The meeting in the framework of the Norman format will nevertheless take place on December 9 in Paris. It is clear that the current ruling team in Ukraine is not yet ready to begin to implement the political points of the Minsk agreements. This follows from the numerous statements by President Vladimir Zelensky and people from his entourage.
In particular, in early October, the head of the Ukrainian state in his video address called on the issues that he intends to raise at the upcoming summit: a complete ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign military formations from the Donbass, the exchange of prisoners, the return of the border with Russia under the control of Kiev, and the holding of local elections “Occupied” territories under Ukrainian law, access to elections of candidates from Ukrainian political parties, Ukrainian media and international observers, as well as the exercise of suffrage by all immigrants.
Since that time, Zelensky’s position could and should have greatly changed, since the order of the topics listed does not correspond to their location in the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. In fact, the new ruling team expects that the political points can be swapped and give them their own interpretation, which does not suit either Russia or the Donbass.
It is unlikely that the president of Russia would agree to go to Paris to discuss what Zelensky offers. Border control - only after the adoption of the law on the special status of Donetsk and Lugansk regions and the holding of elections, as recorded in the agreements and Steinmeier’s formula. By “withdrawal of foreign military formations” Kiev means the withdrawal of Russian troops from the LDP, of which he is certain. Moscow did not plan to consider this position and does not plan to, because it claims to be not a party to the conflict, but an observer and guarantor of the implementation of peace agreements.
Zelensky made more risky statements that put an end to the possibility of holding a meeting. So, a few months ago, not fully understanding, apparently, what he was doing, he suddenly announced that at the summit of the "Norman Four" he would discuss the problem of the return of Crimea. He was not prompted that for Russia this question was closed once and for all, therefore, it would not discuss this topic with anyone and under any circumstances.
The Ukrainian president, presumably, realized that he had blundered something wrong, and he did not return to what was said later.
In any case, when changing rhetoric to a more peaceful Zelensky largely repeats the line of his predecessor. He does this because of his own convictions or fearing right-wing radicals, is not so important. All that matters is that the political settlement for him now is clearly an unbearable weight. Among other things, in one of the interviews, he unexpectedly dropped out that he intends to discuss everything that he can agree on at the Norman meeting upon returning with Ukrainian society - and only then make any decisions. Why then meet at all in Paris? After all, Ukrainian society can theoretically nullify the results of the meeting.
Out of such oddities, ambiguities, shyness, a position is formed that is unsuitable for any negotiations, but events such as the Paris summit are carefully prepared in advance, all details are verified to avoid surprises and disruptions. It must be assumed that the President of Ukraine had to abandon a significant part of his ridiculous intentions in order to agree on the agenda for future communication at the top.
I suppose that the meeting will rather be a kind of demonstration that the Norman format is once again acting and pushing the situation towards peace. Let me remind you that the last meeting of the four presidents in its framework took place in October 2016. And after it, virtually no days did the shelling of the settlements of Donbass stop. The Russian president is hardly likely, since he will go to Paris on December 9, counting on very serious steps on the part of Vladimir Zelensky. Absolutely, the parties will be able to agree on one question: about the new areas where the separation of forces and assets will take place. And perhaps about the formation of a demilitarized zone along the entire line of contact.
Although this is a truncated agenda (without a law on special status and on the conduct of elections), it is also extremely important for LDNR residents, since we are talking about a vital topic for them - the establishment of a durable sustainable peace. I think that the president of Russia is ready at this stage to be content with such a result. It seems to me that he would like to give Vladimir Zelensky a chance to radically change the situation in Ukraine: get rid of the dictatorship of the radicals and insist that resolving political issues is an extremely important part of the peace process. Will Zelensky take this chance? There are not many hopes for this, but they still exist.
The author’s point of view may not coincide with the position of the publisher.