MINSK II: What happened at Normandy Four?

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The meeting of political directors representing the Normandy Four states took place yesterday in Berlin, coming on the heels of  a contrived controversy in western press on the heels of the meeting between Trump and Putin in Moscow.

The Normandy Four are the four countries  – Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France – that established the framework of the Minsk II agreement. The Minsk II agreement, FRN reminds readers, is the agreement which came at the end of the last major battle in the Donbass, which saw the Ukrainian forces  under Poroshenko shattered. As a result, it recognizes the contact group as a legitimate grouping, which includes the leadership of the LPR and DPR, who are signatories.

What apparently was the focus regarding the Minsk Agreement, and ways to see to their implementation. Despite that the agreement is clear that the current LPR and DPR leaders are the representatives concerning the Donbass side, Ukrainians under US guidance have attempted to sow public confusion on the legal meaning of the document. As a result, there is a media-information war taking place in which the Atlanticist powers and the puppet Ukrainian government are making statements to the effect that there are some provisions to the agreement that the Donbass side has not carried out.

However, it is Ukraine that has not yet established the constitutional changes explicitly required by the agreement, which recognizes the LPR and DPR as regions having temporary autonomy. The ultimate goal is that LPR and DPR are rejoined with Ukraine, but this would require constitutional and governmental changes such that it would erase the pilfering based economy of war which has propped up the present Ukrainian oligarchs. 

The meeting is taking place amid growing concerns over this Ukraine issue. In particular, the Minsk Agreement still requires fulfillment, as was emphasized at the Russian-US summit held in the Finnish capital of Helsinki earlier in the month.

What’s interesting is that just before the Berlin meeting yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, made an unannounced (to media) visit to Germany earlier in the week. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Ukrainian conflict was discussed at their meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the context of the ongoing trade war between the US and EU, specifically the US and France-Germany, this gives us some context to Trump’s sudden unilateral declaration that the EU and US should both consider dropping all tariffs all together. There may be elements that are interesting to consider in theory, but if in practice it is meant as an empty gesture for the purpose of pressuring those Atlanticist forces in Germany to push on Merkel, regarding Minsk II, then Trump’s offer may in fact be a ruse.

Prior to this, a ministerial meeting of the Normandy Quartet was held in Berlin on June 12. The parties at that time discussed the most of the main aspects of resolving the situation in Donbass and instructed political directors to continue considering a number of issues, including the parameters of the United Nations’ possible mission to Donbass.

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The issue of UN peacekeepers to Donbass is a thorny one, and for many, a non-starter. In the past, the US acted in its own interests under the flag of the UN ‘blue helmets’. The conflict in Yugoslavia is one very well known example. Ultimately it would be a logistical and public relations disaster if UN ‘blue helmets’ came into a confrontation with what the Minsk II agreement recognizes as the duly elected authority, however temporarily, in the Donbass – the LPR and DRP, including their militias. It would also open up the UN forces to being hit in a false flag attack by US, US mercenaries, or Ukrainian and related forces. The history of false flags in numerous conflicts, including the Ukraine conflict, is well established – MH-17 for instance was undoubtedly taken down by Ukrainian forces.

The problem in explaining what happened yesterday at Normandy Four is that the parties are obligated to meet, so they meet. We hear both in this conflict and in the Syrian conflict, that there is no military solution to the conflict, only a political one. But in reality, it is the balance of military outcomes which lay the material foundation for any political process. At issue is that international law requires that parties have certain intentions, and a certain official policy towards the use of force – last resort. This works in reverse also, and so the parties are obligated to formalistically remain adherents to the process of a political resolution.

In short, nothing happened.


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