And how the enemy may respond
Petro Poroshenko started to carry out his plan for the peaceful regulation of the conflict in the east of the country. The roadmap consisting of 15 points, which the President presented at the end of the past week, by the end of the current week is to help relieve the tension in Donbas.
Yesterday, on June 23rd, consultations were held in Donetsk, in which all the sides of the conflict participated, even those who don’t view themselves as such. “In some sense Poroshenko’s plan is addressed to the shadows. Putin, through he does phone consolations, positions himself not as a side of the conflict, but as a neighbour concerned by the humanitarian situation on our territory,” explains Andriy Senchenko, acting deputy head of the President’s Administration.
Russian ambassador Mikhail Zurabov had such a formal status of a “bystander” at the Donbas meeting, who, together with the representatives of the OSCE and the second President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, discussed the ways out of the crisis with the delegates from the easter regions (even given the occasion they did not stop calling them terrorist organisation representatives). Another unannounced (at least, officially) participant was present: the leader of the civil organisation “Ukrainian Choice” Viktor Medvedchuk. It was not reported whose interests he represented, however Ukrainian did not delegate him officially. Zurabov called the event a meeting “of a trilateral contract group which has been enforced by those who conducted mediator missions in order to begin work here.”
According to the results of the meeting, Leonid Kuchma confirmed the agreement regarding a mutual ceasefire until 10 a.m. on June 27th. That the suspension of active military tasks does not meet undisputed ceasefire was demonstrated by both sides – according to the data of the NSDC, the mercenaries took advantage of the peace and started preparations to take Luhansk airport by storm. Meanwhile the Shevchenkivskiy district court of Kyiv made the decision to arrest 11 leaders of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and “Luhansk,” among which is one of the PRD spokesmen Alexandr Boroday.
The participants of the talks – first and foremost the presence of Oleh Tsariov and Viktor Medvedchuk, – demonstrated better than any rhetoric that Kyiv is ready to agree and listen to the opposing side. “It goes without saying that Ukraine will be unable to realise all the points of this plan in a unilateral manner,” admits UDAR member Pavlo Rozenko.
The sides have four days of peace left to regulate the situation using “Poroshenko’s Plan.” Forbes analysed its components.
- Safety guarantees for all talks participants. The initiator of the talks – the state of Ukraine – guarantees integrity to the participants. Member of the Parliament Anatoliy Blyzniuk, former governor of Donetsk oblast, notes that this is a necessary condition, the realisation of which would give the chance to the representatives of all sides to gather under one roof: “By resorting to talks we have to understand that the position of one side may be completely unacceptable to the other. But this does not mean that they will immediately be handcuffed and thrown into the basement.” “Security guarantees during talks is global practice,” emphasises MP Pavlo Rozenko.
- Amnesty to those who put down arms and did not commit grievous crimes. This point is interesting to those who repeats Viktor Yanukovych’s proposal to the participants of mass protests during Maidan practically word for word. As is known, this proposal did not placate the protesters, but without the declaration of amnesty Poroshenko does not have any chance to stop the clash either. Yevgen Magda, director of the Centre of Social Relations, is convinced that such leeway has to be seen by society as a necessary sacrifice. “It is practically impossible to operatively comprehend who is to blame, who isn’t, whose hands are stained with blood and whose aren’t, within a week. We will have to sacrifice something in order to make sense of the situation,” thinks the expert.
- Freeing of hostages. The point that depends the least on the Ukrainian side, prescribes the freeing of all hostages – international observers and Ukrainian teachers, doctors, journalists, law enforcement workers. According to Pavlo Rozenko, if there is no agreement on the other side, the Ukrainian government will have no other choice but to continue the ATO until it successful completion. “Both sides have to move towards each other, no point can be completed in a unilateral manner,” he thinks.
- The creation of 10-km buffer zone at the Russian-Ukrainian state border. The removal of illegal armed formations. According to the President’s plan, such a buffer zone has to become an additional means of protection from the further infiltration of mercenaries and weapon supplies to Ukraine. “Russia has to stop supplying the mercenaries in the East with weapons and reinforcements,” explains Magda. The creation of the buffer zone first and foremost depends on Ukrainian soldiers – how much they are able to shift the mercenaries from the border. Yuriy Derevyanko, non-fraction MP, thinks that this point should be viewed by the other side as a signal to leave certain buffer territories, which will be safe zone. “Those who remain after not complying with this demand will be eliminated,” noted Derevyanko.
- A guaranteed corridor for the removal of the Russian and Ukrainian mercenaries. Ukraine gives the opportunity to the participants of the clash to leave the military action zone safely. So far they are not in haste to take advantage of this proposal. “The did not come here to leave in peace, but to earn money with aggression,” concludes Yuriy Derevyanko. Meanwhile the MP notes that the point itself is quite important, especially from the perspective of international norms: “We have to provide such an opportunity, if they use it, it will be good, if not – it is up to them.”
- Disarmament. In just few months the question of having weapons in the east of Ukraine became a matter of personal security. It is very improbable that before the situation stabilises the people will willingly hand in their arsenal, which has not been acquired by legal means frequently. “Today we cannot count on the police, which has to provide order – out of the organic unit, 70-80% of Donbas policemen are not at their workplaces, but on sick leave, vacation and holidays,” concludes Derevyanko. As a result, the people only count on their own strength when protecting themselves, their families and their property. “The population has nobody to hope for. Those who have their own registered arms will not hand them in, and unregistered bandits even more so,” the politician is convinced. A similar point was included in the talks of the former government and the participants of the protests.
- Creation of departments for joint patrol in the MIA structure. To protect the citizens and social order, self-defence troops are to be created. De facto they are a municipal police force which should coordinate its actions with the military and MIA for higher efficiency. According to Yuriy Derevyanko, this is the only chance to restore order, considering the zero level of trust the people have in the police: “Joint patrols may be efficient. But such self-defence should also be armed.”
- Freeing of illegally occupied administrative buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The point is not self-sufficient – its realisation is only possible with the first seven and obvious progress in talks. The Kyiv events half a year ago have shown – without the good will of the protesters and the readiness to sacrifice on part of the law enforcement, it is impossible to free the buildings. “How to make them leave if they decide to continue killing our civilians and soldiers? Asking them to free the buildings is simply insane,” concluded Derevyanko. According to Yevhen Magda, the administrative buildings are a symbol of return of the Ukrainian government to Donbas, which is acknowledged at the national level, and which is acknowledged by the locals. “The fact that the local citizens acknowledge the official oblast government has to be documented by freeing the administrative buildings,” he emphasises.
- The restoration of the local government bodies. Petro Poroshenko ordered the government to resume the work of the treasury paralysed by the mercenaries and reanimate the systems of social protection, electricity supplies and water supplies. Andriy Senchenko thinks that the population should have visual and palpable examples of effective work renewal: “The people have to change the military agenda in their heads and see that there is a government which is solving their problems. After freeing the neighbourhood from terrorists and carrying out the peace plan, civilian life has to be reestablished, and the government has to make immediate decisions.”
- The update of central TV and radio broadcasting in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. After the renewal of Ukrainian channel broadcasts in the east of the country, which have been subject to censure, an alternative source of information has to appear. “This is a right and important step. And censure on Ukrainian channels only confirms what kind of state they want to build on the territory of Eastern Ukraine – totalitarian, anti-democratic, where different points of view are unacceptable,” thinks Pavlo Rozenko.
- Decentralisation of government (through elections of executive committees, protection of the Russian language, amendments to the Constitution). The necessity to reform local government is what the central government, EU representatives, which recommend not to take too long with it, and the separatists agree on. But it is unclear whether each side sees this reform in the same light. “It has to be understood that stands behind the reform and when to carry it out,” notes Anatoliy Blyzniuk.
- According the governors before the elections with Donbas representatives (if they agree on one candidate, if there is discord – the decision is made by the President). According to Andriy Senchenko, this point is one of the most difficult, as the majority of mayors in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts helped the terrorists by providing for the so-called referendum. “It is one thing when the people played for the separatists at gunpoint, they can be forgiven and given the opportunity to repent for their sins before the Motherland through labor. But there are those who had the initiative. And it is questionable whether they should be given the right to nominate their governor without separating the two,” concluded Senchenko.
- Early local and parliamentary elections. To hold reelections is one of Petro Poroshenko’s electoral promises. The success of this point, according to Pavlo Rozenko, will show in documenting this intent and support from all sides. “Here what is significant is not the fact of realisation but the fact of compromise,” he is sure. “It is enough for the sides to agree regarding holding these elections, for example, in the fall.” Anatoliy Blyzniuk regards this idea with more skepticism: “So far the question is unanswered: how will these elections be held, using what system, how democratically.”
- Program to create employment in the region. Another point for the long-term perspective. Yevgen Magda thinks that the citizens of Donbas have to see that there are possibilities of employment not only at mines and metallurgy plants. “Jobs are first and foremost needed in small and average business, the people will be able to initiate the creation of their own businesses using loans.” The “masters” of Donbas are not able to resort to this, Ukraine will need the help of the EU and, possibly, international financial organisations,” says he. The appearance of a middle class in the east will provide for real stability in the region.
- The renewal of production and social infrastructure in the region. It is obvious that it is impossible to rebuild the infrastructure within a week, and in defining the terms of this point one has to account for the date of the end of military action. According to Yevgen Magda, first and foremost the initiative is aimed to make the locals understand that until the shootings stop, there is no sense in restoring local infrastructure.
Even if Poroshenko’s plan fails it had to be initiated, experts surveyed by Forbes are convinced. “We have to use this time to enforce our weak points,” says Yuriy Derevyanko. “Even if we understand that the plan is doomed to fail, it had to be initiated,” adds Yevhen Magda. “If nothing works, it will be obvious who is to blame for the failure of peaceful compromise.”
If the way of peace does not lead to success, the government will have no reason to continue playing peacekeepers. “We will be force to renew the ATO. If during the unilateral ceasefire, our compatriots continue dying, there is no sense in extending the ceasefire,” Pavlo Rozenko is convinced. The probability of a positive end to the peace plan depends also on the behaviour of the other side which is formally not considered a side of the conflict. “If Putin really supports it [the plan], then everything will happen,” Blyzniuk is convinced.
Expert in issues of internal and defence policies Oleksandr Biletskiy emphasise: when realising the peace plan, they have to prepare for full-scale war: create oblast centres for training, arm the civilians. “There are our wishes and there is objective reality – it will come home to you, even if you don’t accept it,” he said live on channel 112. According to him, the talks have to be based on the position of power, and such a position is formed only by military victories: “For Poroshenko, it is the only way to remain at his post,” he concludes.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina