Too much hopes were pin on the Normandy Four summit held on December 9. Perhaps, numerous authors of optimistic statements played a certain game, or tried to create a favorable background by some order, or something else. It was evident that expectations are e exaggerated long before the meeting. Since ... well, one must be completely blind and deaf in order not to understand that at least one of the parties involved in the Donbass conflict is simply not able to follow the Minsk agreements to resolve this very conflict. And maybe more than one.
First of all, it involves President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. Whatever he said, what good intentions he had, it was obvious that his hands are tied, that the mood of "not being inferior to Muscovites" was too strong in Ukraine. And something that could be regarded as concessions in Ukraine would have hit President Zelensky so bad that he won’t find it funny.
Actually, this state of affairs was reflected during the Normandy summit - Kiev recognized the inability to fulfill the political component of the Minsk agreements. Moscow somehow kindly played up to Kiev: well, if you can’t do this, do what you can. But a little can be done today. For example, the exchange of detainees, based on the principle of "all for all". It is understandable - Russian prisoners are of no use for Ukraine, or captured Ukrainians - for Russia. What each other's military secrets can they find with not so long-standing deep military integration, since the parties did not exchange prisoners or hostages en masse. And, just think of it ... it's the 21st century, one can take a photo of car numbers from space or watch a neighbor's life 24 hours a day.
However, there is still no absolute certainty even about the exchange of prisoners, since the document expresses the desire to complete this process before the New Year. But it is one thing to want something, and it's quite another to actually act on it.
The parties fixed another intention - disengaging the Ukrainian troops and units of the self-proclaimed Donbass in three border areas within a few months. But again, there is an abyss between aspiration and fulfillment. In this case, it is aggravated by the uncertainty of the term - "several months": for example, twenty-four months can also be regarded as several months, or rather, two whole years. It is hoped that the signatories will treat this prevarication with greater responsibility and seriousness than the theory allows them.
Another aspiration concerns the implementation of the "Steinmeier formula" - the holding of local elections in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the special status of these self-proclaimed republics of Donbass. This aspiration is not aspiration at all, just words. Vladimir Zelensky announced immediately after the negotiations that the Constitution of Ukraine will not be amended and that federalization is not possible. This is despite the fact that the "Steinmeier formula" contains the idea of more confederalization than federalization.
And the cherry on the cake of aspirations was the lack of Kiev's desire to stop the economic blockade of Donbass. In the case of progress along this line Zelensky would be also accused in Kiev of betraying national interests. Therefore, no aspirations here.
A summation of the above circumstances raises the question of why negotiations were necessary with an obvious lack of Zelensky’s resources for the implementation of possible agreements. Well, the President of Ukraine could not have imagined that everything would go smoothly in accordance with the Ukrainian scenario ?! Of course not. So far, one thing is emerging - the Normandy Four talks helped Zelensky to improve his shaky rating. For his nationalists - he did not bend. For those who consider good relations with Russia necessary for Ukraine, he took a step and negotiated. For pragmatists who are concerned about the issue of Ukraine's territorial integrity, he is working to preserve it by participating in multilateral negotiations. In general, everything can be turned into benefits.
In this case, the counter-question is why did Moscow need it, after it realized that no turns east can be expected from Kiev after Zelensky came to power?! It seems that the Normandy format and the Minsk agreements are still the only way to reduce tensions in the Donbass, arrange ceasefire and integrate the region. Not according to the Crimean scenario - there are no resources, grounds, or even need. Especially given the problems it can bring. But according to the model of the unrecognized Transnistrian republic with a regime loyal to Moscow it is possible. No other explanation is visible.
So why would the intermediaries need it? Being intermediaries is their role. Therefore, they need negotiations. The intermediaries - France and Germany - need peace, in Ukraine in particular, and in Europe as a whole. And it seems that they, like others, do not care what happens in the Donbass. The main thing is to avoid shooting. This approach of Europeans, by the way, was also manifested in other conflicts in the post-Soviet space. Therefore, its manifestation in the Donbass is not something new. History repeats itself.