Ukraine in syria’s shadow: tactics with local elections

The separatists offered a postponement, but are themselves at odds, but now it is already impossible to agree on a further withdrawal of heavy weapons

Ukraine is heading toward local elections, which, along with decentralization and the question of the status of the two "People’s Republics", Explosives contained. Local elections are a part of the Minsk Agreement, now there is a dispute about the conditions under which they could be held in Donetsk and Lugansk as well. However, the representatives of the "People’s Republics" decided to hold their own elections independently of Kiev, which Kiev considers a breach of the Minsk Agreement. In Donetsk they are to be held on 18. October, in Lugansk on 1 October. November, in between, on 25. October, in Ukraine.

If the local elections were held independently of each other, it would mean the failure of the Minsk Agreement. At their meeting in Berlin, the earmarking ministers of the "Normandy format" First of all, they struggled to keep the agreement, which is also undermined by Kiev, because the conditions set for the election contradict the agreement and have been violated by the representatives of the "People’s Republics" will be rejected as long as there is no agreement on an amnesty regime, a special status before the elections and arrangements on which parties and politicians will be admitted to the elections.

Apparently, the representatives of the "People’s Republics" The Ukrainian government is demonstratively not participating directly in the trilateral talks in Minsk, but is sending representatives, and has come up with a compromise offer. Russia probably does not want to continue with the conflict, and for the USA, as well as for Europe, Ukraine is not the main ie at the moment. This could weaken the Ukrainian position, especially as concerns grow that the government is not making progress in implementing the desired reforms.

USA and Russia more focused on Syria

John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a strong supporter of the political forces behind the Maidan movement, has just met behind closed doors with ex-Georgian head of government Saakashvili, who is and was strongly supported by the U.S., once started a war with Russia and then had to seek temporary refuge in the U.S., and was appointed governor of the region by Poroshenko. Saakashvili wants to clean up rampant corruption in the country and has loudly and clearly blamed head of government Yatsenyuk, once a U.S. favorite for the post, in particular for this. He is preventing reforms and is in cahoots with oligarchs. In Odessa McCain already hinted that there is still a lot to do in Ukraine, he will now meet with Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk to talk about fighting corruption as well.

During his visit to Kiev, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg ared the Ukrainian government on Tuesday that Ukraine could rely on NATO. One will "illegal annexation" of Crimea, Russia is also supporting the separatists with weapons, which violates territorial integrity. He also ared that Kiev was abiding by the Minsk agreement, but that it was now up to the separatists and Moscow to fully implement it. Parallel elections, which do not comply with Ukrainian law, were endangering the Minsk Agreement, he said more cautiously, rather vaguely indicating that Ukraine had to solve some serious political problems: "especially about the status of certain territories in eastern Ukraine".

Behind the concession of the "People’s Republics" is surely also the prere from Moscow, where one tries with high employment and head wind to obtain an agreement over Syria with the USA, in order to protect the own interests and to bring first of all the Assad regime, which is also supported by Iran, into the game. Even if the West is still hesitating, it will probably come down to a transitional arrangement. The U.S. coalition is already not attacking Syrian positions because the Syrian government is tolerating the attacks on IS, which in themselves violate international law, and thus has a freer hand to take action against the remaining opposition groups. The attitude toward the other Syrian opposition groups, most of which are Islamist and fighting against Assad, then became problematic.

The chances are not bad at the moment, despite the conflict over the presumed expansion of a Russian air base in Latakia, because the situation is also completely messed up for the U.S. In any case, Moscow now seems to be more focused on Syria, which the representatives of the "People’s Republics" could have been prompted by the offer to postpone the local election to 21. February 2016 to postpone. This is of course a symbolic day for the "Revolution of the Were". On this day in 2014, the agreement to peacefully resolve the crisis with Yanukovych was also signed by the three opposition forces, which was then promptly rejected by the radical Maidan forces with an ultimatum and a march to parliament, leading to the fall of the Yanukovych government. In the Ukrainian government, this is seen as an affront to the 2. October meeting in France of the four heads of government in the Normandy format should influence.

DPR Head Sachachenko Threatens to Break Off Negotiations on the Minsk Agreement.

Disagreement between the "People’s Republics"

The condition of the "People’s Republics" The main reason for postponing the local elections, which are to be held under Ukrainian law and under the supervision of the OSCE, is that direct talks must be held with their representatives in order to discuss the special status, the right to vote in the "certain areas", to find an agreement on an amnesty and the end of the economic blockade. There was no mention of the withdrawal of foreign troops and Kiev’s control of the border with Russia, which was also called for in the Minsk Agreement.

However, in the meantime Dennis Pushilin, the spokesman for the "Donetsk People’s Republic" (DPR) clear that the "People’s Republics" do not agree on the postponement. The representative of the "Lugansk People’s Republic" (LPR) had done a good job in Minsk, but they would go through the first round of the election as planned, he said. Pushilin is the successor to the president elected on 4. Purgin, who was also allegedly expelled from all offices in September under prere from Russia, to take a more compromising line. This does not really seem to be working right now. The DPR electoral commission continues to prepare for the local elections, with more than 70 candidates already registered. On the other hand, it seems that the LPR continues to try to postpone the local elections or at least to blame Kiev for the lack of progress in the implementation of the agreement. The head of the LPR, Plonitsky, once again said that they are ready to implement the compromise if Kiev goes along with it.

But now the subgroup at the trilateral talks could not agree on further withdrawal of weapons under 100mm caliber. Allegedly, the obstacle is the planned local elections. And the tone continues to sharpen. The head of the DPR, Zakharchenko, has announced that he will withdraw from the implementation of the Minsk Agreement if Kiev tries to prepare for Ukraine’s entry into NATO. A few days ago, Poroshenko announced his intention to possibly hold a referendum on the ie. The NATO Secretary General made no comment on this during his visit, while Poroshenko expressed the wish, saying that NATO and Ukraine were already more than normal partners and that 60 percent of Ukrainians were reportedly in favor of joining NATO.

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