Friday, October 4, 2019

Kremlin has Good Reasons to Think It’s Close to Strategic Success in Ukraine, Solovey Says – But Not All Ukrainians want to Go Along

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 2 – Valery Solovey, the former MGIMO professor and current Moscow commentator, says there are seven reasons why the Kremlin almost certainly believes that its policy toward Ukraine is close to achieving strategic success now that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has signed off on the Steinmeyer provisions.

            But far from all members of the Ukrainian elite or Ukrainian population are prepared to roll over and accept this new deal, one that many of them believe is not a compromise but a capitulation. Consequently, despite the accord’s closeness to Putin’s desires, it is possible that it will never be fully implemented, at least in all the ways the Kremlin wants.

            Many people are writing about the Ukrainian acceptance of Steinmeyer today.  Solovey provides perhaps the most succinct list of reasons why it cannot be described other than a triumph for Moscow and a defeat for Kyiv, one that even if not completely fulfilled, will have a negative impact on the future (

                Here are Solovey’s seven points:

·         “There is no reason to doubt that the OSCE will confirm the legality of the future elections to the local organs of power, and as a result, the pro-Russian administrations will be completely preserved in the DNR and LNR and order will be maintained by the local police.

·         “The protection of the Ukrainian-Russian border by the DNR and LNR will be carried out by ‘a voluntary corps formed in the DNR and LNR and not the Ukrainian border service.

·         “At the meeting in the Normandy format, Zelensky repeated his agreement with ‘the Steinmeyer formula.’ After this, he cannot retreat. And if he begins to waffle, the Kremlin will say to the West: we armed you that Ukraine is a failing state and that one must not have any dealings with the Ukrainian leadership.

·         “If Zelensky begins to sabotage the implementation of the agreement, steps will then be taken which will quickly sober up Kyiv.

·         “Massed actions of Ukrainians against the agreement are impossible in view of their distance fro the war. And individual acts of protest will be neutralized by Avakov.

·         “Zelensky will try to ‘sell’ Ukrainian society on this deal as ‘peace in exchange for reforms and accelerated economic development.’ In fact, this is just, but Russian business will intensify its influence on the Ukrainian economy.

·         “Russia will obtain a softening of sanctions and the possibility of influencing in a decisive way the foreign policy course of Ukraine through ‘the integration of a fuse’ [that could be lit at any time] – the Donbass.”

Solovey’s argument is compelling but not everyone in Ukraine or elsewhere is going to accept it without a struggle.  A new poll of Ukrainians finds only 18 percent of them support the Steinmeyer formula, while 23 percent are opposed, and the rest – 59 percent – haven’t yet taken a position (

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