Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at his blog
The first thing we need to do is the remember what each participant wanted from this summit. Here is a summary of what I think (not how they officially stated it) each starting position was:
Zelenskii: key notion “a flexible approach” to the Minsk Agreements
- No direct negotiations with the LDNR
- No special status
- Ukrainian control of the border with Russia
- Disarmament of the LDNR “militias”
- Removal of all foreign forces (he means Russian forces, nevermind that they don’t exist!)
- Creation of a “municipal police”
- Elections under Ukrainian control
Putin: key notion “Minsk Agreements cannot be changed”
- Kiev must negotiate with the LDNR
- A special status for the LDNR must be included in the Ukrainian Constitution
- The control of the border between the LDNR and Russia will be handed over only at the very end of the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements
- No Ukrainian forces inside the LDNR, even under the guise of a “municipal police”
- Completely free elections under international supervision
Merkel: key notion “Germany needs Russian gas and access to the Russian market”
- Economically, Germany needs this conflict solved
- Politically, Merkel personally needs to back the Ukrainian negotiating position and she agrees that the Minsk Agreements must be implemented “flexibly”
Macron: key notion “France as a whole and Macron personally need a deal with Russia”
- Macron is facing an extremely severe internal crisis; he needs to open the Russian markets to French products again and present that as an immense success.
- Macron sees that the US is losing Europe and he wants the personal credit for “solving” the conflict in the Ukraine to show that he and France, not Merkel and Germany, are the real leaders of Europe.
Finally, here is what was obviously agreed upon before the actual summit:
- A general ceasefire
- Exchange of prisoners
Now, setting aside all the verbal statements, comments, replies to journalists, etc. – here is what was actually agreed upon: (emphasis in red added by me, VS)
Paris “Normandie” summit – Common agreed conclusions
The President of the French Republic, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of Ukraine met in Paris today.
The Minsk agreements (Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015) continue to be the basis of the work of the Normandy format whose member states are committed to their full implementation.
They underline their shared aspiration to a sustainable and comprehensive architecture of trust and security in Europe, based on the OSCE principles, for which the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine is one of several important steps.
On this basis, they decide on the following:
1. Immediate measures to stabilize the situation in the conflict area
The sides commit to a full and comprehensive implementation of the ceasefire, strengthened by the implementation of all necessary ceasefire support measures, before the end of the year 2019.
They will support the development and implementation of an updated demining plan, on the basis of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group on demining activities, dated March 3, 2016.
They will support an agreement within the Trilateral Contact Group on three additional disengagement areas, with the aim of disengaging forces and equipment by the end of March 2020.
They encourage the Trilateral Contact Group to facilitate the release and exchange of conflict-related detainees by the end of the year, based on the principle of “all for all”, starting with “all identified for all identified”, with the understanding that international organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be granted full and unconditional access to all detained persons.
They will support an agreement within the Trilateral Contact Group, within 30 days, on new crossing points along the line of contact, based primarily on humanitarian criteria.
They recall that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) should be able to use all possibilities of the 21 March 2014 mandate, and have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine in order to fully implement its mandate.
2. Measures to implement the political provisions of the Minsk agreements
The sides express interest in agreeing within the Normandy format (N4) and the Trilateral Contact Group on all the legal aspects of the Special Order of Local Self-Government – special status – of Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions – as outlined in the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements from 2015 – in order to ensure its functioning on a permanent basis.
They consider it necessary to incorporate the “Steinmeier formula” into the Ukrainian legislation, in accordance with the version agreed upon within the N4 and the Trilateral Contact Group.
3. Follow up
They ask their Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Political Advisors to ensure the implementation of the agreements reached and they agree to have another meeting in this format within four months on the political and security conditions, inter alia for the organization of the local elections.
Looks pretty self-evident to me but, still, I will offer my personal reaction to what just happened next.
First, let’s sum it up in plain language. First, the actual results:
- There might be a ceasefire
- There might be a prisoner exchange
- There might be future talks
Next, what has been reaffirmed:
- The Minsk Agreements are the only way out and cannot be changed
- The Steinmeier Formula is the only way out and cannot be changed
Again, I think that the outcome is rather obvious:
- Zelenskii achieved nothing
- Merkel achieved nothing
- Macron achieved a little
- Putin prevailed
Really, it’s that simple.
Also, this was totally predictable. Zelenskii had no chance from the get go: the Ukronazis successfully completely paralyzed him; that is, assuming that he ever wanted to get anything done (I think that he probably did). The truth is that ANY meaningful outcome would have been interpreted by the Ukronazis (a minority in the Ukraine, but a very well armed and ruthless one) as a “betrayal” which would trigger a coup to overthrow Zelenskii (this is not my personal opinion, that is what the Nazi nutcases themselves promised on numerous occasions).
Merkel is old, sick and, frankly, looks like going on fumes. Besides, she has already caved in to her industry and business leaders who demanded NorthStream 2 and an end to sanctions (I will discuss that below). Of the four leaders present, Merkel was really only present pro forma anyway. The truth is that Germany is finally waking up from its US-induced coma and coming to terms with reality.
Macron got several things done: he looked very “statesmanlike” and he can claim that the summit was a success (well, of course, all sides said that, but in the case of Zelenskii and Merkel this is just words and damage control). Furthermore, he got a much needed distraction from his huge internal problems. But, most importantly, he completely upstaged Merkel who is old, stuck with her own mistakes and generally “going on fumes”.
As for Putin, I don’t think that he had any illusions (for obvious reasons, Russians understand the Ukraine much better than anybody else). Furthermore, I don’t think that he really cared all that much. Why?
Because even though initially the Euromaidan coup was a huge crisis for Russia, this is not the case anymore. In fact, Russia really can afford to take a “wait and see” approach: the AngloZionist Empire is tanking, the EU is tanking, the Ukraine is tanking, but Russia is doing quite well, thank you, and time is on her side. Why?
First, Russia has operated an immense change of course following centuries of Europe-focused policies, Russia has now turned to the South (Latin America, Africa, Asian subcontinent) and, especially, to the East and China. For example, Russia has just started pumping gas through its immense “Power of Siberia” project. In economic terms, only Germany really matters to Russia (and even that, not vitally) and Russia will get from Germany what she wants (NS2 of course, but not only that).
Second, Russia really is doing fine with sanctions and, in fact, the Russian agroindustry hopes that sanctions will remain in place. In reality, there are plenty of sectors of the Russian economy which are doing great thanks to these sanctions which have literally forced Russia to reform. This is ironical, but the Russian nation owes a great debt of gratitude to the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire which, with their sanctions, have mitigated the worst aspects of the Russian membership in the WTO or its integration into political, financial and economic structures controlled by the USA.
Finally, it is pretty clear that the Ukraine has lost the war against the LDNR, and that WITHOUT overt Russian intervention. Which means that Putin’s original decision NOT to intervene was the right one.
As for the Ukraine, she is basically finished. As is Zelenskii, by the way. For him, the ONLY chance to get anything done was to tackle the Neo-Nazis frontally and to use the support the vast majority of the people of the Ukraine gave him. He failed to do that. He is probably the poster-boy for the concepts of “failure” and “loser” but, in all fairness to him, he probably never had a chance.
So was there anything at all good about this summit?
Sure, some people will probably be exchanged before the end of the year and all sides agreed to more talk.
It ain’t much, but it is the best one realistically could expect.
So what did NOT happen?
- No agreement on gas (officially not on the agenda, but present in everybody’s mind)
- No full withdrawal of forces on the line of contact
Conclusion1 – The Big Question: what will the Nazis do next?
Clearly, the Nazi, who represent about 15 maybe 20 percent of the population will continue their drive to crush Zelenskii and his plans. Though Zelenskii caved in to pretty much all their demands, their political survival depends on creating and maintaining a crisis. They are fully aware that 80 percent or so of Ukrainians are categorically against their ideology, so if they can’t get what they want by the ballot, then logically the bullet is their only choice. And, make no mistake, they risk big. What do they risk? Well, for starters, they risk losing all their sources of income, they risk disappointing their US bosses, they risk being prosecuted and jailed for lengthy jail terms and they even risk their very lives (by the state or by lynchings). They know that very well. But that is not even the most important thing. What matters most is this:
The Ukraine was a russophobic chimera created by the Papacy and endorsed by ALL subsequent European regimes, rulers and powers that be. The Euromaidan coup marked the apogee of this ideology. From now on it’s all downhill not because the Ukrainian people suddenly all fell in love with their Russian roots or with Putin (although the latter is debatable), but because that ideology brought nothing but death, suffering, disgrace and abject failure to the Ukraine. I was listening to Sergei Kurginian (a very smart, if controversial, Russian expert) who explained that what we see today in the Ukraine is not a state, it is what he called the “illusion of statehood”. He is spot on and I can only agree with him.
Conclusion2: the Ukraine will break-up
Never say never, right? And dramatic reversals do happen. Even miracles sometimes. But my personal feeling is that the Ukraine will break-up. The LDNR will join Russia, the western Ukraine will either be absorbed by its western neighbors, if not politically, then at least economically. That western Ukraine might even join NATO. What will happen with the southern and north-central Ukraine is hard to predict, but the geostrategic realities being what they are, their best chance is to become a neutral bridge of some sort between the EU and the Russian civilizational realm (RF, Belarus, Kazakhastan, etc.). Sounds extreme? Let me explain then my reasons:
- A unitary Ukraine inside her official borders will never happen again because the LDNR will never EVER agree to be ruled by Kiev. Sure, a pretend-integration in which the LDNR is part of some kind of confederate Ukraine was probably possible until today, now that train has apparently left.
- Even in the rump-Ukraine (minus the LDNR and Crimea) the real neo-Nazis are a small minority, strongly associated with the western provinces of the Ukraine which were added to the Ukraine by Stalin (Russian Communist don’t like to remember that one, any more than they like to remember that their hero Lenin was the one who gave the Ukraine its statehood). In other words, in historical terms the only real russophobic Ukraine is the western Ukraine, a much MUCH smaller piece of land. I can’t imagine the southern and central regions of the rump-Ukraine will accept to be ruled by “zapadentsy” (“западенцы” meaning “westerners”) Banderites.
- The western Ukraine is rather poor, underdeveloped and rural/agricultural. In sharp contrast, the southern Ukraine was always rather rich thanks to a lot of advanced industries (they even built aircraft carriers!) and, culturally speaking, they have absolutely nothing in common with the “zapadentsy” nutcases (if only because the southern Ukraine is a fantastic mix of nationalities and religions!).
- As for Kiev, historically called the “mother of Russian cities”, she will probably become the scene of a huge struggle between the Neonazis and the rest of the Ukrainian people, but in the end the historical reality will prevail and she will inevitably join the Russian civilizational realm in some form or another.
It happens that a break-up is probably the best realistic outcome to begin with (I explained why in details here).
Conclusion3: why the Ukraine is dead
Think of the Ukraine as a human body afflicted with a malignant tumor. That tumor is the russophobic ideology created by the Papacy. It is clear that it must be excised for the rest of the body to survive. But, as we all know, how do you kill/remove the tumor without killing the body? I am not talking about a distinct Ukrainian identity, which has ALWAYS existed for simple and undeniable historical reasons: the history of the people who live in today’s Ukraine has been different from the rest of the Russian people for centuries. For example, Russians in what is the Russian Federation never lived under longterm Polish occupations, whereas Ukrainian Russians did. Another example: the “Old Rite” schism, which was a huge tragedy for Russia, never really happened in the Polish-occupied Ukraine. Finally, the German Nazis invaded the Ukraine and took Kiev. They were stopped in Moscow (and in Stalingrad or Leningrad). So there are REAL distinctions between Ukrainian Russians and, let’s say, “northern Russians”. But distinctions or differences do not imply any hatred or, even less so, the creation ex nihilo of an invented nation with an invented history. As long as the Ukraine was a “Ukraine of the Russian civilizational realm” there was no problem. In fact, most Russians have very warm feelings for the Russian Ukraine. But a neo-Nazi rabildy russophobic Papist (or Uniat/schismatic) Ukraine was an impossible project from Day 1 and now this is slowly becoming understood even by the Russia-hating West (at least amongst those in the West who are still in touch with reality, including the historical reality).
Conclusion4: an oncological metaphor explains it best
A tumor must be excised by radiation, hormonal therapy or a scalpel for the patient to survive, right? But that requires an oncological surgeon determined to clear the body from this aberration. I don’t see such a surgeon today. No, Putin won’t do it. Why? Because Russia neither needs nor wants to assume that role. She could, but it would be violent and bloody. Almost nobody in Russia wants that, and Putin least of all. The EU is also dying and does not have the means to “take the scalpel”, primarily because they gave the Neo-Nazi “Ukro-tumor” a standing ovation during the Euromaidan coup. The US has much more power, but since it also backed the Euromaidan to the hilt, don’t expect any US President or, even less so, Congress, to admit that they backed Nazis against freedom loving Christians! They simply cannot do that.
Thus, while in theory, the “body” of the Ukraine could/should be clear from the Urkonazi tumor, there is nobody out there willing and able to do it.
Some will tell me that Russia has the means to take this role. Yes, in terms of *capability* she can. But the reality is that nobody in Russia wants Russia to take that role. At most, Russia will back those Ukrainians who have taken up arms and have resisted the Nazis, both in Crimea and in the Donbass. In pure theory, the borders of the LDNR could be moved west, but not too far. As one LDNR military commander once observed (sorry, I do not recall who it was) “the further west we go, the less we are seen as liberators and the more we are seen as the occupiers“. He is right. The very last thing Russia needs today is to include tens or even hundred of thousands of unemployed Neo-Nazis into Russia!
As I have said a million times by now, Russia has no interest in acquiring more land, or more folks to support (remember: the Ukrainian economy is dead and the country deindustrialized). Yes, Russia will never allow an Ukronazi genocide against the people of the LDNR and, in time, she might even incorporate the LDNR, but that’s it. By the way, Poroshenko in a moment of exasperation once told Putin “want the Donbass – then take it!”. Putin replied “niet”. It was the only possible and correct answer.
Last conclusion: when reality and ideology, reality always wins, even if it takes time
The Euromaidan coup and the subsequent civil war prove, once again, that in the struggle between ideology and reality, the latter always prevails, even if it takes time. In this case, it took almost 1000 years or, if you have a much smaller historical perspective, it took 28 years or even just 5 years. The result is the same: the russophobic “independent Ukraine” was a chimera, an illusion or, at best, an attempt by the imperialist West to try to weaken Russia. After many ups and downs, this project has failed. And, crucially, it has failed whether the folks in the West understand it or not.
But then, the entire West’s imperial project is now tanking, so the Ukraine is just part of a much bigger process.
At the end, the West will have to give up its imperial ambitions. Which is good for the planet, of course, but also for the people of the West who will, sooner or later, recover their status as one of the most important and powerful civilization in history (even without its imperialist inclinations!). But, just as that was the case with all empires (including the Russian one!), this will only come when western imperialism finally follows all other imperialisms: it will die and toss its “imperial” illusions into the “trash bins of history” where it will join all other forms of imperialism in history.
And that is very, very good result.