Blocking the Normandy format by Russia – ways to solve: “5 questions” with Oleksandr Musiyenko


The Russian Federation is deliberately blocking the meeting in the Normandy format. Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk believes that the guarantor countries – Germany and France – understand this.

Why Russia is not interested in resolving the armed conflict in Donbas and how it can be influenced – said the head of the Center for Military and Legal Studies Oleksandr Musiyenko in the program “5 questions” on UA TV channel.

Oleh Borysov hosts the program.

– It is unprofitable for Russia to resolve the conflict in Donbas peacefully. Why?

– Because the Russian Federation expects unilateral concessions exclusively from Ukraine. That’s why nothing happens with either the Normandy or the Minsk track.

The Ukrainian position is that there are a number of issues that were agreed upon, in particular, in December 2019, when there was a previous meeting of heads of state in Paris within the Normandy format. They agreed on points. Point on ceasefire, point on unimpeded opening of new check-points. Then there is the point concerning the admission of humanitarian missions, in particular, the representation of the Red Cross and not only to the places where Ukrainian citizens are illegally detained in the occupied territories. The point on the harmonization of new breeding points, and the last point is Steinmeier’s formula, a dialogue on the possibility of its implementation into Ukrainian legislation.

The Ukrainian position is consistent. We say that before we move on to the last point of the agreement, let’s go through what is. If we look at the ceasefire, the regime is not being followed. A recent OSCE report reported that 209 heavy weapons – artillery systems, tanks, self-propelled artillery, etc. – were recorded outside their locations, where they must be according to the Minsk agreements. The ceasefire regime is not observed, the check-points agreement is not observed. Ukraine has opened them, the Russian side does not open.

That is why we say that we should do what worries people. After all, this is the most important thing. And then to talk about political agreements. But Russia is waiting for unilateral concessions. And demands that her conditions be met, after which a meeting will take place, where they will sign the document they want. Of course, with such differences, I see no reason for such a meeting. So nothing happens. Therefore, there is no movement.

Constructively, Ukraine has long expressed its proposals. I would like to remind you that there is a proposal by France and Germany on the so-called clusters, how to move further in both the Minsk and Normandy formats. They were sent to the Russian Federation to give their suggestions or comments. But the Kremlin did not react to these clusters, to these proposals.

Any initiatives put forward by either the Ukrainian, German, French or joint parties are blocked. Again, because Russia is only waiting for unilateral concessions. But this is a counterproductive position if we are talking about a negotiation process.

– What can be done to force Russia to negotiate?

– We have to be patient. Why am I talking about security and humanitarian issues? Because it concerns first of all people. What is important for us? To stop the shelling, to open the check-points, to make a gradual transition to a peaceful life. At least conditionally, for a while. This is the most important thing and it should be sought. In my opinion, these are the most achievable things

It is very difficult to say now that we can agree on something with Russia. The situation is as follows. Especially when it comes to gas prices and blackmail by Russia against the European Union and Ukraine.

They now feel on horseback, but this condition will pass very quickly. Whatever it is, winter is over, time will go. States are gradually switching to other energy sources.

Therefore, we just need to be patient, at this time we just have to persevere and do what we do – move on to strengthen the state, army, defense. And wait until the horse on which the Russian Federation now imagines itself, will turn into an old cloak. And this time, I think, will come soon. Then we can say that we will sit down at the table and talk about something.

So far, Russia is behaving very brazenly from the standpoint of blackmail, from the standpoint of pressure. I do not see any points of contact for the negotiation process to move forward now.

– Everyone understands that the process is slowing down by Russia. Will international partners take any action to speed up the process? Is it worth just waiting?

– I think it should be parallel processes. We must be prepared that we will endure and wait for them. Because otherwise it doesn’t work if we want to win.

As for France, Germany and the EU, I think it is very important to focus not just on saying that we demand sanctions against Russia. This is understandable. We need to work on this. But we must also talk about support for Ukraine, reforms and solutions that we implement.

In particular, now we are talking about attracting, for example, investors. We have the “Great Privatization”. Why not bring here serious French, German companies that will be willing to invest money, and thus also support ours and our states? The same applies to military-technical cooperation, economic cooperation. And many other things we need to move besides promoting a policy of sanctions against Russia. That is, if we see that one of the members of the European Union is not ready to increase the pressure of sanctions against Russia, then we must go the other way and say: “So strengthen support for Ukraine, security, defense, etc”.

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