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Russia wants to turn Ukraine into “a Bosnia”, says academic

Russia intended to convert Ukraine into Bosnia and maintain decisive influence over Kyiv, but the situation has changed and the Minsk II agreement is no longer applicable, researcher Arkady Moshes defended in an interview with Lusa.

“Russia wanted to convert Ukraine into a Bosnia. Create a weak and porous state, with one party with the possibility of vetoing the foreign policy options of the whole state”, said Arkady Moshes, referring to the 1995 Dayton Agreement on Bosnia. -Herzegovina which ended the civil war and created two autonomous entities with a weak central state.

“That was understood from the start, and what Ukraine has been doing for the past eight years has been trying to make progress in this area despite the conflict. The calculation would be that Ukraine could admit to making concessions to secure control of the entire territory, but basically, Ukraine has stabilized the front line and started to do what it wanted, namely to continue the association agreement with the European Union and the comprehensive free trade agreement, continue bilateral military cooperation with NATO, and the visa-free regime. of the conflict, turned to the West”, explained the director of the program for Eastern Europe and Russia of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), based in Helsinki.

According to Arkady Moshes, there is no prospect of Ukraine’s formal integration into the EU and NATO, nor have there been any talks on the subject, but rather “an intense process of cooperation and integration, not in the West, but with the West”, with Moscow to “realize” that a scenario has been constructed that it would like to avoid.

On the contrary, Russian leaders and the leaders of the two “pro-Russian” breakaway republics of eastern Ukraine continue to insist on the implementation of the Minsk II accords, signed in February 2015 by the President of Russia, Ukraine, France, and the then Chancellor. of Germany, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and considered favorable to the claims of the Russian-speaking leaders of eastern Ukraine.

“The Minsk II agreement is not enforceable, it is a sheet and paper that is dead. It cannot be enforced for the simple reason that its logic is totally wrong. It says that elections must be held before Ukraine re-establishes its control [in separatist territories], and which must be carried out in accordance with European standards. But who can imagine holding elections according to these standards if the freedom of assembly, of disseminating information, of campaigning throughout the territory, does not exist”, the researcher, also a member of the Program for New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS, Eurasia) was questioned.

In Moshes’ view, the scrutiny can only take place after Ukraine’s “sovereign control” over these territories.

“Otherwise, the results will obviously be unacceptable to Ukraine, because there will be people that Ukraine will likely want to indict for war crimes who would become members of parliament, or members of the national police in those areas,” he suggested.

When addressing the potential new referendums on self-determination foreseen in Minsk II, the academic also wondered in which territories the consultation should take place, given the fact that the borders were left undefined following the conflict indicated in 2014 and which has already caused around 14,000 dead and at least 1.5 million displaced.

Around four million people are concentrated in the secessionist territories, in a country with around 36.5 million inhabitants, and the conflict involved an important transfer of populations, which remained in the Donbas region but separated by the so-called “line of contact “.

The academic and specialist in European Union-Russia relations and in the internal and external policies of the countries of this region and ex-Soviet republics, referring to the displaced populations, wonders if they would also be eligible in a referendum on independence if they were allowed to vote. , or the fate of the significant Russian-speaking, Russian-speaking populations, perhaps 30% of the country’s population and mainly concentrated in east-central Ukraine and the south of the country, and who complain about various discriminations by Kyiv’s power.

“At least 700,000 people, or now about a million, who live in these territories have become Russian citizens due to the massive handover of passports. They voted in elections in Russia and are citizens of another state, a status that Ukraine does not allow. technical questions, and without reference to policies. From a technical point of view, it is very difficult to answer, but if we go to the political field, I am not a lawyer but I know that the right to self-determination, and the right of a State to control its entire territory, has always been in contradiction”.

“The right to self-determination does not apply to these territories” because there is already a Russian “nation”, considers Moshe.

In addition to the “technical” issues, political reality continues to impose itself and Arkady Moshes has no doubt in considering that it will remain “a strategic issue” for Russia. “It is not necessarily about territorial control, but a kind of possibility of deciding on Ukraine’s destiny, which Putin has been trying to obtain since he took power,” he said.

Which will never imply that Russia “forgets” about Ukraine, even in the perspective of a global agreement.

“It would be positive but that will not happen, Moscow will continue its policy, Russia is a big country and has other instruments of pressure. The economic instruments of pressure are huge due to Ukraine’s energy dependence, and its energy inefficiency is still more important than dependency, cybersecurity, also the possibility of maintaining pressure through the mobilization of military forces close to the borders, including in Belarus, but without escalation”, he predicted.

In a reference to the US position in this serious international crisis, he considered this to be “the moment of truth in US relations with Europe” and after the new White House administration had faced different realities.

“When President Joe Biden came to power, I think it could be easy to rebuild bridges with Europe, which were half-destroyed during Trump’s term. He thought he could make some gestures, as in relation to Germany’s economic plans related to the Nord Stream gas pipeline II, and other topics”, he said.

“But we realized that there was no unity in the Biden administration vis-à-vis Russia, and there were people with much more skeptical perspectives towards Russia”, he pointed out, despite considering it “positive” that Washington has started to “pay more attention” to Russia, having in this “agitated” aspect of Europe.

“But this situation is not over yet. If the escalation takes place, the Nord Stream II [the new gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, already completed but not yet licensed to operate] will be at risk, and sanctions will have to be applied north. to a German gas pipeline, worsening US-Europe relations. We are approaching a difficult bifurcation point. Transatlantic cooperation may improve, but if an escalation occurs, we still do not know what contradictions may emerge between the US and Europe”, he concluded.

Source: With Agencies

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