For the eighth year now, the problem of Donbass has been a problem not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia, the United States and the European Union. All attempts to resolve it with the help of the Normandy format and the Minsk agreements did not and could not lead to a result, since they do not eliminate the cause of the conflict.
Undecidability of the Minsk Agreements
In 2014, the United States, with the support of the European Union countries, set the goal of finally tearing Ukraine away from Russia, forming a Russophobic state out of it as a springboard against Russia, dragging Russia into a war with Ukraine and starting sanctions pressure on the "aggressor." As a bonus, it was supposed to receive Crimea to promote NATO's military infrastructure.
Russia, naturally, set the task of keeping Ukraine in its sphere of influence and preventing NATO structures from moving towards their borders.
As a result of the coup d'etat and the military conflict, the West has only partially solved its tasks - Ukraine has become a Western anti-Russian bridgehead, the majority of the duped population is opposed to the "aggressor" and painful anti-Russian sanctions have been introduced, but it was not possible to drag Russia into the war. She took Crimea, under no circumstances is she going to return it and does not allow the capture of Donbass, creating problems for Ukraine in its integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.
Ukraine's attempts this spring to solve the problem of Donbass by military means were harshly suppressed by Russia by demonstrating its strength and willingness to use it until the end of Ukrainian statehood. The subsequent Putin-Biden meeting eased tensions, and signs of a possible compromise emerged.
Today it is no secret that the Minsk agreements in the summer of 2014 were proposed by the Russian side as a way to “tie” Ukraine and prevent it from integrating into NATO by including Donbass with a special status in it, which led to its actual independence. Surkov, who was in charge of the Ukrainian direction in the Kremlin at that time, confirmed this in later interviews.
The conclusion of the Minsk agreements did not imply their implementation, and the parties understood this very well.
Seven years later, the situation is such that the implementation of "Minsk" in full leads to the defeat of Ukraine and the United States, therefore Ukraine, with the tacit consent of the West, ignores the implementation of the provisions of the agreement. And Russia does not have the strength to force Ukraine to comply with the agreement in terms of giving a special status to Donbass as part of Ukraine.
At the same time, the United States excludes the possibility of including Donbass in Russia or recognizing it as independent.
In this regard, the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented, and neither side is ready to admit defeat, which leads to a stalemate.
It should be noted that the Minsk agreements include both a political part (amnesty, decentralization of power, holding elections, legitimizing the special status of Donbass, coordinating all issues with the leadership of the republics, introducing a "people's militia" practically beyond Kiev's control), and military (ceasefire, disengagement of troops, artillery and MLRS at safe distances).
For Kiev, the most problematic is the implementation of the political part, since this leads to the disintegration of Ukraine, which is fiercely opposed by the nationalist part of society, and this will be associated with inevitable protests and destabilization of the situation. In addition, the implementation of the political part is not very much needed by the authorities, since with the integration of Donbass into Ukraine, they will receive millions of citizens who hate it.
The end of the war in Donbass is supported by the overwhelming majority of society, while only radicals, nationalist intelligentsia and the descendants of Bandera supporters are opposed. That is, the society in its majority is ready, on certain conditions, to support the implementation of the military component of the agreements.
Possible status of Donbass
The expert community is discussing a version of a possible agreement between the United States and Russia for a "no-man's" result, excluding a complete victory for one of the parties.
A compromise can be achieved by ending the war and implementing the disengagement of troops and weapons provided for in the agreements under appropriate control, and Ukraine will be obliged to comply with the decision. Donbass de jure remains a part of Ukraine, and de facto will exist independently, while Russia will not take steps to integrate it into its structure.
Donbass in such a situation acquires a status close to that of Taiwan. De jure, Taiwan is part of China, and the UN recognizes this, but in fact it has been independent for more than 70 years, while its trade with China is measured in trillions of dollars a year, and they interact with each other and with other countries of the world without any problems.
The economic blockade can be lifted from Donbass, enterprises of the republics can receive the status of Ukrainian (under certain mutually beneficial conditions) and legally carry out economic activities without restrictions, and Ukrainian, Russian and foreign investors will be able to invest in the industry of Donbass.
The Ukrainian authorities and business may well be satisfied with this, since the products of the republics, especially coal, are in demand in Ukraine and the trade turnover between them can be restored to volumes acceptable to the parties.
That is, the division of Minsk into two parts and the implementation of military aspects can move the settlement process off the ground.
Why did this option become possible?
Of course, the West is not going to surrender Ukraine and Donbass, and it is not yet ready to accept such a defeat, but the situation has fundamentally changed since 2014. Russia has become different, has become stronger economically and militarily, has drawn red lines of its national interests and is ready to defend them to death.
The West failed to break the will of the Russian leadership to revive the country's might. Russia did not get involved directly in the war in Donbass and demonstrated its determination in the event of Ukrainian provocations to finally resolve the issue not of Donbass, but of the whole of Ukraine, and the Americans have to reckon with this: they are not ready to lose such a bridgehead. The United States has become convinced that it is impossible to tilt Russia by military means, and for them the war in the Donbass takes on the character of a senseless waste of money and time.
The situation in the United States is not so simple either.
There, in connection with the solution of the problems of the pandemic by printing the money supply, a serious economic crisis is brewing. In July, inflation on an annualized basis officially reached 5,4% (despite the fact that, as a rule, it was in the range of 1,2-1,4%), and the economist Khazin believes that it is several times higher. The United States is no longer able to maintain its influence around the world, it fled Afghanistan in disgrace, left Iraq, practically left the Middle East and is trying to normalize relations with the European Union, spoiled by Trump's rule.
For the United States, China has also become a problem with its breakthrough GDP growth and becoming an economic leader. An attempt to prevent Russia from close ties with China was unsuccessful: Putin and Xi held an online conference and reaffirmed their shared interests, and a Russian-Chinese military exercise was organized in China. In such a situation, the United States cannot afford to tease a mature Russian bear. Circumstances push them to improve relations with Russia in search of strategic stability.
Germany also showed its economic interests, especially the issue of completing Nord Stream 2. and the Americans had to give in. It should be noted that the interests of the United States and Germany are far from coinciding with the interests of the Ukrainian indigenous authorities, they do not always understand this, and the Americans have to periodically put the aboriginal leaders in their place. The United States is not going to bring relations with Russia to a confrontation, let alone fight it over some kind of indigenous education. At any opportunity, it will be handed over with giblets without any regret.
The current situation is forcing the United States to make acceptable concessions to Russia, including in the Ukrainian direction, in response Russia must offer something to the Americans.
And this interest was found in the issues of "green energy", with which Biden is worn like a written sack. Putin played along with him on this issue of little importance to Russia, and after meeting with Biden he has been active in this direction. He participated in the online "green" conference held by Biden, supported the reduction of carbon emissions, instructed Mishustin to create working groups to adapt the economy to a possible decrease in the consumption of hydrocarbons in the world, allowed him to publicly express "Chubaisyatina" with delusional ideas on changing the world's elites in connection with the implementation of " green energy ".
In words, the Russian president strongly supports this failed project, while simultaneously solving really urgent tasks to protect the environment. The West, seeking the introduction of uneconomical renewable electric power, is trying to solve this problem by monetary methods by imposing a huge hydrocarbon tax on suppliers of hydrocarbons and redistributing income in its favor. This idea does not threaten Russia so far, there are no effective technologies for generating renewable electricity in the world, except for hydropower, and in Russia 17,6% of electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants, and this is one of the best indicators in the world.
Change in the position of the United States and Ukraine
After the Putin-Biden meeting, the US rhetoric towards Ukraine has changed significantly.
The United States stated that it supports the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, renounces such coveted by Kiev sanctions against Nord Stream 2, postponed Zelensky's agreed visit to the United States to a later date and refused serious representation in the Crimean Platform. It is very likely that Zelensky was also instructed not to aggravate the situation in Donbass. In response, Russia did not object to US participation in the settlement of the conflict, since only two great powers are capable of resolving it.
Kiev understood the wishes of the overlord, began the process of de-escalation in the Donbass and increased pressure on the radicals. The army received orders to observe the "silence regime", although it is regularly violated, the problem of the odious Avakov, who resigned after a "friendly" meeting with the American representative Kent and quickly moved to Italy, was resolved. The cleaning of the Ministry of Internal Affairs apparatus began in the center and in the localities; in Kharkiv, the National Corps was demolished and a group of activists was arrested. The SBU carried out a preventive sweep among Biletsky's assets and blocked their aggressive actions in the capital.
This had an effect, the attempt of the National Corps to organize riots near the building of the presidential administration failed. In connection with the beginning of the degradation of Biletsky's group, only a few hundred radicals took part in the action. The rest of the groups of nationalists ignored the action, and this was confirmed by the growing contradictions in their camp with the disappearance of the roof of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Some regarded the actions of the authorities as the beginning of denazification, but this is far from being the case.
The United States still needs neo-Nazi Ukraine, but they must be under serious control and not interfere with the implementation of American interests, which are beginning to undergo changes. Without taking control of the most "frostbitten" radicals, this will be quite difficult to implement. The cleansing process began with the removal of their curator Avakov, as well as the replacement of part of the generals from the military and the SBU.
The question is what to do with the Minsk Agreements?
Nobody is in a hurry to leave them officially. The curator of the Ukrainian direction Dmitry Kozak in his interview stressed that Kiev has not yet made official proposals to change the agreements. At the same time, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine recently approved the draft law "On the Foundations of the State Policy of the Transitional Period", according to which transitional administrations are created in Donbass, lustration and decommunization are carried out, Ukromova is being introduced and branches of the Museum of Combating Aggression are created.
The adoption of the law puts an end to the political part of the Minsk agreements and can be used as a pretext for transforming the agreements in the interests of possible agreements between the United States and Russia.
What kind of power will be required in Kiev?
To implement possible actions in Kiev, a government is needed that is capable of managing society and radicals and ready to obey the overlord unquestioningly. Zelenskiy is trying to strengthen his position and is leading an offensive on many fronts - against the oligarchy, nationalists, Medvedchuk and Poroshenko. But after his appeal to the residents of Donbass to leave for Russia, he became not a handshake for the Russian leadership, moreover, he is trying to blackmail Germany and raise his voice to the United States, not realizing that in a big game he is a mongrel who can be kicked and chased at any moment. away. In this regard, the Americans can leave Zelensky, or they can remove it, as they always do with waste material, they always have a spare bench.
On this wave, the discussion of versions far from reality about Avakov's "dictatorial" capabilities intensified, while everyone forgets that Avakov has always been used by Americans on the sidelines as a watchdog and is not capable of more. He was put in place to contain Poroshenko, and then as a counterbalance to Zelenskiy: to intimidate him and keep him in the American sphere of influence. Now Zelensky is more pro-American than Poroshenko, the political field has been cleared of opponents of the regime, the government itself is able to keep everyone in subjection. The services of the watchdog were no longer in demand and he was sent to rest.
The first roles of the "mestizo" Avakov are clearly not up to the mark, too insignificant and greedy, and the Americans know this very well. He stayed in his chair mainly because he followed American instructions and, when told to go into the shadows, immediately left.
The versions about Avakov's serious support in Kharkov are just a myth, there he is deeply despised even by his former comrades-in-arms. Avakov's asset - Biletsky's militants, criminals and punks, the Kharkiv elite does not perceive him point blank, he even tried to influence the mayoral elections indirectly, without being directly exposed. If he is pulled out of Italy, it will only be for the next guard work, and nothing more.
More realistic may be the option of the first person with the speaker of parliament Razumkov, a loyal and reliable guardian of American interests, who is being prepared for a new role, just in case. He takes a moderate position, distances himself from Zelensky's "Poroshenko" policy, ignores the president's dubious initiatives in the NSDC, and speaks less harshly about Donbass. The level of trust in Razumkov in society is approaching that of the president, and the latter rightly considers him to be his competitor.
A possible de-escalation in Donbass is not a resolution of the conflict, but a temporary and forced solution, which at this stage may suit Russia and the United States. Neither side can now win a final victory in Ukraine, and we have to negotiate.
The war in Donbass is not needed primarily by Europe and Germany, which is striving to find mutually beneficial contacts with Russia. For the sake of improving relations with European allies, Biden is forced to make concessions to them. Hence, Merkel's voyage to Washington, then to Moscow, and after linking issues with Putin to Zelensky, in order to convey to him the will of the great powers and accept it for execution.
At a press conference in Kiev, Merkel unexpectedly announced that "Russia is a party to this conflict," as if hinting to Zelensky that the game of aggravation with Moscow is fraught, she can quickly become a punishing sword from an observer. At the finish line, he will have to go to the carpet to Biden and listen to the verdict from the overlord.
How successful Merkel's mission was, time will tell. At the very least, Zelenskiy needs to be prepared for possible changes in American rhetoric. And if he makes another mess in Donbass, they will quickly pick up a replacement for him and send him on a charter flight to foreign lands.