Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
The unexpected appearance at the Boryspil Airport of the aircraft of Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s recently appointed representative to the so-called Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, has caught the attention of Ukrainian media.
Surprise at this dramatic gesture — an official with the rank of permanent member in Russia’s Security Council arrives in the Ukrainian capital for the first time in more than two years — was replaced by astonishment at the level of the meeting held by Gryzlov. The former speaker of the Russian State Duma met only with a former president of Ukraine. Of course, the meeting with Leonid Kuchma was fully justified if we are to assume it was to discuss the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk. However, it is completely unnecessary to fly to Kyiv for such a contact to take place — with an entire delegation at that. It would suffice simply to fly in to Minsk a few hours before the planned meeting. Then why did Gryzlov come to Kyiv? What is the Kremlin offering?
When speaking about the Russians, never ask what they want to offer. Always inquire whom they want to deceive. The answer to this question is not very hard to find. It is not Ukraine the Kremlin wants to deceive but the West.
The key task that Putin has assigned to Russian diplomacy is to achieve the lifting of sanctions against Russia while retaining control over the Donbas. Furthermore, while preserving the gangster regimes of Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky (leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” — Ed.). The appointment of Gryzlov (in December 2015 — Ed.)as Russia’s representative to the Minsk group is part of the plan.
Well, let us just imagine that yesterday it was not Gryzlov who arrived in Kyiv but his predecessor in the Minsk Group, Ambassador Azamat Kulmukhametov. Who would have noticed? First, there would have been no special flight. Second, the meeting of Kulmukhametov not only with Kuchma but with any official from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would certainly have been of minor interest to everyone since it would have been viewed as routine. And if Russia’s primary representative to Ukraine, Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov, had met with Kuchma and not only with Kuchma but even with Poroshenko himself? We would not have learned anything about such contacts. An ambassador is there for that purpose, to hold meetings. And there is no reason to think that Zurabov and Poroshenko do not meet. But all this does not matter. Here we have a member of the Security Council himself. Who arrives. While Poroshenko leaves. What excitement!
All this is a demonstration of “constructive behavior.” It is another proof that Russia wants to resolve the Donbas situation. See, even Russia’s senior officials are flying to Kyiv — and Ukraine either does not want to or cannot (cooperate). It is completely unimportant what actually occurs during these meetings. In fact, it is already understood that the Russian side will offer its own interpretation of the Minsk agreements. It will seek out items that should have been “resolved” long ago while proving that it is Ukraine that is not fulfilling them and it will insist that Russia has nothing at all to do with this, that it is simply the mediator that wants to resolve the conflict. Furthermore, that Russia is being unjustly punished by the West. As Putin said in his interview with the German newspaper Bild — it is “theater of the absurd.”
And do you think that Gryzlov’s position could possibly differ from that of Putin?