August, 16

L. Kravchuk: The most correct policy is principled policy. Nothing can be conceded!

09/08/2020 10:00:00 am
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This conversation took place a week ago, on August 27. We met not just for an interview, but for a frank dialogue – a lot had already been said in the media by that time, and our opinions on some points did not coincide at all. I wanted not only to find out, but to understand and convince. Naturally, not everything we talked about can be made public. Nevertheless, what the readers of OstroV will now read, in my opinion, gives a clear idea of ​​the logic of actions and statements of the head of Ukrainian delegation in Minsk, as well as the external circumstances that determine this logic. Diplomacy is the art of the possible…

I also delayed the publication for a week, so as not to give our opponents the opportunity, before the TCG meeting, to throw that sh which they will definitely see in this article, because they see it everywhere and in everything. At the same time, Mr. Kravchuk refused to read the text, - "on your own responsibility. I have nothing to hide" …

A meeting of the Minsk TCG, where L. Kravchuk and V. Fokin took a clear, I would even say, an aggressive statist position took place on September 2.

- … If we say that the elections are first and then the border, and this corresponds to the OSCE standards, in accordance with which these elections should be held, and the Russian Federation insists on the point in Minsk, where it is stated that the elections are first and then the transfer of the border to Ukraine, what it turns out – a dead end?

- If we stand only on formal positions, we will not move a step forward. This concerns us too. Here is at least that resolution (of the VR, on the appointment of local elections, which the Russian Federation demanded to be canceled – ed.). We say that at first, we need to create conditions for holding open democratic elections. And this is right! But could it be written in the Verkhovna Rada that the elections are held where there are conditions for this? But we divided, wrote that elections in those areas that are also Ukrainian, but where the militants are, are no longer held, and in the rest, in the controlled territory – they are not held where there are no conditions. No need to divide! If we believe that this is Ukrainian territory (by the way, Putin also thinks so), then why to divide? Yes, this is a special territory, because there are militants there, but we had to write down: the elections are being held throughout Ukraine, except for areas where there are no conditions for this.

- All the same, elections there cannot be held on October 25. They should be carried out according to a separate law, which is not even in the draft.

- It would be a good thing if we appointed them, made the law, but they did not occured, because there are no conditions there. The OSCE would not recognize them, because there are no conditions, including the observers, there are no democratic foundations for holding elections, there is no openness, publicity, competition… The ball is on their side. Now it is on our side. I am not saying that we should immediately allow elections and organize them. We cannot do this. But if we deny the very possibility, we give them a reason. My position, as a person who has held many international meetings and signed many documents, is as follows: no document should give an opportunity to cling to it. Not having enough experience, or waging an internal political struggle in Ukraine, sometimes simply unworthy, as Mr. Poroshenko do it now – this is already crossing the red line…

- This is a political struggle - no more, no less. No one was put to prison in the spring, and no one will fall in the fall.

- When we fight in this perspective, we undermine ourselves from the inside. Ambassadors came to me and asked, "why do you have such an internal state?" They do not understand… If we have such a situation in Ukraine that one faction is the Kremlin and no one knows where the other is at all, then how to avoid mistakes? We made a mistake not because we do not have experience (however, because of this too), but the main thing is that instead of focusing our efforts on the main thing, we are waging pointless empty fuss around issues that are of extreme and decisive importance for Ukraine.

We have to do one thing. I myself did not always walk straight. But where there is a document… - Then tell me: we will not fulfill such a clause of the Minsk agreements. And that is all - I say: there is a decision of the Verkhovna Rada, we will not comply with such and such point. But they do not say that. That is the question. That is why I wrote to them: "consider", and not "cancel".

- Yes, you have drawn up quite an interesting document. Very diplomatic. Did you write it yourself, without the approval of the President's Office?

- I had no intention to agree upon it. And I did not call anyone.

- Do not you think that we have a strange complex: for some reason, we see our mistakes all the time, but we do not notice the mistakes of our opponents. The fact that Putin distributes Russian passports in the Donbass – is not this a violation of Minsk?

- Yes, it is.

- But we do not raise this issue because the Russians poke us into our mistakes. They block our negotiations on any occasion, but we do not do the same in response…

- It should be raised. I totally agree with you that such obvious violations by Russia on our territory, when it says that it is ours, but behaves as if it is its own territory, we should not just talk about this, but argue and bring it to the highest level. Not only Ukrainian, but international. This should be done by representatives of the authorities – there are international organizations: both the OSCE and the Security Council, as well as the UN… - this must be emphasized all the time, it should be reminded that Russia behaves extremely negatively, completely ignoring the principles and norms of international law.

- Do not you think that we often do not notice Russia's violations, because we are interested in some tactical victories, for example, to hold the next meeting of the four (Normandy - ed.). So, we turn a blind eye to serious violations. Can this tactic lead to success, if we are constantly inferior to the Russian Federation in some things?

- If we give in to the enemy, and I have every reason to believe that Russia, in this case, is our enemy, then we open the way for it to the following violations. This is the principle of international relations. Therefore, the most correct policy is principled policy. Nothing can be conceded. In our country, many do not understand this, they think: well, today I conceded and tomorrow I resumed. – No, when we conceded, they will record it and will use it against us. We can no longer deny anything. Therefore, we should never give in, and never sign documents that pose a threat.

- Sometimes, I get the impression that our government has just embarked on a policy of small concessions for the sake of the next Normandy meeting, for example.

- Are there any examples of such concessions?

- There are. For example, CADLO are not members of the TCG, according to the text of Minsk, we should consult within the TCG, and we do this in working subgroups. But nevertheless, after the working groups, the TCG itself meets, where you, the first President of Ukraine, are sitting at the same table (albeit virtual now) with the "foreign ministers" of the "DNR-LNR". What kind of trilateral group is this then? There are already five sides. But we are silent.

- I can agree with you. But please, bring up the main document that was signed in Minsk in 2015. There are signatures of Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky…

- As individuals, without specifying positions and whom they represent. That is, they were simply informed about the decisions made and they signed on this.

- It does not matter. There are their signatures.

- But they are not sitting personally in the TCG now, there are some strange people. Or maybe, Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky wrote out powers of attorney for them?

- I repeat once again: if their signatures are affixed to the document, - these are signatures.

- Signatures of individuals. Then let Plotniky and Zakharchenko come to the TCG and participate in its work.

- They signed the document, they already were there, there was contact with them. And they really are not the TCG members, – they are invited.

- If they are not members of the TCG, but are invited, then why do they say more than you and Gryzlov put together?

- They talk, but they do not sign documents.

- When you communicate with them, do not you have a question: why these people? Whom do they represent?

- I do not know whom they represent. They represent Donetsk and Luhansk, as they claim.

- Whom do I represent then? I also represent Donetsk, do not I?

- You represent Donetsk by the decision…

- …of the legal government. And what is the decision for them?

- There is no one there who would legally represent someone.

- So why are we conducting a dialogue with them, if they are not legal and do not sign documents?

- With whom to conduct a dialogue then?

- With Russia. Whom is the war between? You yourself say that the enemy is Russia.

- And you heard what Russia says: "we support, but please, pass these copies to Mrs. Nikanorova and Danego. If they decide, we agree with them.

- Well, why do we tolerate this? According to our legislation, Russia is an occupier, and we are not negotiating with it, but with those who do not legally exist?

- I agree. But how not to tolerate? What to do not to tolerate?

- To demand that Russia is responsible for its actions.

- To "demand" is just words. What to do?

- To put the question before the international community, before the same OSCE of why we are forced to negotiate with people who decide nothing.

- I raised this issue before Heidi (Heidi Grau is Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Conflict Resolution in Ukraine - ed.), we met here. She showed me the document, saying that there is not a word about Russia's obligations in the main document signed by Ukraine. She read me the document approved by the UN. Not a word, not a single point that Russia is responsible for something.

- I have a question then, why are sanctions extended to Russia every six months for non-compliance with the Minsk agreements?

- Well, you need to ask them that.

- I have another question then - in what capacity, in this case, Russia takes part in the work of the TCG?

- They say they are intermediaries.

- But mediation requires the consent of all parties to the conflict, but did Ukraine give the Russian Federation consent to mediation? Given that Russia is an aggressor country for Ukraine

- No, it did not. And we talk about it and we will talk about it. But they stand their ground.

- And we are negotiating with people who decide nothing…

- Then let us do this way: do we agree to close the Minsk format?

- No, we do not. But we have the right to bring it in line with the Minsk package of measures.

- We have the right, but we cannot do this alone, only by a consensus decision with the participation of the OSCE. If we cannot do it - and we cannot - what does this mean for us? - We make a statement that we do not want to work in such an uncertain status anymore, and we withdraw from the Minsk agreements. Then Putin says: they have ruined, now I have no obligations.

- Russia has no obligations anyway. It is not necessary to raise the issue of leaving Minsk, we can talk about bringing it into a form that allows effective decision-making. Five years of Minsk in an indefinite status have shown that it is not effective.

- I know that Poroshenko, and later Zelensky, said and emphasized at these meetings, including the last one in Paris, that Russia considers itself a mediator, but in fact, it should be a party. So what?

- Nothing - that is just the point.

- What can we do? He told them, Germany and France. They should answer, but they said nothing. What should he tell them next - "I will leave"?

- Why does Russia constantly issue us ultimatums, and we said something, they ignored us, but we moved on?

- Russia is considered. But Ukraine – no.

- Why? Maybe, because - you yourself said: the main thing is adherence to principles in politics. And where is our adherence to principles, if we are ignored, and we pretend that everything is OK?

- Look, if we behaved the way Russia behaves, they would have left the Minsk format long ago. As soon as Kozak felt that something was beginning, he wrote a letter to Merkel's advisor and state that "I will not participate anymore, because I do not want to take part in these dances". Would we write that? - No. After all, we ourselves have just said here - we cannot leave. Because Minsk for us is the only opportunity to have at least some kind of platform. And Russia can do what it wants – it is considered. Let us take this gas pipeline - Nord Stream-2. America announced sanctions. What is Europe doing? - all signed (every single!) an appeal to Trump so that he minds his own business and that sanctions are useless. This is a direct blow to Ukraine. It is for a reason. Who did they listen to? - Russia.

- Well, what does, in your opinion, Zelensky think when he says in an interview with Euronews that the issue of peace can be resolved at the next Normandy meeting, that is, the war can be over? I do not understand where he got it from?

- I think that in this case, Mr. Zelensky wants it to happen so much that he sometimes believes that this is possible quickly. But the team should give him a real balance of power and capabilities. Therefore, when this is not done, he allows himself to speak with hope… But the main thing in Zelensky is that he is a good person, he is decent. After everything that we had… All the others, before him, did everything for themselves. Therefore, I emphasize: this (decency – ed.) is the basis. And then, if everyone was not afraid to tell the truth… So I see, all this our political elite, famous writers, showmen… - not everyone is able.

- May I now go through some of your interviews so that we clarify the position. You say: "In order to establish peace, you need to know the desires of not only the leaders of the republics, but also of the people who live there". I have a question. First of all, why should we know the desires of the leaders of the republics, if we do not recognize either the republics or their leaders. They are occupiers, and the opinion of the occupier for us… And the people who live there have been under the total influence of Russian propaganda for 6 years. There is such a concept as Stockholm Syndrome. Should we recognize their opinion, formed under the occupation, or should we still comply with the Constitution of Ukraine and restore territorial integrity and protect, including these people, in their right to a normal life, which they do not have today?

- I will tell you from experience that if people do not want to change anything, then (in order to change something - ed.) force should be used. This is called dictatorship. This is not democracy.

- Who can say what people want in the occupied territory?

- As I see it: doctors get together with doctors, teachers with teachers, - those who are in the controlled territory and those who are there, - and they communicate with each other. Dialogue understanding, or misunderstanding, begins.

If we say that we have to establish constitutional order there by any means, the question arises – how? Do we have the strength? Yes, I know from history that such conflicts and wars, as a rule, were not resolved peacefully. If we solve this, it could be one of the first cases in the history of human warfare. But if there is power, then you just need to squeeze out another power, establish order and say: live so and so.

- You are exaggerating. I have a question here: how can teachers from there be able to sincerely talk to our teachers, if they are being imprisoned there for the posts on social networks?

- What do you suggest?

- I judge from a simple algorithm: if this war is not a civil war, - of which I am sure, because I saw how it began and I understand the role of Russia in it, - but the war with Russia on our territory…

- I think so too…

-…then we need to put pressure on Russia, using all methods…

- I agree. But the question is: if we put pressure on Russia, and a miracle happened – Russia fell. Have these people changed their point of view?

- How many of them are there, Mr. Kravchuk? After all, those who are with Russia hate Ukraine, they will go to Russia. They will still be happy that they found themselves in an organic environment for themselves. And the rest, who want Ukraine, or maybe, not Ukraine, but just a normal life, which they had before 2014, they will gladly accept Ukraine. Because Ukraine will give them a vision of tomorrow, make them full-fledged citizens of a full-fledged country. But in the end, we do not need to be loved, let them simply comply with the laws of the country in which they live, and if they really want Putin, let them vote for Medvedchuk. We even have such a release for them.

- I agree that everything will be quickly resolved there without Russia, the Ukrainians will quickly find mutual understanding. But you have to talk to people. Not only there, but with the Russians too. As well as inside the country. My position is absolutely clear – no one will do anything for us. No detachments of blue helmets, the OSCE, they will not come and stand along 400 km to ensure a beautiful and free life for Ukrainians, laying themselves open to attack. More so that they (the West - ed.) are very attentive to Russia. This is the reality. Therefore, what I want to do, and that I agreed to this, imagining that there will be more difficulties than I imagine - I want to prove that we can do something without them too, without the West. We should learn to be strong, convincing and decisive.

- Another quote from yours: "To begin with, we are talking namely about communication at the level of civil society. And when we feel that we are already reaching an agreement, we can move on to another level. Now we are not talking about communicating with the militants". Do I understand correctly that you still admit the possibility of dialogue with the militants? Now at the level of civil society, and then - "another level"?

- I clarified it. I said: when democratic elections are held there and a legitimate government is elected, we will communicate with it. Not now.

- This is quite an important clarification.

- I want to emphasize: it is very important for us not to go off pitch. Do not bypass facts or documents that are unpleasant for us. We should recognize what has been done and use the possibilities already in this version. Or honestly say that we will not perform this, having explained why.

- How do you generally assess the text of the Minsk Package of Measures, can it be a roadmap to peace, not on Russia's terms?

- Well, Poroshenko admitted in his interview to Ukrainska Pravda that he and Merkel wrote this document together. I think he was ashamed to say that Putin was behind the scene… But, nevertheless, there is a document, it is contradictory, it can be read in different ways (which they do), and we cannot say that this document does not exist.

- But there is no thesis about introducing a special status into the Constitution in the document, is it?

- No. But they do not insist on this.

- Lavrov recently said in an interview…

- Yes, they say, but they do not sign anything, and words are not a document. We are now also talking for interview, but this is not a document.

- I am interested in your vision of the future if the Package of Measures is implemented. What kind of Donbass do we get after this? Here I am, with my political views, and another one and a half million people, including the ATO participants, if they return there and there will be a special status for those people who are now fighting with us, - do we have security guarantees, will it be really Ukrainian territory?

- Of course, the territory and the economy are important. But how a person can live there, whether he/ahe will be provided with guarantees that he/she will not be trapped or killed – this is a separate issue that requires separate consideration. But the main thing for us today is to get such an opportunity: to enter there, take them to us and deal with this issue, using the forces that are there. Because if we think that someone will come and put things in order there, it will mean the beginning of the end. People always react very negatively to this.

- What forces do you mean? "People's militia", or what?

- Well, if you say that there are people there, who are waiting for Ukraine, then this is the force, and we need to rely on them.

- But these are not forces, they are just people.

- But if people are empowered, they will become real power. We will empower them. That is, this is a separate question. But first of all, we need to resolve the issue step by step. Peace at first. And those who left those territories should speak with those who remained there.

- We talk to them all the time. But talking to people, or talking to people appointed by the Ministry of State Security to talk with Ukraine are different things…

Interviewed by Serhiy Harmash, OstroV