Correspondent in Moscow
Judging by the statements prior to the telematics summit of just over two hours between the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, it was clear that the Kremlin would remain unmoved by two basic demands: that Ukraine comply with the Minsk agreements, in the version signed in February 2015, and that Kiev give up the idea of joining NATO. Putin, according to Russian diplomatic sources, insists that he has no intention of invading Ukraine and that his country does not violate the Minsk agreements, something that, in his view, Ukraine does.
However, according to the White House, the US president conveyed to his Russian counterpart “the concern of the United States and its allies about the concentration of Russian forces alongside Ukraine.”
In this sense, Biden asked “to reduce the current military escalation and return to diplomatic channels”, otherwise, the threat of applying “tough economic measures and of all kinds” was wielded once again.
But, while Putin and Biden were chatting by videoconference, the Russian Foreign Minister told reporters that the main task of this summit is to force Kiev to comply with the Minsk agreements. “I insist once again that we are facing an important event in our relations: a telephone contact between Presidents Putin and Biden. It is about making clear our position in relation to the way to solve the conflict in Ukraine, which is none other than forcing the Kiev regime to fulfill its obligations under the package of measures contained in the Minsk agreements » .
Speaking to the Russian public channel Rossiya-1 on Sunday, Lavrov said that “if Ukraine does not intend to comply with the Minsk accords of its own free will, it will have to be forced.” The head of Russian Diplomacy explained that those who must force Kiev to see reason are Germany and France, the two western members of the Normandy Quartet, which also includes Russia and Ukraine.
The 2015 Minsk agreements, reached within the Normandy Quartet and with the Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, as host contain clauses on a ceasefire, la withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of conflict, the approval of new legislation in Ukraine, even tweaking the Constitution, to grant a special autonomous status to Donbass, where elections should be held. After all that, Kiev should regain control of the territory and the border with Russia.
However, according to the Russian political scientist Vladimir Pastujov, the Minsk agreements were a “trap” that was set for the then president, Petró PoroshenkoAnd that I cannot avoid because “I had the threat that the rebels would have continued, with the help of Russia, seizing more territory.”
Pastujov believes that «Russia will never deviate from the Minsk agreements because it is a war trophy and it was legitimized and recognized by the West. Although in his view, “prevents any compromise solution to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.” Russia permanently urges the Ukrainian government to speak with the separatists and in Kiev they are demanding elections first in order to dialogue with other leaders, not with those who led the revolt with the help of Moscow. So, in his column on the Moscow Radio Echo website, Pastukhov argues that Ukraine “has only two options: the war or capitulation ».
And in Moscow, judging by the signals emitted by the Kremlin, there are fears that Kiev will opt for war with the help of the United States and NATO. Speaking to Russian television RT, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, He said on Monday that “the Alliance is now showing an extremely aggressive stance (…) it also states that it does not recognize any red line imposed by Russia”, alluding to plans to integrate Ukraine into the Atlantic organization.
Follow in Georgia’s footsteps
And, a week ago, Lavrov said he hoped that “Volodymyr Zelensky will not follow the path of Mikhail Saakashvili – former Georgian president – when he attacked South Ossetia in August 2008 -. Moscow’s response was to send their troops in aid of the Ossetian and Abkhaz separatists. Although the Russian authorities deny having a strong military force of about 200,000 men deployed on the border with Ukraine, they sometimes warn that within their territory they move the troops in the way they deem most convenient and justify it, according to Lavrov, in the fact that “in the line of contact with Donbass, Ukraine is accumulating more and more forces and means with the growing support of Western instructors.” According to its spokesperson, Maria Zajárova, Kiev has concentrated there about 125,000 soldiers, “half of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, deployed very close to the border with Russia.”
Biden now intends to phone the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Italian prime ministers, Mario Draghi, and British, Boris Johnson. He will also speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the outcome of his talks with Putin.