Vsevolod Chaplin: ''I’d put a big F to Russia’s Ukrainian policy – with a plus for Crimea''

Donbass can’t be substituted for sanctions. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin’s column

The Minsk Protocol has probably collapsed, thinks Realnoe Vremya's columnist Vsevolod Chaplin. The law on reintegration of Donbass signed by Kyiv is one of the bright examples. In today's column written for our online newspaper, the Orthodox priest shares thoughts about the situation in South-Eastern Ukraine, assesses actions of Russian elites in this area.

Kyiv reminds of itself

While we forgot Ukraine during the Olympics and election, it was getting ready to remind of itself powerfully. The law on ''integration'' of Donbass that has recently come into force can sharply change the reality in the conflict zone – not only the ''legal'' but also military reality. As much as our authorities protect the Minsk Protocol whose political part was not fulfilled by Kyiv and it wasn't going to, it seems we will probably have to finally say goodbye to them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, which is very careful by nature, had to claim on 24 February: ''Having signed the mentioned law, Poroshenko almost crossed the Minsk Protocol out by giving a free hand to the ''war party''. <…> The document creates conditions for the forced conquest of the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, which aren't controlled by Kyiv, legalised the use of the Ukrainian army against the civilians.''

Escalation of the conflict began almost the following day. Such messages started to be spread in in social network: ''Hard fights are taking place across Svetlodarskaya Duga. It's clattering in Stakhanov and Bryanka, Alchevsk and Pervomaisk, Svetlodarsk and Kirovsk, Irmino and Bakhmutka. All Bakhmut highway is under fire. The opponent is applying all types of weapons, including heavy artillery, armed vehicles and mortars.'' ''I'm in Gorlovka. The city is fired from Mayorsk and Svetlik, but it's flying to other places, to the south from there. Zaytsev is severely hit.''

''The document creates conditions for the forced conquest of the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, which aren't controlled by Kyiv, legalised the use of the Ukrainian army against the civilians.'' Photo: ru.tsn.ua

It seems that western supervisors of the current Ukrainian authorities urged it to be cautious soon. Yes, its army is more powerful and prepared than in 2014. But there is no confidence in the victory of the ''blitzkrieg'', and it's impossible in itself. They started to talk about an armistice again – and we will hope the ceasefire, which was scheduled for 5 March, will last for one week or more.

Elites' hopes didn't live up

However, the new Ukrainian law is becoming a time bomb – even if the authorities of Russia, European countries as well as Petro Poroshenko don't want a war. Against this background, the official from Washington – Kurt Volker – is speaking a language of ultimatums: the so-called Lugansk People's Republic and Donetsk People's Republic are establishments created by Russia. <…> They need to be disbanded. The course for ''enforcement to surrender'' of Donetsk and Lugansk is becoming more severe and defined. If a step back is taken, it will be done for tactical purposes.

And this is why it's obvious: the hopes and plans those our elitists who aspired to let pigeons of peace fly – to both Syria and Donbass – before the election didn't live up. Life makes take rose-coloured spectacles off and probably forget about the easy elimination of basic contradictions with Ukraine and the West.

''The new Ukrainian law is becoming a time bomb – even if the authorities of Russia, European countries as well as Petro Poroshenko don't want a war.'' Photo: sharij.net

The rumours about ''surrendering Donbass'' during the Munich security conference are unlikely to be just rumours. Otherwise, Belarus and some countries of Northern Europe wouldn't express such a defined readiness to send their militaries to the UN peacekeeping contingent. Fortunately, our diplomacy didn't agree to place this contingent across the Russian border in the end, which brought to not only slow strangulation of DPR and LPR but also created a new factor of military and intelligence pressure on our own territory. It didn't become possible to ''change'' Donbass for a refusal of new Western sanctions and pacifist PR.

War again

Russia has demonstrated itself as moral power again. We didn't agree to give people who believe us to be torn to pieces or gradually enslaved. One should always act so: to prefer interests of the suffering people who pin their hopes on us to any ''benefits'' and calculations, especially if elitists who care about assets located abroad more, are interested in it. Only the policy of values has a perspective, in general. It was what we followed in early WWI and did harm to ourselves but didn't blur the country with the treason of those who believed in us. And even losing that war, we managed to completely compensate the losses we had in it and purchase far more. I want to ask those who think our entrance is a mistake: would you like a Russia that lost its independence and honour that's able to surrender its allies gradually?

Going back to Donbass. What's now? A war again is quite probable. More precisely, a new stage of it. However, it will be necessary to agree sooner or later. And I'm convinced the new ''Minsk'' needs to include firm guarantees of rights of all people and social groups of current Ukraine that link the future with Russia. The citizens who speak the Russian language. The political organisations that were formally or informally banned – from monarchists to communists. The Orthodox Christians who don't accept the ''European choice'', ecumenism, the separation of their church from Russian church. The journalists and activists who criticise the ''maidan'' and its consequences. The freedom of civic acts for these people needs to be a condition for cooperation with the Kyiv ''politicum'' as well as the condition for peace – otherwise, it will be unfair. And the unfair world often turns out worse than a war.

''The official from Washington – Kurt Volker – is speaking a language of ultimatums: the so-called Lugansk People's Republic and Donetsk People's Republic are establishments created by Russia. Photo: Valentina Ogrenko / Reuters (rbc.ru)

The West needs to explain directly and calmly that the territories in which considerable parts of the divided Russian people live are a zone of special interest and special responsibility for us. Very western countries have such zones, and they don't suffer from complexes in foreign affairs by severely controlling these territories.

I've written many times that now I'd put a big F to Russia's policy in the Ukrainian direction – with a plus for Crimea. It needs to be finally time for pro-active actions and time for ultimatums, if you like. That have firm terms.

By Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

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