What is still distancing us from peace in Ukraine?
The well-known French periodical EuTalk published an article by Viktor Medvedchuk, chairman of the political council of the “Opposition Platform – For Life” party, dedicated to the settlement of the conflict in Donbas.
Viktor Medvedchuk, who is considered the main political opponent of President Volodymyr Zelensky, leaves no one indifferent. Close to Vladimir Putin, the godfather of his daughter, the lawyer, who is often portrayed as a pro-Russian politician elected to the Ukrainian parliament, considers the charges of doing business in Crimea and having invested in 2014 in a Russian refinery, allegedly supplying fuel to separatist forces in Donbas, as far-fetched. At the same time, he calls for the settlement of the conflict in Donbas through the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Medvedchuk believes that a more active role of France in the “Normandy format” is needed in order to resume the dialogue and break the deadlock.
There is no doubt that Ukraine is important for Europe. It is important as a unique bridge between the East and West of the continent, as a natural gateway from the Old World to the dynamically developing Eurasia. The problem is that powerful forces that do not need a strong and self-sufficient Europe, following the principle of “divide and conquer”, have been breaking this bridge for seven years already, turning it into a wall. Good relations between the EU and Russia, between the EU and China are disadvantageous for these forces. Therefore, at their behest, the settlement of the conflict in Donbas has been blocked for seven years, the radical nationalist course of the Ukrainian authorities, the infringement of the rights of national minorities, the destruction of science-intensive industries inherited from the USSR, tied to the market of Russia and other CIS countries, are being encouraged. While a fire is blazing with varying degrees of intensity in the center of Europe, the West and the East of the continent cannot normalize relations and interact for a common benefit.
It is no coincidence that at first glance the change in the President chair of corruption-discredited Petro Poroshenko to former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was smooth. After all, the external and internal political course of official Kyiv has remained unchanged. In some ways, it has become even more convenient for globalist circles who want to gain access to the unique Ukrainian black soil as soon as possible, while the conflict in Donbas and total corruption keep prices for this “oil of the XXI century” at an extremely low level. Zelensky promised his voters peace, respect for the rights of Russian-speakers and other representatives of national minorities, an increase in living standards, a reduction in tariffs, and the elimination of monopolies in the national economy. But for more than two years now he has been doing exactly the opposite.
The best proof of my words is the complete impasse in negotiations to end the conflict in Donbas. In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron made great efforts to ensure that, after a long hiatus, the leaders of the “Normandy format” countries got together for a summit in Paris. On December 9, 2019, it seemed that the path to peace in Ukraine was unblocked. But this turned out to be an illusion. Upon returning to Kyiv, either out of fear of radical nationalists, or for the sake of exploiting the topic of war to camouflage the failures of his rule, Volodymyr Zelensky reneged on most of the obligations he had undertaken in the capital of France. It got to the point that the President of Ukraine several times publicly called for the abandonment of the Minsk agreements, the lack of alternatives for resolving the conflict of which is recognized by all members of the international community. For more than a year and a half after the summit, the ruling majority in the Ukrainian parliament did not even start discussing the draft laws provided for by the political part of the Minsk agreements. And without this, the maximum that can be achieved is a short-term ceasefire, which easily breaks down, as the events of the first half of this year demonstrated.
But where this team has no hesitation is the mood for pressure by all means on those who are just most consistent in favor of a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. First, the President, by his own decree, bypassing the specialized national regulator, associations of journalists, courts, under the pretext of far-fetched claims to the owner, closed three top-rated information TV channels at once.
And these are the very ones to consistently air the calls of experts and politicians for the unswerving implementation of the Minsk agreements. These TV channels – 112, NewsOne and ZIK – due to their balanced position, the absence of nationalist propaganda on the air, enjoyed the greatest popularity among Ukrainians in the uncontrolled territory of Donbas. Their closure has led to the fact that Ukrainian television has virtually disappeared beyond the contact line.
Further, President Zelensky was the first in world history to impose sanctions against the citizens of his country, including against myself and my spouse Oksana Marchenko. And in early May, on absolutely far-fetched accusations that were not supported by any facts, the authorities initiated criminal cases against myself and, by pressure on the court, achieved an unlawful decision to choose a measure of restraint for me in the form of round-the-clock house arrest. At the same time, in disregard of the norms of the Constitution, I am deprived of the opportunity to fulfill my duties as a member of parliament, which infringes upon the rights of my voters. It got to the point that Mykyta Poturayev, head of the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, who is a member of Zelensky’s party, called directly from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada for shooting all members of the “Opposition Platform – For Life” faction and complained that the existing democracy in Ukraine does not allow doing this, but forces the authorities to go the “slow path of their political destruction”.
Is President Zelensky able, with such a course, to bring peace to Ukraine and all of Europe? Of course not. The time has come for the European partners to realize this and resolutely demand that the Ukrainian authorities stop playing “little dictator” and militarist, and focus on the implementation of the political part of the Minsk agreements, respect the rights of journalists and the opposition, and curtail the propaganda of war and hatred.
Otherwise, Ukraine will continue to be used as a smoldering fire in the center of the continent, taking away time and energy of the Europeans for mutual enmity. That time and energy that are so lacking today to solve the problems of global warming, economic stagnation, overcoming the consequences of the pandemic and facing other challenges that affect everyone.