By Dmitry Rodionov, Free Press
On Tuesday, May 31, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov answered questions online from journalists and readers of Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Every fifth question concerned Ukraine and Donbass.
Lavrov underlined Moscow’s readiness to continue to support the Donbass, and also talked about Russia’s position on the prospect of an armed OSCE police mission entering Donbass: “The Minsk Agreement does not provide for this. Donbass will never go for it, and in accordance with the Minsk agreements, it is necessary to negotiate all steps with Donbass, without exception.”
In addition, Lavrov explained why Moscow is in no hurry to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
“Recognition of the DPR and LPR is counter-productive, it will give an excuse to the West to stop putting pressure on Kiev to implement Minsk-2,” says the head of Russian diplomacy.
Sergei Lavrov responded to a question about Russia’s inaction during the events on the Ukrainian Maidan, stressing that Russia had no alternatives.
“If you believe that we lost the Maidan, what should we have done? Should we too have paid political scientists to go to the sites they (Ukraine) conducted? When the bandits began illegal actions on the Maidan, should we have sent in the army? I do not agree with this. Russians and Ukrainians are one people,” the Minister outlined his position. ….
The Russian government has never hid that it recognizes Donbass as Ukrainian territory, notes political commentator Victor Shapinov.
FP: Did guarantees of free economic relations between Donbass and Russia play a key role for Moscow at the signing of Minsk-2?
VS: Actually, I always thought that the condition for support of the Minsk Agreement was the protection of the right to self-determination for the people of Donbass. It turns out that there is some kind of trade and economic logic. But, it seems to me, those who rebelled in Donetsk and Lugansk, and those who support and aid the republics in Russia, didn’t fight for “free economic relations.”
FP: [Lavrov said] recognition of the LPR and DPR is counterproductive, because the West would then cease to put pressure on Kiev to fulfill Minsk-2. And would there need to be Minsk-2 if Russia recognized the republics? Wouldn’t recognition disavow it?
VS: The Russian leadership is now seeking ways to make a rapprochement with the West, and will not take any steps that would put an end to the possibility of this rapprochement. Why discuss something that will not happen in the near future? Recognition of the DPR and LPR is not considered as a possible course by the Russian leadership — this was discussed and said openly.
FP: Lavrov’s words about Maidan sound like an excuse. Is this true?
VS: The victory of the Maidan and the defeat of the resistance everywhere in the Southeast, except for Donetsk and Lugansk, is a failure of Russian policy in Ukraine. The reason for this failure is simple – while the Americans and Europeans helped the nationalists build their political structures, Russia preferred to work with representatives of the oligarchic elite, not with grassroots movements. As a result, the nationalist forces came into the situation of political crisis prepared, and their opponents did not. Unfortunately, this misguided policy continues today.
Translated by Greg Butterfield