- Russia has a vested interest pertaining to the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic to be granted special status.
- France and Germany have vested interests in maintaining economic relations with Russia.
- Ukrainian President Zelensky is backed into a corner.
Russia participated in the “Normandy format” talks that were hosted by Germany on Friday. The negotiations lasted the whole day. Representatives from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine participated at the summit, which was held in Berlin. The Normandy Format Talks were created in 2014, after Crimea’s annexation by Russia.
The representatives of each nation were as follows:
- Russia’s Deputy Chief of the Presidential Staff Dmitry Kozak
- Ukrainian Presidential Chief of Staff Andrei Yermak
- French Presidential Adviser Emmanuel Bonne
- Foreign Policy Advisor to the German Chancellor Jan Hecker
Russia has a vested interest pertaining to the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic to be granted special status. Moscow demanded in Berlin that Ukraine enshrine special status to the DPR and LPR in the country’s constitution. The Kremlin originally gave Ukraine until July 6th to respond to the Russian demands.
The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is a Russia backed proto-state in the eastern Ukrainian Oblast of Donetsk. The proto-state is recognized only by the partially recognized South Ossetia and Luhansk People’s Republic. The capital city is Donetsk and it was founded in 2014.
The Luhansk People’s Republic ( LPR) is a Russian backed state. It is located in Luhansk Oblast in the Donbass region, a territory internationally recognized to be a part of Ukraine. The capital is Luhansk.
It is also widely believed that after the Russian constitutional referendum this week, Article 67, as amended, will now allow Russia to annex the Donbass. The Constitution of Ukraine should include a special status of the Donbas, which the Kyiv authorities have refused to grant to the rebellious mining region since 2015.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is backed into a corner. If he submits such document granting broad rights to the Donbass, Ukrainian nationalists and the West will have a very negative reaction. A previous attempt to accept the terms was made by former president Petro Poroshenko.
Thereafter, a grenade explosion under the walls of the Verkhovna Rada killed four soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine. It is also an election year in Ukraine, and Zelensky is already tumbling in the polls. On the other hand, if he refuses, Russia can just take the Donbass anyway, as they did with Crimea.
Additionally, the Kremlin won’t hesitate to impose sanctions against Ukraine for the non-compliance with Russian demands. At this time, the Minsk Protocol are not being followed, as Ukraine had agreed to grant Donbass special status.
Nevertheless, France and Germany want to resolve the Russia-Ukraine dispute. Germany has a lot invested in the Nord Stream project, which also created tensions with the US. There is a chance it could be a catalyst for the dissolution of NATO.
Nord Stream is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany. It includes two lines running from Vyborg to Greifswald forming original Nord Stream, and two lines running from Ust-Luga to Greifswald termed Nord Stream 2.
Since it is also an election year in the US, there could be changes, including to the US’ foreign policy. France has a vested interest in trade with Russia, and sanctions created severe issues for France and its economy.
It remains to be seen what transpires in the upcoming week. One thing is certain— the Kremlin will not budge. It is highly likely Germany and France will pressure Ukraine to concede to the Russian demands.