No sooner had the agreement on additional measures of ceasefire control in the Donbass been signed than, in keeping with its bad habits, Ukraine backed down completely, via the official statement by Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, which stated that every point of the Minsk agreements had to be deciphered to see which ones were applicable and which were not, and demanded that the leaders of the Normandy Format countries sign the agreement approved by the members of the trilateral contact group on 22 July in order for it to be valid, thus totally destroying the negotiation process.
Ukraine is dancing a thousand-times waltz with the Minsk negotiation process supposed to end the Donbass war
Despite Zelensky’s promise to put a swift end to the Donbass war, his actions and words, and those of his government members or his representatives in the trilateral contact group, show that Ukraine does not care about the negotiation process and the Minsk agreements, and has no intention of resolving the conflict peacefully.
This thousand-time waltz by Ukraine reached its climax on 23 July, with the statement published on the official website of the Ukrainian President, barely a day after the long-awaited signing of the additional measures to allow a better control of the ceasefire.
As we were very much afraid, the ink on the signature of the Ukrainian representatives in the trilateral contact group had not even dried that Kiev disavowed its signature and went even further in completely scuttling the Minsk agreements and the negotiation process intended to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Donbass conflict.
In one simple official statement, Zelensky threw months of negotiations into the trash bin! Indeed, while the representatives in the trilateral contact group have the power to approve the agreement on additional ceasefire monitoring measures, which they have in fact signed (!), the Ukrainian President declared the day after this major breakthrough in the negotiation process that the document had to be signed by the leaders of the Normandy Format countries in order to come into force!
“Indeed, we have many professionals who are in constant talks in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group meetings, who have agreed on a very important measure for our country as a whole – a lasting ceasefire. This document is now awaiting signature by all countries in the Normandy Format. I believe that all the parties – Ukraine, France, Germany and the Russian Federation – will sign it, and from 27 July onwards, I believe that there may come a time when there will be a lasting ceasefire”, said Vladimir Zelensky during his visit to Donbass with the President of the Swiss Confederation.
As if Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron all had time to waste to sign in less than four days a paper that in no way requires their signatures! Negotiating and signing agreements concerning the technical and practical part of the implementation of the Minsk agreements is the work and rationale of the Trilateral Contact Group, not the Normandy Format! This is the last pirouette that President Zelensky found to disavow the signature of Ukraine at the bottom of the agreement reached on 22 July!
His excuse for demanding this is that the signing of the Normandy Format by the countries will elevate the status of the agreement and increase the chances of it being respected! I recall that the Minsk agreements I and II were signed by the Normandy Format countries, the DPR, LPR and the OSCE, and yet this has not increased the degree of their implementation one iota! This shows that this excuse is totally bogus.
This manipulation was denounced by Natalia Nikonorova, the DPR Foreign Minister, who stressed that the agreement reached on 22 July did not need any additional signatures, since the only three signatures that count for these additional ceasefire monitoring measures are those of Ukraine, the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic).
“It was with great surprise that we learned of the Ukrainian President’s statement that, for the entry into force of the agreement reached within the Minsk agreements process on additional measures to control the current indefinite truce, these must supposedly be signed by the representatives of the Normandy Format countries. It has taken us almost 5 months of an extremely difficult and tense negotiation process to get the Ukrainian representatives to agree and sign clear commitments on the measures to be taken to ensure a complete ceasefire. The crucial point has been the signing of these commitments by Ukraine – in order to deprive the Ukrainian authorities of any possibility of ignoring and sabotaging the implementation of these agreements. Moreover, these measures were not only signed by the Ukrainian side and the representatives of the republics, but also endorsed by the mediators of the negotiations – the OSCE and the Russian Federation,” said the Minister.
“It is important to understand that such agreements do not require additional signatures at all, as the most important and essential is the written record of consent to the implementation of these measures by the sides of the conflict – Kiev and the republics – as these are our commitments with Ukraine. But we are grateful to Russia and the OSCE for expressing their support for these agreements and for their written testimony,” she added.
For Natalia Nikonorova, this new Zelensky pirouette is in line with Ukraine’s destructive political line regarding the resolution of the Donbass conflict, and deprives Ukrainian representatives of any real power in the discussions of the trilateral contact group, thereby totally destroying the Minsk negotiation process.
“The day after the signing of the ceasefire monitoring measures, the Ukrainian President cancelled the signature of his representative in the Contact Group. Thus, Vladimir Zelensky cancelled all the hard-won progress made at the Minsk meetings on resolving the conflict with a single sentence. It is obvious that such a move by the Ukrainian leader is a continuation of this destructive political line, which was set by the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of 15 July on the holding of local elections, when the Ukrainian Parliament enshrined provisions that blatantly violated the Minsk agreements. …One also wonders how it is possible to talk about anything and negotiate with those who attend the contact group meetings as representatives of Ukraine, if the next day their signatures can be cancelled by the Ukrainian President with such ease,” the minister concluded before calling on the guarantors of the Minsk agreements and the international community to put pressure on the Ukrainian President to prevent him from totally destroying the agreements reached.
Zelensky wants to “decipher” all the points of the Minsk agreements
An almost impossible mission when you read the rest of Zelensky’s official statement. Indeed, after assigning the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk the task of defining the details of the agreement reached on the enhanced control of the ceasefire in the Donbass (while there are no further details to be fixed, everything is in the agreement signed on 22 July, all that remains is to apply it point by point, that’s all), the Ukrainian President has finished completely scuttling the negotiation process by declaring that it was necessary to “decipher” each point of the Minsk agreements to see which ones could be implemented or not!
“This is a general statement, we should just analyze this statement in detail in the Minsk format – that’s the way the agreement is. Everything has to be written in detail within the Minsk format: who is responsible, when, how this information is transmitted. I mean it’s a different story, it will be very long,” said the Ukrainian President.
Except that, once again, what he says is a shameless lie designed to smoke out the President of the Swiss Confederation and international public opinion. The agreement reached on 22 July is not a general declaration, it is a set of seven clearly established measures put in writing (I refer you to my article of 24 July listing these measures), with a perfectly detailed procedure explaining who is responsible for what, and who is to receive the information and pass it on to whom!
And if after this paragraph you get the feeling that Zelensky takes people for morons (to be polite), reading the last paragraph of his official statement you’ll wonder if he takes the whole world for a bunch of complete morons, or if he himself has the IQ of a rotten overcooked mussel.
“We want to decipher every point of the Minsk agreements. We will then see whether we are able to implement it [each “deciphered” point] or not, how we will do it, who will be responsible for it,” he concluded.
You have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not “dreaming” when you read such nonsense. To begin with, the Minsk agreements are not an all-you-can-eat buffet in which you pick and choose what you want and leave the rest! It’s not “I take points 1, 3, 6, 13 and a part of point 9, and the rest I leave”!!!! It is a peace agreement, validated by a resolution of the UN Security Council, all the points of which must be implemented and in the order in which they were approved and signed by Ukraine!
And secondly, the Minsk agreements II are in 13 points that occupy barely 4 pages in A4 format with a huge font size, and counting the footnotes and the space for the multitude of signatures affixed to them!
What is there to decipher in the first point of the Minsk agreements, instituting an immediate and complete ceasefire? Or in the second one instituting the withdrawal of heavy weapons away from the front line, with even the number of kilometres of distance required for each type of weapon? The language of the Minsk agreements is so simple that even a seven-year-old child would understand them!
This is moreover more or less what Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, implied when the journalist Vladimir Soloviev asked her to comment on Zelensky’s statement.
“I believe that when someone admits that they do not understand what is written in an agreement, we can only sympathize, first of all, and then thank them for their frankness. Now we understand why, over the last few years, even under Zelensky, all this has stalled. He just did not understand what was written there. You have to admit that this is already a result, and not a small one,” she said ironically.
“We are ready in principle, I think that the Russian Foreign Ministry will be able to help the Ukrainian President in this very difficult issue and decipher what is written in the Minsk agreements signed by the previous Ukrainian President,” the diplomat added.
When asked by Soloviev why the Minsk agreements need to be deciphered, as the document is not frankly long, Zakharova replied jokingly: “They are children” (sic).
I know that Zelensky was a clown by profession before becoming President, but if “deciphering” and understanding the Minsk agreements is not within his reach, I advise him to give up power, give it to someone who can understand such a simple text, and go back to clowning around on television if his intellectual level does not allow him to aspire to do anything more “intellectual” than that.
The Rada votes for a resolution in total contradiction to the Minsk agreements
The problem of the intellectual level seems, moreover, not to be limited to Zelensky, since the resolution adopted by the Rada on 15 July (mentioned by Natalia Nikonorova) shows that either the Ukrainian Parliament too does not understand the Minsk agreements or it has decided to legally sanction the fact that Ukraine will not apply them!
Indeed, after having indicated in the second clause of the resolution that the deputies and regional councillors from the Crimea and the territories of the DPR and LPR will not be elected but appointed because elections cannot be held there, clause number four explains why the conditions for their organisation are not met.
The fourth clause states that elections cannot be held as long as the [imaginary – editor’s note] armed aggression and temporary occupation of these territories by the Russian Federation continues and the illegal armed forces and [imaginary – editor’s note] Russian occupying troops have not withdrawn with their military equipment, that Ukraine has not regained control of the border, that illegal armed groups and mercenaries in the occupied territories have not been disarmed, and that Ukrainian constitutional and legal order has not been restored in those territories.
Except that this clause is in total contradiction to the Minsk agreements! Since the Ukrainian MPs seem to have as much difficulty as Zelensky in “deciphering” these agreements, I will explain to them as if they were a five-year-old child: point number 9 of the Minsk agreements clearly states that Ukraine will only regain control of the border the day after the local elections! So it is impossible to demand to regain control of the border BEFORE, since point number 9 clearly states that this must take place AFTER the elections. It is however very simple.
By voting for this resolution, the Rada has made official what were then only statements by Ukrainian officials, namely the fact that Ukraine refuses to implement the Minsk agreements as written and signed! Or else the majority of Ukrainian MPs have a single-digit IQ.
But whichever option applies to both Zelensky and the Rada (either the IQ of overcooked rotten mussels or the complete and deliberate scuttling of the Minsk agreements), the resolution of the parliament and the statement of the Ukrainian President have totally destroyed the negotiation process that was supposed to lead to a peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict. After that, the signature of the Ukrainian representatives in the Trilateral Contact Group is no longer worth anything, which makes any negotiations completely pointless.
It had long been evident that Kiev had been seeking to bring the Minsk agreements to a complete dead end, in order then to get out of it, and that is exactly what the actions and statements of the Rada and the Ukrainian President have led to. The Minsk agreements are in a total dead end, and all that remains is to wait for the official death certificate.