The security sector of the second half of November in Ukraine was mainly subject to preparation for the Normandy summit. But, among other things, preparing society for the necessarily effective December 9 talks.
By the way, there are no special grounds for expecting positive results. And here the obstacle is not only the naivety and overconfidence of Zelensky's team, but also the lack of preconditions. In particular, it is difficult to count on the outcome of a glaring crisis in the Euro-Atlantic camp, the deepening of internal problems in NATO and the United States, the absence of clear prospects for rapprochement with the United States, and, finally, the absence of a "fundamental rear" in Ukraine itself - in the form of rapid defense capabilities.
In fact, at this time, President Zelensky repeats a key mistake of his predecessor, focusing on peace talks and diplomatic and political levers - without interest in building a powerful army as an argument in negotiating with a hostile country. This remains one of the major challenges for Ukraine at this stage.
At the same time, part of politicians and the expert environment, as well as part of a firmly anti-hostile society, implies the likelihood of unacceptable compromises during the Norman meeting. The same as the inertia of this internal resistance, along with the accumulated negative from the project "creation of the land market" and the activity of some deputies of the ruling party, Zelensky himself lost a significant part of the rating - from 72% in September it decreased to 52% at the end of November (28 November, poll KIIS). Of course, political forces also played a role here, which openly joined the opposition, but one way or another, new additional risks emerged.
It seems that the Russian Center for Political Conditions (CPC), a specific private company trying to formulate alternative reservations for the Russian authorities, provided unprecedented estimates. “Zelensky's position inside the country does not seem so strong to be seen as a negotiator, ready to guarantee the fulfillment of all external agreements. … If, however, the Ukrainian president is unable to fulfill his obligations by referring to problems within the country or demanding a change in the terms of the agreement, he ceases to be a valuable partner in the dialogue for Russia. … High presidential ratings do not reflect the real state of affairs in the country. ” - These are the key messages of the CPC that need attention.
By the way, for many observers in Ukraine, the negotiation process also looks like it will produce very dubious results. The likelihood of peace at any cost (demonstrated in the second half of November, when the withdrawal took place without ceasefire by the Russian-terrorist group), is extremely low, and may, in the case of "peace-making" on the Kremlin's terms ( concessions) lead to a civil war. This is exactly what Moscow is trying to achieve. On the other hand, the zero result of the "Norman negotiations" and the refusal to conclude any document automatically generates a continuation of the war, with that being more intense and "hot". And this is where the fun begins: is Ukraine ready for this?
It is only worth mentioning the statement by Ruslan Khomchak, Chief of General Staff (25 November, Ukrinform), that "military aggression on the part of Russia is not a primary threat". "In the discussions that lead to various television shows, our society somehow grabs for the worst option that Russia can commit widespread aggression, and begins to think that everything will start tomorrow. In my opinion, and based on the analysis of the General Staff, we have come to the conclusion that open military aggression by Russia is not among the first threats, but is in the list of "extreme" options, though the most remote ones, "the Chief of Staff said. adding that "the eastern neighbor has not abandoned the fact that Ukraine should be a sphere of influence".
Formally, everything is right. A large-scale war will not start suddenly, suddenly. Of course, this will not be reminiscent of 22 June 1941 year. But the problem with the expert environment is not displayed with such contours. The point is that the gradual buildup of pressure with the help of the Russian military lever at some stage will be irresponsible to Ukraine. Apart from the lives of soldiers and officers, of course. This risk is directly related to the Kremlin's systematic loosening of Ukrainian society, its civic institutions, the decisive sector that will begin to demand specificity from the authorities. Which is impossible to get right away. AND all in all, if you look at the insane numbers of unused 2019 funds spent on building an army, you can say for sure that the year for the development of the army is lost. Unfortunately…
The repercussions of reintegration. What will happen after the "Norman" meeting
The death of brigade commander Yevhen Korostelev during the deployment of troops became the most resonant event in a long chain of human casualties, injuries, and wounding of military personnel on the front line. All of them (killed and wounded) are a direct testament to the Kremlin's testimony of Kyiv's willingness to make concessions. In doing so, the Kremlin's task is to snatch more concessions, and in the event of a decision to freeze the "volcano" in the Donbass get exceptional opportunities to influence the territory at any time.
"There are five scenarios in the National Security and Defense Council in which way we should reintegrate the Donbas," NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in the last days of November, noting Among the priority tasks are the return of prisoners and ceasefire along the entire front line, as well as the return to the control of Ukraine sections of the Russian-Ukrainian border. He further called elections under Ukrainian legislation in the temporarily occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, it is interesting that the Russian side is unlikely to agree with such a sequence.
On the contrary, analysts of the Russian Federation (already mentioned by the CPC) are trying to stimulate the Russian authorities to make even tougher decisions (and upon publication - through the CCP, the Kremlin conducts sounding of public opinion and measurements of reaction from various foreign structures). The main thing - there are no compromises on the part of the Russian Federation. “In the 2020 year, Russia will have to take into account the unstable situation of the Ukrainian president. … Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming Paris Normandy Four Summit, Russia's approach to possible compromises and prospects for the medium-term settlement of the Donbas conflict must be extremely cautious, primarily because of the volatility of Zelensky's positions within Ukraine. ” The same, it should be expected that after the Norman Summit a new, more active phase of shaking up Ukrainian society will begin, in the process of which various levers of influence will be integrated.
In the Russian Federation, it is doubtful that Zelensky's team regarding Donbass has a single basic vision of the peace settlement algorithm. However, many observers in the Russian Federation insist that official Kyiv will force amnesty to be announced and hold elections (presumably with the introduction of a special status of regions), and even then they will promise "steps forward", such as regaining control and withdrawing their own troops.
It is symptomatic that certain political forces (three factions of the Verkhovna Rada) have already taken care of the impossibility of making a decision by the team of the President of Green, which can be regarded as a capitulation. They are called "red lines" in a series of possible actions. In particular, the president should uphold a position that will be known and understood by the Ukrainian people, he should not hide the negotiating position from the Ukrainians. " It is well known that representatives of European Solidarity, Motherland and Voice are critical of the negotiating position of the presidential team - because of the lack of specifics and clear points of the action plan. According to General Mikhail Zabrodsky, a representative of the Eurosolidarity faction, the president should not discuss gas contracts and negotiate directly with the so-called L / DPR, he should not agree to the "Steinmeier formula" as Moscow proposes - first elections, then borders. ” The president is also advised to refrain from the promise of amnesty for militants, and the Batkivshchyna NGO believes that it is possible to discuss amnesty for L / DPR representatives only after the war is over and the occupied territories return. The same, If you compare the positions before the December 9 negotiations, you can see immediately: if the parties adhere to the previous settings, the result should be zero. Or one of the parties will compromise.
Risks for Ukraine in the International Arena
It is worth noting that the crisis in NATO is deepening, and may be halted except by the impeachment of the US President and the emergence of a new leader capable of careful and systematic steps to consolidate members of the military and political bloc. The fact that French President Emmanuel Macron 28 said in November that NATO is experiencing "brain death" (not even a disease!) Is a testament to the "terrible diagnosis" and evidence of the unprecedented weakness of the Western world. Macron added that Alliance members no longer cooperate strategically on a number of key issues.
By the way, Moscow in its traditional way is trying to advance. This Russian strategy can be called "persistent steps towards reclaiming small islands." For example, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) recently named Russia's Sevastopol as Russia's territory illegally annexed by Russia. And earlier it was reported that the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption Vasily Piskaryov has sought from Apple to geolocate its devices and, among other things, to designate illegally annexed Crimea as "Russian territory". These steps can also be interpreted as a struggle for consciousness in the promotion of pro-Russian positions.
The unpleasant news for Ukrainians was the "discovery" of a real attitude towards Ukraine by US President Trump. In particular, through US Embassy in Kiev David Holmes, it became known that Kiev is only interested in Mr. Trump in the context of a possible investigation into rival Joe Biden. “It was I who asked Sundland if it was true that the President shit… on Ukraine. The ambassador agreed to give the president a shit… to Ukraine, ”media quoted an American diplomat as saying. In addition, it became known that the order to suspend military aid to Ukraine in November was given directly by US President Trump. In particular, Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said this during a statement to Congressional committees. So because of the lack of a proper level of culture and training of President Trump as a statesman, the act of humiliation of Ukraine in the international arena took place - another testimony that the world recognizes only strength and is ready to reckon only with force.
Despite its internal political weakening, on November 19, the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) announced its intention to recognize space as a new operational area. This is another sensitive symptom for Kiev - the de facto space state (in the early years of independence, it was included in the world five), which does not even have its own military satellite.
Although the poll rankings released a poll in recent days, according to which nearly two-thirds of Ukrainians (namely 70%) are ready to give President Zelensky time from one to three years to demonstrate quality and effective work, in reality the situation is not visible to experts so iridescent. The CDMA, in particular, is convinced that unlike President Poroshenko's trust, which remained almost until the middle of 2016, President Zelensky has no more than one year to demonstrate security and defense change.. Despite the extended cycle of defense planning, in the absence of real results of the development of the defense forces and specific steps in the field of re-equipping the army, increasing the defense potential (which implies a thorough revision of the vision of the Armed Forces development), the rating of the new head of state will decrease to the level of his predecessor.
So far, President Zelensky has taken tactical steps - cleansing the party (in November, expelled the Third People's Deputy from Ukraine's "Servant of the People"), threatened to dismiss the Verkhovna Rada a year later in the absence of effective and coordinated work, and promised to dismiss the Cabinet of Ministers. ). That is, the president began to "work" with the absorbents of his own negativity, but this, according to experts, has a very limited time resource.
For example, Viktor Nebozhenko, a well-known political scientist and sociologist in Ukraine, director of the sociological service “Ukrainian Barometer” on November 24, expressed the position that “The President is afraid that the Servant of the People Party will destroy his rating of trust and hope faster than mistakes, unprofessionalism and corruption of his Cabinet. " He added that the party "Servant of the People" differs little from the unsuccessful party of former President Petro Poroshenko - BPP.
Also, in order to maintain a high level of popularity, Zelensky intends to play well at the international level, namely, in ending the war. In his opinion, this will cause a new wave of popularity. However, there are fundamental risks that mistakes or falling into the Kremlin's trap can, as quickly as sulfuric acid, eat up the elective interest earned.
The army remains at the "intersection of seven roads"
Among the positive developments in the field of security and defense of Ukraine is the successful Ukraine completion of the development of the cruise missile "Neptune". On November 28, during the test of the cruise missile R-360 of the complex RK-360MC "Neptune" with a radius of up to 280 km successfully made a flight of more than 250 kilometers. According to Oleg Korostelov, General Director, General Director of the State Joint Stock Company “Ray”, the completion of this stage means that the development of the P-360 as an aircraft is complete. He added that in the next phase, the tests would focus on the combat characteristics of the missile. However, the success of the state cannot be automatically attributed to the current command in power, just as President Poroshenko could not have used. Oddly enough, the research and development work was opened in the days of President Yanukovych, and Poroshenko's team, after a successful first launch in spring 2013, paused in development - until January 2016, when this missile program fell into state priorities.
The case with the Neptune rocket is indicative also because Presidents Poroshenko and Zelensky demonstrate a rare resemblance in views on the development of the military - to look at the Armed Forces as a secondary direction of their activities as Commander-in-Chief. And this situation is not just risky - it hits the boomerang both on the ratings of heads of state and on the national security system.
Valentin Badrak Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CEDAW)