President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the first in the history of the country, Prime Minister Vitold Fokin will join the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on resolving the situation in Donbass.

“We invited Leonid Makarovich (Kravchuk. - RT ). Mr. Fokin, our Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Reznikov, and Mr. Demchenko (first deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Ruslan Demchenko - RT ), who is here, will work with him . That is, we have a fairly powerful group. I see now only an increase in the number of negotiations and meetings, ”Zelensky said at a briefing in the city of Chasov Yar.

Vitold Fokin served as Prime Minister of Ukraine from 1991 to 1992. Together with the first president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, he took part in the signing of the Belovezhskaya agreements on the liquidation of the USSR. Since 1999 Fokin has been the president of the Luhansk community in Kiev. He also holds the post of President of the International Fund for Humanitarian and Economic Relations of Ukraine with the Russian Federation.

According to the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks in Minsk, Leonid Kravchuk, Fokin was invited to take part in the work of the group because of his good knowledge of Donbass.

“He is known in Donbass, he has been in the mine since he was 16. And we would like to have in the group a person whom Donbass knows. So that he could say what the people who live there want strategically, nationally and in whatever way they want, ”Kravchuk explained.

To replace Kuchma

Recall that Zelensky appointed Leonid Kravchuk to the post of chief negotiator on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass on July 30. According to the head of state, this choice is due to the fact that Kravchuk is a "powerful, wise, educated" and experienced person who enjoys authority both in Ukraine and in the DPR and LPR.

As chairman of the contact group on resolving the situation in Donbass, Kravchuk replaced the second president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, who held this post twice: from 2015 to 2018 and from 2019 to 2020.

  • Leonid Kuchma
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  • © Victor Tolochko

According to Zelensky, Kuchma did a great job, which is not always visible to the public due to the closed nature of the meetings in Minsk.

“He's really tired. There is no other reason. We are grateful to him again, ”Zelensky said.

According to experts, Kravchuk began his work at the head of the Ukrainian delegation with a rather scandalous statement. On August 2, he announced that he did not quite understand the components of the special status of Donbass, which is referred to in the Minsk agreements.

“They want it to be a territory with signs not only of some special status of government, but that it was a territory with signs of statehood. That is, they take very high. Russia is still talking about a special status, as written in the Minsk documents. But it was recorded there so that we ourselves do not know what it is, ”Kravchuk said on the air of the Ukraine 24 TV channel.

According to him, at the beginning of the conflict in Donbass, he appealed to the leaders of the DPR and LPR with a proposal to formulate the components of a special status, but received no response.

“Either it is a special status, or it’s something with signs of statehood, or it’s autonomy,” he said. - Write down what steps you could take so that there is a compromise so that you can negotiate.

At the same time, Kravchuk believes that in the situation with Donbass one should speak of a “special management system” that will differ from other regions of Ukraine.

“Maybe they will not convene endless international summits, but finally hold one internal Ukrainian one? Gather four of us (Kravchuk, Kuchma, Poroshenko, Zelensky) and try to understand what is written in the Minsk agreements? The participants are all in the subject: two were in the contact group, one signed the Minsk documents, one made them part of the electoral program, "the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page, commenting on Kravchuk's statement.

According to her, “out of this four, two questions about the Minsk package did not arise, they never once stated that they did not understand something, energetically discussing its implementation in world capitals and demanding from Moscow“ not to slow down the process ”.

After words about a lack of understanding of the essence of the Minsk agreements, Kravchuk commented on the possibility of direct negotiations between Kiev and representatives of the republics. According to him, such formats should be looked for, but the President of Ukraine should not negotiate personally - Vitold Fokin can do it instead.

Later, the new head of the Ukrainian negotiators said that it was necessary to create a separate delegation to discuss the issue of the "return" of Crimea to Ukraine.

  • Leonid Kravchuk
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“We must find separate approaches, separate conceptual solutions, a separate philosophy, separate proposals regarding Crimea. But I have no doubt that this should be done ... I would suggest not postponing this topic, ”he said in an interview with the 112. Ukraine ”, adding that this topic cannot be included in the agenda of the trilateral group.

"Absolute impasse"

Experts drew attention to the age of the leaders of the Ukrainian delegation at the negotiations: Leonid Kravchuk celebrated his 86th birthday in January of this year, and Vitold Fokin, who was included in the delegation, will turn 88 in October.

“It is unlikely that such figures as Kravchuk or Fokin can be useful in the negotiation process, since they have not been involved in politics for a long time, have no political weight and are not included in the decision-making process. Obviously, the main reason for this decision by Zelensky is staff shortage, "Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics at Moscow State Pedagogical University, said in an interview with RT.

According to the expert, Zelensky "does not have a team of like-minded people, he has no one to rely on, as evidenced by the constant change of officials and politicians in his environment."

This observation was confirmed by a RT source in the president's office, who said that few people agreed to such work.

“Everyone understands perfectly well that former presidents or prime ministers cannot make any real decisions. They must coordinate all their words with Zelensky and have no right to express their opinion. The Minsk agreements will most likely not be implemented. Experienced politicians do not want to be responsible for disrupting them, ”said the source of RT.

In turn, a RT source in the Batkivshchyna party notes that it is difficult to imagine the work of a trilateral contact group in this composition.

“What kind of negotiations can Fokine conduct? I'm sure he doesn't even know what is written in the Minsk agreements. Obviously, during the meetings, all the participants will read the main provisions of the document aloud to him and pass the time. Unfortunately, the representatives from Ukraine are not capable of anything more, ”said the deputy.

According to Vladimir Shapovalov, Zelensky "is at an impasse and does not understand what strategic decisions need to be made."

“In this sense, this appointment resembles an attempt to get away from constructive work by including in the negotiators people who are not empowered and who do not have conceptual solutions to overcome the crisis. This is a political maneuver that does not have specific tasks for the negotiation process, "Shapovalov believes.

Such a personnel policy as a whole fits into the political course that Zelensky has chosen in relation to the Minsk agreements, the expert said. 

“These people are not going to solve any tasks for a peaceful settlement, but will only imitate the negotiation process. All decisions of the official Kiev in the last few months are aimed precisely at sabotaging the work of the contact group. Such an approach, including in relation to personnel, actually puts an end to negotiations with Donbass in the current format, ”Shapovalov said.

This point of view is shared by the RT source in the Servant of the People party.

“Zelensky, of course, is not a very experienced politician, but even he would not have appointed Fokine in the hope of fruitful negotiations. I'm not even sure that the new members of the trilateral group will be able to correctly convey the information received. It looks like he decided to take advantage of Poroshenko's experience and shift all responsibility to Russia, ”the deputy said in an interview with RT.

In turn, Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev Center for Political Studies and Conflictology, believes that in this case it is not so important who will be “included in the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group”.

“It all depends on the position of Zelensky and his team, which makes real decisions. Today Kiev is not ready to make compromises, since the Ukrainian authorities have drawn a red line for themselves, which they do not want to cross. It all looks like an absolute dead end. In order for the regulation process to move, it is not necessary to change people, but the position of the country's leadership, which is still hopeless, ”concluded Pogrebinsky.