“The Normandy Four summit in Paris was neither a success, nor a failure”, says Maksym Khylko, PhD, Chairman at the East European Security Research Initiative Foundation.
There are some positive points to it, but the strategic differences are still there. “On the one hand, the summit proved that Ukrainian and Russian presidents can talk with each other in rather diplomatic manner and even agree on some steps. But on the other hand, the positions and goals of Kyiv and Moscow remain too different, so one should not have exaggerated expectations about the summit’s implication”, the Kiyv analyst notes.
Let us hope the exchange of the detainees happen
“The major achievement of the N4 summit is the consent of the parties to work on the exchange of all detainees with hope that 72 of them may return home even before the end of the year. The summit communique also mentions that the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations should get access to the detainees. If these agreements are at least partly implemented, it will be an important humanitarian act. Unfortunately, it is highly possible that Russian vision of “all for all” may differ much from the Ukrainian one, especially given the Putin’s emphasizing on “all identified detainees”, the Kiyv analyst notes.
Moreover, as Maksym Khylko adds, the other important points mentioned in the summit communique are the implementation of the constant ceasefire and the reinforcing the of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s ability to have full access throughout Ukraine’s territory to fulfill its mandate.
“Unfortunately, dozens of the previous ceasefire agreements have failed to be fully implemented, and the work of the OSCE SMM is very often restricted by the Russia-backed militants in the occupies areas of the Donbas, so there is no much hope that these points will be properly fulfilled”, says Maksym Khylko, PhD, Chairman at the East European Security Research Initiative Foundation.
About the Steinmeier formula
"Consent to agree on the disengagement in additional three spots might become a small step forward in terms of mutual trust, but without genuine ceasefire the practical implications will be rather symbolic. Agreement to implement the so-called Steinmeier formula into Ukrainian legislation could be considered as diplomatic win of the Russian side which insisted on this point for a long time. But in practice, the additional value of this issue without genuine compromise on the security and political modalities for the local elections in the Donbas is dubious", the analyst notes.
Will the elections happen?
As Maksym Khylko notes: "The parties agreed to discuss conditions for election in the following four months, but so far there is no much hope for compromise on this issue. Russia insists on conducting local elections before the restoration of Ukraine’s control of the international border in the Donbas. That would mean sham elections under actual Russian control, aiming at legalization of the current regimes in the occupied areas. Kyiv insists that elections should be held only after the withdrawal of Russian forces, in accordance with the Ukrainian legislations and OSCE standards, and with participation of the internally displaced persons (war refugees who moved to other regions of Ukraine). It is clear that for conducting genuine free and democratic elections, the restoration of either Ukrainian or at least international control over the Russia-Ukraine border is needed".
"So far, there is no any sign that Moscow is going to abandon preserving its actual control over the occupied areas of the Donbas, hoping to influence Ukrainian foreign and internal politics through this Russia-controlled conflict", Maksym Khylko warns.
"In this context, the Normandy Four summit has not brought any breakthrough. But still, it was not a useless one. The progress on the issue of the exchange of the detainees was worth meeting. The parties exchanged their views and agreed to proceed with further discussions. And the Ukrainian president gained an important experience of negotiations with his Russian counterpart that should help him to have a clearer vision of conflict resolution prospects" , he added.