► What is the value of the commitments made on Tuesday March 29 by the Russians and the Ukrainians in Istanbul?
The hope of a diplomatic clarification raised on Tuesday March 29 after talks between Russians and Ukrainians in Istanbul was followed by a cold shower on Wednesday. The declaration of the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitri Peskov, will have been enough to understand that everything went too quickly: “At this time, we cannot report anything very promising or any breakthrough. There is a lot of work to be done”he said, calling it “positive” the fact that the Ukrainians have “finally started to formulate in a concrete way (their) proposals”. The day before, the head of the Russian delegation had nevertheless reported “substantial talks” and said that the proposals “clear” of Ukraine were going to be “studied very soon and submitted” to President Putin.
→ ANALYSIS. War in Ukraine: Ankara and Moscow, partners despite themselves
Did the Ukrainians want to go too fast and capitalize on their military successes in the face of a Russian military operation slowed down by their resistance? Shouldn’t the first phase of these negotiations have focused on a ceasefire or a truce, to test the will of the parties? One can wonder about the legitimacy of the participants in the Istanbul meeting: did they all have the approval of their authorities? The backstage of this Istanbul meeting remains opaque.
► What about the security guarantee requested by kyiv?
“We want an international mechanism of concrete security guarantees for Ukraine”, announced David Arakhamia, chief Ukrainian negotiator. For this, Ukraine would like to establish a treaty where the signatory countries would be considered as guarantors of the security of the Ukrainian territory. In the event of aggression from Ukraine, the guarantors would be required to provide military assistance to the attacked country, in particular by sending arms and closing the Ukrainian skies. This is a commitment “firmer” than Article 5 of NATO (1), underlined David Arakhamia.
Ukraine suggests that these guarantors should first and foremost be the permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, France, United Kingdom, China, Russia). Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel as well as other willing countries could also be involved.
So far, the states mentioned have not reacted directly to the Ukrainian proposal. Engaging in such a restrictive process is not necessarily in their interest. For its part, Russia has not commented on this proposal either, which would greatly undermine the neutrality that Ukraine is ready to accept.
Moreover, the principle of guarantors is not free from flaws. Several examples attest to this, such as in Burundi, where the Arusha peace agreement, guaranteed in particular by the European Union and the United Nations, has been violated on several occasions without much consequence.
► Can we trust Vladimir Putin?
“Putin, not easy to scan”, confided, a few years ago to The cross, General Pierre de Villiers, then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. It’s hard to trust Vladimir Putin, who didn’t stop lying to his Western interlocutors before launching his armies to conquer Ukraine. His paranoid, narcissistic personality, his lies, his exercise of power make it difficult to take his concessions and commitments to de-escalation seriously.
→ INVESTIGATION. How Vladimir Putin got stuck in a victimhood vision
The negotiations in Turkey look like a screen behind which the Russians are preparing a new phase of the conflict. According to a source at the heart of the French army, the Kremlin is in the process of militarily consolidating its conquered positions in Ukraine. At the end of last week, she confided that the Russians had stopped their movement and that they had embarked on “defensive work” important. Faced with logistical problems and high losses (at least 7,000 soldiers killed and 20,000 wounded, according to several concordant sources), the Russian armies concentrated their efforts on Donbass and Mariupol. This source added that Russia was preparing a major action in the direction of Dnipro, in the center of the country, in order to cut the Ukrainian forces in two.
It is in this context that the position of the Russian emissaries in Turkey must be seen. And never forget, as political scientist Hélène Blanc recalled on France Culture on March 30, that Vladimir Poutine was formatted by the KGB, where the first principle inculcated is: “Every agent has a brain to watch his tongue and conceal his thought. »
► Do these negotiations have consequences on the ground?
Despite the talks, the situation on the military ground in Ukraine remains marked by continued bombing and heavy artillery fire on various towns in the country.
Northeast of Kharkiv, in the east of the country, Russian troops continue to shell Ukrainian army units but also non-militarized urban areas. The city of Chernihiv, in the North, was the victim of bombardments ” All night long “, announced Wednesday, March 30 the governor of the region. In the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, 12 people were killed following a Russian strike…
→ EXPLANATION. War in Ukraine: is Russia changing its military strategy?
In Mariupol, besieged for weeks, the conditions for launching a humanitarian operation to help its inhabitants “are not met at this stage”, the French presidency announced on Tuesday evening after an interview between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Poutine. On the ground, an estimated 160,000 civilians still remain stuck in Mariupol, pounded and embroiled in fierce fighting and facing “a humanitarian catastrophe”.