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Tea and Politics

The English believe there is nothing that can’t be fixed with a good cup of tea. With that in mind, I met with my friend Oksana to talk over Ukraine/US relations – to fix them if not in reality, at least in our own minds. My friend has little clue of how politics work, but constantly tries to understand. We chatted recently about the Poroshenko-Trump meeting in a Kyiv café.

Politics in Ukraine is one big comedy – that’s Oksana’s conclusion. Although she is a clever and educated person, she cites little understanding of politics as her main imperfection.

“Why did our President visit the US? As you have mentioned there’s no prospect of placing peacekeepers in Donbas. What can Trump and the US do for Ukraine?” Oksana asks incredulous in her tone.

To describe Oksana, she is a true representative of Kyiv high society, she takes it upon herself to urge the state to take care of society and “regulation” is her favourite word.

I tell her the Proshenko-Trump meeting was important for Ukraine. Although Ukraine has still to do a lot on its own, the support of the US and its president is crucial for Ukraine in this tough period.

Explaining further, I say the US is trying to engage in Donbass negotiations with Russia, which was clearly confirmed by appointing Kurt Volker as US special representative for Ukraine. It is obvious that the Minsk format is already deadlocked but there is still room for negotiation.

Leaving Ukraine in one-on-one negotiations with Russia leads nowhere, I impart. The US is not actively engaged in the Minsk agreements. While Russia tries to give the impression it maintains the Minsk agreements is its main guarantee for freezing the conflict, the role of Volker and the US is significant. Oksana complains that it’s all too complicated.

I persist. I explain termination of open conflict and forcing Russian troops out of Donbas is the main goal. Crimea is occupied or captured, while international law still considers it as Ukrainian territory under Russian control. However, Donbas is a bleeding wound and Russia refers it as a “rebellious region”. Interestingly, Donbas remains part of Ukraine according to Russian law. Russia simply, although without admitting so, placed troops and weapons in this region. Therefore, the principal goal is to end this and while doing so Ukraine should manage to gain de facto control over Donbas.

It is clear no consensus can be reached within the Ukrainian political scope on the future of Donbas yet. The vote down of bills initiated by the president is a good example of this. Yet, Ukraine still has to settle this issue.

Oksana drinks her tea.



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