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The real danger of Artemenko’s “peace plan” for Ukraine

The real danger of Artemenko’s “peace plan” for Ukraine
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

The so-called “Artemenko peace plan” is a much larger plot than appears at first glance. Behind the little-known intermediaries, there may be quite serious and influential people in powerful positions.

The publication by The New York Times of the details of the plan to “appease Russia” at Ukraine’s expense became a real sensation in the United States. There has been much discussion on US TV stations of the plan’s details and main players, the level of their relations with Moscow, and their influence on the US President Donald Trump. The information published by The New York Times is being reprinted in other leading media.

The most interesting chapter may begin with Donald Trump’s reaction to the plan.

But the publication of the plan and the consequences of yet another “leak” are matters for US domestic politics. It is obvious that for Americans the plan story is just the continuation of the scandal surrounding the dismissal of Michael Flynn, the president’s national security advisor and former commentator for the Russia Today channel (despite the fact that Flynn apparently has not seen the plan).

The authors of the plan are convenient “whipping boys” because of their dubious biographies and complete inadequacy. They not only did not deny the existence of the suspicious document, but readily confirmed its existence to American journalists.

Andriy Artemenko, who probably feared that his contribution would not be noticed and his influence not appreciated, immediately gave an interview to the odious channel, which in Ukraine is widely viewed as a “Trojan horse” for shameless Russian propaganda and informational provocations by the aggressor.

If you have such strange enemies you do not really need friends. That is because the lobbyists for the anti-Ukrainian plan are rather insignificant people who want to confirm their importance by selling the national interests of Ukraine.

But this does not mean that other, far more influential and serious people are not participating in the development of the plan. At the same time, we need to understand that the plan is only a tool. And this is not because it provides no room for concessions by the Ukrainian side. There is no room for concessions by the Russian side either.

It would be possible to imagine, theoretically, that Moscow could decide to escape from the Donbas because what is proposed in the plan is a real escape, with a 72-hour safe corridor (for those who would prefer to live in Russia after the occupied territories are returned to Ukraine — Ed.). But it is absolutely impossible to imagine that Russia, under the current political regime, would agree even to negotiate the lease of Crimea. Because Crimea not only for Putin but for the vast majority of his compatriots is as much Russian property as the Bryansk region or Karelia. Until the current regime collapses, no one in Russia will discuss any change of status for Crimea.

But this does not mean that no one in Russia would agree that the initiative for changing this status under the guise of a lease — thus officially accepting the current state of affairs –should not come from Ukraine and the West.

The Artemenko plan is precisely the same kind of trap for Ukraine as the Minsk agreements are for   Russia. The Minsk agreements — despite all the unrealistic expectations  — have become an excellent mechanism for sanctions, which slowly but surely are destroying the enemy’s economy.

And Artemenko’s plan would create a trap for Ukraine. Because it would create a new format for negotiations in order to achieve some “grand bargain” between Russia and the US, under which Ukraine would have to agree to abandon its own sovereignty, and the West to lift sanctions. However, no agreement would ever be reached, and Putin would gladly deceive Trump.

But for Ukraine, this would no longer matter because we would realize the we had lost to the enemy, and not in the field of battle but through the corruption of our own government, which surrendered for fear of being exposed. After all, Artemenko’s accusations against Poroshenko are part of the plan for Ukraine’s surrender, and they are not an accident.

When all is done, we could end up with the destabilization of the Ukrainian state apparatus and the transfer of the entire country to Kremlin’s influence. And then it really would not matter who is leasing what from whom.

This is why I would venture to say that Artemenko’s plan is a plot on a much larger scale than appears at first glance. Behind the little-known intermediaries stand quite serious and influential people with powerful positions and opportunities.

These people may be working in the administration of Russia’s president and in the administration of Ukraine’s president. And they may be in contact with each other, while the real essence of their communication may not be clear even to the heads of state themselves. There may even be different motives for the contacts.

On the Russian side, there may be the desire to lure Ukraine into a trap and to deliver it to the boss all roasted and wrapped in American foil. On the Ukrainian side, there may be the wish to find new non-standard opportunities to resolve the conflict and renew the territorial integrity of the country — even by making serious concessions to the enemy.

But the road to hell is always paved with good intentions.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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