Russia's position is changing, the ‘Istanbul agreements’

30 March, 06:39 PM

As far as the "Istanbul agreements," are concerned, I’m not considering them directly, but am paying attention to the mechanism for implementing all this.

Because as practice has shown, it is the implementation mechanism that is the most important in any such document.

Here, it’s all quite complex and specific. In particular, "neutral status" requires approval in a referendum, and a referendum itself requires the withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of Ukraine, and a ceasefire.

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That is, we tell Russia: "Withdraw the troops, and then we will vote neutral status in a referendum, and perhaps even vote on it (in parliament)."

But if we do not vote on it in parliament, then what can be higher than a decision taken at a referendum? How hospitable will Russia be to implementing such an algorithm, do you think?

So the prospects for everything going exactly as we were told do not look very convincing.

At the same time, all this was announced, although not a single document was signed. So far, nothing has been signed at all – only discussed, and this is understandable, because the delegation simply cannot have the authority to do so.

The sides exchanged views, now "some weighted average" will be submitted to (Putin’s) legendary bunker. How will this "something" be received in the bunker? It's hard to say. I think it will probably be met without enthusiasm, so we can expect the continuation of the war for some time. And while there may be peace in the end, it might turn out to be just another truce.

What really matters? It is important how gradually Russia's position "migrate." They previously started with the issuing of absurd ultimatums.

Since then the issues of “denazification” and demilitarization have disappeared as if they never existed.

There is also no talk of de jure recognition of the occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the Crimea. The meeting itself "migrated" from Belarus, which is loyal to the Kremlin, to completely neutral Turkey, and (representative of the Russian delegation Vladimir) Medinsky no longer "objects" on behalf of Russia to Ukraine's accession to the EU.

The issue of Crimea, which Russia has called "finally closed" for eight years, is already being discussed. So far, not in the direction that should be expected, but it is being discussed. The presence of (Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem) Umerov and (Crimean Tatars leader Mustafa) Dzhemilev at the talks is the best confirmation of this. In short, they are "already starting to haggle."

It is important to understand that we will not avoid the negotiation process, it is still far from completion, there are no real specifics yet – there are certain trends, the results will depend only on the success of the Ukrainian army. By the way, I think that it is the position of the latter that will play a key role in the content of the final document.

Concerning neutrality and its guarantees. I already wrote above what a complicated procedure is proposed for approval, but purely theoretically, let’s assume that this norm "survived" until the expected negotiations at the highest level, was approved there, passed at a referendum and entered into force. What would all this mean for us in practice?

It should be said here that Ukraine is now a neutral state. It has been officially enshrined in the Constitution for a long time. Later, we officially declared our goal was to join NATO. But this is in actual fact a goal, and not the current state of affairs. We also have a decision of the summit of this respected structure, where the possibility of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is theoretically proclaimed. That is, theoretically, we are striving to join it and theoretically we are recognized as having such an opportunity, but in practice we are not there, and practically we will not be there in any foreseeable future, and this prospect will depend only on international relations, but not on us.

The proposed ideology of "security guarantees" suggests that a number of the most significant countries undertake obligations at the level of an interstate agreement (not a memorandum or other declarations) ratified by the parliament and providing for actions similar to the norms of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty for the Defense of Ukraine. That is, armed assistance after three days of consultations. Well, it means that it is definitely much more than what we have now. And much more than we will definitely have in the near future.

Is there a problem here? There is. The main one is that not everything is clear with the terms of "neutrality." I saw in some publications that it should concern a ban on foreign military bases (which do not exist anyway), as well as restrictions on international military drills (and now this is not clear), but there are still no specifics here, and changes are quite possible.

Finally, the main thing. When putting all this to a referendum, we should understand the prospects for approval. If the idea of abandoning NATO can even be accepted, given the dubious behavior of individual members of the alliance now who are openly blocking assistance to Ukraine, the very idea of "international security guarantees" is greatly discredited in our public’s mind by the Budapest Memorandum. And although everything is being discussed at a different level now, the memory of this piece of paper will still not quickly disappear and will affect our moods.

Therefore, I would say it is premature to consider all this as a given…

The text has been published with the permission of the author.

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