Kiev Imposes an Alternative to the “Normandy Format”

Translated by Ollie Richardson


In a new group on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass, Ukraine plans to invite the US, but not Russia.

Kiev tries to create a format parallel to the “Normandy Four” without the participation of Russia, but with the US and representatives of the EU. This was stated to “Izvestia” by a diplomatic sources in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavel Klimkin already discussed this initiative with the American President Donald Trump. And after he went to Brussels, where, perhaps, he will try to convince European partners to support the idea.

According to Kiev, the US, Germany, France, and other European countries have to enter into the coalition. Moscow doesn’t appear on this list. Thus, the Verkhovna Rada told “Izvestiya”: despite the desire of Kiev to create an “alternative format”, it won’t solve the problems in the southeast of the country.

According to the diplomatic sources of “Izvestiya” in Kiev, Ukraine is extremely concerned by the weak interest of Washington in the problem of Donbass. To involve the US in settlement and to draw Germany and France away from the “Normandy Format”, negotiations on the creation of a parallel platform are conducted. However, already without Russia. Another thing is that Germany and France will hardly agree to overshadow the “Normandy Four”. Besides, the option of joining the Americans to the “Four” is also excluded, and not least because of the position of Berlin and Paris, which don’t want to lose political weight. It is curious that the formation of an alternative group would be de-facto recognition of the fact that Ukraine and Russia are not a party in the conflict.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavel Klimkin considers: his meeting with Donald Trump is “one of the main political signals of a real desire to join the pressure put on Russia”. According to him, during a conversation with the American leader there were “interesting ideas” that, however, should be coordinated with “partners” — the leadership of Germany and the newly elected President of France.

However, the Verkhovna Rada reported to “Izvestiya” that not everyone shares the course of the Foreign Ministry of the country.

“He (Pavel Klimkin) makes incorrect statements. America and Russia have their own relations, and Klimkin can’t change or affect them. Ukraine needs peace. That children and civilians don’t perish, houses don’t collapse, that there are no immigrants. The political and economic chaos can be stopped only by negotiations with Russia, the US, and Europe,” said to “Izvestiya” the Deputy from the “Opposition Bloc” Tatyana Bakhteeva.

According to the political scientist, the President of the Center for Systematic Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko, the US will put pressure on Russia, but not in the Ukrainian direction, despite what Pavel Klimkin said. This means that the US will participate neither in the “Normandy Format”, nor in other parallel structures across Ukraine.

“For them now the main issue is how it is profitable or with minimum losses to leave ‘Ukraine’. For them the Ukrainian problem is one of the minor ‘pieces’ on the global chessboard. They already tried to shift responsibility for Ukraine to Germany. Washington can conduct negotiations directly with Moscow. And in multilateral formats it is necessary to consider the desires of allies. Thus, for American diplomacy the space for maneuver would be narrowed. The multilateral format was in their interests in 2014-2015 so that a big party ‘presses’ the same Russia, but now everything has changed,” the political scientist explained to “Izvestiya”.

The Ukrainian problem at the moment is at a deadlock. The Minsk Agreements are still not implemented, and the fault for this is Kiev’s. Regular meetings of the contact group in the Belarusian capital don’t lead to a specific reality: a truce is set and it is immediately violated, the withdrawal of arms by the UAF happens only in words. The “Normandy Four”, of course, could appear again at the negotiating table and for some consecutive hours discuss a settlement, but ‘Minsk-2’ isn’t implemented yet, nobody sees sense in it. And so far it is unlikely that Kiev is ready to implement its part of the Agreements, so, the imitation of stormy activity will hardly become an effective way out. That’s why Ukraine also tries to pull from its sleeve the “American trump”, which, apparently, isn’t actually there.

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