August 30, 2019

About the “Normandy format”: Putin will not change his conditions


During the August 19 meeting of the presidents of France and Russia, Vladimir Putin once again repeated the conditions under which a meeting of the leaders of the “Normandy format” countries [Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France] can take place.

This is the full implementation of decisions, which will give autonomy to the occupied territories of the Donbas and an amnesty for the leaders of the militants. If we simplify these conditions of the Russian president, we will see that Putin wants to maintain complete control over the Donbas (and possibly the expansion of the territories under his control – the decision to simplify the issuance of Russian passports is not a coincidence). Yes, the Donbas will nominally be considered Ukrainian territory, but will in reality be a state within a state.

Mr. Putin wants to avoid a situation, whereby in the event of a resolution of the conflict, the territory of the Donbas will return to Kyiv’s control. But he also needs the marionette “politicians” of the occupied region to take part in governing Ukraine – this is why he needs amnesty.

But Mr. Putin’s conditions are not conditions that will end the war. These are simply the conditions under which he will agree to meet in the Normandy Format. And it’s already clear that these conditions will not change, that the Western participants in the Normandy Format will not put pressure on Mr. Putin, but on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Because if both Mr. Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron need a meeting of the Normandy format in order to show their political capability, then let the Ukrainian and French presidents agree among themselves. Mr. Putin can wait.

It’s no accident that the experienced Angela Merkel is not taking part in this muddle of hope, because she clearly understands that it is doomed to failure. Mr. Macron is acting completely differently, but even he has begun to speak about a possible meeting of the Normandy format more carefully than in the recent past. It’s possible that the meeting with Mr. Putin showed the French president the futility of his efforts to change the position of the Russian president.

But there remains one colleague whose position Mr. Macron might be able to change – the Ukrainian president. The simple fact that Mr. Macron spoke about the change in government in Ukraine as some “new factor’” in ending the conflict – as if Ukraine were not a victim but a belligerent in the war and as if the end of the war depended on the position of the Ukrainian president and not the Russian president – speaks about the manipulative tactics of the French president and his readiness to use Mr. Zelenskyy’s inexperience for his own political goals.

And in the hallways of Bregancon, French diplomats were telling journalists that Mr. Zelenskyy has made some new – for now unknown to anyone – proposals, with which Mr. Putin may agree. And this proves that the manipulations of the Kremlin’s well-wishers in the West do not know any “red lines.”

Because the only proposal that Mr. Zelenskyy may make to which the Russian president will agree is the unconditional political and military capitulation of Ukraine to the enemy.


The article above is an English-language translation from the original Ukrainian commentary published on The English text was provided by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing.