Geneva Agreement on Ukraine: Does it Stand a Chance?
|Dmitry MININ | 19.04.2014 | 21:43|
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US State Secretary John Kerry talked privately a lot before the Geneva agreement on Ukraine was reached. Now the results are being differently interpreted. The interim government in Kiev does its best to paint it as its political success, almost a triumph, stressing the obligations of Russia and the protesters in the south-East. It does not bother to remember it has responsibility too.
The ink was still wet on the agreement to de-escalate the situation and disarm the illegal armed formations, as the interim rulers started to revise it in an attempt to circumvent the included provisions. Ukraine's acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshitsa said unblocking the streets, roads and squares has no relation to Maidan because the agreement mentions the places occupied by illegal protesters while the action on Maidan has government clearance. It contradicts the letter and spirit of the document. Deshitsa interprets the accord in his own way saying the troops in the eastern part of the country can continue operations. Being deployed on national territory they don’t have to withdraw. According to him, if de-escalation takes place, the military may not be fully involved. It means that Kiev hampers the implementation of the Geneva agreement from the very start. The opinion is expressed that the interim government has no illegal armed formations under its command because all those who carry arms have become part of National Guard.
Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says nothing about the steps to be taken to comply with the accords. He keeps on saying that the administrative buildings in the East of Ukraine must be immediately vacated; separatists and other illegal formations must be disarmed. He says, «We hope Russia will carry out the Geneva agreements provisions, including the obligation to vacate the buildings in the Donetsk, Lugansk and other regions and withdraw troops from Ukrainian soil». He fully ignores the reality. It’s the Ukrainian people who rose in protest in the south-eastern parts of the country and it’s them the interim rulers should be talking to.
The agreements received rather cool reception in the South-East. The people have started to realize they are a force to reckon with. «The Donetsk People’s Republic does not recognize the agreements reached in Geneva», said Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donbass protest movement. According to him, «Kiev does not comply with the Geneva agreements provisions. A half an hour ago they kidnapped our activist Leonid Baranov. They refuse to pull the troops away from the Donetsk region. A dialogue is not possible under the conditions». He believes that before talking compromise Kiev «must vacate the captured buildings, disarm illegal armed formations - the National Guard and Pravy Sector - and free political prisoners». Then a dialogue will become possible.
Semen Kuzmenko, a coordinator of the Donetsk regional administration, expressed doubts the interim government will comply with the agreement provisions, «Kiev has no intent to hold a dialogue… they go on relocating troops. The Kiev rulers left National Guard soldiers without supplies here. Good guys, but they want to eat. So they rob food stores».
Deputy head of people’s militia Sergey Tsiplyakov said, «Of course we’ll free administrative buildings and lay down arms if they free political prisoners, stop persecutions, disarm Pravy Sector and hold a referendum on Ukraine’s state structure». He doubts the Kiev government will do it.
The parties in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) failed to come to agreement on the National Reconciliation Memorandum offered by international mediators. Acting President Turchinov says opposition does not support the document. The MPs will be addressed on the issue by the Rada speaker and the acting Prime Minister. The Party of Regions wants Russian to become the second official language. This proposal is opposed by Batkivshina, UDAR and Svoboda. Alexander Efremov, the Party of Regions faction leader in the Verkhovna Rada, said the party was going to ask protesters. According to him, the opinion of common people should be taken into account before taking the decision. So the Kiev rulers cannot come to accord with the opposition they tried to intimidate before, so now they pretend to be seeking the support of people. The protesters in the South-East are more resolute than the MPs of the opposition party. Allegedly the Memorandum is being blue-penciled by Yulia Timoshenko supporters, but even if approved, it will hardly bring the tensions down.
There is no ground to say the Kiev interim rulers have managed to impose their will in Geneva. Crimea was not on the agenda at all. Nobody took seriously the demand for withdrawal of mythical Russia troops from Ukraine. There is an opinion that the Geneva agreement is only a visible part of what was achieved. Allegedly Russia and the United States have achieved mutual understanding on the ‘inclusive» reform of constitution and «inclusive» de-escalation of conflict. Actually it means, that no matter how hard the Kiev rulers try to display independence, there are a number of provisions that Kiev must implement. These conditions to fulfil have not been made public by Lavrov and Kerry only to let the Kiev government say afterwards that the provisions agreed on by Russia and the US are exactly what it wanted from the very start.
There are different views on what the «hidden» provisions may be, but the most widely spread opinion is that there are three key Russia-imposed conditions the United States agreed with: the neutral status of Ukraine, changing the status of Russian language and broader powers to regions. If they are implemented, then life in the country could become normal again. There is a leverage over Kiev. Some observers emphasize the final part of the agreement, «The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented». They say if the crisis management succeeds according to the Geneva agreement, then the Russian Federation will join the International Monetary Fund (which imposes tough conditions) and contribute to Ukraine’s economic revival (making appropriate discounts on gas prices, for instance). If the provisions of Geneva accords are not met, then a large-scale Western aid will be questioned too.
The Kiev interim government exercises little control over the situation. It tries to get around the obligations envisioned by the Geneva agreement. The grapes of wrath are getting ripe among grassroots. The unfolding of events may take a dangerous turn. There is doubt Washington will follow through the reached agreement, as historic experience shows. No matter how hard diplomats try, in the long run the way out of Ukrainian crisis is creating conditions for expressing people’s free will in all parts of Ukraine