Presidents of Ukraine and Russia Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation. The sides talked about the settlement of the Donbas conflict. And this is perhaps the only thing the two presidents agreed on following the results of the conversation. Because the press releases on the websites of heads of state are strikingly different from each other. Each leader told society what was in his interest.
1. Zelensky said that "the parties discussed the implementation of agreements reached during the Normandy summit on December 9, 2019 in Paris, as well as preparations for the next meeting of the Normandy Four leaders."
But Putin says that "various aspects of the settlement of the intra-Ukrainian conflict were discussed." At the same time, Putin "emphasized the importance of the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk set of measures "and the decisions adopted at the Normandy format summits, including in Paris on December 9, 2019."
Feel the difference? The office of the President of Ukraine presents the telephone conversation as a discussion on the implementation of agreements made in Paris on December 9. And Putin insists that it is Kyiv that must fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements. At the same time, which is quite unusual for such releases, the report says that Putin directly asked Zelensky if he intends to comply with the Minsk agreements. Obviously, the Kremlin has a good track of statements by Ukrainian politicians and Zelensky himself, who in a recent interview declared "the flexibility of Minsk." Therefore, the Kremlin’s message includes direct and harsh language. However, we do not know what Zelensky answered. Such a presentation is pressure on Zelensky, a demonstration that Moscow is annoyed and does not intend to do anything until Kyiv fulfills the political part of Minsk. Putin said this in Paris, Putin is actually repeating this now.
And yes, there is not a word in the Russian message about preparations for the next meeting of the Quartet. Moreover, it has long been said in Russia that without progress in implementing the December agreements, it makes no sense to meet again.
2. The report of the Ukraine’s President’s Office states that a particularly important part of the conversation, which allegedly "Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin focused on," was the "process of releasing detained Ukrainian citizens who are in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, as well as in the Russian Federation."
However, the Kremlin’s website says something else - that Putin only agreed to "continue efforts aimed at the release and exchange of detained persons related to the conflict." Of all persons from all sides, and not just those whom Kyiv wants to free.
3. Zelensky informed that "the parties agreed on the need to step up work at the level of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk to implement the agreements reached." Putin does not write anything about this. Whether there was such agreement is completely unclear.
4. At the same time, Putin is said that in the conversation they touched "issues regarding the maintenance of a stable ceasefire, the further disengagement of forces and means on the contact line and mine clearance work." The Ukrainian side does not report this. It is very strange, because until recently Zelensky was a supporter of the forces’ disengagement.
5. The Kremlin’s press release, which is much larger than the Ukrainian version, states that Putin told Zelensky about the inadmissibility of distorting the historical truth about the events of the Second World War, and expressed condolences on the death of Ukrainian citizens on February 13 in a traffic accident in the Pskov region. If the first fact may be unpopular in the current Ukrainian realities and it was deliberately “missed” in the release, then the absence of condolences in Ukrainian message are strange. Either Putin didn’t actually express them, or someone at the Office deliberately decided that the Ukrainian people should not read such information. If there was a second option, it does not look quite diplomatic.