Surprise! Surprise! The Russian Federation has proposed that the on-going, sometimes violent dispute between the Ukraine and its eastern breakaway regions, Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk), can best be resolved if the rebels present their position to the UN Security Council on December 2, 2020. (It will be broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. EST broadcast.) Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, believes that the parties involved should settle their conflict.
Outsiders Become Insiders. On November 10, Joe Biden, deemed president-elect, had a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. During the talk with the French leader, Biden expressed interest in working together “on resolving conflicts in Ukraine and Syria...” In speaking with Johnson, Biden also discussed “consolidating democracy and working on issues such as Ukraine and the Balkans.”
Biden's remarks about "issues" such as the Ukraine obscure a good bit of embarrassing history. In October 2020, just two weeks before the elections, Joe Biden got hit with some dirty laundry. E-mails appeared in the media indicating that he had had previous contacts with the Ukrainian firm Burisma, the same company which paid million of dollars to his son Hunter and Hunter's friend Devon Archer. While Joe Biden denied this, it seems that he was trying to make smoke without fire. According to a report by several U.S. Senate committees, " Hunter Biden and Devon Archer [got their money] from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the [Burisma] board."
While this might be a scandal in the US, the Ukraine perceived it to be a positive sign of Biden`s special feelings towards the Ukraine. In fact, Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky was among the first to congratulate Biden on his victory, although there were no official results. Most Ukrainian political scientists and other experts believe Democrats are better than Republicans for their country
Insiders Speak. Sergey Galaka, professor at Kiev National University's Institute of International Relations , reckons that Biden as US president can be a big gain for the Ukraine:
“In my opinion, Ukraine can get more advantages if Biden is president. Even accusations that he or his son Hunter benefited from cooperation with Ukraine can be turned against those who created this information background [sic].”
Moreover, experts both in the US and the Ukraine believe that the next American administration will continue to supply weapons to Kiev as military support for its role in the Donbass conflict. According to American political expert Jason Jay Smart, “The United States supports Ukraine in its struggle for territorial integrity against Russian aggression, and changing this policy would be an unpopular decision for both Democrats and Republicans.”
History Lesson. Military strife in the Ukraine's east has lasted seven years and, while it is now in hiatus, people continue to suffer. At least 13,000 people, including 149 children, died in Donbass, and about 30,000 inhabitants were injured. Kiev suspended all pensions and social payments to Donetsk and Lugansk inhabitants. Moreover, the Ukraine blocks economic, humanitarian, and transport matters. Furthermore, according to Human Rights Watch, the Ukrainian parliament restricted Donbass residents' "freedom of expression, media freedom, and freedom of association, invoking as justification the need to counter Russia’s military aggression in eastern Ukraine and anti-Ukraine propaganda."
The internal confrontation between Kiev and Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk regions) started after the coup d'Etat in February 2014. This was organized and carried out during the so-called “Maidan revolution” (with substantial help from the Obama Administration and its Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland). After Maidan, the aggressive actions of the newly minted Ukrainian "government" against Donetsk and Lugansk began in earnest, through sending armed formations and military equipment to the regions without any reason. Consequently, the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics rejected this, declaring their independence from Kiev. The Ukrainian leadership, supported by the US and the EU, then chose the military option for resolving the conflict. It launched an "anti-terrorist" operation in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.
Conflict settlement at gunpoint has proved impossible. Numerous defeats forced the Ukrainian leadership to sign peace documents – the so called Minsk agreements. But these agreements are not at all helpful in achieving peace, as hostilities from Ukrainian military groups against Donbass continue.
Past Efforts at Resolution. The first attempt took place in June 2014, at Normandy's Château de Benouville. This involved the heads of Germany, France, Russia, and the Ukraine. The longest meeting of the four took place in February 2015 in Minsk. They adopted a package of measures designed to stop the conflict and implement a peaceful settlement. Three more summits later took place: October 2015 in Paris; October 2016 in Berlin; December 2019 in Paris. Supposedly, the reason for the failure of the meetings has been the lack of direct dialogue among the participants to the controversy.
Conclusion? All seem to hope that the talks to be held by the dissident regions at the United Nations will prove to be, if not an opportunity to resolve the matter, a more material step towards settling the issue.
*(Top image: 2015 Minsk Agreement Alexander Lukashenko; Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel; François Hollande; Petro Poroshenko)