Terrorist Attack in Crimea: Russia Suspends Normandy Format Talks
Peter KORZUN | 13.08.2016 | WORLD / Russia & CIS

Terrorist Attack in Crimea: Russia Suspends Normandy Format Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to increase Russia’s military presence in Crimea after the national security service claimed that it had thwarted a would-be terrorist incursion from Ukraine. He accused the Ukrainian government of plotting subversive attacks. According to the President, «Today’s Kiev government is not looking for ways to solve problems by negotiations, but is resorting to terror». Mr Putin made these remarks after meeting with Armenia’s President on August 10.

According to the evidence produced by the Federal Security Service, the FSB, teams of Ukrainian commandos made two attempts to enter the Black Sea peninsula, with the intention of sabotaging vital infrastructure.

The FSB said, Ukrainian forces attempted to cover the infiltration by directing heavy fire at the Russian side, killing two Russian servicemen. The alleged plotters were planning to blow up the Simferopol-Yalta highway that runs from the regional capital to resorts on the Black Sea.

The flare-up derailed plans to rekindle diplomatic talks over the war-ravaged region. The Russian President emphasized that «In this situation, a Normandy format meeting would not make much sense right now», referring to the previous plans to hold peace negotiations on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting on September 4-5 in China. He called on the US and European countries to put pressure on Kiev to change its behaviour.

This is a very dangerous turn of events being part of a broader picture with tensions running high.

Fighting has flared in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, threatening to reignite the conflict.

July was its deadliest month since August 2015, before a truce was signed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, the government in Moscow is «seriously concerned» by the uptick in violence.

For instance, on August 4, the Ukrainian army fired 334 artillery shells at the front-line territories of Donetsk People’s Republic.

The war in Donbass appears to be renewed.

It strikes an eye that the subversive actions in Crimea were not conducted by some extremist Ukrainian organization, like the Pravy Sector (Right Sector) or volunteer punitive battalions, but by the Ministry of Defense. The media reports mention the use of heavy artillery and armor units. One does not have to be a military expert to realize the subversive action of such scale could be ordered only by the government. It testifies to the fact that the Ukrainian government is not willing to comply with its obligations according to the Minsk accords. Instead it is adamant to oppose Russia and the self-proclaimed republics on all fronts, going much farther than hostile rhetoric. The recent assassination attempt against Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR), confirms this conclusion.

The increase of ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the terrorist act in Crimea and the assassination attempt in Lugansk – these events appear to be parts of a plan to exacerbate the situation on Russia-Ukraine border with the Normandy process making no progress and Western participants evidently failing to make Kiev comply with the provisions of the Minsk-2 accords. It all takes place against the background of Ukraine escalating information war against Russia – the battle it hopes to win.

The normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, the possible win of Donald Trump in the US presidential race, the prospects for cancellation or, at least, easing of anti-Russia sanctions imposed by the EU – all these factors irritate Kiev.

It had hoped for quite a different scenario. The tide is turning against it, pushing the Ukrainian government to take urgent steps in an attempt to turn the situation around.

It’s the methods of waging war that matter. The assassination attempt in Lugansk and the subversive action planned to be committed in Crimea indicate that Ukraine does not shy away from terrorist activities used to achieve the set goals.

The recent refusal to accept the new Russian ambassador makes one surmise that Kiev is intentionally pushing the situation towards military conflict not only with the Donbass republics, but also with Russia.

On August 11, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko put all military forces in the proximity of Crimea and the easterly Donbas region on high alert in another act of provocation.

It is propitious to member that last month Russia expressed concern over Ukraine’s actions to France and Germany asking them to take measures before it’s too late.

The official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia said that Ukrainian troops are preparing a military operation and expressed hope that Russia’s German and French partners will be able to use their influence to pressure Kiev and prevent such a war scenario.

The Normandy format participants were warned. They took no action to address the situation.

Actually, the Minsk-2 Accords, signed a year ago, have proven to be utterly useless. The cessation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine remains extremely fragile. The situation in Donbass is on the verge of flare-up. A little spark is enough to start a big fire there.

It’s an open secret that the US exerts great influence on the Ukrainian government. It presupposes responsibility. Moscow and Washington agree that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements as means to regulate the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia has asked the United States to put pressure on Kiev to make it implement the provisions of the Minsk-2 accords, but to no avail.

The less the United States is constructively involved and committed to the process of reaching a settlement, the less likely it is that a lasting peace will emerge, that the points of the Minsk agreement will get implemented and that Kiev will fulfill its obligations. True, the Russia-US relations have seen better times, but the parties showed they can cooperate in Syria and on other matters of mutual concern, leaving differences aside. The US can play a positive role.

Until now, the EU and the US have not lifted a finger to influence the events. They have responsibility for the terrible implications of irresponsible policy implemented by the West-supported Ukrainian government. The time to act is now, if they want to prevent the worst.

Tags: Crimea  Ukraine