Talks in Paris on Ukraine: Stark Contrast of Evaluations

The first thing to appear in the limelight is the information tangle in the evaluations of the Normandy format's recent meeting in Paris.

The contrast of opinions and assessments – ranging from major success to total failure – prevails in media. Nonetheless, the key message consists in the obligation to comply with the Minsk Agreements. They need to be fulfilled complexly, as politicians emphasize. One of political points stipulates the date of elections on the territories uncontrolled by Ukraine.

Just recently, reports about postponement of elections in the DPR and LPR until 2016 have appeared. This, in my opinion, is one of the factors bespeaking searches for a compromise.

Today, there are active debates about the fairness and the transparency of the upcoming elections on the breakaway territories. At the same time, the environment of the election campaign on the territory of Ukraine is ignored. In this regard, especially close attention should be paid to the local elections in Ukraine, which would hardly be a role model for the self-proclaimed republics.

The nature of the electoral campaign in Ukraine raises very many questions. The key issue is the voter turnout. It is at its all-time lowest. Participation of opposition members in the Ukrainian elections is complicated. An enormous number of displaced persons cannot vote.

Accents on the responsibility of the Ukrainian government for the situation in the country shifted in the speeches of Hollande and Merkel at the meeting in Paris. It is more important for Kiev to search for internal solutions to the Ukrainian conflict than for explanations to the developments.

Lifting of the blockade is a very important and real step that will strengthen the peace process in the east of Ukraine. The blockade stirs utter grievance among the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, regardless of who is in control of the territories.

The absence of direct dialogue between the Kiev government and authorities of the unrecognized republics is another stumbling block lagging the peace process. A direct dialogue can bolster political stabilization. But the political reality in Ukraine is such that compromises on the government's side create certain risks for the selfsame government in the country because the positions of those who stand against the dialogue with Donbass are rather firm. Such stance is treated as a display of weakness and treachery. There is another circumstance forcing the Ukrainian government to take that path: the sharp fall of the Ukrainian population's confidence in the government. It is tolerable for a certain span of time, but high approval ratings are required for reforms as a "damping bed". Ukraine's Western partners insist on reforms in the country's system. The negotiations within the Normandy format may propel the peace efforts. However, Ukraine needs other formats and solutions to solve the crisis. To achieve peace, it needs big money for the revival and development of the economy.

Paradoxically, the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the West are disadvantageous for Ukraine. Sooner or later, Russia and Ukraine will have to reestablish economic ties.

The success of the negotiations within the Normandy format are tallied with the potential lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. Optimistic expectations of swift lifting of sanctions are clearly exaggerated.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.