not talked to him for a long time already.” Putin emphasized a need for constructive conversation several times, “What else can we do? We will have to communicate. But I have told the Federal Chancellor and the President of France that the question is not if we need or do not meet. The question is that these meetings should lead us to some positive way of regulation (in Donets Basin).”

Andrei Miselyuk, director of institute of social and political projecting Dialog, presumes that Russian vision of a positive way absolutely does not coincide with the Ukrainian one. According to him, Moscow thinks that it is necessary to fulfill the Minsk agreements in the sequence in which they are written, that is political and security issues mixed. Kiev struggles for a different sequence: fulfillment of all clauses in provision of security first and political regulation afterwards.

The difference is in the fact that in the first case the incumbent authorities of DNR and LNR will be legalized at the elections that are to take place before removal of troops and after that they will receive an official status. In the second case the system of DNR and LNR will be dismantled (including the armed forces of the republics) and new authorities in the region to which Kiev promises broadened powers will be elected according to Ukrainian law and under control of the OSCE.

In his message to the parliament Poroshenko touched on this topic several times. Like in the past, he accused Russia of the situation in Donets Basin, “Russia wants to make, as someone put this, “protectorate Donbasss” from the territories of Donets and Lugansk regions occupied by it to undermine us from the inside. I will say briefly: we will not allow doing this, this will not be.”

He remarks that there is also another side of this process: some politicians in Ukraine question both the Normandy format and the Minsk process “because they (people in Donets Basin) are different, they will vote “in a wrong way,” will elect wrong people and will draft us to the East whereas we need to go to the West.” Continuing the topic, Poroshenko announced that the Normandy format and the Minsk process “open a path to reclaiming of Donets Basin and are the only tool that allows achievement of this goal.” The Ukrainian President announced that Ukraine would not give Donets Basin up.”

Poroshenko confessed that Minsk process was skidding and accused the Russian party of this, “Russia permanently increases the military presence, first of all, on our border, play the muscles in the western and southwestern strategic directions. A high level of a threat of armed aggression remains in the southern direction too. Within the group of Russian terrorist troops in Donets Basin are almost 38,500 people, more than 600 tank and 1,250 combat armored vehicles, 750 artillery systems and more than 300 multiple rocket launcher systems.”

The Ukrainian President presumed that the armed forces of Ukraine and diplomats managed to stop “direct offensive operations” but a threat of war remained. He promised that Kiev would not give up the Minsk agreements but also would not agree to make concessions in the matters fundamental for Ukraine.

Poroshenko assured the audience that he viewed restoration of territorial integrity of Ukraine n the borders determined in 1991 as his main task. Along with this, he states that he rules out a forceful scenario of achievement of the Ukrainian goals, “The only way of regulation and restoration of the territorial integrity is a political diplomatic way but with support on defensive capabilities of the army.”

The Ukrainian President separately dwelled on the matter of military cooperation with NATO, “We have achieved an unprecedented close level of cooperation with member states of the alliance that we will increase, broaden and deepen until complete achievement of membership criteria. Entrance into NATO remains our strategic goal. I insist that this vector is unshakable for us like the Polar Star.” He remarked that in Ukraine majority of the people but not all supported this line and there was no common opinion in the West about the membership of Ukraine in NATO. That is why Kiev is going to conduct its own reforms (both in the sector of security and in political, economic and social areas) to achieve compliance of the state with NATO standards by 2020.

Analyzing the speech of the Ukrainian President, experts remarked that nothing manifested that Ukraine was ready for concessions in the matters of Crimea and Donets Basin. This questions a possibility of a meeting of leaders of the Normandy four. Director of center of applied political studies Penta Vladimir Fesenko admits that negotiations on the level of foreign ministers will take place in September. However, they will be unable to make strategically important decisions before leaders of the states come to common terms. This means that the situation remains unchanged.