Donbass inconsistencies

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Donbass inconsistencies

Lugansk region is full of police and military patrols. Tighter control was initiated due to separation of opposing forces in the area of Zolotoe settlement. As deputy head of the National Police of Ukraine Vadim Troyan told reporters, enhanced control regime is implemented along the perimeter of the village, streets were also put under total controll in order to avoid disturbances in public order. According to him, round-the-clock patrolling by the police and military forces will obviously be introduced - "it's Ukrainian land, and we won’t leave our citizens."

So what threat do Ukrainian patrols try to protect citizens from? The day before that statement was made, head of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, former leader of the Right Sector (terrorist organization banned in Russia), Dmitry Yarosh, issued a statement warning Ukrainian authorities about possible uprising. At first sign of betrayal by authorities, Yarosh is ready to take counter-actions, "although he doesn't really want to." However, when it comes to national interests of Ukraine and Ukrainian people, everything will be done to protect them.

Less radical opponents of new president of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, had more restrain and reminded him of what the country's top military officials recently spoke about - withdrawal of Ukrainian forces will begin only if no violation of ceasefire regime happenes in a week. However, withdrawal began despite the fact that "there was no day of silence". In other words, shooting just continued. Though it's not as intense as before, it still continues.

President had to explain himself. Zelensky said that Zolotoe settlement and surrounding areas were divided into several sections, and Ukrainian forces withdrew from places where no shooting was recorded. President stressed that process of withdrawal of forces allows to make the desired meeting in the "Norman format" possible. This meeting could bring long-awaited peace to Ukraine, not just "days of silence."

However, it hard to say that Vladimir Zelensky managed to convince his opponents. Verkhovna Rada debates what's really happening around Zolotoye settlement. President's supporters from the Servant of the People deputy faction insisted that what their leader was saying is absolutely true, adding that if opposite side violates conditions, Ukrainian side has every right to respond accordingly, albeit at the cost of ending the process of separation of forces. However, alarming mood of Ukrainian parliament still makes population nervous. Perhaps that's exactly what deputies wanted.

For example, head of the "Voice" party Svyatoslav Vakarchuk directly called process of withdrawal of forces a huge mistake. He said that he has information that ceasefire regime in Zolotoe is being violated, and that the situation is extremely tense. According to him, special commission created in the Verkhovna Rada to control resolution of issues related to Donbass should be launched, otherwise it may by the beginning of its work there will be nothing to control. Vakarchuk urged members of the commission to immediately begin to work on development of a plan to resolve situation in Donbass and... take back Crimea.

According to a number of political scientists, fears of Ukrainian opposition and part of society are pretty logical, since there's no logical pattern in actions and decisions of presidential team. While claiming that Moscow doesn't plan to make any concessions, Zelensky's team are fulfilling conditions of the Russian side. After all, it was Russia that insisted on separation of forces in the area of Zolotoe settlement and Petrovsky settlement  as precondition for holding meetings and negotiations in the "Norman format". At the same time, notorious "Steinmeier formula" is also on the agenda, despite the fact that most of Ukrainian political establishment and society don't like it. That's why people are unhappy: the government follows Russia's conditions in order to begin negotiations on settlement formula that may be dangerous for Ukraine and that benefits self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics more.

There's certain logic in what Zelensky's opponents say. He believes that the main goal is to reach ceasefire, and the rest will work out step by step: "We need to end the war. That's our priority. Our second goal is to begin reconciliation between people - this is a very complex and very sensitive process ... The third stage is reintegration." President thinks that ending the war in Donbass is possible only through diplomacy and sanctions pressure on Russia. According to him, there are many examples in history when it was possible to end the war and even begin process of reconciliation, but when previosly lost territories was never returned. "Ukraine can't agree to such scenario," Vladimir Zelensky concluded, noting that he supports ending the conflict as soon as possible and hopes to stabilize situation through possible meeting in the "Norman format."

President of Ukraine does not take into account or simply ignores one thing. Position of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Russian leader expressed his readiness to meet in the event Ukraine shows signs that it's ready for some serious agreement that would really affect the fate of Donbass. In other words, the initiative is on Russia's side, and that's why it can interpret situation in the conflict zone and even see it as it suits it.