The specter of diplomacy: Why Kurt Volker visits Ukraine?

Author : Mykyta Sinitsyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

Volker’s "shuttle diplomacy" in Ukraine lasts for more than six months but there not results of these visits
14:20, 18 May 2018

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Presidential Administration press office

Perhaps every new visit of U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker is getting more and more impressing, I mean, not as part of the move forward in resolving Donbas conflict, but as evidence of the absurdity of the work.

Volker’s "shuttle diplomacy" in Ukraine lasts for more than six months, including visits to our country and talks with Ukrainian officials, mandatory words of support from the United States, and everything else that is dictated by the rules of a good diplomatic tone. However, there not results of these visits.

Common Ukrainian sees the main task of Kurt Volker is to persuade the Russian Federation to agree to the Ukrainian version of the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent in Donbas, which, after the statements of President Poroshenko and Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, is almost perceived as a guarantee to give Donbas back to Ukraine.

Related: Peacekeepers in Donbas to unblock Minsk Agreements, - Volker

Already the first talks between Kurt Volker and Vladislav Surkov, the top advisor to Russian President Putin on Ukrainian affairs, gave the result: Russian Federation agreed only 3 points out of 29 of the US plan. Actually, almost from the moment of the first negotiations and their failure, the course and results of this diplomacy actually went into the category of secrets. The parties followed the best diplomatic traditions claim some progress but there were no visible signs of progress, rather, on the contrary.

Another Volker’s visit to Ukraine on May 14 was accompanied by two opposite and interesting statements.

Thus, the head of the Ukrainian Voice of America service, Myroslava Gongadze, with reference to her own sources, reported some extension of the powers for Kurt Volker, who now "would have not only authority over Donbas situation, he would receive wider powers regarding Ukraine as such."

Related: Volker: Ukrainians cannot take back territories occupied by Russia

It is curious that on the same day, the State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Grigory Karasin, in an interview with TASS, said that in the negotiations between Moscow and Washington, a certain pause was taken, and there is no approximate timing for their next meeting.

Earlier, Russian media reported on a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which they discussed the introduction of peacekeepers. The report emphasized that special attention was paid to their functions of "protecting observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)". Thus, the Russians stressed that they did not intend to abandon their own option of using a limited number of peacekeepers exclusively for the protection of OSCE staff and that at least Germany was not against it.

After this "signal", it is not surprising that "a pause in negotiations between Moscow and Washington" took place. Moreover, the very fact of talks between Volker and Surkov appears to be a dubious idea, as both sides continue to insist on their positions, which are directly opposite to the positions of the opponent.

Related: Ukraine gives Volker evidence Russian soldiers attacked Mariupol, Volnovakha

Actually, if you listen to Volker's theses, voiced during his press conference in Slovyansk, you can find multiple confirmations that the negotiations in the format of "Volker-Surkov" have become deadlocked.

First of all, he said so precious to the heart of every Ukrainian patriot words that this was not a conflict among the Ukrainians in Donbas, rather it was provoked by Russia's direct intervention in Ukrainian territories.

It is curious that such a clearly undiplomatic statement will, in general, impede future negotiations with the party that denies its participation in the conflict in every possible way, but on the other hand, it confirms that the negotiation process has reached a deadlock.

Kurt Volker also veiledly accused Russia of unwillingness to find a compromise, proposed by the US, and to introduce peacekeepers, which he considers very useful for solving Donbas conflict.

"I think that the UN mechanism (on the introduction of a peacekeeping mission in Donbas - Ed.) will be useful if Russia really wants to resolve this conflict, which means that it must withdraw from this conflict, withdraw its troops from Donbas and give the local residents a chance to resume a normal life. If Russia takes such a decision for itself, this will indicate that it is interested in ending the conflict, and if it vetoes the decision of the UN Security Council, it will mean that it is interested in continuing of this war," Volker claimed.

Related: Poroshenko discuss situation in Donbas with Volker

The conclusion voiced by Kurt Volker as an alternative to the peacekeepers is at least very interesting. The residents of Donbas territories, which are occupied by the terrorists, will turn away from Russia and will want to reunite with Ukraine when it becomes a strong, rich, and successful state. According to him, the United States is working every day to make Ukraine a strong and successful state.

This is already in some way a signal of the US powerlessness to negotiate with the Russian Federation at the negotiating table, after which Washington can change the tactics.

However, optimists can remember that the negotiations concerning "Javelins" for Ukraine, which lasted for 3 years, and the Volker-Surkov talks have lasted less than a year.

Pessimists can also recall that the deliveries of the "Javelins" with their terms of use will not help Ukrainian Armed Forces in their military operations in Donbas, and thus made the delivery of ATGMs meaningless for Donbas liberation. And the delivery of weapons to a certain extent looks like a recognition of the inability to resolve the conflict by the diplomatic means. I am afraid something similar might have happened with the mission of Volker.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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