Despite the fact that President Petro Poroshenko did not go to the summit in Minsk, a lot was said about Ukraine there. Ukraine was represented at the summit by the Ambassador in Belarus Mykhaylo Yezhel.
Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenko, who is trying to portray himself as a peacemaker in the Ukraine-Russian conflict, used the CIS summit for this very purpose.
“It is an absolutely unacceptable situation when here, almost in the center of Europe, combat is underway. The sides of the conflict should not only know their points of conflict but stop bloodshed as well. All conflicting issues have to be solved only by peaceful means. We cannot allow more of our brotherly nation’s blood to spill,” Lukashenko said.
However, the leaders of other CIS nations did not support the topic of the war in Ukraine, only the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov expressed his dissatisfaction that Petro Poroshenko had not gone to Minsk and made a speech to the Presidents of CIS countries, which would have, according to him, “brought more clarity in solving the Ukrainian problem.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also forewent the topic of war in Ukraine, as if he had nothing to do with it. He mostly spoke about the economic ties between CIS countries which had decreased dramatically, which Putin blame the association Ukraine and Moldova had signed with the EU.
“We were never enemies with the European Union, we want to become closer ourselves. The issue is the conditions of our cooperation. Problems are created not in the light of actions and Russia’s protective measures, but in light of the fact that our partners don’t consider it necessary to punctually, openly, fully, objectively and professionally discuss all the risks that emerge for the Russian economy and that of other countries within the union in light of the norms of free trade zones which are effective after our colleagues join other trading-economic unions,” Putin said.
A new union – an old threat
During the summit, the CIS Presidents approved 15 documents and expressed satisfaction with their work. After this the Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia had a closer meeting, as they form a new union starting January 1: the Eurasian Economic Union.
Minsk politics expert Andrey Kozakevich thinks this union is a threat to the independence of Belarus.
“Certain über-national structures are created, and they will formally limit the sovereignty, and really, as well, because Russia’s influence on the economic and political spheres is increasing through the use of these institutions,” says he. “Of course, I would not view the creation of this union as a threat, and the main threat lies in the fact that there is no counterbalance in the Eurasian union. There is one country with absolute dominance, Russia, and there are no mechanisms to limit its influence. This is actually a union of one big country with a small number of satellites.”
According to Minsk political expert Andrey Kozakevich, Russia is expanding its influence on post-Soviet territory and restoring the USSR in a new shape. Today Armenia agreed to join this Eurasian Union, Kyrgyzstan also aims for it. Vladimir Putin really wanted Ukraine to join this union last year, thus canceling its integration plans with the EU.
According to many observers, the Minsk summit of post-Soviet organizations did not bring about something unexpected, and served as the backdrop for the Europe Championship football match between Ukraine and Belarus.
During the game, Belarusian and Ukrainian fans shouted together, “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Live, Belarus!,” and sang the famous song about Putin, for which the court in the city of Borisov condemned 12 Belarusians and 12 Ukrainians to 5-10 days of arrest and fines.