Staunton, August 11 – Up to now, Ukraine has made “a serious error” by trying to negotiate with Russia about the Donbas, Bogdan Yeremenko says. What it should be doing is devoting all its efforts to isolating Russia internationally. That will have far more impact on Moscow’s behavior than any talks Ukraine might have with it.
Yeremenko, a former Ukrainian diplomat and a frequent commentator on foreign policy, argues that at a time when Russia is increasing its military activity in Ukraine, Kyiv cannot win by seeking talks, however much some other countries may see that as its salvation (apostrophe.com.ua/article/politics/2015-08-11/pobedit-rossiyu-i-prekratit-voynu-kakuyu-oshibku-nujno-ispravit-ukraine/2084).
Up to now, Russia has acted more effectively than Ukraine by “imposing its will and taking the initiative both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.” Ukraine in contrast “has held fast to a disastrous strategy responding with diplomacy to armed aggression and reducing the opportunities of its own Armed Forces.”
“One can conduct talks with anyone, but one must understand why one is doing so. So far, it is difficult to believe that Ukraine correctly understands the role of diplomacy in this war.” In any conflict during its “’hot’ phase, the role of diplomacy is secondary, designed to support defense.”
But “Ukraine has tried to stop the attack of hostile forces with diplomacy,” Yeremenko says. “This is a path to defeat. Therefore what matters are not the formats of talks but a correct definition of the role and basic tasks of diplomacy at each stage of the conflict.” From his perspective, Ukraine doesn’t appear to have done that.
“We first must seize the initiative on the battlefield,” he argues. “Another possibility is to wait for the exhaustion of Russian resources for the conduct of war.” Until one of these things happens, “diplomatic efforts out to be concentrated not on talks with Russia but on the creation for it of an uncomfortable foreign policy environment and the resolution of practical issues of securing the defense capacity of the country.”
Yeremenko continues: “the weakness of Russia diplomacy is its lack of allies and of clear strategic goals.” Therefore, he insists, “although this is not only as a result of those problems, Russia is condemned to defeat.”
“It is difficult to make predictions relative to the length of the conflict because this depends not so much on Ukraine as on the actions of the US, the EU countries and Russia itself. Now, Ukraine by its own actions is not able to secure the rapid resolution of end of the conflict.” But Kyiv’s diplomatic approach so far is only giving aid and comfort to the enemy.