Steinmeier mania

The Russian and Ukrainian media have been abuzz this week over the news that the Ukrainian government has accepted the ‘Steinmeier Formula’ which is meant to help regulate the reintegration of rebel Donbass into Ukraine. Supporters of foreign Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, as well as members of the Ukrainian far right, are denouncing the move as a betrayal. Others, though, hope that it is an important first step towards peace. In reality, however, I don’t think that the Ukrainian government’s decision adds up to very much. For sure, it’s a step forward, but only a very small one, and unworthy of either the hysterical denunciations or the fervent optimism.

The Minsk II agreement of February 2015 laid out the terms on which rebel Donbass would return to Ukrainian control. These included a ceasefire, a withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, and the commencement of a ‘discussion’ on how to hold elections in Donbass and on the nature of Donbass’s future relationship with Ukraine. Following this, an amnesty would be granted, elections held, and constitutional reform undertaken and legislation passed to provide special status for rebel-held areas of Donbass. The day after elections, Ukraine would regain control of its border with Russia.

No sooner had it agreed to these terms than the Ukrainian government began to backtrack, insisting that it would not grant special status to Donbass, and also demanding that the rebels disarm and the border be placed under Ukrainian control prior to elections. This reversed the order of events required by the Minsk agreement. The Steinmeier formula, named after its author, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is meant in part to find a way out of this impasse. It says that once Ukraine has passed a law on special status for Donbass, local elections will be held, and the special status will come into effect on a temporary basis on the evening of the elections, and permanently once the OSCE has confirmed that the elections were carried out in accordance with international standards.

For hard-line Ukrainians, the Steinmeier formula is seen as capitulation as it admits that Donbass will have to get special status. However, even if the formula is accepted, the question remains of how and when the elections in question are meant to take place, and so get the ball rolling. And on this Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has been very clear: the elections must take place under the supervision of the Ukrainian government, and can only take place once all rebel forces have been disbanded and the border has been restored to Ukrainian control. Zelensky also says that any special status for Donbass can only take the form of a law, not of a constitutional reform.

These conditions are completely unacceptable to the rebel leadership and its Russian patrons. First, the rebels insist that they must have a role in running the elections which, they say, they will only accept if held under the first-past-the-post system and not under the Ukrainian system of proportional representation. Second, disbanding their armed forces and handing over the border before any special status is conferred would amount to complete surrender and put the rebels entirely at Kiev’s mercy. This is clearly something they won’t do. And third, special status conferred by a law not by constitutional reform could be simply revoked by a parliamentary majority repealing the law. It provides very few guarantees for the future. This makes it something which is unlikely to be acceptable.

In short, while accepting the Steinmeier formula, Zelensky has imposed conditions which mean that it can never be put into practice. Viewing this, Baylor University’s Serhiy Kudelia remarks that either Zelensky is either ‘genuinely delusional’ or simply making a token concession in order to stay in the good books of his European allies while knowing full well that nothing will come of it.

I suspect the latter, though I think that it may also be a product of the restraints under which Zelensky is operating. Prior to this week’s decision, we witnessed the fiasco of foreign minister Vadim Pristaiko saying that he had agreed to the formula only for Ukraine’s chief negotiator, former president Leonid Kuchma, to then publicly refuse to do so. Eventually, it seems that Zelensky was able to get Kuchma to back down and sign the document, but it’s clear that even this small step was quite a struggle. Going any further would require Zelensky to fight a major political battle internally. It doesn’t look like he’s prepared to do so.

As I’ve said on many occasions, the peaceful reintegration of Donbass into Ukraine will only be possible if Kiev makes major concessions. It’s obvious that that’s not going to happen all at once. The best we can hope for is little steps which gradually move Kiev in the right direction. In so far as this constitutes such a step, it’s something to welcome. But I’m not overly confident that Ukraine’s internal political situation will permit further moves of the same sort, at least not for some time. I hope I’m wrong, but for now I don’t think that the Steinmeier decision changes very much at all. Peace remains a rather distant dream.

32 thoughts on “Steinmeier mania”

  1. “…and can only take place once all rebel forces have been disbanded and the border has been restored to Ukrainian control”

    I wouldn’t pay much attention to what politicians say in public.

    For example, one of the articles I saw quoted him as saying “…and the border should be under Ukrainian control!”. You know, as a slogan, not a condition for anything.

    Generally, I think all signs point to some sort of armistice…

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    1. “I wouldn’t pay much attention to what politicians say in public.”

      I’m really sorry, by so far, A. Sarij did has the best rundown of Poroshenko’s hypocrisy re: “Steinmeier formula”:

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  2. The situation is that if both formulas – Ukrainian and Russian are not deductible, the “Steinmeier Formula” is undecidable.

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  3. My own take:

    Zelesnky currently juggles the following chainsaws:
    –Law enforcement strongly infiltrated by far right Nazis that hate him (but who hate him a bit less then they hate Donbass or Russians)
    –Poroshenko allies have heavily infiltrated several other government layers
    –Important western patrons prefering Poroshenko or some Poroshenko 2.0 over him
    –Donbass being as pissed as ever
    –Russia could at any point move up on the escalation ladder and inflict some massive pain
    –His own place in the oligarch game of Ukraine

    I think this current move is to placate Russia and Dobnass for a bit giving him time to deal with chainsaw number one. I would be unsurprised if there is a bit of a quid pro quo here “Give me some space and I remove some Nazis”. It could also be that Zelensky cannot actually offer meaningfull concession to Donbas in good faith before the Nazis have been brought to heel, because the Nazis could easily torpedo any truce by shooting at Donbass. Zelesnky did remove some low hanging fruits (mostly Nazis who were also western imports and clients of Poroshenko like Viatrovich) and presumably markets that there will be more such removals in the future. If you look at the actual meat of the transcript, he also tried to get rid of the US ambasador to Ukraine on the grounds that she is hardcore pro poroshenko.

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    1. “Important western patrons prefering Poroshenko or some Poroshenko 2.0 over him”

      From the blogpost:

      “Baylor University’s Serhiy Kudelia remarks that either Zelensky is either ‘genuinely delusional’ or simply making a token concession in order to stay in the good books of his European allies while knowing full well that nothing will come of it.”

      🙂

      I doubt that “Steinmeier formula” is a way to “butter up” Ukraine’s European allies (after what Zelensky said to Trump in a phone call…). What IS buttering up of the Western (mainly – EU) sponsors of the Ukraine, is much less publicized in the Free and Independent Western Media ™ legislation currently discussed in Verkhovna Rada (where Zelensky’s party hold majority) to allow free and unrestricted sale of the Ukrainian land. Right now, the Ukrainian began smartening up as to what this might entail for them. Zelensky’s administration would have to decide a hill to die upon – either a lucrative a super-corrupt land-sale scheme (unpopular with a few thinking people, but manageable in a short-term) OR the end of war in the East (super unpopular with loud and armed minority, unmanageable and goes against war-profiteers).

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    2. “Important western patrons prefering Poroshenko or some Poroshenko 2.0 over him”

      It seems to be the case if one looks at lukewarm reaction of some Eastern neighbours to the elevation of Zelensky. “Poro was our guy” in the same way as the now forgotten ex-prime minister.

      Regards

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  4. The Banderastanis gather on the Maidan as we speak, caring not that Ze got 75% of the vote by running on the idea of a compromise peace, while their paladin PeetyPorkyChocko got ignominiously crushed.

    We’ll see if they go back to their violent, totalitarian, 1920s/1930s OUN roots, and how far Ms Freeland et al back then in that if they do.

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  5. I feel that all this “OUN roots” and “Nazis” stuff is just foam on the surface. Without financing and political cover, they’re just a bunch of street thugs.

    If you recall, the ‘Maidan revolution’ was carried out by a coalition of domestic financial-industrial groups (who recruited gangs of thugs) and pro-western liberal intelligentsia (who recruited students). In the first 5 years, the former prevailed, but now the pro-western element has the upper hand.

    These new guys, they don’t want war and primitive domestic plundering. They want civilized, international plundering. It’ll take some time, some horse-trading, killing some dead-enders perhaps, but in the end… Well, I don’t see why they couldn’t prevail.

    The only way to resist it, as far as I can tell, is for the population to keep being unreasonable and ungovernable, for decades, like Afghanistan. But I doubt that Ukraine is one of those. It is, after all, a European country.

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    1. “If you recall, the ‘Maidan revolution’ was carried out by a coalition of domestic financial-industrial groups (who recruited gangs of thugs) and pro-western liberal intelligentsia (who recruited students). In the first 5 years, the former prevailed, but now the pro-western element has the upper hand. “

      Which is which Kolomoysky? 😉

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      1. He is a character inside the domestic financial-industrial ‘Maidany’ bloc, obviously.

        But I think following trajectories of particular individuals often confuses rather than enlightens.

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      2. Look at the Moldova/Plahotniuc story (drama? comedy?). The guy decisively triumphed in the “there can be only one” game. And then – poof – and he’s gone…

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      3. “He is a character inside the domestic financial-industrial ‘Maidany’ bloc, obviously.

        But I think following trajectories of particular individuals often confuses rather than enlightens.”

        Kolomoysky and his recent “career” is very illustrative. First of all it shows that there is no such thing as united “Ukrainian oligarchate” – every single one of them (and there ain’t many of them) if ultimately for himself, allying and changing sides at a drop of a hat. Another illustrative example – Rinat Akhmetov and his shady dealings with literally anyone. As of right now, he and Kolomoysky are at the opposite sides of barricades – but for how long? So, IMO, particular individuals are important when analyzing going-ons in the Ukraine, for what’s happening there is your typical plutocratic clans warfare. It’s just a different clan holds the (official) reins of power.

        I’m also rather confused about this “pro-western liberal intelligentsia” – in the Ukraine of all places! First – not sure there’re any “liberals” there. “National liberals”, with the emphasize on the nationalism at the expense of all the rest – yeah, lots and lots. They are “pro-Western” not in the sense that they want to emulate West, as that they expect the West to wipe their dirty arses and (magickally) improve the material aspects of life. Failing that, all “liberal Ukrainians” are buggering off to the proper West, from whence they support their less fortunate citizens with wise advises and critique. And the proper West is fine with that – do you really think that the “Real Europe” needs the Ukraine as anything but a source of cheap labour and a battering ram against Russia?

        As for the “western capital” coming to the help of these “young reformers” and behaving differently – the curious case of Tomáš Fiala, foreign veteran of 2 Maidans, «Transparency International Ukraine» high ranking member, who became involved in illegal acquisition of the state-owned land in the Ukraine. The cherry on the top – he’s an associate of Soros.

        “The only way to resist it, as far as I can tell, is for the population to keep being unreasonable and ungovernable, for decades, like Afghanistan. But I doubt that Ukraine is one of those. It is, after all, a European country.”

        ‘)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

        Buddhism teaches about the “wheel of sansara”, which condemns the unenlightened soul for the endless cycle of reincarnations. The Ukraine seems to be condemned to the “wheel of genot’ba”, where every peremoga inevitably turns into zrada, which, naturally, causes outraged cries of gan’ba.

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      4. A business tycoon has to do what business interests dictate. Or he won’t remain business tycoon for long. In this sense, their behavior follows the same patterns; switching sides when necessary is also a pattern. These guys are survivors of the 90s, they killed people and survived hits. It’s like The Sopranos.

        As for the intelligentsia being nationalists, or, for that matter, just a bunch of grant-eating clowns, I think there is actually a subset of sincere cargo-cult liberal intellectuals, who genuinely feel that constantly repeating words ‘democratic’, ‘institutions’, and ‘deliberation’ will, eventually, make good things to materialize. See Andrey Ermolaev.

        As for ““Real Europe” needs the Ukraine as anything but a source of cheap labour and a battering ram against Russia“, — they’re getting cheap labor anyway. End of the war doesn’t mean the end of cheap labor; again: see Moldova.

        And where’s this ‘ram against Russia’? I think all the possible damage to Russia — breaking all meaningful economic cooperation — has already been accomplished. How is it affecting Russia now? It seems like a negative return on (western) investment, at this point. Throwing good money after bad. Nah. Time to take direct control of the remaining assets.

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      5. “Or he won’t remain business tycoon for long. In this sense, their behavior follows the same patterns; switching sides when necessary is also a pattern.”

        Yes. I was trying to say this without resorting to the “trigger words”, but, here you go – the Ukrainian oligarchs (individually) possess class consciences, but not the class solidarity because, let’s face it, they are not threatened as a class.

        This perennial cycles of Maidans (with their constant anti-oligarch rhetoric and abysmal results) reminds me of the old Soviet cartoon The Dragon (1961), based on the South-East Asia’s fairy tales. Because that’s a fairy tale (“for kids”) it had a happy ending. Well, in reality we have a procession of “dragons”.

        “I think there is actually a subset of sincere cargo-cult liberal intellectuals, who genuinely feel that constantly repeating words ‘democratic’, ‘institutions’, and ‘deliberation’ will, eventually, make good things to materialize.”

        A couple of months ago the Ukraine had lived through parliamentary elections. How did these “sincere cargo-cult liberal intellectuals” and their parties fared? Before that, their (self-appointed) champion was the Lviv’s major Andrey Sadovi with his “Samopomich” (Self-Help) party. They got 0.62% of the vote (down by 10.35%). Who else? Sharij and his cult of personality? 2.23% and Orodruin like explosion of Anatoly’s ἀφεδρών in the aftermath. Zelensky? And how to separate the “protest vote” for the “Servant of the People” from the genuine “liberal” vote? Besides if those no-names elected are the results of the “liberal” vote, well, Ukraine may not perished (yet), but surely not from the lack of trying.

        Or, to misquote someone, “just how many brigades do the Ukrainian liberals have?”

        Also, Mao, you wrote:

        “The only way to resist it, as far as I can tell, is for the population to keep being unreasonable and ungovernable, for decades, like Afghanistan. But I doubt that Ukraine is one of those. It is, after all, a European country.”

        Either you are putting too much stock into the “European” as concept, or too little into the “Asian”. After all, Kosovo is also European 😉

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      6. “the Ukrainian oligarchs (individually) possess class consciences, but not the class solidarity because, let’s face it, they are not threatened as a class.”

        But I think they are. One takes over the state, and then they all unite and take him down. Isn’t this the pattern?

        “How did these “sincere cargo-cult liberal intellectuals” and their parties fared?”

        I don’t know, I don’t think intellectuals have parties. Sometimes they do, but not often. They propagandize worldviews, for parties to exploit. One of those worldviews is this pro-European neoliberalism. It’s very common, actually. In the Balkans as well, from what I hear, anecdotally. Goes something like this: We should wholly surrender ourselves to the EU. The EU will come, eliminate the corruption, bring honest courts, law and order, investments, roads, etc. And then – happiness. So, this is, I think, the other face of the 2013-14 Maidan. Actually, it’s how it started. Clearly not the same thing as militant ethno-nationalism.

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      7. “But I think they are. One takes over the state, and then they all unite and take him down. Isn’t this the pattern?”

        But they don’t ;).

        When Ihor Kolomoysky was in the process of losing his PrivatBank (along with other legal and semilegal means of affecting the Ukraine) waaaaay back in history, other oligarchs kept mum. When there began legal problems with Firtash they kept their silence. When Akhmetov began to experience some troubles – there were not much of other oligarchs left (in the Ukraine proper) and those that were said nothing. Could you say that all aggrieved parties united to topple Poroshenko? No. Firtash (judging by the fact that he is still not extradited – and other stuff) found a way to come back to Poroshenko’s good graces, even as Petya’s popularity raitings were plummeting. The fact that now mostly forgotten by the mainstream media another formula – “Rotterdam+” – had been implemented without legal challenges, mean that even Akhmetov found a way to deal with Poroshenko’s for the sake of mutual profit.

        Now, several months after both the Presidential and parliament elections in the Ukraine we can see that:

        A) All oligarchs supported their very own candidates, without trying to form coalitions.
        B) Their (elected) political forces remain as mercenary as typical for the Ukraine.

        One only has to look at the “pro-Russian” party “Opposition Platform – For Life”. The closest, yet pop-culture, analogy for it would be a comparison for an Alien “face-hugger” parasite, that sprang from the parent body – the original “Opposition Platform” (which also participated in elections – and lost… badly), which membership, in turn, had been made up mostly from the Yanukovich’s old “Party of the Regions” members. This OP-FL in its Rada “performance” proved itself to be (so far) 100% servile to Zelensky. They way how they vote, the way how they voice their disapproval or approval – they are brownnosing Zelensky. Does it mean that Akhmetov is for Kolomoysky? Or that the Ukrainian oligarchs are backing international capital’s efforts to get rid of them?

        Or… or… MAYBE… the narrative is much more complex and nuanced? Take, e.g., recent news that the Ukraine would resume import of electricity from Russia. You know – from the “aggressor state”, which “occupies” parts of the Ukraine. I mean, what, you gonna call Petro “Count Dyakula” Poroshenko a liar, when he in November 2015 cut all electricity imports from Russia (remember blow out support lines near Crimea?), because, anyway, the Ukraine is energetically independent? But, as they say in Odessa, here’s the tzimmes of the situation. The Ukrainian company that would handle the distribution of the energy, is some “United Energy” – an enterprise, that belongs to Ihor Kolomoisky’s big portfolio of companies.

        Thus in this light of narrow self interest should be viewed the “Steinmeier formula” and its implementation in the Ukraine – by asking “qui bono?” You just can’t allow cavalier approach and generalization when dealing with the Ukraine (arguably – with anything). There are too many nuances and faulty lines here. Hell, even the “war profiteers” factions is not monolithic, as there are, of course worshippers of the “sacred Javelin” and two-bit importers of the flack vests from the Poland (alternatively – smugglers of IR/EM/Night Visors from Canada), and then there are local MIC (like Poroshenko and his shipbuilding factory in Nykolayev).

        “I don’t know, I don’t think intellectuals have parties. Sometimes they do, but not often. They propagandize worldviews, for parties to exploit.”

        Got it – the absence of the party is not a tell-tale sign of idea’s relevancy in the Ukraine. Okay! How does these dye in the wool “cargo-cult liberals” compare to, say, the Ukrainian nationalists? Poorly. This summer “112 Channel” HQ in Kiev (the Ukraine – you know, which is in Europe) had been shelled from the RPG by “parties unknown”. The reason? Why, the “civil rights activists” and “patriots of the Ukraine” had been shocked, shocked, that dem bloody zradniks dared to suggest to stage at TV-bridge with the aggressor-country. Flash forward to present day – the investigation of the attack is basically dead, while “112 Channel” had lost its broadcasting license. Again – wanna some very Ukrainian tzimmes of this story? “112 Channel” had been owned by Firtash till December 2018, then acquired by the associate of Medvedchuk (obligatory – “кум Путина”)… and then proceeded to support Poroshenko’s party prior to the parliament elections of 2019!

        Another example – current protests against “Steinmeier formula”. Nationalist “civil rights activists”, along with the official parties (like Petro Poroshenko’s very own “European Solidarity” MPs) are chanting in unison – “NO to capitulation!”. Local city (and city) councils in the Ukraine organize official… voting sessions? (not sure if there is a proper legally binding term for that)… against Zelensky’s presidential office support of “Steinmeier formula”. Absolutely NONE of the most notorious members of the radical nationalist movements members (like Evheniy “Zheka” Karas’s of C14 infamy) had been persecuted for very real crimes they’d perpetuated in the past. Moreso – one of Oles’ Buzina’s killers had become a member of the Ukraine’s “Anti-Corruption Bureau”

        Final example! AIS in his commentary above mentioned that Vyatrovich got the boot. True! But the “Institute of the National Memory” still remains. It even got a hike in funding. Vyatrovich now is invited to all TV shows to pontificate on the diverse and sundry subjects as if he is still in charge. The current PM of the Ukraine came out as Vyatrovich’s big fun with their very brotherly friendship going back as far as the last Maidan. Finally, there are persistent rumours that the new head of the (Ukrainian) “Institute of the National Memory” would be one Vahtang Kipiani (a Georgian), author of these:

        So, Mao, I have to ask once again – how many brigades have the “vanilla liberals” of the Ukraine? What can they point out as their achievements – gay parades? The thing is – they are simply not needed in the grand play of the things. The example of Poland, Baltics (and to some degree – of Hungary) shows, that the “Real Europe” can stomach local capitalists mobilizing locals with anti-Russian and nationalist rhetoric just fine.

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      8. I prefer the big picture. Or a bigger picture, anyway.

        The closer we get to the thing, the messier and more complicated it looks. Molecules run in all directions, electrons swirl around atoms. Chaos. But if we move back a little and look again, we’ll realize that we’re looking at a sleeping dog.

        I don’t feel that any substantial trend can be deduced from (for example) the fact that Vyatrovich is invited to many TV shows. Other than that what happened this summer wasn’t a drastic change of direction. That’s clear.

        Yes, It’s not a drastic change. But your thesis, if I can summarize it as “same shit, different bullshit”, is not convincing to me. Sure, anything is possible; it may turn out that way. We’ll see.

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      9. Bigger picture? Okay! As they say in Odessa – “таки, их есть у меня”.

        I’ve been paging through my old posts and folder “Mythbusting of Maidowns”. There was one mega-post I’ve written back in 2013, nearly 6 years ago to a day, about how these “non-Moscalian jumpers” won’t get anything they desire, and how life in the Ukraine will become shitty should they succeed. Autumn 2013. Back then, I could not imagine what would happen next year… and keep happening still. So I just (naively) resorted to the facts and listed the challenges facing the Ukraine as a country. Since then, of course, situation became even more desperate.

        Mao, you are saying that simply be laws of logic, decency and some mystical “Europeanness” of the Ukraine, it can’t become a second Kosovo/Somalia. Here’s the list of the challenges and critical issues I mentioned back then, which Ze&Ko have to solve (somehow)

        1) Employment and labour situation.

        So-called “Revolution of dignity” had become duped into believing, that upon signing of the “Associate agreement with the EU” they’d get “European” pensions and salaries, as well as “European” level of workers’ rights protection. Some were a bit less naïve, and hoped and prayed that this would mean that they’d be allowed to get all those boons outside of the Ukraine, via now mimetically discredited Sacred BezViz (visa free travel agreement).

        6 years later we can say, that their hopes were trashed. Ukrainian market capacity obviously did not grow – and now it can only shrink as the most prestigious jobs (in the heavy industry, large state corporations) are losing a lot of money and had to reduce staff. Visa free travel did not translate in increase of the legal labour migration – illegal one though increased. There are several millions of the so-called “zarobitchanye” working both in the EU and “the aggressor-country”.

        Also, correct me if I’m mistaken, but the inner EU market did not expand in the intervening years as to accommodate throngs of Ukrainians with high-quality well paid jobs. The EU does not want for the Ukraine to become an “agrarian superpower” (there are plenty of opponents of that starting with Poland), neither they want it to become a domestic competitive industrial producer. “Senior partners” of the Ukraine are applouding its decisions to decouple itself from Russia economically. Meanwhile, Russia still recognizes diplomas given by the Ukrainian Unis and Institutes. The EU does not. They are also loath to invite the Ukrainian baboons with swastikas migrants at their shores (there are still plenty Bulgarians anyway…).

        Mao, what’s Ze+Ko plan to solve this (fewer jobs, lower pay) given, that (officially) the ideology of the “Servant of the People” party is “libertarianism”?

        2) Institutionalized corruption and nepotism.

        Common chant of any Maidan, usually coming from the mouths of self-proclaimed “middle-class euro-integrators”. At the same time, most (all) of them get their monthly paycheck through WebMoney or in a sealed envelop, of course without paying taxes, i.e. via the ubiquitous “grey money”. Or they are working for some of the big business companies, for which embezzlement and kickbacks are the only ways to actually work in the country like the Ukraine. They choose to pay bribes regularly, thus perpetuating the system, and have more qualms when their bribe is refused and they don’t get he service provided, rather than because of the bribe itself.

        Just how many of these “young pro-Western liberals” paid a bribe to cheat the medical commission and avoid now reinstated in the Ukraine military draft? This higher education of which they are extremely proud, how did they get there – via family connections and bribes or honestly? Small business owners, do they really chose to jump through all the hoops of the red tape, or did they had to “oil the gears” here and there… and then constantly? Come to think about – do they really want to live in full accordance with the law?

        What’s Ze+Ko plan to solve this (unfightable corruption on all levels) given that, well, it’s Ze+Ko team?

        3) International credit obligations

        The Ukraine had been through a lot. The EU had been through a lot as well. The EU, last time I checked it, was not a charity. Likewise’s the IMF. Just find me one example, where IMF help actually helped the country to overcome the crisis, not pushed that country further in the debt abyss.

        Poroshenko raked up the external debt even further. Now, this is not Russia – now both patriotic and liberal minded Ukrainians would have to pay for it. Without help from the “aggressor-country”, of course. What’s Ze’s plan?

        4) Economic development

        Prior to EuroMaidan, industry of the SouthEast actually fed the country (not the agrarian West), which got ¾ of its orders on production from Russia. Yeah – oligarch owned industry. But also providing job security for a lot of people.

        Mostly gone. Did the EuroMaidan result in new, “innovative” companies coming to the Blessed West of the Ukraine and replacing them with NextGen/Elon Musk wannabees productions? Nope. How can you de-facto recreate your own domestic industry without cheap Russian gas and without squeezing tight the revenue of these companies?

        Actually, we can answer the question what’s Ze+Ko plan to solve this is! Recently, Verkhovna Rada’s deputy from the “Servant of the People” party Dannyil Get’mantsev (chairman of Rada’s commission on Taxation and Finances) registered “bill №12-10”. If passed, it would increase the taxation on mining and metallurgical companies. Yeah – officially “libertarian” party of Zelensky plans to hike the taxes on the businesses. 🙂

        What I’m trying to convey here, Mao, is that Zelensky (and the socio-economic forces that brought him to the power) have found himself in the situation, that the chess players call “zugzwang ” – whatever his move, the result ought to be nasty. Therefore, I’m (only semi)surprised to find out, that, yes there are currently western cheerleaders of “anti-Steinmeier formula” crypto-Maidan protests, tut-tuting Zelensky’s very shy and modest attempts to make probable the least harmful scenario. Zelensky and his team proved themselves weak willed and all too accommodating previously. Is this the kind of behaviour that would help to the titanic effort to unfuck the country from the precipice of turning into another Kosovo?

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      10. “it would increase the taxation on mining and metallurgical companies”

        Yes, I too listened to Dzhangirov’s commentary. Again: ideology is one thing, and politics another. We don’t know much (if anything) about behind the scene negotiations.

        I don’t want to read the bloomberg opinion piece written by the former NATO chief. But the CFR piece doesn’t exactly sound like cheerleading of “anti-Steinmeier formula”. If you ignore the meaningless BS which is 99% of it, it amounts, I think, to: “the US should keep Ukraine as its client state!”. In response to Trump signaling that he’s ready to dump it to the EU and Russia.

        I agree that this current ‘Maidan’ is a test. We’ll see what happens. But I wouldn’t pay too much attention to, and try to find a deep meaning in whatever BS they say in public…

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      11. Actually, maybe you’re right about the Kolomoysky-Akhmetov stuff.

        Maybe Ukraine shouldn’t be analyzed as a modern capitalist state, but rather as a purely oligarchic republic. Where every politician, every bureaucrat, and every public event is sponsored and controlled by an oligarch, sitting on top of his own organizational pyramid. And nothing else. In that case, it’s really hard to predict anything.

        But then, eventually they will still have to go away somehow, the way of Berezovsky-Gusinsky-Khodorkovsky. Why can’t this be the beginning of a transition?

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    1. vaguely reminds me of the strange Ukrainian election cum Orange Revolution and/or 2004 elections.

      Cynically spoken: I was never quite sure what to make of Viktor Yushchenko’s just in time dioxin poising. …

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  6. Steinmeier formula

    Hmmm, ok, from the “Normandy Format”/Minsk to the “Steinmeier formula”? How did that happen?

    Could that be related to the larger resurgent “German Question”? Or from a special perspective the SPD’s ill-advised Ostpolitik already under Willi Brandt during the Cold War? (Northstream II?)

    Steinmeier Mania

    hmmm?? Guess I’ll have to take a mania test. Maybe we Germans all have minor grandeur illusions?

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  7. I think good analysis of this situation has been made in the Russian part of the Carnegie Center.

    https://carnegie.ru/commentary/79971

    They made similar conclusions – as for now “Steinmeier buzz” is pretty unfounded, it is just a pretty loose framework without enforcement mechanisms and deadlines. The important part that will come next – will the sides be able to reach acceptable (for both sides) consensus or peace process will stall like it was during the Minsk agreements.

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    1. appreciated,Vladimir. …

      he Steinmeier formula, named after its author, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is meant in part to find a way out of this impasse.

      The gray eminence or brain behind Schroeder, and by now German president. …

      I was a bit confused about the label … My insider on Lower Saxony and later SPD party politics is dead by now.

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    2. This article might be in Russian, but it IS classic Carnegie Center… “writing”. For the most part, it’s just wishful-thinking re-iteration of the things already known, with no analysis or suggestions offered how to finally re-animate whipped to the bones dead horse of the “Minsk peace process”.

      Noooo… The tzimmes of this article, is that it mentions International peacekeepers in its wishful-thinking musings. Unfortunately for the West, Ukrainian maydowns had let the cat out of the bag years ago, when this idea was first introduced. What passes for the “political commenters” and “leaders of the opinion” in the Ukraine, immediately sized upon this idea, insiting that said peacekeepers would achieve what their (“mightiest in Europe” (c) P. Poroshenko) army failed to do – occupy and disarm Donbass militias. Naturally, UkrMedia is choke-full of various interviews and articles (plus statements from various officials) insisting on de-facto occupation of the whole of DNR and LNR territories – not just “de-militarized zone”, but the whole of land, up to and including border with Russia.

      This article very clumsy tries to re-introduce this Badnerite (and it’s proponens in the Ukraine are proud to be called Banderites, just as they are happy to suggest new ways for finding “the final solution” for the people in the East of the Ukraine) plan. First, it out of the blue suggests the need for the “international police force” to be placed between the forces of the Kiev’s Regime and those of the People’s Republics. Next, the article starts calling these “police” forces “international peacekeeprs”. Next, this Carnegie article goes even further, insiting, that these “peacekeepers” would be necessary for “maintaining order” during the elections (p.9 of Minsk-II AND “Steinmeier formula” algorithm’s of its implementation).

      Hmmmm… How about – no? Because no one trusts you – one. There is no provision about “international peacekeeprs” in the text of Minsk-II – two. The OSCE is already saddled with this kind of crappy tasks – three. 1 out of 5, for not even trying. SAD!

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      1. No, the main idea of this article that both sides need to make compromises in order to achieve results. None of them was willing before and now Zelensky made the first step in this direction, but it is pretty much symbolic now and it is yet to be seen if practical results of the peace process will be achieved.

        Your proposed solution (capitulation of Ukraine and full acceptance of Moscow-proposed solution that their pet separatists fully retain both their military organizations and border control, thus keeping control over cross-border weapons and personnel flow from/to Russia) is basically political suicide for Ukraine’s ruling group without achieving anything meaningful. It will be just a reversal of the Poroshenko-proposed solution (capitulation of pro-Russian separatists), only it will be Ukrainian forces who will be at mercy of seps, not restrained by meaningful mechanisms of control if they will want to escalate instead of disarming.

        Yk’now, seps are not reliable too – they broke ceasefires numerous times before, it is not like even Moscov have full control over them, albeit they hold all important strings in their hands – both military (weapon and ammunition supply) and civilian (financial support and goods flow) and could easily choke them if decide that support of separatisits is not practical anymore.

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      2. “No, the main idea of this article that both sides need to make compromises in order to achieve results”

        I file it under “wishful-thinking re-iteration of the things already known”. If the article assumes that the readers already know all peculiarities of the negotiation process and past diplomatic achievements, then it spends too much (virtual) ink on repeating them. If this article is meant to be read by the “general audience” unaware of the less “mainstream” aspects, then it does cherry-pick a lot. E.g., there is no mention how P. Poroshenko came out and publicly defended “Steinmeier Formula”… in 2016. It would also serve the cause of general enlightening of the public, should the article mention nationalist and “ATO vets” protests against it that erupted immediately, culminating in the death of a the Natz Guard trooper defending the governmental building, from a hand grenade, thrown to him by a “peaceful protester”. Naturally, Poroshenko shelved the whole issue and NOW came out as its chief official opponent, going as far, as lying outright about his own role.

        “…capitulation of Ukraine and full acceptance of Moscow-proposed solution that their pet separatists…”

        Full stop here. “Capitulation of Ukraine”? “Moscow’s pet separatists”? Are you a khakhol per-chance, Vladimir?

        “…is basically political suicide for Ukraine’s ruling group without achieving anything meaningful.”

        First – read the text of Minsk-II. It’s not hard to find. Second – “Stenmeier’s formula” confirms all obligations written therein AND the exact order of steps needed to be undertaken for its implementation. Third – all chief political actors (Russia, France, Germany – even US of A) repeat time and again, that “there is no alternative for Minsk-II”. Finally – you (general you) want a law-based international order, right? Well, there are signatures of the Ukrainian leadership on these documents – both Minsk-II and “Stenmeier’s formula”. Period.

        As for suicide… the political puppets that seized control of the Ukraine post the so-called “Revolution of Dignity” were de-facto dead men (and women) walking.

        “It will be just a reversal of the Poroshenko-proposed solution (capitulation of pro-Russian separatists), only it will be Ukrainian forces who will be at mercy of seps, not restrained by meaningful mechanisms of control if they will want to escalate instead of disarming.”

        As they say in Odessa – these are two big differences. One – there is no internationally binding document requiring capitulation of “pro-Russian separatists”. Neither there is a document that would require a “capitulation” of the VSU forces or the entirety of the current Regime in Kiev. Two – Regime in Kiev already does not control that territory. Judging by the words of the luminaries – neither do they WANT to control it, unless without carrying out an ethnic cleansing or two. Three – there is though legally binding conditions of the Minsk-II, which aim to end the war and bring peace. Are you in favor of the war, Vladimir? Despite all of its bluster, Kiev can not re-negotiate it from the position of force. If it can not re-negotiate it (and it can NOT re-negotiate it) it has to accept it.

        “…and could easily choke them if decide that support of separatisits is not practical anymore.”

        And why would Russia decide that supporting the People’s Republics is not practical anymore? Neither Kiev, nor the West give any reason to even contemplate such a thought.

        Are you against peace, Vladimir? Btw, are you a resident of the Ukraine?

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      3. “I file it under “wishful-thinking re-iteration of the things already known”. If the article assumes that the readers already know all peculiarities of the negotiation process and past diplomatic achievements, then it spends too much (virtual) ink on repeating them.”

        Because news outlets and the general public seems to forget the previous stages of this peace process – Minsk accords. Sometimes it is useful to give context to the new developments. What just happened isn’t important yet – it is important what will follow.

        “E.g., there is no mention how P. Poroshenko came out and publicly defended “Steinmeier Formula”… in 2016. It would also serve the cause of general enlightening of the public, should the article mention nationalist and “ATO vets” protests against it that erupted immediately, culminating in the death of a the Natz Guard trooper defending the governmental building, from a hand grenade, thrown to him by a “peaceful protester”. Naturally, Poroshenko shelved the whole issue and NOW came out as its chief official opponent, going as far, as lying outright about his own role.”

        2016 was more than a year after 2015 when those accords were signed – there was no indications Poroshenko seriously wanted to implement those accords in Moscow-suggested order – first elections and legalization, instead of promoting more Western-backed variant – seps disarm first, elections and legalization (if everything goes as Kiev wants) second. Various militias play a little actual role in Ukraine nowadays – even in your example they were pretty easily run over by internal forces (which are pretty much filled with “old guard” and will hardly change sides, unless there will be massive popular manifestations like it was back in 2013/14). Outside of media (probably their actions more heavily covered in Russia, than in their own country), they matter little – as recent elections had shown too.

        “Full stop here. “Capitulation of Ukraine”? “Moscow’s pet separatists”? Are you a khakhol per-chance, Vladimir?”

        This is the most amusing part when you communicate with persons, khm, heavily-indoctrinated by official propaganda – they see ukrainians everywhere, even in their closet. Not everyone who doesn’t believe russian state propaganda about crucified boys lives in Ukraine.
        It is silly to deny that insurgency (at least in the form we see it now) heavily rely on Russia, and not just in weapons, vehicles and ammunition – it was built by people heavily tied to the Russian government structures – from Borodai and Girkin to the people like Trapeznikov, (short-served ex-head of DNR, now appointed to the post of acting head of the city of Elista.)

        https://rg.ru/2019/09/26/reg-ufo/eks-glava-dnr-naznachen-ispolniaiushchim-obiazannosti-glavy-elisty.html

        “First – read the text of Minsk-II. It’s not hard to find. Second – “Stenmeier’s formula” confirms all obligations written therein AND the exact order of steps needed to be undertaken for its implementation. Third – all chief political actors (Russia, France, Germany – even US of A) repeat time and again, that “there is no alternative for Minsk-II”.
        Finally – you (general you) want a law-based international order, right? Well, there are signatures of the Ukrainian leadership on these documents – both Minsk-II and “Stenmeier’s formula”. Period.”

        Once again – Russia and West talk about 2 different Minsk-II – the devil lies in details, precisely in the order points from Minsk should be implemented. Russia wants to cement the current status of separatist organizations in the Ukrainian constitution, while Ukraine (and West back them up) wants to disarm seps first and then start negotiating on legal status. Basically, Rus. want Ukr. to capitulate and accept current status-quo, while Ukr. wants seps to capitulate and disarm first, most likely reverting to pre-war situation.

        “As for suicide… the political puppets that seized control of the Ukraine post the so-called “Revolution of Dignity” were de-facto dead men (and women) walking.”

        I think this mantra (like the impending collapse of the USA) repeated in Russian state media for a long time – but now it seems like pro-russian cadres have a higher attrition rate.

        “Neither there is a document that would require a “capitulation” of the VSU forces or the entirety of the current Regime in Kiev.”

        This document will basically force VSU to stop guarding the border with separatist regiments – nothing will contain them from launching additional attacks and expand their territory.

        “Two – Regime in Kiev already does not control that territory. Judging by the words of the luminaries – neither do they WANT to control it, unless without carrying out an ethnic cleansing or two.”

        Currently, Zelensky tries to negotiate for a more balanced agreement – unlike his predcessor he is a more centrist populist, he actually can count for people from pro-russian enclaves (at least partially) as his electorate.

        “Three – there is though legally binding conditions of the Minsk-II, which aim to end the war and bring peace. Are you in favor of the war, Vladimir?

        Once more – in Moscow-suggested form, it can easily lead to the further disintegration of Ukraine and a lot more conflict and death. Full-scale Yugoslavian or Lebanon scenario.

        “Despite all of its bluster, Kiev can not re-negotiate it from the position of force. If it can not re-negotiate it (and it can NOT re-negotiate it) it has to accept it.”

        The current situation is called “a stalemate” for a reason – Russia also cannot force their vision on Ukraine. In the current situation, there is no need for Ukraine to capitulate too. Therefore sides must reach some sort of consensus _if_ they want to reach the peace deal.

        “And why would Russia decide that supporting the People’s Republics is not practical anymore?”

        This is the correct question – the peace process can be easily torpedoed by Russia unless Ukraine will agree to full capitulation. Russia generally prefers to freeze conflicts instead of resolving them. It is fine as it is to them.

        Why stop it now? Some peasants on ground are suffering (ironically, demographics who took most damages in this conflict are pro-Russian civilians – both sides shell their homes in their artillery duels, rob them, kill them)? Bah, it doesn’t concern Russian elites- they more interested in political chess with Ukraine now, who they imagine as American puppets. Separatist own leadership is pretty fine too – unless they will want to become too independent. “Ukrainian sabotage group” from FSB can reach them easily – as it was shown many times in the last years when “unidentified” specialists without troubles broke independent groups (from central power) and integrated them into the vertical hierarchy. Dremov and Kosizyn сossak groups were largest and most prolific examples of this policy.

        “Are you against peace, Vladimir?

        Some sorts of peace agreements could lead to more suffering and violence. It is important to check for up- and down- sides of each obligation you take.

        “Btw, are you a resident of the Ukraine?”

        Fix your ukrodetector – and don’t forget to check for the presence of ukrainan citizens under your bed.

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  8. Vladimir, I always initially assume that people, with whom I’m having conversation in the Net, are not idiots. After all – they somehow managed to be literate and knowledgeable enough to operate complex piece of electrics with the access to the Web. Therefore, I have to assume by your non-answer in first two paragraphs, that you are a very smart person – who takes for idiots all others.

    You do not address cherry-picking of facts done by the author of this article, done for the sake of constructing a particular “narrative” – yet it is. The article does not address the simple fact that so-called “Stenimeier formula” had been signed by the Ukrainian side more than 3 (THREE) years ago. That it was the Ukraine that failed to implement it and why. By not discussing this “why”, and how conditions in the Ukraine for repeat of this failure still remain basically unchanged, the whole article becomes “wishful-thinking”. Or a case of intellectual onanism.

    The only “new” content, compared to the constantly perused and tiresome tropes and utterings, is mentioning of the Ukr-Nazis wet мрiя about peacekeepers, who’d as if by magic(k) re-conquer entire Donbass instead of heroic “Warriors of the Light”, “Cyborgs”, “Prombergs” and other super-mutants. But because Ukro-pithecs that now form the chattering masses of the “influencers” and “masters of the opinions” are too dumb to keep their mouths shut and blubber out their end goals at the first opportunity, they won’t get it. I’ve written about it previously more than a year ago, no need to repeat it all here. Just one excerpt from an eerily similar plan, offered by the arch-Russophobe (and a connoisseur of the Ukrainian prostitutes/“mail brides” – yes, it’s true and easily checkable) Andres Umland:

    Pacification.
    “Once Moscow takes a more compromising position, the real work can begin. Western experts, diplomats, and politicians should explore future financing, the mandate, and the shape of an international peacebuilding operation across the Donbas. A temporary third-party intervention would provide a transition between Moscow’s crypto-occupation and the territories’ subsequent return to Kyiv’s control. A UN mission with up to 30,000 peacekeepers could serve the Kremlin as a face-saving mechanism.”

    Reintegration.
    “Today Ukraine’s major stakeholders reject the political parts of the Minsk Agreements. Western and Ukrainian politicians, diplomats, and experts need to find a way out. A possible solution could be a joint Ukrainian-Western reinterpretation of the Minsk Agreements. A new reading of Minsk II’s call for a “special status” of the Donbas could, for instance, mean stronger control over the occupied territories by Kyiv.

    Ukrainian and Western diplomats should turn the text on its head while formally fulfilling its prescriptions. A future Ukrainian law on the Donbas could proclaim a transitory “special status” for the occupied territories by, for example, temporarily increasing the power of the future Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts prefects. While these prefects had been originally designed to fulfill supervisory functions in a decentralized Ukraine, their prerogatives could for the Donbas be extended to that of provisional presidential governors within the framework of an interim regime for this region. The National Guard — not mentioned in the Minsk Agreements — could in a future Donbas law be temporarily granted additional rights and obligations in the occupied territories. Similar provisions could be included in a future law to make constitutional reform that includes a “special status” provision for the Donbas acceptable to the Verkhovna Rada.”

    Umland’s and his Atlantic Council (NATO, Turkey and Saudi Arabia funded propaganda outlet) cronies failed with their “maximum pressure campaign on Russia”. Which means that now “Ukraine’s major stakeholders” have to revise their attitudes to Minsk-II. And it shows.

    Why not write about it? Why still cling to the now thoroughly discredited dream and repeat, tearfully, as a magic(k)all chant “весь свiт з нами!”. Why, Vladimir?

    You are saying you are not Ukrainian, yet you are using expressions and formulaic responses that are de-rigueur among the Ukrainian politically active svidomites. If (indeed) you are not some Volodymir Opanasych Mamalyzhenko from Ivano-Frankivsk, then you are either:

    A) Member of Ukrainian diaspora in the West, i.e. an eternally butthurt descendant of the Banderites.

    B) Russian liberast

    C) Member of גָּלוּת intelligentsia.

    Any option is fine by me 😉 Ultimately – it doesn’t matter, even if you are shy about it.

    “2016 was more than a year after 2015 when those accords were signed – there was no indications Poroshenko seriously wanted to implement those accords in Moscow-suggested order”

    It is important that “Steinmeier’s formula” had been signed by Poroshenko in 2016 – he can’t claim that he was “forced by the military threat” as was in 2014 or 2015. No – he did it freely. He voiced his support for it – publicly. Can you know what he thought then? I can’t. I can only cite his own words. If you are saying that the words of the Ukrainian president (ANY Ukrainian president!) are actually not indicative of anything, well, then the Ukraine is a failed state. If it would take this week’s example of the thorough failure to carry out “Steinmeier’s formula” by the Ukrainian side, for the whole wide world to see that – good! Excellent! Splendid!

    “Outside of media (probably their actions more heavily covered in Russia, than in their own country), they matter little – as recent elections had shown too.”

    🙂

    One – when 10 000 baboons chanting “Nict Kapituliren!” is enough to scare Zelensky (who won hands down both President and Rada’s elections) then it only shows how the official electoral power means nothing compared to the street.

    “Once again – Russia and West talk about 2 different Minsk-II – the devil lies in details, precisely in the order points from Minsk should be implemented.”

    “Steinmeier’s formula” (signed by the Ukraine) shows that Russian interpretation is right, while the Ukrainian is wrong. Period. Nowhere does it say that “seps” (can using this word, if you are skakol, will you?) will be “disarmed” prior to.

    “Basically, Rus. want Ukr. to capitulate and accept current status-quo, while Ukr. wants seps to capitulate and disarm first, most likely reverting to pre-war situation.”

    This is not a capitulation though. Capitulation would require accountability on the Ukrainian side for the shit they’ve been doing all those years (the amnesty cuts both ways). No, its just asking them to bow down to the facts, which they can’t change. Let’s not lie here, that the Ukraine heroically “prevented” or “resisted” Russia in its conquest of the Ukraine. The opposite happened – new Regime in Kiev failed its war of (re?)conquest of Donbass.

    “I think this mantra (like the impending collapse of the USA) repeated in Russian state media for a long time – but now it seems like pro-russian cadres have a higher attrition rate.”

    I’m not aware of any Russian media repeating “like mantra” something about the impending collapse of the USA. I’m though aware of the American media, talking about its own impending collapse, or the “New Civil War” (that say rightwing leaning) or “The Nazi Uprising” (so-called “leftists” warn about this), and even “the End of the American Empire” (a bi-partisan consensus here). But, again, if you are accusing me of being a victim of Kremlenite brainwashing – do it directly, Vladimir! I, so far, did not accuse you of being “brainwashed”.

    Neither did I mean the “dead men walking” in the literal sense of the word. Did you? Meaning, you did mean it literally, saying that Ze+Ko would commit suicide by fulfilling the Ukraine’s international obligations? Well, if it’s so, then the Ukraine is truly a fucked up failed state that, indeed, can collapse. Yet the last part of your sentence makes me thing you don’t believe in that… or you are just contradicting yourself. Or lying 🙂

    “This document will basically force VSU to stop guarding the border with separatist regiments – nothing will contain them from launching additional attacks and expand their territory.”

    O, ye of little faith – what about OSCE?! 😉

    “Once more – in Moscow-suggested form”

    Frank Valter Steinmeier is not a Muscovite. Or even a Russian. And he expressed his dismay and surprise at the Ukrainian shenanigans at misinterpreting a document, that got named after him. How about you, Vladimir, try to treat the words of this great politician seriously and with all required dignity?

    “The current situation is called “a stalemate” for a reason”

    No, it is called zugzwang – for the Ukraine:

    “In the current situation, there is no need for Ukraine to capitulate too.”

    So you are asking for Zelensky to become Poroshenko 2.0. Got it! Surely, that’s exactly why the people chose him in the first place and not, you know, re-elected Poroshenko.

    As for conspiracy theories – no, I won’t even try to reply to them. Either give me proof or GTFO.

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