Ukraine crisis: a crucial autumn
The next UN and European summits will be crucial for Ukrainian context and for relationship between Washington and Moscow.
It’s standby in Ukrainian civil war. In September, the ceasefire between army and pro-Russian fighters has stood. While Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Kiev, where he has met President Petro Poroshenko, he has confirmed that “Russia is continuing to arm the separatists despite the truce”. However the mood looks relaxed because all are waiting the next summit of 2 October, when leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia will meet after Minsk2 of the last February.
And, with the General Assembly of United Nations on 24-30 September, one realizes the this autumn could be decisive for Ukrainian context, as well as other geopolitical contexts. Financial and systemic crisis have pushed the Ukrainian government to accelerate, in late August, the constitutional reforms which aim to give more autonomy to Donbass, in line with Minsk2, and to sign an agreement to the debt restructuring with creditors.
On the other hand, there is Russia, which has hardly been hit by oil prices collapse and, as a consequence, by more than 20% fall of Ruble value over the past four months. In this context, economic sanctions by United States and European Union are not the main cause of Russian financial crisis, but nevertheless important factors, especially in view of energy development.
Indeed, while the Kremlin is getting Europe number concerning gas supply, economical penalties are preventing oil and gas development projects in the Arctic. Proposal which the Russian economy needs to maintain its high level of current production.
Therefore, the Ukrainian crisis could be influenced by meetings of 24-30 September and 2 October. In the first one, it will be important the summit between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, where they’ll talk about Russian military operation in Syria against Islamic State. In the second one, the summit with Vladimir Putin Angela Merkel and Francoise Hollande will be helpful to soften Germany and France. In both cases, the purpose is only one: the reduction of economic sanctions against Russia from the years 2016/17.
However, missteps on both sides are following. On the Ukrainian front, there is involvement increased of fighters in the far-right paramilitary brigades that fought alongside army. Besides National Security Council has drawn up a new blacklist where 34 foreign journalists, including 3 of the BBC, have been banned, over the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has taken part in visit to Crimea together with Putin.
On the Russian front, the Kremlin has been denied by an article, accidentally published (later removed) by Delovaia Zhizn and immediately recall by Forbes, in which was revealed the number of Russian soldiers died in Ukraine: 2000. But Moscow has always repudiated direct involvement.
So, the next UN and European summits, and the accentuation of the geopolitical crises in Syria and Libya, may induce the parties to reach a solution that will bring not only the end of the civil war in Ukraine, but the “warming” of the cold relations between the US and Russia.