Anatoly Baranov: Any UN mission in east Ukraine is a surrender of positions

By Dmitry Rodionov, Free Press ( 


January 28: New U.S. proposals for United Nations peacekeepers in the Donbass look feasible. This was the result of a meeting with the Special Representative of the U.S. State Department for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, held in Dubai on January 26, Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov told Tass. …
Kurt Volker and Vladislav Surkov met in Dubai on January 26.
In a nutshell, any UN mission in the east of Ukraine is giving up positions, believes Anatoly Baranov, editor in chief of FORUM.msk.
Free Press: What new proposals can we talk about? What could be hidden in the Dubai package?

Anatoly Baranov: In a nutshell, any UN mission in the east of Ukraine is a surrender of positions. Especially when it comes to the southeast of the country — I had a five in geography at school, not to mention the fact that the entire territory is familiar to me, roughly speaking, to the mound. So the south is Crimea, and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) are the east. So east or southeast? This is a matter of principle. If only the east, it’s still bad, because we would no longer control the border — this means a blockade of the Donbass republics. And it means foreign troops 800 kilometers from Moscow and a hundred versts from Rostov. This has not happened since 1943.

FP: Surkov says that the Americans brought much more constructive proposals this time. What influenced the position of the Americans?

AB: I would ask, what influenced the position of Surkov? I do not think that the position of the Americans in Belgrade somehow differs fundamentally from their position in Dubai. The Americans are consistent and persistent in their policies. And since we know little about what he discussed behind closed doors with Volker, we should pay attention to the change in Surkov’s position. And in general, the policy of Russia in Donbass today cannot be said to be very successful. But in fact the Donbass from the very beginning has been Surkov’s responsibility. It would be nice to ask him for the results, before entrusting him to carry out some new policy. Surkov has a direct boss [Russian President Vladimir Putin], let him say that he is satisfied with the results of four years of Surkov’s work in the Donbass, maybe share the place where he puts candles for the souls of literally all the heroes of the “Russian Spring” … And after this assessment say whether this person can be trusted with the continuation of this extremely successful policy.

FP: Surkov especially noted a rather detailed plan for the phased deployment of the [UN] mission in conjunction with the implementation of the political points of the Minsk agreements. But Ukraine actually withdrew from the Minsk agreements, and the U.S. backed them … Surkov himself calls the law an attempt by Ukraine to legalize its own illegal actions in the region.

AB: To begin with, the Minsk agreements were fundamentally unrealizable from the very beginning — this is my personal assessment. Otherwise, we will have to admit that someone simply could not fulfill his task … How Ukraine fulfills these agreements is well known — it means a detailed plan for the deployment of the mission will be a continuation of the Minsk process. That’s what it is, and it will continue. Then I must ask Surkov, what is your satisfaction with this? It is true that, using the Minsk agreements, Ukraine strengthened its purely military positions in the Donbass, advanced very significantly in the “gray zone,” conducted a good retraining of its armed forces, received foreign military assistance — and is ready to continue the Minsk process in the same direction.

Tens of thousands in Donetsk protest OSCE plan for foreign “peacekeepers,”
June 10, 2016. Washington is now pushing a plan to introduce UN troops.
FP: According to Surkov, the positions of Russia and the United States fully coincide on the solution of a number of humanitarian problems in Donbass, such as the exchange of prisoners, the opening of additional checkpoints, and providing communication services to residents. Why then is there no progress on these issues? Does Kiev stubbornly resist?

AB: I see quite different humanitarian problems in Donbass. First of all, providing all segments of the population with food of sufficient quantity and quality — and this is unlikely to come through WiFi. There is a terrible problem with medications, at least at the level of supply to the Red Army in 1944 — people die from diabetes because there is no insulin at all, there is a severe shortage of antibiotics and a number of other medications. Specialized medical care does not exist — at best, at the level of a base hospital at the front, not even the rear. The educational process is poorly organized, there are not enough textbooks and manuals; in fact, we are about to get a generation that did not receive a full-fledged school education. The burden of infrastructural problems is accumulating, since for four years it has been impossible to fully address them. The standard of living is extremely low, it does not even reach the level of Ukrainian, although it is the lowest in Europe. And communication problems … Yes, this is also important.

FP: The meetings of Surkov and Volker are often called “synchronizing watches” and “exchanging views on current issues.” Are they able, in your opinion, to find real ways of resolving the situation?

AB: No, this is not at the level of special representatives at all. My position is known – it is necessary to prepare the recognition of the DPR and the LPR and let these issues be dealt with not by the “PR genius” but by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rossotrudnichestvo [Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation] and other official government agencies that have a defined range of tasks and methods for their solution. Would Surkov ever deliver insulin? And Surkov will not determine the scope of military-technical cooperation, which formally doesn’t exist now, but should.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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