Oleg Sahakyan about the upcoming visit of Merkel to Ukraine and the hostages, as the geopolitical currency of the Kremlin

  • Oleg Sahakyan about the upcoming visit of Merkel to Ukraine and the hostages as the geopolitical currency of the Kremlin

Kyiv: Today, another telephone conversation took place between President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

FNI decided to acquaint our readers with the opinion of international experts on the telephone format of communication among the leaders of the countries in general and the conversation between the leaders of Germany and Ukraine in particular. First of all, political analyst Oleg Sahakyan decided to express his opinion for journalists of FNI.

FRONT NEWS INTERNATIONAL: For the first time, a mass Soviet reader learned about telephone communication practices from newspapers in October 1962, when at the height of the Caribbean crisis, which almost led to a world war, between American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was established a direct telephone connection. In the Internet age, mobile communication, it is not difficult to technically conduct any conversation between leaders of different countries, but is there any special ethics of such a format of communication, and who usually calls the first to whom?

OLEG SAHAKYAN: I think that, apart from the diplomatic protocol, which reflects all the nuances of direct meetings during the visits of leaders to each other or meetings on the margins of international summits, politicians also have an internal protocol concerning telephone communication. Although, it is clear that there is no clear timetable for communication between the leaders and this is based on political expediency and the international situation.

FNI: Let's talk about the upcoming visit of the leader of Germany to Ukraine. A month ago, Frau Merkel carried out a kind of Transcaucasian diplomatic tour, while visiting three capitals: Tbilisi, Baku, and Yerevan. And here, on the queue, the upcoming visit to Kyiv. What caused such a foreign policy activity of the German leader?

OS: I think that this is due to many reasons, both intra-German and all-European.

To begin with, the European Union is going through several parallel crises. This is both a crisis of one’s own future and an economic imbalance between creditor countries and loan recipient countries (vividly manifested especially after 2008) and the same migration crisis and one of the most important is the challenge of the Russian Federation to the entire international security system. Europe could not respond to it adequately either earlier in Moldova and in Georgia, not now in the events around Ukraine.

Finally, there is the domestic political crisis in Germany itself, we all saw how long after the last elections the ruling coalition was created. For Merkel, it was not easy to create, which somewhat undermined her position in her country.

As a consequence of the combination of these two factors, the German leadership in the European project and the entire German-centric character of our continent have been shaken. Europe. Therefore, it is very important for Merkel to return her geopolitical weight to her country, and Ukraine can be a key issue in this process.

Now Ukraine for the European Union has become a kind of exam. If the European Union (read, Germany) can play an active, subjective role in resolving the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, then it can claim to be a geopolitical leader in the ability to resolve all conflicts on the continent. If not, then at this table there will be other, more capable players — the United States, China, or Russia itself, which, due to its aggression against Ukraine, and so without prior arrangement, is the subject of this conflict.

From here and such foreign policy activity Merkel. In the near future, we should expect its diplomatic tours to continue along the European periphery, along with its hot spots, where conflicts exist, primarily in Southern Europe and the Balkans. In addition to the European map, I think the total activation of the German leader in the international arena, we will observe in other parts of the world, it suffices to recall at least her recent visit to the United States.

FNI: In today's official report on the conversation between Merkel and Putin, it is stated that "the President of Ukraine noted the importance of intensifying efforts to free all Ukrainian hostages, including Oleg Sentsov and Roman Sushchenko." But a detailed paragraph of the press service of the head of state each time, when communicating with the President (personal and telephone) and with others, but things are still there ... How does it affect the leadership of the Kremlin?

OS: Unfortunately, there is simply no effective tool for influencing the Russian Federation in the matter of resolving the hostages held by them. If the was one, it would have been used long ago. By the way, stubbornness in this matter is also an additional factor in weakening Merkel's position.

Coincidentally, yesterday by the Russian liberal Novaya  Gazeta necessary for the Kremlin information was leaked. I quote: “The main condition for the return of Oleg Sentsov to the territory of Ukraine is the extradition of Russia to its citizens convicted in the USA: Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, as well as Maria Butina, who is under arrest. Novaya was told about this by a source close to the negotiations on the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine.”

It seems to me that for the Kremlin, what’s important is not so much the fate of its citizens, but the desire to play a geopolitical game at the level of the United States, defiantly ignoring their European partners in the matter of possible mediation.

And although neither Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, nor the mouthpiece of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, nor our Irina Gerashchenko, who oversees the fate of Ukrainian hostages in the institutions of the Ukrainian government, have information about such talks, the publication summarizes: “Moscow is ready to discuss such a“ humanitarian action "directly with Washington, while Ukraine will not formally be a party to the negotiations."

I also want to remind you that the names of Russian citizens who are in prisons and under investigation in the United States, in one bundle with the name of Oleg Sentsov, were first mentioned (and again, note in a telephone conversation!) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held on August 23.

Thus, we can conclude: Russia withdraws Germany from the negotiation process and raises the stakes.

FNI:  Tell me, in the context of Putin’s godfather, Viktor Medvedchuk, who was resurrected from political oblivion, - do you feel that the mass exchange of Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin will take place next year, at the height of the parliamentary election campaign, and Victor will play a decisive role in this process? Medvedchuk and the political forces with which he will plan his return to the walls of the Ukrainian parliament?

OS: I doubt that they will implement this scenario. For them, the hostages, and even more so those about whom the whole world speaks, are a real geopolitical currency, so that they exchange it for the Ukrainian internal agenda. Although, of course, in 2019 Moscow will try to do everything in order to strengthen its already considerable influence in Ukrainian politics.

Alexander Voronin, FNI

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