- The Normandy Talks aim to resolve conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
- Each of the four nations have its own agendas and interests.
- Macron and France have the second largest stake besides Russia in these talks.
The Normandy Format talks started on December 9, 2019 in Paris. The countries present are Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France. The main goal is to resolve the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The group was created in 2014 but the talks have been stalled until now. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky stated peace with Russia is his top priority.
It is plausible to have Donbas adopt one nation two systems like Hong Kong. However, each of the members of the Normandy Format talks has its own interests.
The resolution and peace for Donbas is one of the important pressing issues in Ukraine. The alternative is full scale war in Ukraine. It could be very problematic, since Russia officially canceled one article of the additional protocols to the Geneva Convention. However, the article is very pivotal, as it is about recognition of the jurisdiction of the United Nations special commission to play the role of a judicial body over potential violations. That is, formally, the Russian Federation recognizes that it is better not to touch civilians during war, but now Russia allows zero external bodies to judge any convention violation. This is a de facto denunciation of the entire Fourth Convention. War without a flag and no rules is chaos and could be a huge issue for the civilians in the region. Ukraine also needs Russia’s gas, so it is symbiotic for Russia and Ukraine to come to an agreement.
The best outcome is a positive political situation. The sanctions against Russia have been an ongoing issue and hurts the Russian economy by causing inflation. The Ukriane’s geopolitical location makes it a buffer for Russia, something it wants to keep to avoid NATO troops getting too close to Russian borders. Putin’s grandiose plan is to resurrect Russia’ control of the former Soviet block nations. Belarus is on track to become Russia in the near future. Donbas is also interesting to Russia due to the manufacturing angle and factories it already has. France is interesting for Russia, due to the African continent angle and possibility of partnerships, as France still has a certain clout in Africa from its former colonies.
France wants to have a better relationship with Russia. French President Macron has not been favoring Ukraine. France also wants to have a bigger say in the EU. Resolving the Eastern Ukraine conflict and being a mediator will boost France and Macron’s status. France is also interested in the defense field and more opportunities outside of NATO. Macron also wants more trade partnerships with Russia, once the sanctions can be dropped if the conflict is resolved favorably. Since Germany continues to dominate EU, France is looking for its own leadership role on a geopolitical scale.
As of late, Germany is divided about Ukraine. Some believe Ukraine is an issue for the EU, due to funding injections and aid constantly provided to Ukraine. Others see it as the right geopolitical location for NATO and EU. The NORD Stream 2 gas pipeline will give Germany cheaper gas, but Ukraine is a road block. Merkel also failed to get approval for additional funding for Ukraine. Germany has its own appetite and interests in Asia and with BRICS nations, and it needs Russian help to facilitate some contract with them.
It is clear, each nation has its own interests. Nevertheless, the goal is to resolve a conflict in Eastern Ukraine with unified and mutual benefits respectively. Hopefully, these talks will provide an opportunity to find compromises and a successful outcome in the near future.