Europe Might Pay Price for Encouraging Kiev Against Implementing Minsk Accords, Observers Say
18:51 GMT 10.02.2022 (Updated: 15:18 GMT 28.05.2023)
© AP Photo / Efrem LukatskyUkrainian soldier armed with US Javelin ride along Khreshchatyk Street, during a military parade to celebrate Independence Day in Kiev, Ukraine. File photo
© AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky
A day after French President Emmanuel Macron stated that Ukraine is willing to implement the Minsk Agreements, Kiev went back to square one by refusing to hold direct dialogue with Donbass, which is the key provision of the UNSC-backed accords. Who is encouraging Kiev's political adventurism and making the conflict in eastern Ukrainian fester?
"Providing military supplies, military trainers, 'moral' and political support, and generally sabre-rattling – all such Western actions are encouraging the Kiev regime to think that it can continue to threaten and confront the eastern republics and Russia," says Nick Griffin, a British politician a member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014. "The Western powers don't want to see Kiev implement Minsk – they want to see Ukrainians and Russians killing each other."
On 9 February, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Kiev would not adhere to the Minsk agreements on "Moscow's conditions," and would not engage in direct talks with the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which constitutes one of the core provisions of the Minsk deal.
There's no doubt that the countries of Western Europe and the US could have forced the Ukrainian leadership to implement the Minsk Agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 long ago, according to the former MEP.
"Simply making it clear that the ugly and illegitimate regime there is on its own, and will receive no further military, logistical, financial or political support, would force Kiev to do the right thing," Griffin says.
© Sputnik / Igor Maslov / / Go to the mediabankOSCE inspectors examine the territory of the Donetsk filter plant, situated on the contact line between Yasinovataya and Avdeyevka in Donbass, which was heavily shelled by the Ukrainian army
OSCE inspectors examine the territory of the Donetsk filter plant, situated on the contact line between Yasinovataya and Avdeyevka in Donbass, which was heavily shelled by the Ukrainian army
© Sputnik / Igor Maslov //
The hypocrisy of the Western states is amplified by the fact that they either signed or formally endorsed the Minsk accords, according to Dan Kovalik, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh. The professor explains that since the agreements have been approved by the UN Security Council, they are international law. While Germany and France endorsed the accords as Normandy Four guarantors of the Minsk deal along with Russia, the US and the UK approved the agreement as permanent members of the UNSC, according to the academic.
"The government in Kiev was partly a creation of the US, which supported the coup in 2014, which gave rise to that government," Kovalik says. "Kiev will pretty much do whatever the US wants."
Meanwhile, both Kiev and Western European countries have shot themselves in the foot by snubbing the Minsk deal for so long, according to Alexander Сlackson, the founder of Global Political Insight, a UK-based think tank. Firstly, the ongoing Ukrainian crisis – which stems from Kiev's long-standing sabotage of the Minsk accords – has already had a very negative effect on the nation's economy. Secondly, Europe faces a risk of a prolonged military escalation in Ukraine that could spill out into the EU, warns Сlackson.
© AP Photo / Pavlo PalamarchukSoldiers take part in an exercise at the Yavoriv military training ground, close to Lvov, Western Ukraine, Friday, Sept 24, 2021. Ukraine, the US, and other NATO countries continue joint military drills in Western Ukraine presenting offensive exercises in town-like surroundings with tanks and other military vehicles involved.
Soldiers take part in an exercise at the Yavoriv military training ground, close to Lvov, Western Ukraine, Friday, Sept 24, 2021. Ukraine, the US, and other NATO countries continue joint military drills in Western Ukraine presenting offensive exercises in town-like surroundings with tanks and other military vehicles involved.
© AP Photo / Pavlo Palamarchuk
One of the Minsk Agreement's provisions stipulates the withdrawal of foreign armed formations, military equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of eastern Ukraine. Still, there are about 10,000 foreign military specialists permanently situated in Ukraine, and 4,000 of them are from the US, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Under the Biden administration, the US and its European allies have stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine with Washington and NATO vowing to admit Ukraine to the military bloc. Over the last few months, the Ukrainian leadership has been amassing troops and military equipment on the line of contact with Donbass in a clear act of defiance against the Minsk accords. In mid-December 2021, Moscow submitted draft security agreements to the US and NATO referring to Ukraine's NATO membership and continuous military build-up on Russia's doorstep as its "red lines" and reserving the right to resort to a military-technical response.
"If the Minsk accords are not implemented by Ukraine, frankly, that leaves the Ukrainian crisis open; the military solution remains on the table," says Сlackson. "This would have obviously negative consequences not just for Ukraine, but also for Europe, as it would be a hot conflict on the territory of Europe… For this reason, it is important for Western countries, including the UK and the US, to try and convince Ukraine to sign the agreements, especially focusing on the fact that the agreements were essentially signed already in 2014 and 2015 and are a matter of just implementing them now."
© REUTERS / GLEB GARANICHAn armoured personnel carrier is seen during tactical exercises, which are conducted by the Ukrainian National Guard, Armed Forces, special operations units and simulate a crisis situation in an urban settlement, in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine February 4, 2022.
An armoured personnel carrier is seen during tactical exercises, which are conducted by the Ukrainian National Guard, Armed Forces, special operations units and simulate a crisis situation in an urban settlement, in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine February 4, 2022.
© REUTERS / GLEB GARANICH
Why is the UK Pouring Gasoline on Fire?
While French President Macron and Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz have signalled willingness to address Russia's security concerns, the UK is continuing to ramp up tensions with Moscow. During her Thursday visit to Moscow, UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss yet again made warmongering statements with no attempt to reach a consensus.
The Johnson government has at least two reasons for peddling the Russian scare, according to Alexander Сlackson. On the one hand, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is using the Ukrainian crisis to raise his political profile at home amid a series of scandals tarnishing his cabinet. On the other hand, the UK has been one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Ukraine, and in this regard, it should be noted that there may be a commercial element as well.
However, No 10's efforts also have a geopolitical dimension, according to Nick Griffin. The UK is probably acting on behalf of the US, whose core aims appear to be threefold, he explains:
Firstly, the US and the UK are trying to drag Russia into a messy and eventually unpopular flat and chilly "new Afghanistan" scenario.
Secondly, Washington and London are seeking to force Germany to reject the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, providing a lucrative market for US liquified natural gas, and so helping the US to put off the looming new subprime financial disaster threatened by the debt-burdened and unprofitable shale gas industry.
Thirdly, in the long term, Washington is clearly desperate to prevent a rapprochement and Eurasian partnership between Germany, Russia and China.
"I don't think that the British elite will learn anything until they are taught a very serious lesson in political and military reality. With a lot of luck, this may be possible without war in Europe, but I fear that they will keep abusing, poking and threatening Russia until some sort of conflict becomes completely unavoidable," Griffin concludes.