Putin – Burkhalter talks: an elusive chance for Ukraine

A couple of brief remarks on today’s meeting in Kremlin between Russian President Vladimir Putin and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter:

1. The elaborated framework of the roadmap for de-escalation in Ukraine consists of four basic provisions: ceasefire, deescalation (withdrawal of troops and disarmament of illegal armed groups), initiation of national reconciliation dialogue and holding elections. The ball is obviously on Kiev’s side. Any further attempt to repress the protest in the South-East will definitely close this narrow window of opportunity.

2. Putin’s request to postpone referenda on independence in Donetsk and Lugansk is an act of good will. Being aware of the public mood in these regions it is very unlikely that the ballot will be held off. People there are counting days to have a legal foundation to get rid of Kiev’s dictate. By the way, such development would undermine traditional Western claims that Putin is manipulating the protests in the South-East of Ukraine.

3. The Russian President emphasized again that “the blame for the crisis… lies with those who organised the coup d’etat in Kiev and have not yet taken the trouble to disarm right-wing radical and nationalist groups.” That means that prior to such disarmament there would be no dialogue and no elections.

4. It was also stressed that the draft new constitution of Ukraine should be discussed during this national reconciliation dialogue and  again, prior to the elections.

5. The situation on the ground suggests that this roadmap would take at least 6 months to be implemented and require a substantial participation of the legitimate Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych.

This is the last (and rather unexpected) chance to retain a united federative Ukraine. Taking into account highly contradicting interests of the international centers of power which dominate over the current Kiev’s administration, it would be almost impossible to keep this narrow window open for this term. But apparently Hope will be the last victim of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis…

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