October 25, 2016 –
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski –
Even though the Normandy Four meeting in Berlin happened on October 19th, still today debates have not subsided over what exact resolutions were adopted during the meeting. The main point of controversy is the alleged agreement on the deployment of an armed OSCE mission in the republics of Donbass.
Immediately after the Normandy Four meeting, I gave an interview to the Russian journal Svobodnaya Pressa, in which I expressed my opinion on the event. The essence boils down to the following: no breakthrough resolutions should be expected from the meeting in Berlin.
Most importantly, President Putin did not meet Kiev’s wishes to deploy an OSCE police mission in the Donbass republics. Poroshenko’s assertion that Russia agreed to this step is merely another trick by the Ukrainian side based on words taken out of context. Ukraine has repeatedly attributed agreement on the introduction of armed peacekeepers in Donbass to Russia before, and each time this alleged agreement turns out to be false.
In this case, I doubt that my assessment is mistaken. The Ukrainians pulled Putin’s words out of context, a move which is generally characteristic of Ukrainian diplomacy, which is as young as 25 years old.
What was said in Berlin is the following (quoting the words of Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov): “The discussion was about introducing some kind of armed mission only during elections, if they are held, to ensure security.” According to Poroshenko, the point was a permanent police contingent under the auspices of the OSCE but, as we can see, an armed mission will only be sent in during elections, and only if they are held.
But this is not all. The possibility of a temporary OSCE police mission being deployed is reserved for the holding of elections on the DPR and LPR, which Kiev itself has painstakingly, constantly rejected. Just recently, elections in the republics were postponed in order to not give Kiev a chance to blame the DPR and LPR for disrupting the Minsk Agreements. Therefore, either elections in the republics will be postponed again, and there will be no armed OSCE mission to be found, or the elections will take place (to the dismay of Kiev) as stipulated by the Minsk Agreements, and during them armed OSCE forces will be deployed which will also include Russian servicemen.
This is quite different from Poroshenko’s presentation of an armed OSCE mission which, in his mind, is identical to a NATO contingent.
To sum up, the resolution possibly adopted in Berlin is a defeat, even if not a critical one, for Ukrainian diplomacy which binds the possibility of deploying an armed OSCE meeting to elections being held in the DPR and LPR, as provided for by the Minsk Agreements. Kiev has replaced diplomacy with PR and tried to create a propaganda effect. Here it succeeded, but to the detriment of Ukraine’s diplomacy.