Deconstructing the Result of the Four Party Talks

The media refers to the document that emerged out of today’s four party talks as an “agreement”. This is not strictly correct. The text of the document is here:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/17/ukraine-diplomats-meet-in-geneva-in-bid-to-ease-crisis-live-coverage?view=desktop#block-5350089ce4b056a9012cda6f

As its text makes clear what this document is in reality is not an an agreement to settle the Ukrainian crisis or even an outline of such an agreement but rather a statement of basic principles around which an agreement should be negotiated. The real agreement (if it comes about) will emerge from negotiations based on the principles set out in this document.

A number of points:

1. Kiev’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the statement that “all sides must refrain from all violence, intimidation and provocative actions” clearly rules out the “anti terrorist operation” in the eastern Ukraine that Kiev launched on Sunday;

2. As Lavrov has correctly pointed out the provisions in the third paragraph that require the disarmament and dissolution of armed groups is clearly intended to refer as much to Right Sector and the Maidan Self Defence Force as it does to the protesters in the east. Note specifically that the statement calls for a general amnesty except for those who have committed capital crimes (ie. murder). So far no protesters in the east have murdered anyone. Even Kiev admits that none of its soldiers have so far been killed. The same obviously cannot be said of Right Sector and of the Maidan Self Defence Force even if one disregards their likely responsibility for the sniper killings in Kiev on 20th February 2014;

3. The document clearly refers to Maidan itself, which it says must be cleared. Specifically alongside illegally occupied buildings the document refers to “all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities”. The reference to “squares” clearly is intended to refer to Maidan, which the militants in Kiev have said they will continue to occupy at least until the elections on 25th May 2014 and even beyond;

4. Importantly there is NO time line in the document.  There is no demand therefore that buildings be evacuated by any particular date or time.  That has to be agreed and coordinated with the OSCE monitors on the ground.  The people in the eastern Ukraine are therefore entirely within their rights to stay in the buildings at the moment until a timeline is agreed with the OSCE monitors, one requirement of which will surely be parallel evacuations of occupied squares and buildings in Kiev and the west including Maidan.

5. The referral to the OSCE as the enforcement and mediation agency between the regime and its opponents gives Russia a formal role in the process since it is a member of the OSCE. By contrast the negotiations which took place before 21st February 2014 were negotiated and mediated by the EU of which Russia is not a member;

6. The reference to the fact that in the negotiations concerning constitutional changes there should be “outreach to all the Ukraine’s regions and constituencies” (note especially use of the word “constituencies”) gives a role to the protesters in the east in the negotiations and not just to those formal official bodies currently recognised by Kiev.

This document on its face therefore represents a shift towards the Russian/east Ukrainian side. Indeed it basically sets out principles Russia has been arguing for ever since Yanukovitch was deposed on 22nd February 2014.

Unfortunately that does not mean this road map is going to be successfully followed. Already Kiev is trying to argue that the “anti terrorist operation” it has ordered is somehow exempt from it (it isn’t) whilst the US is threatening to impose more sanctions on Russia if following the weekend Russia fails to impose pressure on the eastern Ukrainians to evacuate buildings they occupy without the US undertaking to put any corresponding pressure on its clients in Kiev (shades of Syria here). It is very easy to see how the US and its allies could then blame Russia for the failure of the road map whilst having caused that failure themselves.

However the Russians do have a number of strong cards to play of their own:

1. The growing unrest in the Donbass, which will almost certainly spread to more regions of the eastern Ukraine unless some serious concessions are made. The events of the last few days have exposed Kiev’s difficulties in suppressing this unrest. Significantly no further step in pursuit of the “anti terrorist operation” seems to have been taken today as Kiev reels from the military defections of yesterday;

2. Russia as Putin pointedly reminded everybody in his television marathon today can always refuse to recognise the results of the Presidential elections on 25th May 2014 if the negotiations are failing to make progress and also has authority from the Federation Council to send troops into the eastern Ukraine if the situation there deteriorates further. A refusal to recognise the results of the election will further undermine the legitimacy of whoever is elected. It is now clear that there will be no significant military resistance from forces loyal to Kiev if the Russian army moves into the eastern Ukraine. If that happens the likelihood is that Kiev will lose the easterh Ukraine forever (note Putin’s pointed reference to “Novorossiya” in his television marathon today) – a nightmare scenario for both Kiev and the west though not one Russia is pursuing at the moment;

3. It is now clear that without Russia’s assistance the possibility of stabilising the Ukraine’s economy quite simply does not exist. The last paragraph specifically refers to the importance of the Ukraine “financial and economic stability” to “the participants” and says “the participants…. would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented”. The most important of the “participants” in this regard is Russia. It bears repeating (as Putin has recently pointed out) that Russia is the only participant so far providing any economic assistance to the Ukraine at all. The US is only offering $1 billion in loan guarantees and the EU is offering just 1.6 billion euros none of which have so far been provided. What this document in effect therefore says is that whilst Russia is prepared to assist in the stabilisation of the Ukraine’s economy its help is conditional on the fulfilment of the provisions of the road map;

4. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is growing resistance within the EU to further sanctions against Russia. The fact that a process has now been launched to settle this crisis will redouble European reluctance to introduce more sanctions and will increase pressure within the EU for the process to be treated seriously so that it can succeed.

In conclusion, we are not out of the woods or anywhere close. This is not the beginning of the end of the crisis. But we may be a small step closer to that point. A lot will depend on what happens next and the key decisions will be made on the ground in the Ukraine itself.

Comments

  1. mutantsushi says:

    re: dissolution of armed groups, would that not also cover the National Guard and other militias convened both by the coup regime and aligned oligarchs? given the coup regime has no legal line of legitimacy, it did not legally depose Yanukovych, all it’s laws are null, including those founding such groups, which have no more legitimacy than the Donbass resistance. likewise, the coup regime’s orders to the army etc are null, and it itself is illegally occupying government buildings.

  2. I regard it as a problem that the lifting of sanctions is not part of the roadmap.

  3. donnyess says:

    “Putin’s pointed reference to “Novorossiya” in his television marathon today – a nightmare scenario for both Kiev and the west”

    Maybe that’s in the cards:

  4. Rostislav says:

    It is much easier to campaign on an independent pro Russian state made of the Eastern and Southern Ukraine in union with the Russian Federation as the Soviet Ukraine was in union with the RSFSR. It is much more salutary to restructure a new Ukraine of Center, South and East, excluding the West in its own, separate and new deNazified state.

    The biggest smokescreen here in all of this Ukrainian crisis legerdemain is that this is somehow East versus West Ukraine. This created enmity and national divorce is a symptom of a larger disease. Who is paying for this civil war? Well, there is a reason why the Maidan seized power without trying the electoral process. Because the appeal of the Orange Revolution and its political platform lost its electoral majority and credibility in Ukrainian politics. There is a reason why a Central – Western dictatorship was declared over the East and South: because electorally a pro EU/NATO orientation alienating and antagonizing Russia has no mandate Ukraine-wide when the East and South are allowed to participate in the political process. There is a reason why Neo NAZI Svoboda, Right Sector, C14 with not a few salutes from Batkivschina and UDAR has been allowed to form fascist cadres which have been armed and set loose on the Eastern and Southern Ukraine: decentralized but state sponsored terror in a situation like this allows a politically unpopular minority to suppress the political will of all majorities, because public policy is established by intimidation, secret arrests, murders, etc. They are using these fascists for the clear purpose of dominating a national electoral process which will allow all Western political objectives to be pursued, Since these groups are Neo NAZI, once the electorate has been brought down and deceived into “accepting the electoral will of the Ukraine,” the NAZIs can then be easily “removed” from the scene by turning the pressure valve to the East and “calling on the Easterners to save the Ukraine from fascism.” After, of course, their electoral victories are established (with Russia supposedly intimidated out of this Banana Republic CIA directed operation on its border by “crippling sanctions”) to “save the Ukraine.” Then a member of the Party of Regions will claim some sort of Western backed mandate (and Russia’s blessing), “create a government of national reconciliation” and lead the “crusade for a fascist free Ukraine,” where Svoboda, Right Sector, C 14 muckity mucks will end up with UDAR or Batkivschina or some “Petlurist Anti-Fascist Party” allowing “a united Ukraine to rise against hooliganism.”

    And the same, woeful scenario of Ukrainian dysfunctional politics of the last 23 years will go on and on.

    No, this Ukrainian politics is going to be delivered to Brussels in an EU funded casket draped with an American flag with Greystone pall bearers.

    Who benefits from this? Who has made the money, pays Shuster’s check to say “we must not mention the names of people not here” except of course when it is “Hitler Putin”? Who is the one who always wins whether it is Kravchuk, or the Orange Revolution or Party of Regions? Who are the billionaires while the Ukraine is billions in debt? Akhmetov, Kolomoisky, Taruta, Poroshenko, Timoshenko, et al. People want to crusade against corruption? They want to know what will save the Ukraine? They want to know why the country is breaking apart and falling into chaos and civil war? STATELESS OLIGARCHY is the cause of the Ukrainian Civil War. These are the people whom the Ukrainians should rise up against if they “want to combat corruption and create a brighter future for their children.” Such a political platform could possibly even resurrect the dead corpse of the artificial state called the Ukraine. Of course, we all understand that fascism (AKA UKRAINIAN NATIONAL ETHNOGENESIS [ethnic cleansing]) and oligarchy would never allow such “Russian destabilization.”

    Who in their right mind would celebrate a NAZI collaborationist movement responsible for the genocide of 500,000 Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, Roma, Russians, etc.? Who in their right mind would celebrate a movement whose entire program received a swastika imprimatur from Hitler’s Reichstag? Who in their right mind would believe that they could pull off some sort of Big Lie Fraud and shout loud enough to the world and to the Ukraine “that Stepan Bandera was not a NAZI war criminal” only to when they were found out belch revisionist, nonsense which distills to the rarified stupidity of “the defeat of NAZI Germany was a disaster for the Ukrainian nation,” that “the Red Army was a worse enemy of the Ukrainian people than the German Wehrmacht,” and that “the Galician Waffen SS Division emobodied the vision of patriotic forces and the best aspirations of patriotic Ukrainians.” It takes a certain sort of delusional ignorance to hold to these types of idiotic ravings, which are clearly fringe positions, but have somehow been mainstreamed by the EuroMaidan.

    Playing on the basest and most deranged aspects of Ukrainian nationalism, the oligarchs have created a disorganized chaotic mass of orcs to take the attention off of them and thereby spin a message of “democratic Maidan as a struggle against corruption inherited from supposed ‘Russian interference in Ukrainian internal affairs’.” Here we are today with Russophobia and Neo NAZI-ism running violent cover for the oligarchs. Igor Kolomoisky is the enemy. Not Vladimir Putin. If someone needs to be sanctioned (in every meaning that that word can possess), his sanction is a more fitting measure to bring de-escalation and peace to the Ukraine than economic threats against Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

    The Ukraine has a Yeltsin government, and look where it stands. The West wants to use the Ukraine to insert another Yeltsin government in Russia to create an even larger Ukraine.

    Russia did not want to get involved in the Ukrainian struggles between East, West, Regions, Batkivschina, Maidan, Yanukovich, because there was nothing to be gained from paternalism in an ethnically confused and conflicted economic basket case experiencing the forces of Western funded ethnic polarization which were sparking demographic fissures and sociological disengagement which was/is offering every rebuttal to the quack ultra-nationalist claims of Ukrainian ethnogenesis. (Legitimate ethnogesis is not the work of brown shirts.) All Russia needed to do was simply sit back, make money and let the Ukraine fall apart on its own until it began voting itself into separate regions forming new nations. That is the trajectory of today’s Ukrainian political climate, carnage. Russia was pulled in to pay for an EU/NATO/US Ukraine, to stabilize it, to “be punished for being an upstart which would not sing ‘Uncle Sam uber alles’,” to begin its own process of “democratic regime change” ala the Orange Revolution (or Maidan in current Western dementia).

    Going forward, Russia has a simple task actually. Economic enforcement. Don’t pay your bills? Well, you lose. Pay your bills but act in ways to breach your contracts, your prices go up. If you don’t want to pay? You lose. China will buy the energy. Don’t want to build pipelines? China is someone who does. India needs a higher standard of living and is a reliable trade partner. You don’t want to disarm Right Sector? Well, a “Berlin Airlift” of Russia’s very own could be conducted. Don’t want to talk to the East and send Galician fascists to occupy cities and murder and intimidate civilians? Russia could recognize the breakaway governments of these regions as legitimate and answer calls for humanitarian aid and advisors. Don’t want to hold the oligarchs accountable and take their money first to rebuild the Ukraine? Russia’s tens of billions are not going to be sent to Kiev so that Igor Kolomoisky can siphon off more money to send to a Cayman bank. EU, you “pay the bill” like you did for Greece and see how long the Ukraine is in your orbit (you should never have taken the bait of Polish Neo-Prometheanism, Europe!) As a matter of fact, EU/USA/NATO, you want Russia to stabilize the Ukraine for you? Write Russia a check after clearing all sanctions. Russia is in a winning situation in the Ukraine by doing nothing. By simply providing a pole for the Eastern and Southern Ukraine to gravitate toward once the Ukraine collapses is enough. Feeding, clothing, medicating, treating the East and South with dignity will go much further than any Maidan could ever go. Then the peoples’ governments of the various regions of the Ukraine gain credence and the situation is resolved.

    Let’s think for a minute about the reality of a “Novorossija.” Inclusion of Ukrainian regions in the Russian Federation will mean an increase in these peoples’ living standards, pay, economic opportunity and promote the native and historical ethnogenesis of these regions. Inclusion in a Eurasian Union having a political and economic charter not unlike the old Soviet Union carries a similar benefit to regions of the Ukraine. This is academic. What is also academic is that the Russian Federation gets the pain and absorbs the costs of the integration of these regions and experiences the same types of economic corrections West Germany did when it absorbed East Germany. But, honestly, how much will Russia have to pump into the current artificial state of the Ukraine over the next twenty years to “keep it stable and democratic”?

    Having the Ukraine led by Galicia will only break it apart quicker. Kiev can choose to come along into an Eurasian Union if it wants. But Galicia and the West have to be separated from the territory of any future, stable and prosperous Ukraine. The best thing for Russia is to leave the Central Ukraine with Galicia. That will end Galician “ukrainoznavstvo” for all Ukrainians once and for all.

    Bottom line. The oligarchs have to return their ill gotten gains and stolen Ukrainian wealth and answer to the Ukrainian people. In the case of Igor Kolomoisky who has commissioned the murder of Ukrainian citizens and incited ethnic violence by financing and contriving the new “anti Semitism revelations” in the “separatist East,” charges of high treason should be pressed. Regime change in the Ukraine begins not with clowns like Yatsenyuk and Turchinov and Tyagnibok, it begins with removal of the oligarchs.

    The Eastern and Western Ukraine are victims. The West moreso willingly than the East. They are pawns in the games played by oligarchs trying to steal more money and protect the pilfered fortunes they have already stolen from Ukrainian national wealth. Any real resolution of the Ukrainian quagmire means the thieving oligarchs have to be put out of business. If Russia does get involve, that means that the oligarchs, not Galician idiots, are the prime targets. Simply, for V V Putin to run the Ukraine in 18 months, he would not have to even use military intervention. He could simply sit by and use diplomacy and “humanitarian relief” to “aid and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Eastern and Southern Ukraine” while dusting off the old KGB architecture aimed at “neutralizing personal assets which are a direct threat to the stability of democratic workers’ interests.” In this way, the dominoes fall, and the shanty town certain people made of the Ukraine starts getting torn down and being improved by its own people. East and West Ukraine turns its gaze at these oligarchs being deposed and does something a little more constructive than SS marches and mob violence for Russophobia and ethnic cleansing.

    Just a few thoughts about a few different Ukrainian scenarios.

    • Can I re-publish your comment attributed to you on my blog? Your insight is what is missing here in the West on the discussion about Ukraine. You are able to see through the lies and see what is behind this whole situation, the oligarchs are using the Right Sector basically to suppress the people in the future election and insure no one comes after their stolen money. Thanks for your insight. I could not understand why they gave them such key positions of power.

  5. Interesting poll results (taken April 10-15) that match my earlier speculations here (although Kharkiv and Odessa are flipped, in comparison to what I had guessed):

    http://zn.ua/UKRAINE/mneniya-i-vzglyady-zhiteley-yugo-vostoka-ukrainy-aprel-2014-143598_.html

    Poll measures attitudes in the 8 southern and eastern oblasts.

    Some responses:

    Do you consider Yatseniuk’s government to be the legal authority?

    Dnipropetrovsk: 24.8% strongly yes, 22.8% weakly yes, 13.1% neutral/unsure, 15.1% weakly no, 19.6% strongly no
    Odessa: 21.5% strongly yes, 19.3% weakly yes, 16% neutral/unsure, 21% weakly no, 18.5% strongly no
    Kharkiv: 18.8% strongly yes, 14.6% weakly yes, 11.6% neutral/unsure, 19.3% weakly no, 31.4% strongly no
    Donetsk: 5.7% strongly yes, 10.9% weakly yes, 9.4% neutral/unsure, 18.6% weakly no, 53.5% strongly no

    No region considers Yanukovich to be the legal authority.

    Do you consider the events on Maidan to have been a popular uprising against corruption and the Yanukovich dictatorship, or a revolt organized by the opposition with Western help?

    Dnipropetrovsk: Popular uprising 54.5%, revolt with Western help 31.2%, unsure 11.1%
    Odessa:Popular uprising 50.1%, revolt with Western help 37%, unsure 9.4%
    Kharkiv: Popular uprising 47.5%, revolt with Western help 42.6%, unsure 7.7%
    Donetsk: Popular uprising 20%, revolt with Western help 70.5%, unsure 8.2%

    Do you believe that Russia is illegally interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs?

    Dnipropetrovsk: 72% Yes, 21% no, 6% unsure
    Odessa: 61% Yes, 23.2% no, 14.6% unsure
    Kharkiv: 51% Yes, 41.6% no, 6.9% unsure
    Donetsk:17.3% Yes, 59.9% no, 22.3% unsure

    Do you want your oblast to leave Ukraine and join Russia?

    Dnipropetrovsk: 3.7% strongly yes, 3.2% weakly yes, 6.9% unsure, 13.1% weakly no, 71% strongly no
    Odessa: 3.2% strongly yes, 4% weakly yes, 11.9% unsure, 19.3% weakly no, 59.5% strongly no
    Kharkiv: 9.2% strongly yes, 6.9% weakly yes, 17.3% unsure, 16.1% weakly no, 49.5% strongly no
    Donetsk: 11.9% strongly yes, 15.6% weakly yes, 17.3% unsure, 17.3% weakly no, 34.9% strongly no

    EU vs. Customs Union:

    Dnipropetrovsk: 38.1% EU, 29.2% CU
    Odessa: 25.4% EU, 36.4% CU
    Kharkiv: 26.5% EU, 46.5% CU
    Donetsk: 9.4% EU, 72.5% CU

    (Mikolayiv on the Black Sea coast was even more strongly pro-EU than Dnipropetrovsk)

    Should Ukraine be a unified state as it is now (status quo), a unified state with some decentralization (what Yatseniuk’s government is proposing), or a federalized entity:

    Dnipropetrovsk: 19.6% status quo, 51% unified with decentralization, 11.4% federated
    Odessa: 29.1% status quo, 41.2% unified with decentralization, 17.5% federated
    Kharkiv: 23.3% status quo, 39.1% unified with decentralization, 32.2% federated
    Donetsk: 10.6% status quo, 41.1% unified with decentralization, 38.4% federated

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I think it is time, if one wants to be realistic, to stop lumping all of these territories together as “New Russia” when describing them politically.

    It looks like the geographic and cultural region of Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) are a strong outlier. Should all of Ukraine alter its laws simply to cater to those two oblasts? Trying to ram regional hero Bandera down the country’s entire throat was bad, but this was just a symbol. Russians seem to want to impose Donbas’ wishes concerning the country’s entire political system upon all of Ukraine.

    • Rostislav says:

      Firstly, these polls under Neo NAZI occupation should be taken with a grain of salt, especially since Russia has not declared an intent to immediately create NovoRossiya. Who would be honestly answering these questions in the climate of today’s Ukraine? Would anyone have spoken out against NAZI occupation in 1942? Secondly, it is academic that most Russophone regions would want unity with Russia, because the standard of living is 2 – 3 higher in Russia, energy costs are less in Russia, pay and pensions are twice as much in Russia, forced “ukrainoznavstvo” and religious persecution are not issues in Russia, while society for Russophone and Russophrone Ukrainians is freer and connected to an ethnic/historical continuum in unity with Russia, as opposed to being an oligarch, stateless machination dominated by Third Reich propaganda and race theories. On these reasons alone, not even factoring in the violence of the Banderists, this poll is garbage. Lastly, once the EU/IMF/USA austerity conditions set in, the numbers for the customs union will improve all the way to the borders of Galicia.

      Let’s talk about the reality on the ground. Donetsk and Lugansk would welcome the Russian army TODAY with Crimean style numbers (WHICH INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS COULD VERIFY AS DEMOCRATIC!). Kharkov, Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk are under violent regimes of repression and occupation (Not to mention Nikolaev and Zaporozhe): in a word, if these regions were so “with” the Banderists, WHY ARE THEY BUSING IN RIGHT SECTOR AND C14 GALICIAN NEO FASCISTS AS WELL GREYSTONE MERCENARIES TO HOLD THESE REGIONS?

      I don’t buy any poll conducted in a country where its Central and Western regions have disenfranchised the East and South and not only deprived these regions of democratic representation, but have commissioned Neo NAZI thugs to murder Eastern and Southern Ukrainians as “separatists” and “terrorists” for democratically engaging to establish their political will. Does anyone really believe a poll conducted about a regime which received not one popular vote engaged in military and paramilitary violence to suppress the political will of its own people to be seen as legitimate?! Believing any numbers which support such a blue and yellow fantasy is the same as believing Bagdad Bob’s declarations on the eve of the fall of Bagdad.

      The Ukrainian regime is going to fall, and it is going to fall soon. Not soon enough for the Ukrainian people. If anything, these Kolomoisky concocted numbers will be pinned to his chest when he is led to the gallows, because we know who is circulating these lies.

      I will end this by saying that I was hesitant at first, hoping for one last chance at diplomacy to diffuse the Ukrainian crisis. The actions of the US and its recent duplicity and outright fascist violent policies with the junta in Kiev leave me convinced that the sooner Russia moves and occupies the South and East, the sooner these people can get on with their lives with democracy and freedom. At this point, I not only support the East and South as NovoRossija, I look to Russia to create Central and Western Ukrainian hromadas by the end of the year for total regime change throughout the West and Center. ALL THE WAY TO LVOV! The Ukrainian people can only benefit through Russian intervention. Russia should move into Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson and Odessa immediately to prevent ethnic cleansing and a humanitarian crisis from occurring.

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