Thursday, May 15, 2014

Window on Eurasia: OSCE Plan a ‘Face Saving’ Cover for West’s Retreat on Ukraine, Russian Parliamentarians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 15 – A survey of Russian parliamentarians present and past shows that they are nearly unanimous in believing that the OSCE proposal about Ukraine shows that “the West is retreating” from its earlier positions on the conflict there but wants to do so in a “face-saving way.”

            As it often does on political questions, the news agency surveyed the opinion of parliamentarians about the latest OSCE proposal and the support it has received in particular from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  The result provides some insights into how official Moscow actually views what is happening (

            Andrey Klimov, the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s International Relations Committee, said that Merkel as a politician couldn’t simply say “we were incorrect regarding Ukraine.” Instead, she and her Western colleagues had to find another way to back off from where they were.

            “Now the West will quietly retreat from its earlier proclaimed principles, but it will cover itself with ‘a smoke screen’” of declarations like Merkel’s yesterday, Klimov said.

            Aleksandr Sidyakin, the deputy chairman of the Duma committee on housing, agreed. He said that Merkel “finally is trying to look at the situation [in Ukraine] with her own eyes and not through the microscope with inverted lenses that Washington has offered.”  She clearly understands the baselessness of criticism of Moscow over Ukraine and the opposition of German business to “anti-Russian sanctions.”

            Tatyana Moskalkova, deputy chairman of the Duma CIS Committee, said she welcomed any moves to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and thus welcomed this one.  But, she continued “experience has shown that the Geneva agreements were ignored to the extent each side viewed them in its own way.”

            She made no reference to the way in which Moscow viewed them but suggested that Kyiv and the West had failed to live up to them.  That danger continues to exist and Russia should approach any talks with caution.

            Vasily Likhachev, a member of the Duma CIS committee, added that he too welcomes the OSCE proposals and pointedly noted that whatever others may be saying, those proposals mean that the planned presidential elections in Ukraine will be able to take place only if the other conditions are met, something he implied might not be achieved in the next ten days.

            He did not say so but clearly he reflects the view that Ukraine should not be allowed to have such a vote until the country is reorganized and federalized in the ways Moscow wants.

            And Aslambek Aslakhonov, a former Federation Council member who now heads the Association of Law Enforcement and Special Service Employees of the Russian Federation, says that the latest moves show that German Chancellor Merkel has always been well disposed to Russia and to Putin.

            Her actions in recent weeks which called that attitude into question were simply a reflection of the reality that “Germany is far from free. In military political matters, it is strongly dependent on the United States.”

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