Damned should you do: Russia has nothing to achieve by slicing off ties with Ukraine. But, sadly, speaking to Kiev does not assist both

There’s no level speaking to Ukraine, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says, arguing Russia ought to look ahead to a friendlier authorities in Kiev. The solely drawback is there’s almost no likelihood of that occuring any time quickly.

‘Nedogovorosposobnyi’ is a Russian phrase with no English equal, describing someone or one thing that’s incapable of reaching agreements. There will be many the explanation why an individual or a company is like this however, regardless of the trigger, speaking to them is a waste of time. It’s by no means going to get wherever.

Ukraine’s political leaders are nedogovorosposobnye, says Medvedev, who was president of Russia from 2008 to 2012 and now serves as deputy chairman of the Security Council. In a blistering article revealed within the newspaper Kommersant on Monday, Medvedev assaulted Ukraine’s management and laid out 4 the explanation why chatting with them was pointless. 

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First, Ukraine’s leaders “lack a firm self-identification.” The nation’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has “specific ethnic roots” as a Russian speaker, says Medvedev, however “out of fear of another ‘Maidan’ directed against his own power, has completely changed his political and moral orientation. In essence he has rejected his own identity.” It’s like “representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nazi Germany being asked to serve in the SS,” Medvedev concludes, a very incendiary assertion on condition that Zelensky is himself Jewish.

Second, says Medvedev, “this generation’s Ukrainian leaders are people completely lacking in independence,” and they’re completely depending on their American masters.

Third, these leaders are “weak people, concerned only with filling their pockets. … There are no leaders willing to sacrifice themselves for Ukraine’s sake … and for now, it seems that there won’t be.”

And fourth, Ukraine’s rulers are “ignorant and unobliging. They continually change their position in accordance with their transatlantic masters and political circumstances.” They are “crude Talleyrands,” says Medvedev, referring to the notoriously unprincipled and versatile revolutionary period French diplomat, Charles Talleyrand.

The upshot, in accordance with Medvedev, is that “Contact with such people is not productive. … negotiations with them are absolutely pointless.” Instead of attempting to strike a deal, Russia ought to merely do “nothing”, Medvedev argues. It ought to “wait for the appearance in Ukraine of a responsible leadership, which doesn’t aim for total confrontation with Russia … Only with such a Ukrainian leadership is it worth doing business. Russia can wait. We are patient people.”

The harshness of Medvedev’s language is unprecedented from a senior Russian official. The former president has lengthy been thought-about a relative liberal in comparison with President Vladimir Putin, though it needs to be borne in thoughts that it was he who, not Putin, was in cost in 2008 throughout Russia’s warfare with Georgia. If even Medvedev has misplaced all endurance with Ukraine, then you’ll be able to make sure that the identical is true of a lot of the remainder of the Russian political class.

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We don’t know who Medvedev consulted earlier than publishing this piece. It appears impossible, although, that he was working at cross-purposes to the remainder of the Russian authorities. Indeed, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared that the article was in whole accord with the federal government’s place. That stated, it’s noticeable that the Russian state continues to specific a willingness to have interaction in dialogue with Kiev. In that respect, Putin is maybe relatively extra average than these round him. 

This is a degree typically misplaced within the West. Were Putin to go away workplace, it’s impossible {that a} extra pro-Western chief would take his place, or that his successor would collapse to overseas calls for regarding Ukraine. On the opposite, the successor may effectively take an excellent more durable line.

The motive is straightforward. Efforts to finish the warfare in Donbass in japanese Ukraine have come to nothing. The foundation for ending the warfare is the Minsk II settlement of February 2015. This requires Kiev to grant “special status” to Donbass and provides an amnesty to these concerned within the insurrection. It additionally requires native elections within the area, after which management of the border with Russia will probably be handed again to the Ukrainian authorities.

Kiev, nevertheless, insists that it’s going to grant neither autonomy nor an amnesty. It additionally calls for the rapid disarmament of the insurgent forces, and insists that it should obtain management of the border not after elections however earlier than them. In essence, the Ukrainian authorities rejects the Minsk settlement and calls for the unconditional give up of the insurgent forces. 

Zelensky’s election in 2019 raised expectations that Ukraine would undertake a extra sensible stance. Instead, it has doubled down on the previous one, and even gone additional, demanding that the Minsk settlement get replaced by a brand new yet one more beneficial to Kiev. With this, Moscow has needed to abandon any hope that Ukraine would undertake a extra malleable line.

All this explains Medvedev’s letter, which is a transparent response to the immense frustration that Russia feels relating to what it considers Ukraine’s intransigence. It’s a frustration that the Kremlin feels additionally with respect to the United States, as revealed by the failure of talks in Moscow this week between Russian officers and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland. The Americans “aren’t listening to us,” complained Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Given the lack to make any progress via negotiation, the temptation to interrupt off talks and wait till a extra amenable overseas authorities comes alongside have to be nice. The drawback with Medvedev’s advice, nevertheless, is that there’s completely no prospect of extra pleasant administrations showing both in Washington or Kiev.

In half, this can be a drawback of Moscow’s personal making. The takeover of Crimea and subsequent help for the insurgent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in japanese Ukraine have cemented elite opinion in Ukraine firmly in opposition to Russia. It has additionally created a era of safety officers whose careers have been constructed on preventing Russia. The dynamics of Ukrainian politics have pushed pro-Russian parts to the margins; the nation’s intelligentsia is firmly connected to the nationalist agenda; and opposition forces are fragmented and weak. 

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Even if a much less hostile individual was to be elected president, she or he would quickly discover that what one may name the Ukrainian “deep state” would push her or him into an anti-Russian place. This is what occurred to Zelensky. There is not any apparent motive why the identical factor gained’t occur to his successor and to his successor’s successor.

In quick, ready isn’t actually an choice for Russia, as ready gained’t make something any higher. And that places Russia in an deadlock. Talking gained’t work; however sitting round hoping that issues spontaneously enhance by themselves gained’t work both. Medvedev has recognized the issue. An answer stays to be discovered.

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