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Four-minus-one format talks on Ukraine in Berlin end inconclusively

August 19, 2014, 19:06 UTC+3 Litovkin Viktor
© AP Photo/Steffi Loos

MOSCOW, August 19./ITAR-TASS/. Another round of talks in Berlin by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine on how to stabilize the situation in the east of Ukraine has ended inconclusively.

The bloody civil war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is raging on as before. People die, homes go up in flames and industries are churned to rubble, in many cases with the risk of dire environmental effects. Many cities and villages of this coalmining area have plunged into a humanitarian disaster - no running water, power supply lines are dead, the sewage is out of order, the shelves of food supermarkets are getting empty and women, children and elderly people have no chance at all to flee to safety from their districts coming under rocket fire.

In the meantime, a convoy of hundreds of Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid is stalled on the Ukrainian border. Kiev has resorted to no end of the most exquisite bureaucratic gimmicks to keep it out of the country as long as possible. Refusal to provide security guarantees for the International Red Cross officials who are expected to accompany the convoy is the latest.

Why is that all happening? Why have such respectable politicians as Frank Walter Steinmeier, Laurent Fabius, Sergey Lavrov and Pavel Klimkin failed to agree on the issues on the agenda? Why has Kiev refused to compromise with Berlin, Paris and Moscow? Did the participants in the consultations find the demand the militias disarm themselves, lay down arms and Kiev establish full control of its eastern “impenetrable” borders unrealistic? Was that the sole reason? Very probably.

It is well-known in advance that the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics will never agree to such demands. Such conditions for them would be tantamount to military surrender. In the meantime, despite all their tactical setbacks they still regard themselves a military force that is at least equal to Kiev’s, or even much stronger. At least they position themselves as a force that the Ukrainian army, the National Guard and the paramilitary units on the payroll of local big business tycoons have failed to defeat to this day and will hardly manage to overpower - by Ukraine’s Independence Day or whenever. Whether one likes it or not, the militias may agree to strike a deal with the Kiev authorities only on an equal footing. If their fundamental interests begin to be respected at last. This is a hard fact.

Who can persuade the militias change their mind? The West claims with certainty that only Moscow can do that. Let us take this assumption is a solid argument. But the next question to be asked then is who can make Kiev less defiant? Germany’s chancellor or the French president will hardly succeed, contrary to what the West has been saying. There is one more country and a politician or two who can do that - the United States, its president, Barack Obama, and vice-president, Joe Biden.

The latter was the one who showed up in Ukraine again and again when the crisis was gaining steam. Biden and also Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland were visiting anti-government demonstrators in Independence Square and talking to their leaders and then posed in front of photo and TV cameras in the Ukrainian presidential seat to brief Ukraine’s new authorities on what is to be done next. These days Biden keeps making phone calls to President Poroshenko and advising him on all sorts of matters, including the question how to go about the business of returning the country’s east to stability. If only Biden and Obama decided that Ukraine has had enough bloodshed, and that time is ripe for coming to terms and restoring peace, the rocket launchers, artillery and tank guns that are still pounding the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, killing both militias and civilians, would go quiet virtually in no time and warplanes would stop bombing coalminers’ communities.

But neither the US vice president nor the president have done anything of the sort so far. It is easy to guess why.

Not because their attention is riveted to the situation in northern Iraq, where Islamic militants have been seizing Kurds’ oil fields one by one, or the unrest in Missouri, where the death of an Afro-American teenager at the hands of a white police officer has sparked week-long protest demonstrations by many thousands. Or the economic and financial problems the United States is struggling with. Apparently, their chief task is to make everything to ensure Ukraine should never be a brotherly country for Russia again. And in this way to make Moscow lose as much of its strength as possible, to avenge the failure of the years’ long operation for ousting Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Crimea and making Sevastopol a naval base of the United States or NATO instead.

For achieving this aim a war in the east of Ukraine is precisely what Washington needs. Just as accusations of Russia’s support for so-called separatists. Absurd speculations by Western politicians and media as to who downed the Malaysian Boeing. And daily far-fetched rumours about Russian armour rolling across Ukrainian border.