In early March, we ran the editorial “Canada Must Demand That the Minsk Agreements Be Repealed.” In the past week or so, the idea that the West’s approach to Russian aggression in Ukraine needs to change has won more popularity. This is confirmed by the opinion article “What The West Should Do Next In Ukraine”, by Marieluise Beck, a Bundestag deputy for the German Green Party, and Ralf Fücks, the co-president of Germany’s Heinrich Boell-Foundation, published in the Newsweek on April 27, 2016. In Ukraine, the appeal is spreading to repeal the Minsk agreements altogether because, quite likely, they include an unofficial clause that stipulates that elections in the Russia-occupied territories be held before Russia pulls back from the Donbas.
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the U.S. is pressing Ukraine to pass legislation on elections in Russia-occupied territories and to hold elections in the summer or fall of 2016. The U.S. State Department is denying those rumours. The allegations that the U.S. is pressuring Ukraine to go ahead with blanket amnesty for everyone on the side of the aggressor (even those who have murdered Ukrainian military personnel or civilians) and to hold elections before Russia pulls its troops back from the Donbas, with no guarantee that the troops will ever be withdrawn, are even more disturbing.
U.S. representatives would always call on Russia to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements and stop supporting separatists and have never publically said otherwise. But the words last week of Ukraine’s deputy minister for foriegn affairs, Vadym Prystayko, (via Voice of America) that Ukraine would like to hold elections in the occupied territories this summer and that those who Ukraine now calls terrorists could be elected to the country’s Parliament confirm that America is pressing Ukraine to do what the rumours are suggesting. These kinds of measures would be wrong and extremely unpopular in Ukraine, and they could be implemented only as a result of powerful external pressure.
It is wrong and short-sighted on the part of the West to let Russia have a free hand in Ukraine, after all the death and destruction that Russia has caused and, especially, given that country’s current weakness. Whatever political reasons the U.S. and German administrations may have for this kind of attitude, it is Canada’s obligation, as a great friend of Ukraine, to demand that the West insist that the aggressor pull back from Ukraine before elections are held. Or, even better, that the West repeal the Minsk agreements altogether and make Russia sign a more reasonable agreement.