Volker in Kiev: Will American Ultimatums Restart the War in Donbass?


November 1, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by Jafe Arnold – 

US “Special Representative for Ukraine”, Kurt Volker, with Ukrainian troops somewhere on the frontline in Donbass

The political duel over settling the conflict in Donbass is ongoing. On the one side are the US and Ukraine, on the other Russia and the republics of Donbass. The reason for the latest escalation is to be found in the US State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker’s visit to Kiev on October 29th. Volker’s talk with Ukrainian officials, including President Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, and Presidential Administration head Igor Raynin, lasted more than two hours. Volker also managed to meet with the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and individual MP’s.

Interestingly enough, only some of the questions discussed at these meetings concerned Donbass. Volker also promised Ukraine the US’ aid in returning Ukrainian territory, i.e., Crimea, and promised to force Russia to drop the Nord Stream 2 project, whose launch would deprive Kiev of transit revenue of around two billion dollars a year.

Let us also note the at least official absence of the Ukrainian defense minister and General Staff chief from the negotiations. This fact, along with Poroshenko’s declared rotation of ATO troops, has been assessed by Ukrainian experts as signaling preparations for withdrawing troops from the demarcation line. 

Volker also pleased his Ukrainian colleagues with his promise that Washington will “seriously” consider supplying Kiev with lethal weapons. This was followed by a whole number of important statements issued following the negotiations or, rather, “consultations” with Ukraine’s American curator.

Among the main questions discussed was a UN peacekeeping mission to be deployed on the border between Russia and the DPR and LPR. According to Ukrainian media, Volker expects such a resolution to be adopted by the UN Security Council by the end of the year. Volker is quoted by Ukrainian media as claiming that the UN peacekeepers will be fully armed, i.e., they will really “force” Donbass’ dissenting “separatists” to “make peace,” and will not merely act as a self-defense force for observers. What’s more, in Volker’s mind, there will be no Russian peacekeepers allowed in such a contingent. Ukrainian political analysts are in turn actively discussing and agreeing on the terms of the “large concession” of allowing Belarusian and Kyrgyz troops to be part of the mission.

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Of course, they expect Russia to make more concessions, and then surrender.

In a past article, in which we forecasted the content of the first meeting between Volker and Putin’s aide, Vladimir Surkov, I suggested that the US’ special envoy has a marked strategy of pushing unilateral pressure and ultimatums. I believe that time has confirmed this assessment. The package of proposals that Volker delivered to Kiev on October 29th also came in the shape of ultimatums and orders to be hurled at Russia. 

Simulating fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements (rotation) is really the only concession which Ukraine is ready to make. Not to mention, of course, the Verkhovna Rada’s legislative work on a package of laws supposedly concerning Minsk 2. At any moment, the rotation could be cancelled, troops could be sent back to their positions, and all relevant laws, including the most ambiguous ones, annulled. 

Meanwhile, Russia and Donbass are continually demanded to make concessions that cannot be amended. Consent to the deployment of a fully armed contingent on Russia’s border is a blatant example of this. For the republics of Donbass, such means a “cleansing” of the population – a scheme which some UAF officers and Nazi battalions have already frankly given away. And all of this would be an irritating addition to the NATO hordes amassing at Russia’s borders, as in the Baltic border states.

Thus, Volker’s visit leaves a strange, almost surreal impression. The Ukrainians have heard from their American sovereign everything that they’ve dreamed of hearing, and more. Either the US is so confident in its strengths that it is daring to dictate its conditions to the very Russia that has dealt them painful defeat in Syria, or, as my Rusyn colleagues inclined towards conspiracy theories have asserted, this is the beginning of a division of spheres of influence in Ukraine. In fact, the latter view is popular among some Ukrainian observers as well. 

Be that as it may, the adoption of such a plan of “maximal pressure” on Russia will, in the very least, lead to an escalation of the Donbass conflict in the mid-term and provoke Russia to join the armed conflict, ending with the subsequent defeat of Ukraine, whether the latter will be militarily aided by the US and NATO or not.

Both Moscow and the republics of Donbass have seen Volker’s words as indicative of the ultimatum, principles, goals, and composition of a future peacekeeping mission. The head of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, has called Volker’s words an attempt at disrupting the Minsk Agreements. “If the meaning of Volker’s statements has been translated correctly, then it is obvious that this is an attempt to either cancel the Minsk agreements, or force Russia to veto such a resolution of the UN Security council,” Kosachev said.

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On October 31st, Donetsk and Lugansk’s reactions followed, as the republics’ representatives pointedly refused to meet with Volker. The republics’ special envoys to Minsk sent an open letter to Volker which advised him to read the text of the Minsk Agreements: “Otherwise it is impossible to explain his statement that these agreements were concluded only between Russia, the OSCE, and Ukraine, without the participation of the DPR and LPR. On this basis, he concludes that the people of Donbass do not need  to be consulted on the draft resolution and mandate for UN forces.”

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In closing, let us recall that Volker and Poroshenko’s talks were held against the backdrop of Saakashvili’s unfolding Madain, which in fact harbors in its depths a very real, very Nazi Maidan, and is 100% a creation of the US. Poroshenko’s “peacekeeping” initiatives, if they are seen objectively, are thus playing against Poroshenko. Such only heighten the discontent in the ranks of “patriots”, i.e., potential Nazi Maidan-ers, who disappear on the frontline. In order to prevent a Nazi revolution from engulfing Ukraine, a new, big escalation in Donbass is needed. To preserve the Ukrainian army, Kiev needs to prolong the current situation of “neither war nor peace.” Kiev and the US have apparently opted for the second scenario. 

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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