It is apparent that at least Donbass will implement the Minsk Agreements. As a result, Donbass is very likely to become a part of Ukraine again, of course if Ukraine manages to implement its part of commitments.
One of the Normandy Four meeting outcomes was that the postponement of the local elections within the laws of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic (DPR and LPR). Formally, all the Ukraine-related questions to Russia were removed from the agenda after the republics’ decision to postpone the elections. The Crimea issue is now the only unresolved one and both the Russian and the Western diplomats are working on it.
Now the ball is in Ukraine’s court.
To implement the Minsk Agreements, Petro Poroshenko needs at least to revive the law on the special status of Donbass, pass a law on the local elections in Donbass in cooperation with the DPR and LPR, and vote for amnesty for the militia and activists of Novorossia.
It is very doubtful if Poroshenko will find the necessary votes for it, let alone that he will hardly manage to push through the Rada constitutional amendments for the special status of Donbass, which requires two-third of votes, not just a majority. Poroshenko has about six months to organize all this. After fulfilling all the requirements, control over the border will be transferred to Ukraine. Whether Kiev will manage to implement its commitments under the Minsk Agreements is highly questionable. They in Ukraine have been stirring up hatred towards Donbass and everything Russian for a long period of time. Now, in keeping with the best traditions of aikido and judo, Vladimir Putin will make Poroshenko fight the consequences of his own steps.
In the Supreme Rada, there are at least thirty people who come out as ATO battalion commanders who occurred in the parliament due to the rhetoric – war to the bitter end. Ukrainian political analysts, as one, say there are no true Ukrainians in Donbass, therefore, Donbass should not be part of Ukraine. Previously they said ATO’s goal was to liberate Donbass that was seized by the Russian occupants. Now, they say ATO’s goal is to defend Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and Odessa. It will be very hard to speak of peace in the country where hatred reigns. It was not a joke, at the meeting in Minsk, Poroshenko really offered Putin to take Donbass, but he wanted that “someone else does dirty work.”
With implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Poroshenko will face much more risks. He used to blame war, “Russia’s aggression” for everything and asked money from the West. Now, he has to start speaking about peace the way he spoke about war. Remember what happened to Viktor Yanukovych when he turned to Russia after advocating for the EU Association Agreement.
Turning to peace, Poroshenko will have to do something with the radicals and veterans of ATO who will hardly forgive him such change of the policy. Radicals are well aware that in case of a policy change, they will face a mopping-up operation. Therefore, they will organize a power change not to face negative consequences of that policy change.
It will be very hard to deal with the Right Sector, territorial battalions. They have become part of the political and economic, public relationships. What has happened to them is very similar to what once happened to the Italian mafia that still has influence in Italy, as it fulfills certain functions in the Italian public. Many criminals have joined the territorial battalions. These battalions protect business better than the government does. At the same time, no raid in the country is possible without them now. Contraband, amber recovery, sale of alcohol and tobacco evading excise tax, drug trafficking, gambling and others – protection racket of all these illegal activities is no longer state-sponsored. The territorial battalions do this better and cheaper. Therefore, I think, it will be very difficult for the authorities to fight these nationalist armed groups.
It would be possible to undermine the ideology of Russophobes, if Poroshenko allowed naming those who, in fact, shelled in Maidan. I have already written earlier that he has all the materials telling who fired in Maidan. Those materials were prepared for such situation beforehand. This would bust the myth about the “Heavenly Hundred” (Ukrainians often refer to the people killed during Maidan) and reduce the confrontation scales in the country. Simultaneously, it would help dealing with rivals – Turchynov, Pashinsky, Yatsenyuk. Now, all they, including Poroshenko, are bound to each other with those bloody events. As far as I can make out, this scenario is not easy to implement. There are no guarantees that in such case they will not tell much interesting about Poroshenko too.
Now, the world community is pressing Poroshenko to implement the Minsk Agreements. As Victoria Nuland arrived in Kiev and personally ensured the voting at the Supreme Rada for Constitutional amendments that guarantee a special status for Donbass, no one has any doubts that Russia and EU, and even U.S. will be pressing on Poroshenko to implement his commitments under the Minsk Agreements.
Poroshenko has faced an uneasy challenge, as his American patrons demand him to reduce corruption and recover economy too. The incumbent authorities fully depend on the Western financing now. Meantime, no one will give money knowing beforehand that this money will be robbed. Therefore, anti-corruption measures are a very strong requirement of the West. Officials, politicians working for oligarchs, plunder the budget. To launch a serious fight against corruption means to launch a serious fight against oligarchs. Is Poroshenko able to do it? Will he manage to fight his political rivals, radicals, implementing the Minsk Agreements and fighting oligarchs at the same time?
What will happen to the DPR and LPR, while Poroshenko will be sandwiched between his unwillingness to implement the Minsk Agreements and the fear of being punished by his American patrons? How long they can wait for Poroshenko, if he does nothing on his own?
The prices of fuel, foodstuffs, and other commodities are much higher in the DPR and LPR than in Moscow, while salaries are much lower than those in Ukraine. How long will the people endure these miserable salaries and pensions?
No one will remain waiting for the border to be closed. What will happen to the Russian volunteers, if there are no military actions and not everyone is taken to Syria?
What kind of mood will they be in when they return to Russia?
According to the data I have received from Kiev, the law on amnesty, if passed, will undergo many changes and will not apply to most of the Donbass leaders. It is confirmed information. What will happen to them, and will others do, if the law is passed, but no one is amnestied, in fact? Recall the former Yugoslavia, when the amnesty law was passed but people were kept under arrest for another ten years due to various manipulations.
The current situation is in favor of Kiev. Ukraine does not pay the state-paid workers, but taxes from Donbass are received regularly. Big companies pay taxes to Kiev, not to spoil the relations with it, first, and because the certificates of production, customs documents for exports are registered in Ukraine.
How long will such situation continue? Will Kiev, that is in default, pay to the Donbass pensioners?
Will such Ukraine stand the test of time?
There is a very important circumstance in all this. What Ukraine will Donbass be united with, if Kiev implements the Minsk Agreements? Will they in that Ukraine burn their rivals alive like they did at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa? Will it be as Russophobe as now or it will be a different Ukraine where everyone lives in peace? After all, no one now speaks about the federalization of the country or about giving the Russian language a status of the second state language.
Can the citizens of Ukraine, who are now dreaming of Novorossia or of joining Russia, live in that Ukraine?
Oleg Tsaryov, Chairman of the Parliament of Novorossia (new Russia), specially for EADaily