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NATO summit in Newport and the Minsk protocol

Author: VooDoo от 12.09.2014, 12:57
(голосов: 1)

Нe meeting in Newport (Wales) is likely to be the most fateful for the Alliance since the Cold War, and its agenda is set by the Russian president, the Western media wrote on the eve of the NATO summit, calling Putin a "new Bonaparte for Europe".
Putin knows that NATO will not wage war over Ukraine, and therefore, he might get a buffer zone along the borders and gain extra glory in his homeland.
And the Foreign Affairs even has published the idea that Kiev’s victory in Donbas has turned to be impossible, so they have better to leave out.




A little earlier, an unnamed senior NATO general said that "in military regard Kiev has lost the conflict." According to him, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko "is being dictated to where he can relocate his men" and "in the language of war this is called a victory".

The diplomatic maneuvers preceding the summit

The latter seems to have been realized by the Kiev authorities, too. On September 3 the telephone conversation of Petro Poroshenko with Vladimir Putin took place, and, as reported by the press service of the Ukrainian President, in course of it the agreement on "the ceasefire regime in Donbas" has been achieved. After the reports from Kiev the Kremlin explained that the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko discussed not the ceasefire in Donbas, but the steps which could favour it.

Along with the "peaceful intentions" the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has approved a draft law abolishing the non-aligned status of the state and setting a course for joining NATO. The Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk noted that Ukraine aims to getting a "special status" of relations between the country and NATO. "NATO should give Ukraine the status of special partner, partner number one" – Yatsenyuk specified. He added that Ukraine needs a new military doctrine, in which Russia will be called an aggressor country.

Barack Obama on the eve of the summit has been "detected" in Estonia, where he obviously was deliberately demonstrating his willingness to "defend his allies" not being threatened at all in fact. He said it was too early to talk about the ceasefire in Ukraine, for the conditions of the previous agreements on truce had not been fulfilled. According to him, Ukraine has been invaded by "combat troops armed with Russian weapons and Russian tanks." "We need to unite in the face of the Russian aggression in Ukraine", - he said.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has promptly offered a plan of peaceful settlement. It consists of seven items, including the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops to a safe distance, the organization of humanitarian corridors and the repair of damaged infrastructure in Donbas. The EU and Beijing have immediately supported Putin's plan, while the State Department has traditionally "doubted".
Also it proved that considerable forces of the Ukrainian Army and of the National Guard are withdrawn from DPR. "So far, we find it difficult to explain the meaning of this maneuver. Probably, the security forces decided to focus on the defense of Zaporozhye and Dnepropetrovsk regions ... or may be even they have realized the futility of their attacks on the DPR", - a source at the headquarters of the armed forces of the republic said.

We just had to wait the response to all those news from the NATO summit which took place on September 4-5 in Newport (Wales) under the guard of ten thousand policemen.




"The Ukrainian matter"

Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the events in the east of the country promised to be the focus of Welsh summit. The surname Poroshenko sounded in the press center more often than others. The Ukrainian president has met the leaders of the five major Western countries: of the USA, UK, Germany, France and Italy, and he also took part in the session of the NATO-Ukraine commission. But the very results of the summit for Kiev proved to be somewhat different from their expectations.

In the fields of the summit Poroshenko claimed that the alliance will provide military assistance to Ukraine. According to him, NATO intended to adopt a declaration on providing such assistance in connection with the "Russian aggression." As he said, the declaration would emphasise that the alliance supports the decisive action of Member States in providing military and technical support for Ukraine. "This is exactly what we expected," the Ukrainian president said.

However, the premature optimism of the Kiev authorities has been quickly tempered by the Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who claimed after the first day of the summit that NATO would not "interfere in national decision-making processes in the states of the alliance regarding the military supplies to Ukraine." "NATO as an organization does not have its own weapons or military equipment”, Rasmussen said. “The decision on supplies belongs to individual states. In this context, NATO will not intervene in national decision-making processes in the states of the alliance regarding the military supplies to Ukraine.” That means that the matter of military aid to Kiev is farmed out to the leadership of the member countries of the alliance.

It should be noted that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the supply of weapons to Ukraine "inexpedient". And at the summit, she has confirmed the intention of NATO to seek a political solution to the conflict in the east of Ukraine and not to resort to military action. "We wish a peaceful solution, and of course, we are ready to talk about it with Russia", - the head of the government of Germany said. However, Merkel stressed the readiness for further sanctions against Moscow. According to her, with additional punitive measures the West is ready "to back up its political demands." Also, a cold shower for Poroshenko was the Merkel’s statement that Kiev should not expect to join the alliance. "The membership in NATO is not being considered," the Chancellor of Germany said quite definitely.

The "peaceful" intentions of the Chancellor were obviously supported by the letter from American intelligence service retired officers received on the eve. Among other things, it says: "Anti-putschists/federalists enjoy a considerable support of the local population in the south-eastern Ukraine... we have no doubt that Russia supported them, primarily, by the excellent information on the situation in the theater of operations. But it’s more than unevident that this support includes tanks and artillery - primarily due to the Federalists’ excellent commanders and their amazing ability to smash the government forces. "

When the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite in accessing the EU stated that providing immediate military assistance to the Ukrainian army is necessary, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini disagreed, noting that the crisis can not be solved by military methods.

As a result, the summit’s answers to the most crucial question for official Kiev: how NATO can help them, were partial. Fogh Rasmussen claimed the alliance supports Ukraine, he called Russia to renounce the "annexation of Crimea" and to cease supporting the "separatists" of Donbas. Such appeals have been heard before. It was also no news in the declaration concerning trust funds with which NATO plans to help Ukraine to modernize its army. As for the weapons supplies, including high precision weapons, Kiev expects it from some individual NATO members, as President Poroshenko said. He did not specify the countries, nor the types of weapons.

Perhaps, Kiev counts on the United States, where senators previously demanded from the Congress to adopt the decision on weapon shipment to Ukraine. Senator John McCain said, for example, that NATO should provide Ukraine with anti-tank weapons and air defense facilities. However, Congressmen do not hurry, obviously hoping for the "peaceful settlement". In the meantime, in order to prove "solidarity with the Ukrainian people", Barack Obama promised that 200 American soldiers would take part in exercises in Ukraine. Also, American military instructors and experts will come to Ukraine. But the question of Ukraine's membership in NATO obviously was left “outside the brackets” in the summit. Poroshenko hinted that the time for this has not yet come.

Having considered the "Ukrainian matter" NATO declared its support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's policy of "destabilization". The Alliance called on Russia "to withdraw its troops" from the territory of Ukraine and to "stop the illegal annexation of the Crimea." The Alliance also promised to provide aid for Ukraine in the amount of 15 million euros(?!).
In comment on this statement the Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that noone wants a conflict with Russia, and that the best way out of the crisis lies in the political area. At the same time, Rasmussen said that Russia-NATO Founding Act of 1997 remains in force, although Russia allegedly "made a serious violation of its principles". As is well known, the Act recorded the principle of non-deployment of military force in foreign policy, and also the declaration of the Russian Federation and of NATO implying that they no longer consider each other enemies.

The readiness action plan of the Alliance

Then the summit approved without delay the readiness action plan of the alliance. "The readiness action plan of NATO will ensure a visible increase in the presence of NATO in Eastern Europe", the NATO Secretary General said on Friday. According to him, NATO will "provide the presence of its forces in Eastern Europe in the regime of rotation." The Alliance has made the decision to establish a special advance team within the NATO Response Force of several thousand in number, which must be able to deploy anywhere in the world for two days.

The base locations for the advance team of the NATO Response Force have not been determined. With it, the NATO Secretary General claimed he "has received signals from the Baltic countries, from Poland and Romania," who would like to place these forces at their territory.

Rasmussen also promised that the alliance will expand the "staff and logistics infrastructure in Eastern Europe" to provide the conditions for rapid deployment of navy, land and air forces. In addition, NATO "commits to hold sudden maneuvers regularly", which have not been observed in the past two decades in the alliance. Obviously, it is influenced by the relevant practice in Russia.

Rasmussen also believes that the measures to strengthen the defense are being taken to convince potential aggressors that "the entire alliance will stand" against them. "The readiness Action Plan of NATO will provide a visible increase in the presence of NATO in Eastern Europe", the Secretary General said. However, the alliance will not redirect the missile defense system against Russia, the matter spoken of a lot.

Considering the new challenges, the NATO members pledged not to reduce their military expenditures, to bring it back to mark of 2% of GDP in a period of ten years and to increase it along with the GDP growth.

Rasmussen also said that the Alliance will go on with the "open door policy" for the countries willing to join it. With it, "no third country outside NATO does not have a veto over the process of expansion of the Alliance." According to him, NATO "will prolong the extended partnership with countries seeking to join the Alliance," on condition that they comply with the required criteria. "Today, we agreed on the substantial package of measures for Georgia. This substantial package will help Georgia to advance in their preparations for membership in NATO", the Secretary General of the Alliance said.




The truce from Minsk

When the information came that on 5 September Kiev might negotiate with the rebels on the ceasefire, the news had instantly supplanted all others. The head of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the briefing that the time for "direct talks" had come and that he had "some hope". Poroshenko said that Ukraine was ready to cease fire and that his cautious hope was based on the statements of the Russian leadership and of the South-East representatives. Fogh Rasmussen said that "if the statements of the Russian side are sincere, we welcome them".

The participants of the contact group were the former President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, the Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the Luhansk People's Republic Igor Plotnitsky, the Russian ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, and also the official representative of the OSCE in the settlement of the situation in Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini.

The participants have signed the protocol on ceasefire in Donbas from 19:00 by Moscow time on September 5. Then, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the leaders of the two republics have ordered to cease fire in the conflict zone.
Then the official statement has been made by the members of the contact group. "Most of the items of this protocol meet our requirements”, the head of the Luhansk People's Republic Igor Plotnitsky said. – “But the ceasefire does not mean any change of the course to separation from Ukraine. This is a forced measure". The Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko, in turn, stressed that "the cease-fire will allow to save lives of people, and not only of civilians, but also of those who fight with weapons in their hands, fight for their ideals."
It is known that the protocol is based on Putin's and Poroshenko’s plans and takes into account the opinions of the leaders of the DPR and the LPR. Protocol, in particular, provides for the ceasefire, the withdrawal of troops, the exchange of prisoners, and a number of other measures - a total of 14 items. On the first three of them the agreement is reached. For the rest, including the creation of humanitarian corridors and of the stations for concentration of the humanitarian aid, the negotiations are continuing.

"The Russian presidential administration welcomes the signing of the protocol in Minsk, following the results of consultations of the contact group on the implementation of the initiatives of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko", the spokesman for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov said.
In turn, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen after the summit of the Alliance also said that the organization "warmly welcomes" the signing of the ceasefire agreement between Kiev, DPR and LPR. "NATO hopes that the Minsk agreement will be the beginning of the constructive political process in Ukraine"

, Rasmussen said, whose place on October 1 will be taken by the current Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg.

We need just to add that the truce makes unnecessary a new round of Western sanctions against Russia, aiming this time at its military-industrial complex. And the French "Mistrals" now will not float away again now. By the way, Angela Merkel has said already that the adoption of the new EU sanctions against Russia may be delayed if in the crisis situation in Ukraine any de-escalation will be noticed.


* * *


From the political point of view, for Poroshenko and his government concluding the truce is a considerable risk in the face of the parliament elections in late October. The threat comes primarily from nationalist "battalions" having suffered heavy losses in the last days. These forces are unlikely to agree with the political logic of the truce. In the elections the popularity of radical parties may increase, that may be followed by the possible new Maidan.

But for the Russian foreign policy signing the Minsk protocol is an undoubted success. We can not exclude that the South-East will become another "frozen conflict" in the area of former USSR. However, Russia, unlike Ukraine, has a wealth of experience in handling such conflicts in its favor. Anyway, it would be a serious mistake for Kiev to rely on the possibility of returning Donbas to its former state of the affiliation to Kiev.

The Forbes columnist Eamonn Fingleton wrote on September 4 that regardless of how the confrontation over Ukraine resolves, Vladimir Putin's reputation will grow stronger significantly. "Basically Putin is the new Napoleon, and the Ukraine crisis is his diplomatic Austerlitz: he will keep Crimea and will considerably enhance the ability of Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine’s eastern provinces to stand up to Kiev", the article says. Now, after the summit in Newport and the contact group meeting in Minsk, we can agree with this opinion.

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