Europe being under pressure of a big business lobby more frequently thinks on ending sanctions against Russia
Prospects for implementation of the Minsk agreements signed in February last year by the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia attract serious attention in the United States, both in the Obama administration and in the expert community. This was confirmed once again by the conference on the further implementation of the agreement that took place in the leading in US analytical centre "Atlantic Council" on Thursday. The main discussion raised around the execution sequence of items of the Minsk agreements. It is, in fact, is that has stalled negotiation process in the "Normandy format". But in Washington, they tried to find a way out of the labyrinth at least.
The problem for Ukraine which until a certain time was trying to strictly follow the "road map" of Minsk, is not even the fact that Russia is looking for ways to save the predictable conflict in the Donbas region and continues to have a negative impact on the so fragile internal situation in Ukraine due to its own problems. The trouble lies otherwhere: Europe is under pressure from big business lobby more seriously thinks of the termination of sanctions against Russia. For this, the EU is ready to "take the bait" of Kremlin diplomacy which accuses Ukraine of violating the Minsk agreement, namely the 11th and 12th paragraphs of the agreement, and to shift the responsibility for the failure of the process to Kiev. Moscow interpretation of such accusations quite satisfy, in particular, Germany which Minister of Foreign Affairs without a shadow of a doubt ignores Kremlin commitments and accuses Kiev of delay with holding of elections in the occupied Donbas and amendments to the Constitution, which at this stage may actually legitimize DPR / LPR .
"The Normandy format of negotiations should be expanded: the US and the European Union should join to it as full members", - Anders Aslund, the renowned international expert in the field of economics, emphasized in this regard during the conference. He stressed that the current situation looks very illogical when "the policy of the EU and the West in general in relation to Ukraine and Russia, is realized mainly by Germany".
Otherwise, in the expert's opinion, Russia can easily shift its responsibility to the Ukraine for the restoration of the destroyed Donbas.
"There are several reasons why Russia can do this" - said the expert. Firstly, the cost of only support of this region is very high. Second, the economic sanctions imposed on Russia after its occupation of the east of Ukraine, continue to put pressure. If Russia wants to weaken them, it must concede Donbas. Finally, perhaps one of the most important reasons is that Putin continues to pursue the goals of political and economic destabilization of Ukraine.
"Imagine what a bowl of poison may be a return to Ukraine of destroyed Donbas the restoration of which, according to my calculations, will take 20 billion US - and that's just the main restoring of buildings, roads and bridges," - said the expert.
Evelyn Farkas, a former curator of the Russian and Ukrainian issues in the Pentagon expressed her position in support of Ukraine during the conference. In this connection, she mentioned the speech of Victoria Nuland, the US Under-Secretary of State at hearings in Congress that took place this week.
"I understood her speech in the committee of the Congress as a signal that in the process of implementing of the Minsk deal it is necessary first to ensure the safety issues (in the east of Ukraine - ed.) before holding elections in the Donbas, and, of course, to introduce changes in the Constitution of Ukraine "- said Farkas. At the same time, she has agreed that in order to find a space for compromise on the elections there could be considered granting the OSCE of the authority of "ultimate arbiter" in the matters how far these elections correspond to the fundamental principles of fairness and transparency.
Nevertheless, Farkas called the most logical way for advancing further in the Minsk process is that "the European Union and the United States should be on the side of Ukraine and ensure primarily the safety of the Donbas before holding the elections, and before making changes to the Constitution."
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