Saturday, November 22, 2014

West Must Not Encroach on Russia’s Interests in Post-Soviet Space

Arkady DZIUBA | 21.11.2014 | 00:00

Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions from a correspondent of German TV channel ARD in Vladivostok on November 13. On November 19, President Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave an interview to BBC. The both interviews contained an important and timely message to the West making precise the Russia’s stance on Ukraine. 
A BBC correspondent said Russia was making the situation in Ukraine growing tenser. Mr. Peskov said in response, «We will continue to make it much more tense as far as our national interests are concerned».
Answering the question if the Ukrainian scenario could be repeated in Latvia, Peskov said «I would share their worries». According to him, if someone orchestrated a coup d’├ętat and Brussels would recognize the new power, then «there would be a danger for Latvia»
In his interview Peskov voiced the key demand put forward by Russia – 
the West must provide guarantees to Moscow that Ukraine will never become a NATO member. 
The guarantees must be binding and unconditional, otherwise the scenario may be repeated - NATO failed to hold to the promise made to Michael Gorbachev, then President of the USSR, not to expand to the East. Today Moscow understands well that Western promises are nothing but empty words and nobody of those who dealt with Gorbachev ever intended to come through. 
The sharp crisis in Ukraine has been lasting for more than a year. The Russia’s stance on the issue has been consistent and expressed in mild words. No need to sound tough if the goal is to avoid a conflict and adopt the policy aimed at dialogue and constructive talks with an opponent, the role played by the West while discussing the situation in Ukraine with Russia. Only political losers burst out with bombastic remarks. The example is close at hand, just have a look at the statements made by Ukrainian political riff-raff about Russia and compare it with reality. Moscow has been turning a deaf ear to the baloney voiced by Kiev. It has been regularly offering a dialogue to the West as the party responsible for what has happened in Ukraine during the last year. The recent statements coming from the Kremlin strike new notes to change the tonality of talks. 
The Minsk agreements are not complied with. Ukrainian forces never stop to shell the residential areas in Donetsk. Poroshenko says Ukraine is ready for an all-out war with Russia. Other top officials of the regime in Kiev say ditto. They don’t make a secret out of the fact that the only thing the armistice is needed for is to regroup forces, heal the wounds and then deliver a new strike. Poroshenko issued an executive order banning social payments like pensions, benefits etc. to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics, no matter the region of Donbass is an economic donor of Ukraine. Until now the region has been regularly paying taxes and pension contributions. The incumbent regime cuts off Donbass from the rest of Ukraine. The decision is taken as winter is approaching while the infrastructure is destroyed as a result of war. The physical survival of the people living in Donbass is in question. At that Kiev continues to say that it would never reconcile with the fact that part of its territory is lost. It insists that any type of federalization is out of the question. A new offensive against “separatists and terrorists» is to be expected soon. 
Should Russia stay away as the people who pin their hopes on it are dying as a result of shelling and hunger? It renders humanitarian aid to Donbass and so far abstains from other ways of influencing the situation in order not to give reasons for saying that Russia encroaches on the Ukraine’s territorial integrity. One gets the impression that Russia needs this integrity more than Ukraine itself. That is the only explanation of the fact that, no matter all the crimes committed by the Kiev regime, Moscow leaves the door open to talks on Donbass remaining part of Ukraine. 
With all the efforts applied by it to manage the crisis, it is nobody else but Moscow who is blamed for the destabilization in Ukraine. 
In his first public speech at the German Marshall Fund, Brussels General Jens Stoltenberg, the new NATO Secretary General, saidthat Russia violates international law and challenges Euro Atlantic security. Russia has vital interest in Ukraine, but NATO has no intention to provide any guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of the Alliance and will not be dragged into the orbit of its interests. To the contrary, the promise to let Ukraine finally join the organization is actually confirmed. To appease Moscow they say the issue of Ukraine’s membership is not part of the current agenda. 
The West strongly believes that it can still treat Russia as in the days of Gorbachev and Yeltsin! It’s a pity! It’s better to leave these false impressions behind. 
The new notes struck by the statements made in Moscow are an invitation for the Russia’s Euro Atlantic partners to get rid of their illusions as fast as they can. That’s the message President Putin also tried to bring home at the G20 summit. Did the Western leaders get it? That is the question.