Ukrainian MP Andriy Artemenko caused a real sensation when he appeared with a plan of how to stop the war in Donbass and to review the status of Crimea.
To be more precise, the sensation was caused by The New York Times’ article, saying that Artemenko sent his proposals in a sealed envelope to the U.S. President’s advisor Michael Flynn a week before the latter’s dismissal.
The key problem here is that Artemenko is not high-ranking enough for a media like The New York Times. He is almost unknown even in his native Ukraine. He was elected into the Supreme Rada in Oct 2014 as the 16th on the list of Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party. Officially, he was non-partisan but the website of Ukraine’s Justice Ministry introduced him as the leader of the Solidarity of Right Forces party (though the website of the party said that the leader was Mykola Polishchuk). Today, Artemenko is also the leader of the Solidarity of Right Forces NGO.
According to the party’s website, the first time Artemenko appeared with peace initiatives was June 2015, when at a conference in Severodonetsk, he said that his party was ready to stop the war. But his statement remained unnoticed both in Ukraine and worldwide.
One more interesting fact about Artemenko: the website of Ukraine’s National Agency for Prevention of Corruption says that two of his children are U.S. citizens and one is a citizen of Canada.
Starting from scratch in Crimea
To be honest, Artemenko’s plan is not a plan as such but just a couple of ideas. “I would not call this a plan. This is a peace initiative,” the MP said in an interview to Strana. And there are a number of questions concerning his “peace initiatives.”
In fact, this may be the way one of the White House influence groups sees the compromise between the United States and Russia on Ukraine, while Artemenko is just the nominal author, in other words, a person that agreed to be the face of a political campaign launched by some people from the White House. And had something happened, the blame would have been laid on Michael Flynn, a person that was no longer responsible for anything.
Below are some of Artemenko’s proposals and the questions they have given rise to:
- Artemenko suggests that all the parties recognize that the Minsk agreements are not effective but the question is why the political elites of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany should renounce agreements stipulated by the UN Security Council’s resolution 2202 (2015) and how they will do it.
- Artemenko suggests organizing an all-Ukrainian referendum on the status of Crimea but the question is why the Kremlin should agree to this scenario if it perfectly knows that Ukraine is controlled by the United States and that the Ukrainian authorities can invent any figures – just like they did during the elections of 2014 and 2015.
This is how Artemenko is going to establish peace in Donbass:
- to place Donbass back under Ukraine’s jurisdiction;
- to amnesty all those involved in the war in the southeast of Ukraine (except for those accused of very grave crimes);
- to place the Russian-Ukrainian border between the Donetsk People’s Republic-Lugansk People’s Republic and Russia under Ukraine’s control;
- to organize an all-Ukrainian referendum on the status of Donbass;
- to establish a special fund for restoring Donbass, where Russia will transfer money for the rent of Crimea.
Here we have a lot of questions. Who will disarm the armies of the DPR and the LPR? Or do the American authors of this plan really believe that they will lay down their arms on their own?
Concerning the amnesty, the incumbent Supreme Rada does not seem to be willing to consider the bill on amnesty even though this is stipulated by point 5 of the complex of measures to implement the Minsk agreements. So, the only way to get things moving is to elect a new Supreme Rada but this too is not a guarantee that the bill will be approved. Concerning the control over the border, why should the republics give control over their border to Petro Poroshenko, who cannot be the guarantor of their security just because he has no control over some of his legal or illegal armed groups like the Crimean Tatar battalion and the Right Sector? The referendum is not a realistic task either as the party of war has dominance in both the parliament and the government.
In short, the authors of this plan suggest throwing away the Normandy Format and replacing it with the countries that signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994. Here Artemenko has given the game away by mentioning just three signatories of the Budapest Memorandum – the United States, Russia and Ukraine – while it has one more signatory, the United Kingdom.
In the final analysis, the authors of the plan suggest going back to the situation of Feb 22, 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine and Alexander Turchynov, Arsen Avakov and Arseniy Yatsenyuk usurped his power.
The next stage is the referendum and only then, after a couple years, the Americans will tell the Russians if they have deserved their decision to lift the sanctions.
Let it now be Petro’s headache
The New York Times’ article was a real shock for Poroshenko, who hurried to send his “couch troops” to the Ukrainian internet and Facebook battlefields with a thesis that “Artemenko is the Kremlin’s agent.” Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko said that his office was going to consider a high treason charge against Artemenko. But later he shifted this task onto the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea so as to be able to blame the others should something go wrong. The owners of the Radical Party reacted by expelling Artemenko from their parliamentary group. The point is that Lyashko and his party are very close to forming a coalition with the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the People’s Front and they don’t need such a scandal.
The point is that the target audience of The New York Time is the Russian political elite. And this story is a way for one of the White House influence groups – involving among others Michael Cohen and Felix Sater – to outline the questions and solutions they are ready to negotiate with the Kremlin.
It might have also been a message to the Ukrainian political group – a signal from the White House that unless Poroshenko comes to his senses, the Ukrainian problem will be settled without him.
P.S. On the evening of Feb 23 some Ukrainian mass media reported that the actual author of the plan was Yulia Tymoshenko. Even if this is true, this is not contrary to what we have said above – for any pro-American peacemaker in Ukraine will adjust his scenarios to the interests of the White House. Otherwise, his or her plans will have no chances to come true. But even if approved by Washington, they will need Moscow’s consent as well.
Sergey Sokolov (Kiev, Ukraine), specially for EADaily