Freudian Slip: Ukrainian minister admits Ukraine wants war


November 30, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold – 

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and deputy Anton Gerashchenko

A scandal has erupted in Ukraine which could spill beyond the Kiev elite and hurt Kiev’s American and European patrons. 

On November 28th, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, stated that the Minsk Agreements are not working and aren’t worth discussing. During the forum “Ukraine: Striving for Balance,” Avakov stated: “I believe that the Minsk Agreements are dead and talking about them is pointless. We must give the Minsk Agreements their due for being necessary as a ceasefire mechanism.” Continuing, Avakov said: “Peacekeepers, together with Ukrainian forces, will be on the internationally recognized border of Ukraine. All Russian Federations units will leave Ukraine, and take their quasi-bandit organization with them.”

In other words, what happened at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2nd, 2014, is to happen in Donbass. Moreover, instead of fulfilling the provision of the Minsk Agreements that control over the border will be returned to Ukraine only after a ceasefire and political reforms, Avakov, in the spirit of Kurt Volker’s “diplomacy”, also demands unilateral concessions from Russia.

Even more in this spirit was said by Avakov’s former adviser, the Popular Front deputy Anton Gerashchenko: “The Minsk Agreements were needed in 2014-2015. And President Poroshenko united world leaders, they pressured Putin, and we therefore stopped the movement of military columns onto the territory of Ukraine. But this also happened because Putin himself had not planned a further military offensive in Ukraine – he didn’t know what to do.”

In other words, Ukrainian officials have no intention of further concealing their truth that Minsk was, for them, only necessary in order to stop a victorious offensive of the DPR and LPR militias after the Debaltsevo cauldron, from which the Ukrainian army and foreign forces fled in panic. Similarly, the first Minsk protocol was needed to save the Ukrainian army after the “southern” or Izvarino cauldron and the Ilovaysk cauldron. 

It’s worth recalling that Ukraine was the initiator of both Minsk negotiation processes, as Kiev frantically tried to negotiate with the “aggressor Russia” in order to save its defeated army. Now Ukraine has dropped the pleading tone and adopted a haughty tone in dealing with Russia. The horrors of the cauldrons have been forgotten and Kiev is becoming infatuated with the help of American diplomacy (Volker).

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Ukraine now feels itself to be powerful, and is preparing a new offensive against Donbass. Kiev’s newfound awareness of its strength allows it to forget about elementary caution. Hence why Avakov and Gerashchenko have inadvertently blurted out the truth. This puts not only Kiev, but Paris, Berlin, and Washington in an uncomfortable position. 

One of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Minister’s key ministers, Avakov, has admitted that Ukraine is not working towards fulfilling the Minsk Agreements, and has stated that it will not pursue such in the future. The Western participants in the negotiation process are thus faced with a choice: either admit that they were misled by Ukraine, or admit that, alongside Kiev, they deceived Russia in Minsk. 

Ukraine’s Western partners will have to demand an explanation from the Ukrainian leadership, disavow Avakov’s words, and demand that the Minsk Agreements be fulfilled. However, no response has followed from the European participants of the Normandy Quartet. 

The higher Ukrainian leadership, of course, has spoken out. On November 30th, the deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, Konstantin Eliseev, criticized Avakov’s stance that Minsk should be replaced. According to Eliseev, Russia could use claims of abandoning Minsk to have sanctions mitigated or even abolished. Eliseev’s statement does not, however, refuse the essence of Avakov’s words, which reflect the basic fact that Ukraine has not and will not fulfill the Minsk Agreements. Avakov was thus only condemned for tactical inappropriateness with such overly candid statements.

There is no reason to think that French, German, or American diplomats will call on official Kiev to answer for the statements of one of its key ministers. There does remain hope, however, that Russian diplomacy will demand an explanation, and demand that an answer be given as to whether Ukraine will fulfill the Minsk Agreements.

In the meanwhile, Ukraine is demonstratively violating Minsk in more ways than just words. The recent capture of two villages in the neutral zone in Donbass during the Lugansk events is another confirmation that Minsk is as alien to Kiev as is strategic thinking and good diplomacy.  

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Ukraine, having not learned the brutal lessons of the cauldrons in Izvarino, Ilovaysk, and Debaltsevo, is preparing a new war. 

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public Initiatives. 

Jafe Arnold is Special Editor of Fort Russ, Special Projects Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive. Holding a Bachelors in European Cultures from the University of Wroclaw (Poland), Arnold is currently undertaking his Masters in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. 

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