US Chargé d'Affaires to Ukraine William Taylor said the United States is interested in expanding the Norman format. He announced this on August 15 in an interview with the European Truth publication.

“We think this is an interesting proposition,” Taylor said. “Of course, it is necessary that other participants in the Norman format speak out about what they think about the accession of the United States or Great Britain, but I can say that we are interested in this.”

The American diplomat also added that the US representative for Ukraine, Kurt Walker, is already in talks to change the Norman format. Volcker himself previously stated that consultations on this issue could take place early next week.

The bomb under the "Minsk"

Recall, on July 8, President Zelensky made a proposal to hold a meeting dedicated to the settlement of the conflict in the Donbass, in which not only the leaders of the "Norman Four" countries - Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, but also Great Britain and the USA would take part.

Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov reacted to this initiative, noting that “you need to understand if such a meeting has prospects”. In turn, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov said that the existing international format of negotiations on Ukraine is “already agreed upon” and “it is important not to scatter attention”. Deputy Lavrov Grigory Karasin noted that Moscow is not against an expanded dialogue, but it is important to get the consent of Paris and Berlin, “but there is no certainty about this.” However, the French Foreign Ministry said that "a change in the Norman format is not on the agenda."

  • Norman Four Foreign Ministers Meeting
  • © Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

But in support of the accession of the United States and Britain to the Norman format, Poland came forward. On August 13, Foreign Minister Jacek Chaputovic said that "perhaps this is the right way." In addition, Chaputovich believes that the EU should also be more actively involved in the negotiation process.

According to Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Progressive Politics Foundation, in an interview with RT, Kiev seeks to change the Norman format in order to finally bury the Minsk agreements that are disadvantageous for itself, where the special status of Donbass is registered.

“For Kiev, the Norman format in this form is unacceptable,” explained RT Bondarenko. - They would like to change the Minsk agreements, somehow update them, and this is not beneficial either to Moscow or to other participants of the Norman format - Germany and France. Therefore, Ukraine today is seeking for itself the opportunity to at least somehow change the rules of the game, and for this it is necessary to introduce a new player who would authorize changes or updates to the Minsk agreements. Specifically, they want to introduce the United States and Great Britain into the Norman format. ”

In a desire to implement a scenario in the Donbass that is “not provided for by the Minsk Agreements,” William Taylor also said. In his opinion, it is necessary to introduce international peacekeepers into the conflict zone and integrate the territories of the LPR and the DPR into Ukraine.

President Vladimir Zelensky wants to end the war in the east of the country on his own terms, according to an RT source at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

“But Russia is opposed. Its representatives want the Ukrainian leadership to take into account the interests of citizens of the east of the country. This is the main problem. The representatives of France and Germany are well aware that it will not be possible to agree on these conditions, since the Ukrainian leadership is not really interested in returning the Donbass. Zelensky wants to attract strong allies to his side - representatives of the United States or Great Britain, who should stand in support of Ukraine and put pressure on Germany and France. But I think nothing will come of it. In the best case, everyone quarrels and breaks up, ”said RT interlocutor in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

Oleg Bondarenko agrees with the last conclusion.

“If the four parties that are currently participants in the Norman format cannot agree among themselves, then with the introduction of an additional Anglo-American side there, this agreement will become even more unattainable,” the political scientist believes.

In the footsteps of Poroshenko

As Grigory Karasin noted earlier, the idea of ​​expanding the Norman format at the expense of the British and Americans is not new.

“Previously, Petro Poroshenko actively pedaled it, persistently seeking the inclusion of the United States in the Norman format. Now it’s the turn of Vladimir Alexandrovich Zelensky to come up with similar proposals, ”the Russian diplomat said.

As noted in a conversation with RT professor at Moscow State University M.V. Lomonosov Andrei Manoilo, Zelensky wants to show that Washington supports him, and therefore he is trying to push this idea with all his might.

“In this regard, Zelensky advertises on every corner that the United States is with him. If this idea is realized, he will boast that the United States did not want to work with Poroshenko, therefore there was no Norman format, and with the advent of the new president, the States agreed to do this, ”Manoilo said.

In turn, the United States, according to experts, considers the Norman process exclusively as a lever of pressure on Ukraine.

“If the United States appears there, then they, not being a regional player, will have the opportunity to intervene in the affairs of Ukraine directly,” the political scientist says.

At the same time, RT source in the European Solidarity party believes that Donald Trump may need to be involved in the Norman process as an election trump card: on the eve of the 2020 presidential election, he needs foreign policy victories.

  • The consequences of the battles in Debaltseve
  • Reuters
  • © Baz Ratner

“US President Donald Trump intends to run for election next year, and he needs a significant victory. The completion of hostilities in eastern Ukraine with the assistance of the Trump administration is additional points in the ranking of the American president. Therefore, the United States can join the Norman format. Only until I can imagine how this conflict can be quickly resolved. Even in Berlin and Paris do not believe in this, ”said party representative Petro Poroshenko to RT.

Taylor's Position

According to William Taylor, he has already noticed “positive changes” in the issue of resolving the conflict in the Donbass after Vladimir Zelensky came to power. As an example, he cited Zelensky’s desire to maintain a truce, his willingness to negotiate with Russia and a change in approach to the inhabitants of Crimea and Donbass.

“There is a possibility that the presidents of Ukraine and Russia discuss issues of the Donbass, the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait. Ukrainians and Russians are now able to talk about this in principle, and for me this is inspirational news, ”said US Chargé d'Affaires in Ukraine.

He also praised Zelensky for withdrawing weapons from the contact line in Stanitsa Luganskaya and said that if this step “will be duplicated elsewhere along the contact line, this could well lead to changes.” At the same time, the American representative emphasized that, in his opinion, the main role in the peace process should be played by sanctions pressure on Russia.

  • William Taylor
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According to Oleg Bondarenko, the United States can actually help bring peace to the Donbass. But for this, Washington must put pressure on Kiev.

“If we talk about an external force that could resolve the conflict in the Donbass, then, in my opinion, only Americans can afford it,” the expert noted. - They are quite capable of putting pressure on Kiev. But today they don’t have such a desire. ”

Only way out

After Vladimir Zelensky came to power in Ukraine, representatives of the Norman Four countries began to declare the possibility of resuming meetings. In recent years, Petro Poroshenko’s presidency, summits at the level of foreign ministers and state leaders have virtually ceased.

On August 6, Zelensky himself called on "the leaders of the countries participating in the Norman negotiation format Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin to get together as soon as possible to resume negotiations." Later, he called all the mentioned heads of state and discussed this idea with them. Today it is known that the Norman format will be discussed during a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron on August 19 in Paris.

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted on August 15, Moscow is ready to resume dialogue on the Donbass in a Norman format.

“But in order to do this, you first need to accomplish what the Norman leaders agreed on almost three years ago, in October 2016,” Lavrov said, speaking at the Territory of Meanings youth forum.

According to him, we are talking about the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Andrei Manoilo notes that no international formats will help if Kiev does not conduct direct negotiations with the leaders of the DPR and LPR and does not conclude direct agreements with them.

  • Ukrainian troops in the Donbass
  • Reuters
  • © Oleksandr Klymenko

“Only agreements between the parties - the LPR and the DPR and the current Kiev regime can become decisive,” the political scientist believes. “You need to understand that the key condition for the beginning of the peace process is the agreements within Ukraine itself and the willingness to implement them, and for this it is necessary to recognize the LPR and the DPR as separate and independent subjects of negotiations.”