Volodymyr Ohryzko. Photo: UNIAN
On September 5, 2014, the sides of the Donbas conflict signed the Minsk-1 ceasefire agreement, which included a twelve-point peace plan.
In an interview with UNN, Volodymyr Ohryzko, the former Foreign Minister of Ukraine, explained why the Minsk talks are ineffective and described how to force Russia to comply with its obligations. The diplomat argues that Russia is not living up to its obligations in the Minsk agreements because it’s not in its interest. He also believes international efforts to force Russia to implement the Minsk agreements are insufficient. Ohryzko is convinced that Russia will not fulfill any of its obligations unless forced.
“While discussing the situation in Syria at the G20 summit in China, a high-ranking official said that Russia was refusing to take responsibility. All western politicians should take this key message into account. If it is not to its advantage, Russia will refuse to meet its obligations in any shape or form. Therefore, new Minsk-3, Minsk-5, or Minsk-25 agreements will not change anything,” Ohryzko said.
Ohryzko said that Russia was incapable of implementing what it promised; it’s only willing to implement what it’s forced to.
“Therefore, until our western partners accept this simple reality, we will be discussing yet another meeting and yet another plan. By the way, some of our western partners have actively started drafting a new plan of action, failing to understand that it will not be implemented. We’ll be talking about another demarcation line, debating withdrawal of weapons by five centimeters in different directions—none of which will be implemented. So, we could either continue blowing smoke or act assertively,” Ohryzko noted.
According to the expert, there is no point in signing the Minsk-3. Instead, there should be a plan on how to force Russia to implement its obligations in accordance with international law. Russia should be punished for its aggression and annexation of Crimea but not with sanctions alone. Either it should play by the international rules or remain isolated.
“The current sanctions are like mosquito bites. As long as the West plays a role of a biting mosquito, Russia will only feel a slight discomfort. But when Russia sees that it’s being bitten by a fierce bulldog, it will feel much pain, then changes will occur. For now, the bulldog is sleeping. There are in fact plenty of options that the West is well familiar with. Such as blocking Russia from SWIFT or the global banking system, or imposing real sanctions on Russia’s most sensitive areas like oil and gas. All we need is political will, but the West is still approaching this topic too delicately.”