Appointment of US Special Representative for Ukraine positive for war in Donbas

Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visits the conflict zone in Donbas on 23 July 2017. Photo: mil.gov.ua

Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visits the conflict zone in Donbas on 23 July 2017. Photo: mil.gov.ua 

Politics

Article by: Willem Aldershoff

America’s freshly appointed “Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations” Kurt Volker visited the war zone in East-Ukraine in late July. In the warn-torn village of Avdiyivka he made some remarkable statements: the conflict is not “frozen, but a hot war” and “it is America’s main task to restore Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty.

Minsk II is an incoherent patchwork of obligations for the fighting parties which could only work to the advantage of Russia

That is a fully different language than could be heard during the Obama presidency. Then the word “war” was not uttered, effective military support was withheld from Ukraine, and the solution of the conflict was left to the warring factions, supplanted by Germany and France.

That this could not work becomes clear from the so-called “Minsk II agreement” of February 2015. Under pressure from a heavy military offensive in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Poroshenko was forced to eventually agree with this document that was co-signed by Germany, France, and Russia.

Minsk II is an incoherent patchwork of obligations for the fighting parties which could only work to the advantage of Russia, as the situation on the ground in Donbas shows: there is no cease-fire, but daily heavy fighting, Ukrainian soldiers continue to fall in battle (more than 3600 since April 2014, nine alone in the previous month), there are still thousands of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory, Russia supported “rebels” continue to use their Russia-supplied heavy military equipment, Russia continues to control 450 kilometers of Ukraine’s border and a self-appointed clique of renegades continues to dictate the course of events in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “republics.”

Volker’s appointment is positive because it makes clear that the US will finally get involved in the conflict. There is also the personality of Volker himself, a professional diplomat with many years experience regarding Nato and Europe who was ambassador to Nato under President George Bush Jr.

Both Washington and Moscow view him as a Russia-hawk with a strong belief in diplomacy. American foreign policy experts know him as an experienced, tough diplomat who knows how to translate principles and pragmatism into effective policy. He is respected by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Some of Volker’s earlier statements give an insight into his views on Russia: “Russia has sought to overturn the post-Cold-War settlement of Europe by redrawing borders using military force. Russian forces occupy parts of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and in a brazen show of force, Russia simply annexed the Crimean peninsula” (statement to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee last April). “The United States should also continue to raise the sanctions stakes on Russia. Travel and financial sanctions on Putin and his family would be appropriate at this point”….“Only through steadfast resolve . . . can we convince Putin that the costs to him personally, and to Russia, are unbearable” (in Foreign Policy magazine).

Volker started off his mission with vigor. After his visit to the frontline in Donbas he traveled to Kyiv, next he met in Paris with French and German government representatives and concluded his trip in Brussels for consultations with NATO and the EU.

Ukraine is understandably very pleased with the long overdue change in America’s Ukraine policy. France and Germany welcome a more forceful US involvement as well. They never succeeded in breaking the deadlock that the Minsk II agreement embodies. Each new round of consultations between the four Minsk-parties did nothing more than repeating what is written in the original Minsk II document. German Chancellor Merkel reportedly asked the Trump administration for the appointment of a special representative.

For Ukraine and Western Europe, it is essential that Volker’s involvement leads to a withdrawal of the Russian military, “volunteers,” and weaponry from Donbas and to Ukraine regaining full control of its border with Russia. Once that has been achieved a beginning can be made with the implementation of administrative decentralization in the region. The first experiences with decentralization in other Ukrainian regions are positive. There is no reason why that should be different in Donbas.

No one would seem to be better equipped to untie the Gordian knot of Minsk II than Kurt Volker. The weight and complexity of his task make, however, that success remains far from assured.

willem

Willem-Gert Aldershoff has held various positions in the Departments for International Relations and Justice and Home Affairs at the European Commission and is now an independent analyst on international issues.

 

 

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  • Screwdriver

    “For Ukraine and Western Europe, it is essential that Volker’s involvement leads to a withdrawal of the Russian military, “volunteers,” and weaponry from Donbas and to Ukraine regaining full control of its border with Russia. Once that has been achieved a beginning can be made with the implementation of administrative decentralization in the region.”

    Dude, did you actually ever read Minsk agreements?

    “9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.”

    So no border control for Ukraine until “paragraph 11 has been implemented ”
    Decentralization first. Capish?

    • zorbatheturk

      Savushkina snotbot.

    • slavko

      Hey FOOL,… You got something missing upstairs buddy. In other words you are in favor of continuing the killing of Ukrainians which also include ALL ethnic Russians in Donbas. Even the OSCE agrees. The problem is that Russia’s proxies keep ignoring the Minsk agreement. You are a pathetic fool. Why don’t you enlist then in Putin’s vacationing army in Ukraine’s Donbas just to make your pathetic statement all the more meaningful by your own demise. Go on… I’ll watch and applaud. Decentralization is NOT part of Minsk. The problem is that Russia keeps violating Ukrainian sovereignty. And Russia get the fak out of Ukraine then elections can take place.

      • Screwdriver

        “Even the OSCE agrees. The problem is that Russia’s proxies keep ignoring the Minsk agreement. ”
        It is clear that you do not read OSCE reports, where OSCE monitoring mission routinely accusing ALL sides of Minsk agreement violations.
        ” Decentralization is NOT part of Minsk”
        And you did not read Minsk agreements as well.
        Boring. :-(

        • slavko

          And you STILL are THE FOOL for being a Russian proxy. When Russia leaves Ukraine then Ukraine can hold those elections. Until then a foreign power is occupying that portion of Ukraine by its proxies and by its military. Any elections held before that will be just as worthless as those in Crimea or anywhere in Russia you FOOL.

          • Screwdriver

            Well, under Minsk agreements it is very clear , – amnesty and elections BEFORE Kiev regime gets control over the border.

          • slavko

            Not talking about control of border. Only talking that Russia and its military must get out of Ukraine first! A country cannot have fair elections with an occupying foreign power. This is only common sense.

          • Screwdriver

            There is not a single word “Russia” in the text of the Minsk agreements.
            Withdrawal of “all foreign troops and mercenaries” applies to BOTH sides, and it is in paragraph 10, which comes AFTER 9 other paragraphs, which are not implemented yet. (amnesty, etc.)

          • slavko

            However, Russia HAS changed the ballgame since Minsk 2 by injecting its advanced weapons and soldiers into the conflict. Minsk 2 has basically been destroyed by Russia. Also, shelling still continues by the Russian proxies. ALL shelling to be stopped is #1 item listed under Minsk 2. Now if Russia was to pull out all its weaponry AND personnel perhaps then Minsk 2 could be resurrected. Items #1 – #3 have yet to be fulfilled due to Russian underhanded involvement, which means that Russia doesn’t want Minsk 2 to succeed. And that’s why I say Russia get the fak out of Ukraine!!

          • Screwdriver

            “Also, shelling still continues by the Russian proxies. ALL shelling to be stopped is #1 item listed under Minsk 2.”
            Very good that you become familiar now with the Minsk agreements. Too bad that you think that it is only Russian proxies who violate ceasefire. You wrong.
            Now it is time for you to get familiar with OSCE monitoring mission reports, where they routinely reporting violations by BOTH sides.
            http://www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine

          • slavko

            Aaah yes and very good that you are finally admitting the complicity of the Russian side in the continued shelling in Ukraine’s Donbas. One really must also understand that Ukraine has a right to self defense when shelled. This is also ascertained by the Russian proxies being on record that their aim is to take control of the entire Donbas and Luhansk area instead of the tiny sliver that they do control for now. And anothersNow if Russian complicity is reduced to zero and its weapons are removed then there may very well be a chance for Minsk to succeed. You see Russia has no right to be present on Ukrainian lands. Putin has admitted that his military specialists are present and performing their tasks in Ukraine. You see Russia doesn’t want Minsk 2 to succeed as instability then continues in Ukraine. And if it does succeed then Moscow gains a 5th column to continue the destabilization of Ukraine for Moscow’s gain. These are the games that the Kremlin plays to keep control of its neighboring countries. Again I say Russia get the fak out of Ukraine.

            There is proof that Russian Spetznatz are dressing up as Ukrainian soldiers and creating aggression against Russian speakers and residents of Donbas. The same BS KGB games that Russia played during the early years of WWII that made it look like Ukrainians were the aggressors against their neighbors.

          • Screwdriver

            “One really must also understand that Ukraine has a right to self defense when shelled”
            OSCE do confirm your claims. And it does not say in any agreements that any side has a right to ‘self defense shelling”, because any side can claim that they shelling in self-defense, nobody can verify those claims. Another speculation is your video interview, it is just all claims, no evidence. However we know, that atrocities were committed by both sides, as you can check some Ukrainian soldiers were prosecuted ( Tornado battalion)

          • slavko

            Ahaa, so you again admit some Russian complicity in atrocities on Ukrainian lands since you do say “both sides”. Now the question beckons… why are Russian soldiers on Ukrainian lands? They certainly don’t belong there.

            One can argue that it’s all claims, yet many witnesses claimed that there were Russians dressed as Ukrainians that butchered Polish in Volyn. Russia blamed Bandera for that. To this day Polish and Ukrainian archives are open for study. Russia has denied requests to open up their archives from that period of early WWII. Like I said KGB games are being played AGAIN.

          • Brent

            Hey “cumb dunt”, an invading country like Russia CANNOT claim it is “shelling in self defense”. That maybe the kind of Russo Nazzi logic you toilet cleaners have been taught, but in the real world it just shows you are an idiot.

          • Quartermaster

            Russian troops and proxies have shelled. Ukraine has responded, as is their right. You trolls, as is your wont, cherry pick.

          • Screwdriver

            OSCE do not report who started who “responded”, this is your pure speculations.

          • Quartermaster

            The data is out there. You need to quit cherry picking and lying.

          • Brent

            For an idiot who claims “Ukraine invaded itself”, you really are hilariously moronic

          • veth

            aLL FOREIGN TROOPS MEANS rUSSIAN aRMY, NAZZI.

          • Brent

            Hey “cumb dunt”….how can Ukrainian troops be “foreign” troops within Ukraine’s own internationally accepted borders?

            I’m not even sure you got 6 grades in now….

          • veth

            AND RUSSIAN ARMY FIRST OUT. YOU CANNOT HELD ELECTIONS IN OCCUPIED AREAS, SUBHUMAN!

          • Brent

            “Amnesty”??? For who? Givi? Motorola? Mozgovai?

            Not if Putin blows up your “heroes” first!!!

    • laker48

      The Minsk agreements are already dead in the water. It seems that the US will step to the plate in Ukraine after it’s done with North Korea that has become an acute emergency all of the sudden.

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      Srewdriver, nor Igor Plotnitsky (LPR) and more importantly Alexander Zakharchenko (DPR) want elections on the basis of the law of Ukraine. Has been stated repeatedly. They don’t even want the participation of parties that are not to their liking.

      So there will be no elections.

      • Screwdriver

        Ukrainian senator Vadim Rabinovich “The government of Ukraine is not beneficial to the reconciliation of Donbass, as in the elections of the region’s residents would not vote for the current government. Such opinion on air of TV channel “112 Ukraine” stated the MP, Chairman of the parliamentary Subcommittee on human rights and the leader of the party “For life” Vadim Rabinovich.
        “If this government will remain in power for at least another year, to my deep regret, we lose Donbass, as it lost the Crimea”, — said the politician.
        V. Rabinovich explained why the government does nothing to return the region.
        “They don’t want in the first place, in my opinion, there is a terrible history: they just don’t want for yourself. They grabbed the chair and understand that if today any way to make peace with Donbass, then those votes will go not to them. This means that they will lose power. It seems to me that this concern for their interests, which today prevails in political attitudes of our elites more than anything else. And it’s scary,” concluded the leader of the party “For life”.” http://24-my.info/v-rabinovich-explained-why-the-ukrainian-government-is-not-interested-in-reconciliation-with-donbas/

        • Murf

          Donbas and Crimea lost?
          Good riddance to bad rubish.

          • Screwdriver

            Talk to Rabinovich.

          • Murf

            I don’t care what he has to say. He just wants to go crawling back to Putin and kiss his ring. Useful idiots will do anything for a pat on the head and some table scraps.
            As painful as loosing Crimea and Donbas have been Ukraine doesn’t need territory. It’s second or third largest country in Europe.
            What they need is as much political unity as possible. Getting the reforms through has been hard enough without 6 million odd Putin lovers in the political system.
            Donbas and Crimea were always a millstone around Ukraine’s neck, opposing anything that would change things for the better.
            They sat back dreaming of Soviet glories long gone while the country literally crumbled into rust and broken cement.
            They wanted to be apart of Mother Russia and they got their wish.
            careful what you wish for.

          • Quartermaster

            Neither the Donbas or Crimea will thrive under Russia. Crimeans are deeply regretting having been annexed. The Donbas is being raped as is Crimea. Both will come back, but they will have been hard used before it’s over.

          • Murf

            That why I have always said ukraine’s success if their best weapon.

          • Screwdriver

            I personally know few people from Donbass..They did not want “mother Russia” as you claim. They just did not want raguls to dictate them how to live. Many of those who came to referendum in Donbass and voted to join Russia did that as a self-defense act , rather then some cultural desire to be under Russia.
            People did not really have big problems under Ukraine before last Maidan ….and then what happened in Odessa, and when Kiev regime started to use airstrikes against civilians, …long before any Russian involvement. Not sure if you can understand all of this, if your side is all about conspiracy.

          • slavko

            I have also met some people from Donbas and they claim that Russia is full of sh*t and lies.

          • Screwdriver

            Those folks would be a minority though..

          • slavko

            In this arbitrary case… 3 for 3 is a batting average of a 100%… not much of a minority left to dispute actual experience.

          • Quartermaster

            Hardly. They are a large majority kept down by traitors and Russian infiltrators.

          • Brent

            And remind us again why you are hiding in the U.S. and not brave enough to fight for the cause in Donbass?

            You’re as big of a chickensh*t as Yanukovych, only he was smart enough to steal billions while you fled and are now cleaning toilets for a living

          • Dirk Smith

            LOL. What BS. Your paid monkeys got what they deserved in Odessa. But of course the mongol always try to change the actual truth and create their narrative of victimhood. More of that to come……….;) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3998a6db5f4a0122dcf497e5973b5511d050876555bf656274acf47681b8041b.jpg

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Screwdriver, do you remember the threat by Putin, that the lovers of Russkiy Mir would put women and children in front of them?

          • Quartermaster

            Lying will get you no where. Ukraine never staged airstrikes against civilians. Russia’s proxies have shelled civilians. Russian proxies have been captured in Ukrainian uniforms. Russian proxies routinely violate the ceasefire and Minsk I & II. Putin’s proxies have rendered the Minsk talks nugatory because it seems to be in his interests to keep things in an uproar if he can.

            The people of Ukraine had no desire for Yanukovich to sell their country to Putin’s Russia. The Donbas did not rise on its own, but Putin’s minions imported GRU officers and brought other infiltrators in and hooked up with a small group of traitors to take the small portion of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts they got before the civil society of Ukraine rose up and stopped them.

            You’ve not only lied about what happened in the Crimea and Donbas, you’ve underestimated Ukraine. Putin is now dragging Russia through sewage and destroying the country. Things will be getting worse by the end of the year for the Russian people. Ukraine, OTOH, is on the upswing.

          • Brent

            And how many of those “few people from Donbass” that you know are still around?
            >Givi? Blown up
            >Mozgovai? Blown up
            >Motorola…born in Russia, but blown up in Ukraine…
            >Pavel “People’s Governor and fellow Russo-Nazzi” Gubarov? Not even allowed to run in the fake DPR election….

            Did I miss any of your fellow terrorist buddies?

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Screwdriver, I don’t think that talking to a Yanukovych crony will convince Murf.

          • Brent

            Talk to your toilet

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          “In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election Vadym Rabynovych was elected into parliament; after placing 4th on the electoral list of Opposition Bloc. ”

          Explains a lot…

        • Brent

          Hey Russo Nazzi, do you realize you are quoting a Jewish Ukrainian politician? Be careful or you may lose your K-K-Kremlin funding….

          But here’s an ACTUAL quote from Rabinovich…..

          Rabinovich stated “I want to destroy the myth about an anti-Semitic Ukraine, which is spreading around the world. Probably I’m the most fortunate candidate. Today unification is needed, and I’m a unifying candidate. I have no maniacal thirst for power, I just want to help the country”

          Your K-K-Kremlin handlers are not going to be happy with you quoting a Jewish Ukrainian politician who wants to unify the country of Ukraine!!!

    • Quartermaster

      Putin has rendered the Minsk agreements nugatory.

    • veth

      ThaTS IS ALREADY IN uKRAINE.

    • Brent

      “Dude Screwball”…..C-A-P-I-C-H-E…you sound like you’re describing head wear….”capish”……

      You are one “cumb dunt”…must be those 6 grades of Russo Nazzi schooling you finished….in 14 years…and we ain’t laughing “with you” either!!!

  • zorbatheturk

    Yowza! Volker da Man! Go Volker! Stomp the Putinator in the gonads. PutIN must get OUT of Donbas. Pronto!